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Private plane lands on I-280, strikes car

Original post made on Jul 5, 2011

That there were no injuries in a Sunday evening incident in which a pilot landed his small plane on I-280 is probably more an indication of the pilot's skill rather than luck, said a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in Frederick, Maryland.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, July 3, 2011, 10:24 PM

Comments (67)

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Posted by 280 Lady
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Why is it OK for the pilot of a small private plane to jeopardize the lives of hundreds of people by attempting to land on a busy urban freeway? Several years ago a girl on an East Bay highway was crippled when a small plan landed on her family's van. I would think it is the duty of these pilots to avoid injuring the public at all costs - including possibly the pilot's own life.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm

280-Lady - So rather than look for a blank spot on the freeway -- which he almost certainly did -- you'd have him put the plane down in the grass where rolling to a stop is impossible and a devastating crash is more likely.

As the story says, pilots in such situations tend to have enough glide time to pick their spots carefully. Do you think he would have brought it down on a freeway so busy that he couldn't touch free pavement? Do you think he lucked out in grazing just one car?

Put yourself in the co-pilot's seat. Where would you want to land? What would you be saying to the pilot as you approach the ground?

Hundreds of people affected? I don't think so. And that's not to even mention how infrequent these occurrences are.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 5, 2011 at 2:23 pm

280 Lady said "Why is it OK for the pilot of a small private plane... to land on a busy urban freeway?"

What an absurd question!

First, of all, it was 7:13pm on a Sunday evening on a holiday weekend - not exactly rush hour. The very fact that the only damage was to a rear window of a car is testament that it was a good decision on the part of the pilot.

Second, I think the pilot would have preferred that his engine didn't stall and that he could have flown back to San Carlos airport. The choice was made by the plane, not the pilot.

If you were on that plane, you would have been grateful that the pilot and you walked away from that landing.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I used to own and fly a Cessna 210,
This is an excellent outcome for everyone involved, it shows great pilot skills and strength of the aircraft. If my memory serves me well the stall speed is around 68 knots...thats pretty close to traffic speed on 280 and he landed with traffic not against it......

Excellent results for everyone involved.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 6, 2011 at 7:07 am

That area of 280 doesn't offer much in the way of emergency landing sites. When I did my flight training we were encouraged to use highways as a last resort not a first choice. Having flown over they area inumerable times I have to say 280 is about the only place I can think of to land in an emergency that wouldn't risk killing me or my passengers. The 210's stall speed is 58 knots (67 mph), so Mr. Stogner is correct, they would be landing at about normal highway speed, maybe even a little lower given the speeds people usually travel on 280. An undamaged plane, minor damage to a car and no one hurt. Sounds like an outstanding outcome.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

Folks, In June of 2001 I suffered an engine failure on takeoff in N70SL my Malibu Mirage. I had less than 38 seconds form the time of engine failure to impact. In that time I tried an engine restart, then chose a spot to land that would keep me alive. That's it.....keep ME alive.

I impacted near HWY 99 at the end of Stockton Airports RWY 29, slid across the HWY and missed every car driving at rush hour (thankfully)

280 Lady, please get a grip. That Scott was able to safely land the plane on the Highway is a MAJOR achievement. He should be COMMENDED for his excellent pilot skills.

You have a higher probability of causing injury to someone else whilst driving your car on El Camino or Highway 280, and I assume you haven't stopped driving to remove the risk you are causing to the other drivers.....

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2011 at 1:20 am

Yeah, Roy, but the story isn't about cars on 280, it's about planes. All this backslapping & attaboys for the pilot makes my stomach turn - not because he didn't do a good job, but because it was such an unnecessary, dangerous risk. Just because 280 Lady isn't a pilot doesn't mean her point isn't valid. A car *was* damaged - it seems to me this pilot had skill AND luck on his side - thankfully, for the rest of the community. Sooooooo tired of the attaboys given these selfish pilots.


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Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 7, 2011 at 6:15 am

This was an emergency, without the luxury of time. Scott did a great job, and his experience shows. 280 is better for these events since there's relatively few power or utility lines crossing overhead. By some of the same logic offered here, Capt. Sullenberger should not have used the Hudson to land US Air because there are ferry boats using the waterways.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2011 at 7:11 am

Hmmm:

what is it that makes these pilots "selfish?" I am a pilot. I take great care when flying. Safety is my top priority as it is with just about every other pilot I know. Think about it. Unlike someone driving a car, when the engine quits you can't just pull over to the side of the road. Even given that, flying is far safer than driving. I'm far likelier to be killed or injured on my drive to the airport than while I'm flying.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

MV, my online friend from whom I learn much, I consider it selfish because it's a waste of natural resources unnecessarily & puts many at risk. I've ridden in small planes & have grown up around a number of pilots - friends of the family, etc. I understand much of the allure. But it now strikes me as a bit passe in an elitist, wasteful & dangerous way. I don't mean that to sound snide- my perspective has evolved over the years- & I love to fly in small planes. I also think I understand the challenge of becoming an excellent pilot, & it's an alluring, tempting challenge.

Some of my other thoughts about it are a little hard to put into words. But, they're along the lines of no matter how well trained & experienced the pilot is, things happen & the results are often highly consequential. This is not necessarily anyone's fault, but rather, the current nature of it, as well as the technology.

On another subject, would love your input on the EPA PD press conf/anti-gang work. PA Online has some comments from people who like to think they're informed, but they're overly focused on undocumented immigrants rather than gangs themselves. I've found people think they understand gang issues, just because gangs are common & their crimes are widely reported, but in actuality, most people in PA & this area really don't know much.


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Posted by landlubber
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Hmmm is right. When you trot out the aviation safety stats "more likely to be injured..." you're talking about commercial planes. Every study I've seen (and I researched this a few months ago) indicates that mile for mile, general aviation is more dangerous than driving.

I don't like to drive, but the way our cities are set up, it's a necessary evil for anyone who has kids, is older or infirm, or employed in a distant city not served well by mass transit (ie most of the Bay Area). Most of us are fairly well attuned to other drivers and can anticipate risky events. At worst, we can usually evade disaster by going off the road, possibly damaging our car and causing minor injuries, but that's all. When a plane fails, there's nowhere to go but down, and I personally know two people (one a pilot friend, the other a cousin) who died in small plane crashes.

This particular pilot touched down without loss of life, but if he had miscalculated by a couple of feet -- and that precision is a matter more of luck than of skill -- the driver would not be with us to share his side of the story.

All the small plane pilots I know are hobbyists with too much money and time on their hands. Maybe they should consider spending at least some of their leisure time in a manner that might be useful to others, like reading to the blind or working with undererved students in East Palo Alto. Endangering the rest of us might be entertaining for you, but it's no sport for those of us on the ground.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm

"if he had miscalculated by a couple of feet -- and that precision is a matter more of luck than of skill "

Wrong - geting a pilot's license requires demonstrating the skill of being able to land very precisely - including after loss of power. Luck is not allowed when you take your FAA exam.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Peter is right. Also, it sounds as thow this was not a pleasure flight but a working flight. GA in this country is indespensible for many who fly as a part of their business. It's not "just a hobby," it's frequently used for business. Personally I've used it for both. I had clients in north lake tahoe. I was able to get there a lot faster by flying into Truckee than I could have by driving. I flew up, took care of my business, and flew back and finished my work day during normal business hours. Allowed me to be much more productive than I would have been driving back and forth. Frankly, if I had to drive I wouldn't have taken on the job. That much time in a truck was just not appealing.


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Posted by landlubber
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Simply wrong. I've read the requirements for a private pilot license, and you don't need to be able to execute a pinpoint landing. If the pilot had that level of control, why didn't he avoid the car altogether?!?

Reading the license requirements is equally edifying and terrifying. To obtain a license, a pilot need only have taken off and landed ten times. And the passing score on the written test? 70%.

I understand that having access to a small plane may allow someone to take jobs (or go on last-minute vacations) in more remote places than might otherwise be possible. Sorry, but that's a lousy reason to risk our lives.


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Posted by still laughing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Landlubber writes, "All the small plane pilots I know are hobbyists with too much money and time on their hands. Maybe they should consider spending at least some of their leisure time in a manner that might be useful to others, like reading to the blind or working with undererved students in East Palo Alto."

With all due respect, I think you should get out more, Landlubber. Your circle of pilot acquaintances is very small. An example of how wrong you are is a fellow poster, Peter Carpenter, who put in hours of air time flying charitable missions, including piloting a plane to Africa for a nonprofit that works helping people in small villages improve their lives. A far cry from "hobbyist" if you ask me.


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Posted by landlubber
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm

One exception hardly proves the rule. I don't see the rest of you standing up to profess your commitment to nobler causes!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

"All pilots certificates and ratings require a practical test, usually called a "check ride". For each practical test, the FAA has published a Practical Test Standards document which is expected to be used by the applicant to prepare, by the flight instructor to teach and evaluate readiness for the exam, and by the examiner to conduct the exam. A practical test is administered by an FAA Inspector or an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. The check-ride is divided into two parts: the oral exam followed by a flight test in the aircraft. Upon successful completion of the practical test, the examiner will issue a temporary airman certificate with the new license or rating.

In order to take practical tests for all pilot certificates and ratings (except Airline Transport Pilot), the applicant must have proper logbook endorsements from their flight instructor."

Excerpts from the Practical test Standards:

During simulated engine failures on multiengine practical tests the
examiner shall set zero thrust after the applicant has simulated
feathering the propeller. The examiner shall require the applicant to
demonstrate at least one landing with a simulated-feathered propeller
with the engine set to zero thrust.

X. AREA OF OPERATION: EMERGENCY OPERATIONS
A. TASK: EMERGENCY APPROACH AND LANDING (SIMULATED)
(ASEL and ASES)
REFERENCES: FAA-H-8083-3; POH/AFM.
Objective. To determine that the applicant:
1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to emergency
approach and landing procedures.
2. Analyzes the situation and selects an appropriate course of
action.
3. Establishes and maintains the recommended best-glide
airspeed, ±10 knots.
4. Selects a suitable landing area.
5. Plans and follows a flight pattern to the selected landing area
considering altitude, wind, terrain, and obstructions.
6. Prepares for landing, or go-around, as specified by the
examiner.
7. Follows the appropriate checklist.
1-33 FAA-S-8081-14A
B. TASK: SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT MALFUNCTIONS
(ASEL and ASES)
REFERENCES: FAA-H-8083-3; POH/AFM.
Objective. To determine that the applicant:
1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to system and equipment
malfunctions appropriate to the airplane provided for the practical
test.
2. Analyzes the situation and takes appropriate action for simulated
emergencies appropriate to the airplane provided for the practical
test for at least three (3) of the following—
a. partial or complete power loss.
b. engine roughness or overheat.
c. carburetor or induction icing.
d. loss of oil pressure.
e. fuel starvation.
f. electrical malfunction.
g. vacuum/pressure, and associated flight instruments malfunction.
h. pitot/static.
i. landing gear or flap malfunction.
j. inoperative trim.
k. inadvertent door or window opening.
l. structural icing.
m. smoke/fire/engine compartment fire.
n. any other emergency appropriate to the airplane.
3. Follows the appropriate checklist or procedure.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Landlubber:

Clearly you don't fly as a pilot and never have. I suggest you try it. There's a lot more to it than you seem to think. It's challenging and it's fun. Most of all it requires a level of professionalism you won't find in too many other "hobbies." Many I know, including Peter and myself have instrument tickets. Meaning we can fly "blind." This takes a pilot's skills to even higher levels. The level of precision you are required to fly to (and judgement you are expected to exhibit) is even higher than the private pilot requirements. If I'm not mistaken, Scott has an instrument ticket, so is a highly skilled pilot. SKILL is what got him on the ground in one piece with no damage to his aircraft and minor damage to a car and NO INJURIES TO ANYONE INVOLVED.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Hmmmmm said "But it now strikes me as a bit passe in an elitist, wasteful & dangerous way."

I'll bet a lot of bicycle riders think cars are a bit passe in an elitist, wasteful and dangerous way.

I'll also bet that a lot of pedestrians think bike riders are a bit passe in an elitist, wasteful and dangerous way.

I have a neighbor who lives quite modestly in a 2,000 square foot home. Upon hearing that someone was building a 6,000 square foot home down the street (on several acres of property...), this neighbor asked, "why would anyone need 6,000 square foot home?" I told this person that my wife's family of five lived in an 900 square foot apartment for more than 20 years and I'm sure they would wonder why you, especially since you are single - would need a whopping 2,000 square feet!

You see, it just depends upon who's ox is being gored.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:36 am

This isn't a slippery slope, POGO, so it's hard to respect your argument. Frankly, I don't care what cyclists think since most of them in the bay area are also drivers. Ditto pedestrians - this isn't NYC. At some point, it's possible that a local airport or two will be closed and that a vote may be part of that process. While I bet many pilots vote, most voters aren't pilots, and the tide seems to be turning a bit against the small airports.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

Swing and a miss, Hmmm. My point had nothing to do with a slippery slope. It had everything to do with your picking private aviation as conspicuous consumption.

So sure, close down some airports and put all of those people who sell and service private aviation out of work.

After all, we don't have enough government intervention and unemployment isn't too big of a problem.

I'll end with a knock-knock joke.

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Nunya.

Nunya who?

Nunya business.


Subtle enough for you?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

Why so hostile, POGO? Sounds like a personal problem!

Yeah, conspicuous consumption - that's a problem w/small planes. You're dodging the slippery slope thing & you know it.

Are you a pilot?


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Posted by Eric Ponteri
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

Amazing the conversation string this started. First, I am a pilot with 28 years flying experience. It is easy to second guess the pilot's decision, but remember he doesn't have the luxury of sitting at his computer and thinking. While he is thinking about where to land he is having to fly the airplane, trying to restart the engine, dealing with the stress of the situation at hand. I know that area well from the land and air and think I would have made the same decision. He was forced to balance many different factors in real time and you shouldn't judge him if you don't understand all the factors he had to deal with.

As for all the judgment going on as to other's lifestyles, I would say we should all be more tolerant. I live about as close as possible to a zero carbon emissions life style as you can in the bay area by means of solar panels and carbon offsets. But I don't think there is anything to be gained by intolerance and judgement, often forming impressions based on only partial information.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm

POGO is a registered user.

Nope. And I don't fly in anything smaller than a regional jet.

My point has nothing to do with slippery slopes. Remember the yacht tax a few years back and how it put lots of shipyards in the Northeast states out of business? The only people you'll hurt are the workers who sell and service these planes.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

POGO is a registered user.

Eric -

It would appear that Hmmm represents an isolated n=1 opinion.

Fortunately, there aren't many like her who insist on imposing their standards on everyone else... but they do seem to make an inordinate amount of noise.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Riiiiighhhht....having flown many times and grown up w/many pilots. You just don't like my *informed* opinion because I don't agree w/you. I'm not too concerned about jobs if they close down a local small airport. Expensive, elitist, resource-wasting activities are not my faves - if you don't like it, that's your problem.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:58 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

"Expensive, elitist, resource-wasting activities are not my faves "

So I guess that means closing golf courses, state parks, private club swimming pools, tennis courts and perhaps even libraries - all of which are resource intensive and are used disproportionately by the middle and upper socio-economic classes.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Oh, Peter! I can't believe you included libraries. I'd be ok w/closing the golf courses, though. Too much "water abuse." You've tried this argument before, my friend, & no one bought it. All you pro-small plane & pilot types just have to accept that on this subject, you're generally not our heroes. Yeah, it's different when it's a human aid mission, but of course you know that's not what I'm referring to. Thanks for at least being polite. I know that a lot of your opinions and work in various communities isn't elitist, but I, and many others, are just not convinced on the alleged safety & marvelousness of flying.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I honestly couldn't be LESS "pro-small plane & pilot types."

I'm pro "stay out of other people's business especially how they choose to spend their own money."

Hmmmm: No one questions your choice of wine, car or recreation.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:42 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

"I can't believe you included libraries"

A perfect example of why one person's choices are not suitable for making public policy - unless you are the King.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

POGO, if my choice of wine or car effected your safety, I'd have to respect you voicing your opinion. And of course, mixing wine w/driving can be dangerous, and having an opinion about that is just fine. And seriously, you haven't seen my car ;-)

It's pretty funny - you actually defend these folks, but cap on me for having a different opinion. So you won't judge my car, wine or how I spend my money, you'll just judge my judgement of others, when it comes to what I consider to be an issue w/overarching public safety aspects? Interesting!

BTW, have you checked out the voodoo lillies that smell corpselike? Pretty interesting. Apparently, you can catch flies w/more than honey...corpse smell works well, too.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

"Hmmmm: No one questions your choice of wine, car or recreation."

Actually, I do question Hmmmm's choices but my questioning is properly irrelevant to what Hmmm chooses to do.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Hmmm:

actually your choice of car could affect my safety. If you drive a clunker it could be unsafe and could cause an accident injuring me or others. Look at the statistics people ore foar more likely to be injured by automobile crashes than plane crashes. Also, as I'm betting you well know, much of GA is made up of business flying. Should people stop flying in private aircraft for business?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Good ques re GA for business, MV. I've worked w/many people who flew small planes for biz purposes. Several of them have died as a result. The crash in EPA is an example of the damage which can occur when a small plane crashes. At that point, the reason for flying is moot, but it seems espec egregious when it's for pleasure.

I'm not comfy w/the car analogy, because frankly, us that travel on the ground in this area don't have much choice depending on where we go. Yes, car does matter. But hey, that Prius (or rather, Pious, as I like to call them) that almost hit me on campus last night wasn't a clunker! My car actually isn't, but let's just say the been "dogified" by my four-legged travelling companions.

Look, of course my opinion doesn't really matter re this issue, because it's not like there's a vote coming. But it's pretty hard to ooooh & awe in respectful wonder at Scott's skill when a car was damaged AND he landed on a major hwy - even though that was the smart way to do it. That's what scary - that landing on a hwy was the best choice he had. It still smacks of danger that can effect many, a la the EPA crash. I truly hope you never have to make the kind of landing that Scott did. But those of us who've been in this area for awhile are well aware that there are enough crashes for us to lose count and since many of them are for pleasure, it smacks of a wasteful danger. I think planes are marvelous and have a fascinating history, I've read my Beryl Markham & she lived to a ripe old age. I have a LE friend who pilots professionally. But, well, every time I read about one of these crashes, I do a major eye roll while hoping no one was hurt. Make sense?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

But, well, every time I read about one of these crashes, I do a major eye roll while hoping no one was hurt. Make sense?


Not really. Do you do the same thing every time you hear abut a car crash? Of course not, it happens so much more often as to be a non-event. Part of what perks people up about plane crashes is that in relation to many of the other risks in life they are less frequent. "man bites dog" dontcha know?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I couldn't care less about your opinions. I care that you so cavalierly want to shut down airports and private aviation because it doesn't fit your definition of utility.

More people are killed in the United States every week by cars than in all of the private aviation crashes in the world in a decade.

And yes, your choice of wine and cars and recreation can most definitely impact my safety and the safety of others. My point is that provided you do these things lawfully, it's simply none of my business.

Your point couldn't be more absurd... perhaps why you have zero support from others.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Honestly? I do w/re to car crashes a lot of the time - I'm a big eye roller. It's less frequent, but in many cases, oh so unnecessary! I say the same about a number of the car crashes, too. One of the big diffs is that most pilots are smart, many drivers aren't, but pilots seem to be more at the mercy of so much even when it's not other planes.

Here's a not-polite question: How come there seemed to be so many bonehead old commercial pilots (maybe this has changed)? Everyone makes such a big deal about what kind of skills they have to have, but some of the older ones I've been around? Boneheads- part of the ol' boys network wanting to get a pass on all aspects of their physical so that they can keep flying. Scary & waaay less impressive than the private plane pilots I've been around.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I didn't do an extensive google search but I did find this comparison rather quickly:

In 2004, there were 510 general aviation fatalities and 42,636 automobile fatalities.

I didn't look up how many people died on ladders.

Web Link


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Hmmm:
.
I think you may be operating from old information. "good old boys" aren't getting any kind of a pass. Especially from the FAA. I started working on my commercial after I got my instrument rating. Had to stop because life got in the way, but I can tell you the skills required of a commercial pilot are even greater than what I possessed as an instrument rated private pilot. An ATP has even greater requirements.

Pilots are no more at the mercy of anything than anyone else. In fact, the planes most people fly are infinitely better maintained than most cars. The bottom line is that in the unusual instance of an engine failure in a GA airplane, they can't simply pull off to the side of the road, hence the result is "news" as opposed to a car breaking down, which I will guarantee you happens with much greater frequency with cars than airplanes.


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Posted by landlubber
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Ah, statistics!

According to Web Link in 2004 there were 219,426 general aviation planes, and 243,010,549 registered vehicles. So the general aviation death rate is .23% whereas the vehicle rate is less than 1/10 that much! General aviation is far more dangerous than driving.

Some of you have noted that you have advanced pilot certifications. Good for you, and congratulations on having the money and time to indulge yourself! However, there are plenty of pilots who haven't had that training, and they are still flying out of airports in residential neighborhoods, flying over our homes, offices, schools, and playgrounds.

As for the comment about closing "golf courses, state parks, private club swimming pools, tennis courts and perhaps even libraries" -- there's a major logical gap here! True, people have died playing golf, swimming, and perhaps even reading books (those lethal paper cuts!) but they are not endangering others with their leisure activities.

Whether or not we use public money wisely to subsidize leisure activities may be a worthwhile discussion, but let's try to keep the topic on safety here -- no matter how uncomfortable that makes the pilots.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

"How come there seemed to be so many bonehead old commercial pilots"

Commercial pilos have to stop flying at 60 years of age so there are zero boneheaded old commercial pilots.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Ah, statistics.

You could probably consider "exposure" - and compare fatalities per mile traveled.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Yeah, MV, this was when I was a kid - older people are always old to us then. I'd always heard about the skill level necessary, but they just didn't come across as the best & the brightest, unfortunately.

Yes, I am aware of the frequency w/which cars break down - see it all the time. It's that coming out of the sky thing that so many of us have a hard time with w/re to planes.


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Posted by landlubber
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm

A more relevant metric would be hours of use rather than miles traveled, and that would make general aviation look even worse!

Also worthy of note is that most fatal auto accidents occur between midnight and 4 am. You can reduce your risk by about 90% by avoiding the streets between those hours. Whereas a plane accident is far more likely to happen during the day, when people are out and about.

I notice that on the PA counterpart to this thread, someone noted that people died yesterday when a small plane crashed into a hospital in Watsonville. How frequent -- and close to home -- do these accidents need to be before our cities take action?


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Posted by WAP
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 9, 2011 at 7:13 am

Wonderful landing, poor judgement. Most likely fuel starvation. Most incidents outcome of pilot error. Is there an account of WHY the engine quit?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2011 at 9:38 am

The report hasn't hit the NTSB data base yet.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

Landlubber:

since you're concerned about people on the ground being killed I suggest you look for those statistics. In my reading of accident reports, people on the ground being killed in a plane crash, especially a GA aircraft, is highly unusual.


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Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 9:55 am

I'm surprised this thread has taken on the dimensions it has. To add to Peter's citation of the practical test standards, below are the additional FAA requirements for a private license, in government-ese. Where experience is quantified such as in hours, these are minimums. The actual number is depends on the applicant's proficiency in the view of their instructor and FAA examiner. The gatekeeper is the FAA examiner and check ride he mentions.

Stu. Private Airplane; Instrument Airplane; Private Helicopter.

§ 61.103 Eligibility requirements: General.

To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:
(a) Be at least 17 years of age for a rating in other than a glider or balloon.
(b) Be at least 16 years of age for a rating in a glider or balloon.
(c) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the Administrator may place such operating limitations on that applicant's pilot certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft.
(d) Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who:
(1) Conducted the training or reviewed the person's home study on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in §61.105(b) of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought; and
(2) Certified that the person is prepared for the required knowledge test.
(e) Pass the required knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in §61.105(b) of this part.
(f) Receive flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who:
(1) Conducted the training in the areas of operation listed in §61.107(b) of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought; and
(2) Certified that the person is prepared for the required practical test.
(g) Meet the aeronautical experience requirements of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought before applying for the practical test.
(h) Pass a practical test on the areas of operation listed in §61.107(b) of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought.
(i) Comply with the appropriate sections of this part that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought.
(j) Hold a U.S. student pilot certificate, sport pilot certificate, or recreational pilot certificate.

61.105 Aeronautical knowledge.
(a) General. A person who is applying for a private pilot certificate must receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete a home-study course on the aeronautical knowledge areas of paragraph (b) of this section that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought.
(b) Aeronautical knowledge areas. (1) Applicable Federal Aviation Regulations of this chapter that relate to private pilot privileges, limitations, and flight operations;
(2) Accident reporting requirements of the National Transportation Safety Board;
(3) Use of the applicable portions of the "Aeronautical Information Manual" and FAA advisory circulars;
(4) Use of aeronautical charts for VFR navigation using pilotage, dead reckoning, and navigation systems;
(5) Radio communication procedures;
(6) Recognition of critical weather situations from the ground and in flight, windshear avoidance, and the procurement and use of aeronautical weather reports and forecasts;
(7) Safe and efficient operation of aircraft, including collision avoidance, and recognition and avoidance of wake turbulence;
(8) Effects of density altitude on takeoff and climb performance;
(9) Weight and balance computations;
(10) Principles of aerodynamics, powerplants, and aircraft systems;
(11) Stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery techniques for the airplane and glider category ratings;
(12) Aeronautical decision making and judgment; and
(13) Preflight action that includes—
(i) How to obtain information on runway lengths at airports of intended use, data on takeoff and landing distances, weather reports and forecasts, and fuel requirements; and
(ii) How to plan for alternatives if the planned flight cannot be completed or delays are encountered.

61.107 Flight proficiency
(a) General. A person who applies for a private pilot certificate must receive and log ground and flight training from an authorized instructor on the areas of operation of this section that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought.
(b) Areas of operation. (1) For an airplane category rating with a single-engine class rating:
(i) Preflight preparation;
(ii) Preflight procedures;
(iii) Airport and seaplane base operations;
(iv) Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds;
(v) Performance maneuvers;
(vi) Ground reference maneuvers;
(vii) Navigation;
(viii) Slow flight and stalls;
(ix) Basic instrument maneuvers;
(x) Emergency operations;
(xi) Night operations, except as provided in §61.110 of this part; and
(xii) Postflight procedures.


§ 61.109 Aeronautical experience.
(a) For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (k) of this section, a person who applies for a private pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 40 hours of flight time that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training in the areas of operation listed in §61.107(b)(1) of this part, and the training must include at least—
(1) 3 hours of cross-country flight training in a single-engine airplane;
(2) Except as provided in §61.110 of this part, 3 hours of night flight training in a single-engine airplane that includes—
(i) One cross-country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance; and
(ii) 10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport.
(3) 3 hours of flight training in a single-engine airplane on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments, including straight and level flight, constant airspeed climbs and descents, turns to a heading, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, radio communications, and the use of navigation systems/facilities and radar services appropriate to instrument flight;
(4) 3 hours of flight training with an authorized instructor in a single-engine airplane in preparation for the practical test, which must have been performed within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test; and
(5) 10 hours of solo flight time in a single-engine airplane, consisting of at least—
(i) 5 hours of solo cross-country time;
(ii) One solo cross country flight of 150 nautical miles total distance, with full-stop landings at three points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations; and
(iii) Three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

Stu -

I agree that this thread has taken a very unusual and dumb turn.

What is obviously a very unusual ("man bites dog") accident has evolved into a discussion that private, general aviation is an unnecessary evil with no utility. Just another example of people who cannot resist the urge to impose their standards on others.

I don't think they will be happy until everyone is riding bicycles, shopping at Whole Foods, wearing Birkenstock's and paying 90% tax rates.


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Posted by ManBitesGod
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Man sure is biting dog a lot, given that horrendously fiery crash into the Watson hospital, leaving 4 dead. Of, that number would likely be higher if it hadn't been closed.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

The chances of being killed on the ground from a general aviation crash is 1 in 100 million over a 75 year life-time.

It will be difficult, but I'll try to find a way to live without worrying about a Cessna falling on me.

This is from a peer reviewed journal: Web Link


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Thank you POGO. In other words, 99% of people killed in plane crashes WERE ABOARD THE PLANE.


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Posted by wap
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm

All these comments and demonstration of knowledge are somewhat noxious. Pilots, such as myself (7000 hours) tend to over rate themselves and want to impart their expertise.
To the point. Most likely fuel starvation. If true, the pilot is a dunce and deserves no further praise or comments.
AMF


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm

wap:

IF it was fuel starvation, then yes, the pilot was a dunce. That doesn't reduce the skills he exhibited in getting his plane safely on the ground.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm

wap:

have you seen a preliminary NTSB report positing fuel starvation? I haven't been able to find one.


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Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Jul 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

A recent quote from Lynn Lunsford, spokesman for the FAA, in response to a question as to who does the investigation and what it entails (in an e-mail to the Almanac):

"As with all accidents, NTSB and FAA are involved. In non-fatal accidents and incidents, FAA typically handles the investigation and determines what led to the emergency landing."


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Posted by 280 Lady
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Going back to some earlier posts, yes, I do feel that landing on the highway is a somewhat selfish act. Other alternatives -- Canada Road? Crystal Springs Reservoir?
Comparing this incident to Capt. Sully's landing on the Hudson is totally off the mark. This professional pilot had a primary duty to the safety of his passengers and he carried out that duty brilliantly. Unselfish. The private pilot landing himself on 280 -- that's quite another case.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

As a licensed and experienced pilot I believe that, given the plane's location at the time of engine failure, the pilot selected the the place to make an emergency landing which posed the lowest risk to individuals on the ground.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

280 lady:

following your logic, if Sully had been flying the aircraft alone and the same thing had happened forcing him to ditch in the Hudson where he could have struck boats and possibly injured people on the ground you would label that as a selfish act.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

What a ridiculous conversation. This pilot made a split second decision and landed where he could. That's why it's called an emergency landing.

It's probably a little easier to figure out all the alternatives he should have done without watching the ground coming up on you and listening to nothing but your heart beat.

Let's be thankful that the only injury was to a rear window of a car.


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Posted by landlubber
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

The comments about Sully simply reflect another effort by the self-entitled pilots to divert attention from the real issue. No one is suggesting that we close the airports or shutdown the commercial airlines. There's a huge difference between a commercial (or military) pilot who is doing his or her job for a relatively modest salary and an overprivileged hobbyist who is buzzing our rooftops just because he has nothing better to do with his time and money.

It is ridiculously easy to become a private plane pilot. Anyone with extra cash in the bank and a few leisure hours can get the license. You can pass the test with only 70% correct? That would get you a grade of D in most schools.

The pilots claim that their planes are well maintained and that they themselves are adequately trained, and that we should trust them on that. No matter how you look at it, it's a selfish, self-absorbed alpha perspective that is simply disrespectful to the rest of us, especially given that this thread is about an accident in which a hapless driver came within a few inches of losing his life.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Read the original article:

"That there were no injuries in a Sunday evening incident in which a pilot landed his small plane on I-280 is probably more an indication of the pilot's skill rather than luck,"


And be aware that being a licensed pilot with verification of current medical condition and having complied with the FAA's currency requirements is much more difficult than being a licensed driver - and licensed drivers kill thousand of non passengers every year.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Landlubber:

you have no basis in your complaint. As POGO found the numbers there is next to no chance of being killed by a plane crash if you are on the ground. Your complaints smack of class warfare and are just flat wrong.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Menlo Voter: "Even given that, flying is far safer than driving. I'm far likelier to be killed or injured on my drive to the airport than while I am flying."

Peter Carpenter: "and licensed drivers kill thousands of non passengers every year."

From the website: "Cessna 150-152 Club - safety facts"

Question: Is flying a small plane dangerous?

Answer: You may have heard that flying an airplane is safer than driving a car, but this is not quite true. Because airplanes travel in a different environment than other vehicles, it's impossible to make a direct statistical comparison but in terms of danger to life and limb flying a small airplane is roughly equivalent to riding a motorcycle or piloting a private boat.

While this was an accident that resulted in the best possible outcome, the comparisons on this forum by those with a pilot's license to driving a car is capricious.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Thomas:

your findings don't dispute the fact that the vast majority of those killed or injured in plane crashes are aboard the aircraft and not on the ground. If those of us that choose to fly are risking our lives that is our decisions. In my reading of crash statistics and reports one of the most often cited causes is fuel starvation. that is pilot stupidity. the way I pre-flight and fly precludes my having such an emergency.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Menlo Voter,
I'm sure your recent post also reflects the sentiments of the pilot Scott Bohannon. My post was not in reference to your subsequent revised posts that the majority of victims of small plane crashes are on board the aircraft but your July 7th comment that flying a small plane is less dangerous than driving an automobile.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Thomas:

I stand corrected. In my research I cam across the following which I think is significant: "Risk management is much easier with airplanes than with cars. In a car, you are constantly at the mercy of other drivers. If an 18-wheeler crosses the yellow line, you're toast. Except in the immediate vicinity of a busy airport, traffic is seldom an issue for pilots. If you die it is because something went wrong with your plane or because you flew it into the ground by mistake."

From this article: Web Link


There are many pilots like myself that take great pains to make sure we don't do something stupid and fly the plane into the ground. It's a matter of developing a professional attitude toward flying. Unfortunately, not all pilots do this, but the majority of pilots I know are very concientious about safety.


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