Plane Crashes into Lake Osborne
Date: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 @ 09:24:42 EST
Topic: Lantana

Plane crashes 160 feet from house


As a commercial pilot, no event has a more sobering effect than the crash of an aircraft you are familiar with. But while the plane remained hidden under the water, I had no idea that the beautifully custom made (experimental) high performance aircraft was an aircraft that I was familiar with. For hours after the crash, only the debris field was visible and frankly when I first saw it, I thought there had been a Jet Ski accident... not a plane crash.

It all began with hearing an odd sound as I was busy working at the computer. I didn't pay too much attention until I began hearing sirens slowing down in front of my home. When I heard a familiar thumping sound, I thought I had another helicopter on the roof, so I grabbed my video camera and ran outside only to find it was the Sheriff's helicopter hovering around an accident scene less than 200 feet from my front porch. On first impression, it looked like a Jet Ski accident since the debris field was so small and only a few objects were visible. My neighbor quickly informed me that a plane had crashed and I could hardly believe it.

Taking note that the media hadn't arrived, I thought I'd document what I could for the TV stations who were delighted to get broadcast quality footage.

The rest is on video as response teams poured in to try and rescue the pilot who remained fastened in his seatbelt below the water. The gentleman below with his girlfriend was actually the first on the scene and immediately dove into the water and tried desperately to free the pilot. His girlfriend tries to comfort him as he became very upset that he had failed to save this man's life.

Finally, an off duty Sheriff Diver seen below, manages to get to the pilot, cuts the seat belt to free him... but when they finally get him onto the stretcher (deleted footage in respect for the family) it's too late.

Toward the end of the day, a very deep sadness came over me when they pulled this aircraft from the water and I realized this was the plane I had nicknamed "the little Red Baron" and had logged it's take offs and landings on a number of occasions as I document aircraft (particularly helicopter) activity for an ongoing documentary on helicopter trainging schools and their effect on the community.

Reporters overheard me say it was a high performance aircraft and asked how I knew that. The three blade prop tells the story there. No aircraft that weight and size is going to have a three blade prop unless someone is looking for performance. I estimated that it could easily cruise around 200 MPH, double that of training planes.

And because it was classified as "experimental," which means someone, in this case the pilot, built it himself ...I was even more touched because this plane wasn't something he picked out and bought... it was more personal than that; he built it himself.

One thing you learn about flying after you've been in it awhile... a fast airplane is never fast enough. I owned a Cessna 150 fully equipment for instrument flying and it cruised out (after a very good wax job on the wings) at about 108-110 MPH with its 100 horsepower 4 cylinder Continental engine. That means to go anywhere you need to take a calendar along but despite its slowness it still cut the travel time in less than half of what it would take driving a car.

So I quickly realized that this plane, built by this pilot, was his life's dream and he built it to go as fast as possible. And he didn't cut corners either... it was a class act… aluminum fuselage and rivoted like a manufactured aircraft, not fabric as some of the cheaper ones are.

And in the end, I sensed that this pilot really gave his life to keep from crashing into someone’s home. From following what observers reported, he held the nose up as long as he could to avoid crashing into a house… but doing that has severe consequences as well... sooner or later without power, that precipitates a stall and when an aircraft stalls, it’s not the engine that stalls… it’s that there isn’t enough flow of air over the wings to support it in the air… and the aircraft plunges violently out of the air and drops like a brick to the ground. It appears he did try to get to shallow water and he was in the right spot but he must have stalled going in and may have been knocked unconscious by the impact.

This article comes from Lake Worth Media

The URL for this story is: