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michal

Geofa - Real World Crash Question

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Geof:A friend of mine lost his life in a plane crash that he was piloting about 2 years ago, along with two others. He was instrument rated and had 700 hours of flying time.He filed a flight plan in SD for an instrument flight to Anderson, Indiana, after a hunting trip, in a small Beech Bonanza without weather radar. About seven minutes before the crash, and over Missouri, he contacted a controller and reported his altitude. Unbeknownst to him a weather front was right in front of him and three weather advisories were in effect at the time. One advisory was for very severe tubulence including possible tornadoes. He died trying to pull out of a spin coming out of the bottom of the clouds. According to witnesses he almost made it.Now the three widows are suing the FAA for failure to advise of these weather conditions at the last contact just seven minutes before the crash.What's the real world take on this. Do controllers warn of severe weather ahead and, are they responsible to do so. Or, was he negligent for not tuning in for the warnings since he had no weather radar.Any opinions ?Bob (Las Cruces, NM)On a related note, a fourth person was asked to join that trip, and bowed out at the very last minute out of fear of flying related to being a single parent to his 12 year old daughter. Sort of a "Waylon Jennings" story.

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Hi Bob-I am going to move this to the hangar chat-but...your question is good one but complicated.As Pic-the responsibility of the aircraft is on the pilot in command-the familiar with all aspects of the flight FAR would certainly weigh heavily. Usually weather such as this is forecast, and launching into it without detection equipment could be risky. Even if it appeared suddenly from nowhere I am sure a case could be made why hadn't fss been contacted for updates etc? Controllers may or may not have equipment-and depending on their equipment their information may be great or not so great. Their responsibility however is to separate ifr traffic though-not to provide weather avoidance-though most will try to be helpful in this area. If they could see it though and gave no advisories-who knows?Courts of law may not be as familiar with regs, weather, etc. so once it gets into the courts things can go any direction. I would think the widows' case would be weak-but again-once it gets in the courts anything goes.As a side-I have a stormscope and xm weather in my plane now-and I would not launch into anything without these two aids. This summer-when I flew to Santa Fe, Nm. I asked for a diversion to the right of course(seeing a patch of nasty stuff on the xm)-the controller granted it. About 5 minutes later he called me and asked "how did you do that?". He said when I asked for the diversion he had nothing on his scope and it had only just appeared!With this all in mind-I am sorry about your friend-and it is always easy to armchair guess what really happened. Sometimes things just conspire to go against you even when you do everything right.http://www.mediafire.com/imgbnc.php/1b5baf...b9f427f694g.jpgMy blog:http://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/

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I have to agree with you 110% as to what you said above, Geof.I dodged some cells this past Summer, happily while VFR, but it still took my Strikefinder and XM weather / radar to help. I recall other times that were not as friendly.When things start to shake, and the rain is pounding on the plane, it is a whole different ball game.There's one thing that can be said with a great deal of certainty:FS was, is and never will be the real thing, and not even as close as some folks think.Why? To say the least, because your life is not on the line.Ultimately, your life is in your hands, as as one who often flies with a 7,000 hour ATP who is also an attorney, I well know that every crash will result in law suits, however, when it comes to weather the ultimate responsibility lay with the person in the left seat.My heartfelt condolences for this tragic loss.More than anything else, the one thing a pilot needs to know about is weather, as often it is the one thing that stands between flying and flying again.Regards,http://www.dreamfleet2000.com/gfx/images/F...R_FORUM_LOU.jpg

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It is normal that after such accidents everyone gets a sued, specially everyone with "deep pockets".There was a famous (in Bonanza circles) accident that took lives of 3 people in the airplane and a few more on the ground, including huge material losses on the ground exceeding $2 mln. The person flying this airplane was some kind of president of the Bonanza Club (or equiv.). It happened the day before (or on) Thanksgiving in Newark, NJ, in 1999. S-TEC was immediately sued though there was very little evidence connecting the autopilot with the cause of the crash. Finally after months of litigation S-TEC was cleared - their attorneys with numerous experts were able to show in court that Bonanza's rate of turn as observed on radar screen exceeded by far rate of turn if the autopilot was in control of the airplane. I wonder what would have been the outcome if they did not have this evidence.More info available on www.avweb.comMichael J.http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/9320/apollo17vf7.jpg

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>He filed a flight plan in SD for an instrument flight to>Anderson, Indiana, after a hunting trip, in a small Beech>Bonanza without weather radar. Are there NTSB docs about this accident? NTSB should have it on their website, do you know the exact day when it happened or at least month/year?I would have to read something more substantial to get a better feel what had happened.Was it day or night? Did he get a weather briefing before the flight, how long before the flight? What was in this briefing? Was he really totally oblivious about the weather or perhaps he took his chances?Michael J.http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/9320/apollo17vf7.jpg

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Geof:You are quite correct in you assessment. It their first response to this lawsuit, the FAA is claiming that they're only responsibility is in the separation of aircraft (with regards to this matter). They further stated that because the pilot had no weather detection equipment, he was negligent for not being on top of the weather.The plaintiffs have responded that the originating controller was aware of the weather danger, and failed to pass this information on when they handed my friend Bill, off to another controller. I am supposing that was in the full NTSB report which I've not seen.I'm following this the best I can over the internet. There is a NTSB website that make detailed information of their findings for all air related incidents. It's most interesting, semi-complete, and searchable.See: http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/query.aspBill was my attorney and sometimes golfing friend. Though not a real pilot myself, I've flown his airplane a few times (with him next to me). Unfortunately, this was his third major incident.Bob (Las Cruces, NM)

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Ok, thanks, now I know a bit more.It sounds like it was a complicated weather situation. An AIRMET was issued hours before the flight but your friend elected to fly anyway and not wait for the cold front to pass through. Then literally 5 minutes before his departure a much more severe SIGMET was issued. Your friend could have asked for weather update after takeoff and he probably would have heard about SIGMET. SIGMET predicts a really deadly weather - specially for small airplanes. Whether a controller should have volunteered such an update - I don't want to pass judgment on that, it is often a function how busy they are. Like Geofa has stated above - their primary role is separating traffic. It is really up to the pilot to get and ask for all the weather updates - specially flying at night into marginal weather.Michael J.http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/9320/apollo17vf7.jpg

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Geof,A good lawyer is also going to go to great lengths to demonstrate that your friend the pilot was flying under the influence of narcotics (Darvon) and other drugs and that this fact substantially led to the crash. He may even suggest that an intentional suicide caused the crash; anti-depressants have long-known side effects that lead some to suicide.That lawyer is also going to be able to demonstrate that your pilot friend had a history of making poor flight decisions.My condolences to you and the families on their loss. I would suspect that the families of the two passengers would have a better chance of making a wrongful death claim against the pilot's estate (he's a lawyer, with a plane, so there is probably some assets to seek.)

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It was Bob's friend but you a right. However, when one looks at aviation cases often reason goes out the windows. There was one a few years ago of politician that crashed due to the vacuum pump failing. From what I recall-they had a standby vac/ ai in the plane-didn't matter-the vacuum maker was sued, lost, and now does not make them anymore... (I am sketchy on a few of the details but that is what I remember).With that being said-I have a good friend who imho is an accident waiting to happen. He is a good skills pilot-but he seems to have no fear, and poor judgement. It is a tribute to the safety of flying that he is still here after 15 flying years-but I would not be surprised to hear of him having an accident eventually (e.g. he will launch into clouds filled with ice based on a 12 hour old weather briefing when the forecast was good). I also would not be surprised if he has an accident if everyone possible will be sued-the blame cast anywhere it can be, and huge judgements.http://www.mediafire.com/imgbnc.php/1b5baf...b9f427f694g.jpgMy blog:http://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/

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Bill was a risk taker. Not everyone agreed with his antics in an airplane. He fequently "buzzed" a nearby golf course knowing all his friends were watching below. Sometimes quite low. On pull up, he'd wobble his wings so everyone knew who he was. They knew anyway. I was in the airplane when he did this once. Then about 3 or 4 years before the final incident he landed an airplane with the wheels up. Frankly, I'm not sure I would have gone on a trip like this with him myself. The person that bowed out was pressured by Bill to go alone just the day before they left. As he later stated in the local newspaper... Bill said: "You're going to miss a trip of a lifetime". But clearly this person was... "concerned".Among other aviation related matters, Bill did a lot of legal work for flying time in his client's airplanes. Flying, hunting, and fishing, were his life's passions.Bob (Las Cruces, NM)

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Bob,You friends accident is actually fairly typical. I just read an excellent book "Aftermath" about most famous aircraft accidents (there is a healthy mix of GA and commercial flights) and accidents of this type (penetrating a nasty weather) occupy a prominent role in this book. Even pilots of big business jets equipped with radar and capable of flying at over 40000 ft. managed to do what your friend did and were doomed. The question is never "why did they crash" but "why did they fly into this weather" and the book always carefully analyzes this point. Maybe if your friend did read this book (I think it should be mandatory reading for all pilots) he would have had a more cautious attitude to flying. Thanks for sharing this sad story.Michael J.http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/9320/apollo17vf7.jpg

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Thanks to everyone for all the input. I have been trying to get a little closure for myself on this matter trying to understand what happened.Bob (Las Cruces, NM)

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Bob,I hope you can find your closure. From the looks of it, your friend was very irresponsible when it came to flight, putting himself first, but worse everyone else around him, at significant peril.The sky, much like the sea, has a way of humbling people who treat it with that kind of disrespect.It was probably inevitable. You should probably be thankful that so have now few paid the price for his antics.

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