On March 3, 2015 another airline pilot flying an experimental aircraft crashed and killed both the pilot and his passenger. Mr. David Whitney, who was frequently referred to as Captain Whitney, when he wore his American Airlines uniform and flew the big jet, was the owner of the aircraft and the pilot-in-command. His passenger, Mr. William Mann, who also perished in this crash, was an advanced biochemist; two extraordinary and successful professional men died an unseemly death while flying in a homebuilt/experimental aircraft.
Just more than a year ago, while flying a homebuilt from the same airport, The Palm Beach County Airpark (Lantana, Florida), Mr. Leonard McGarity “bought the farm.” This tragedy occurred at the same airport one year later and Mr. McGarity was also an American Airlines captain who very capably flew the big jets all over the world. In my memoir, The Rogue Aviator-In the Back Alleys of Aviation http://therogueaviator.com/ I digressed from the chronological format to enter a chapter titled, An Accident Looking for a Place to Happen-Jet Pilots in Prop Airplanes. This chapter is filled with anecdotes of airline pilots (mostly myself) as well as Air force pilot colleagues who tip-toed on the edge of catastrophe in their small single-engine airplanes. All pilots will glean relevant “do-not-do” flight safety information that will enhance their own safety margin by reading this chapter of confessions.
Yesterday, Harrison Ford, http://usat.ly/1AMAEEr the famous actor and veteran pilot “bought the farm”—or perhaps we should say the golf course— as he augured into the fairway at the Penmar Golf course adjacent to the Santa Monica airport. His air machine was a WW II vintage Ryan open cockpit used as a military trainer about two-thirds of a century ago. I will endure the slings and arrows of the TSA lunacy and ride the big jet rather than take my chances on an antique or homebuilt aircraft. While I agree they are a lot of fun, so is snowboarding through the trees and riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
This blog post is prepared by Allen Morris/a.k.a. Ace Abbott (pen name), a retired commercial pilot and aviation author. His books titled:The Rogue Aviator and Dead Tired-Aviation’s Insidious Killer are available at http://goo.gl/Ktnkjt (Amazon Books) as well as all Ebook stores