Sometimes the sky really is falling

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by TBO, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    Dec 21, 2002
    1504 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55454
    Disabled plane kills jogger listening to iPod on South Carolina beach

    Associated Press
    Updated: 03/16/2010 05:28:16 PM CDT

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Robert Gary Jones was a pharmaceutical salesman on a business trip, looking forward to getting home to celebrate his daughter's third birthday. He was enjoying a moment to himself on this resort island, jogging on the beach and listening to his iPod.

    Officials say the Woodstock, Ga., man neither saw nor heard what struck him from behind Monday evening: A single-engine plane making an emergency landing.

    The Lancair IV-P aircraft, which can be built from a kit, had lost its propeller and was "basically gliding" as it hit and instantly killed Jones, said Ed Allen, the coroner for Beaufort County on the South Carolina coast.

    "There's no noise," said aviation expert Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the National Transportation Safety Board. "So the jogger, with his ear buds in, and the plane without an engine, you're basically a stealth aircraft. Who would expect to look up?"

    The pilot, Edward I. Smith of Chesapeake, Va., and his lone passenger both walked away from the crash landing near the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa.

    Marshall Clary was sitting in his home office overlooking the beach when the crash happened about 6:10 p.m. He said he heard nothing when the plane hit Jones and didn't realize something was wrong until he heard emergency helicopters overhead a short time later.

    From his back deck, he saw the plane in the water about 100 yards from where emergency responders used a sheet to cover the bloodied body of a man wearing jogging shorts.
    Jones, a 38-year-old salesman for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, was in Hilton Head on a business trip and was looking forward to returning home for his daughter's birthday Wednesday, his mother said.

    Pauline Jones, of Dunedin, Fla., described him as "great son, a wonderful husband," She said he lived in the northern Atlanta suburbs with his wife, Jennifer, their daughter and a 5-year-old son.

    "I was never so shocked in all my life," Pauline Jones said, her voice shaking.

    "They say that God only gives you what you can handle. I said, 'You know what, I've reached my max.'"

    The plane took off from Orlando, Fla., at 4:45 p.m. Monday and was en route to Virginia when it started leaking oil at about 13,000 feet, said Joheida Fister, spokeswoman for Hilton Head Island fire and rescue.

    Fister said the pilot determined he couldn't make it to Hilton Head Airport. He told authorities oil on the windshield blocked his vision and the propeller had come off, forcing him to attempt a landing on the beach.

    Smith confirmed he was flying the plane when he returned to the scene Tuesday, when the four-seater aircraft was hoisted onto a trailer hitched to a pickup truck and towed from beach. Speaking in a subdued voice, Smith said he didn't want to talk about the crash.

    "I've got a lot of issues going on right now," Smith said. "I've got a plane that's all torn up. And I've got a young man that I killed."

    Authorities did not identify the passenger who was flying with Smith.

    The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Fister said.

    NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said no cause had been determined for the crash. He said the plane was being transported to Virginia, where investigators would inspect it. Holloway said interviews would also be conducted with the pilot and any witnesses.

    "We don't know what occurred, especially since we haven't actually examined the aircraft," Holloway said. "We are still gathering facts."

    An FAA spokeswoman referred inquiries to the NTSB.

    Schiavo, the former NTSB official, said Smith made the right choice in landing on the beach rather than attempting a water landing. The aircraft likely wasn't carrying flotation equipment.

    "Planes like this sink like a rock," she said.

    Even with oil smeared on the windshield, Schiavo says the pilot should have been able to see through a small window on the side of the plane and possibly yell out to anyone below. Still, there may have been little time to try to avoid hitting the jogger, she said.

    The airplane model that killed Jones has a turbine engine and can fly up to 370 mph, according to the Lancair Web site. The "fastbuild kit" for the IV-P model, which has a pressurized cabin, is listed as costing $129,000 and is "fully FAA approved," the site says.

    The plane "could be easily built in one's home shop" and "has proven over the years to be very safe, reliable and extremely low in maintenance," the site says.

    Joseph Bartels, chief executive officer of Lancair International, the Oregon-based company that produces the aircraft kits, said Tuesday that the kit produces a "light, fast and strong aircraft."

    "This particular aircraft is one of about 1,000 sold either as kits or completed," Bartels said, though he added he had no specific knowledge about the airplane that had crashed. He said the firm does not produce the engine, which is purchased separately, he said.

    Bartels, who had seen online news photos of the damaged plane, called the landing "miraculous" given the damage to it, but also expressed sorrow at the deadly outcome.
  2. Atlas

    Atlas transmogrifier

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    Oct 1, 2001
    north of the equator
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010

  3. PBCounty


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    May 11, 2005
    Palm Beach County, FL
    I know it is very common and I don't fault anyone for doing so, but I would never intentionally disable one of my senses when out and moving around in public. I see people jogging and walking all the time next to highways and through intersections with music devices stuck in their ears.
  4. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

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    Aug 16, 2001
    Taunton, MA