Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Powered Parachute Pilot Damages Light Sport Cause

Today powered parachutes hit the main stream media. Of course it had to involve a stupid pilot trick in order for this to happen. A PPC pilot flew over a crowd at a tomato festival in Iowa and flew his PPC into a crowd injuring several people and the light sport aircraft movement in general. I do not know all of the facts and should not summarize but I am going to do so anyhow. This PPC was a 2-seat aircraft and may or may not have been n-numbered. If it was n-numbered the numbers did not stand out as they should have, even in close up photos. This may not seem like a big deal but a pilot who has taken the time, effort and consideration to comply with the rule to n-number his machine has demonstrated some type of willingness to follow the FAR's. This pilot clearly violated FAR 91.119 see below.

Sec. 91.119 - Minimum safe altitudes: General.
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
(d) Helicopters. Helicopters may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface. In addition, each person operating a helicopter shall comply with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the Administrator.

If you look and listen to the video you may notice the following. The flags in the background are being blown straight out. This is an indication that the pilot may have been flying in too much wind. The second thing to note that the pilot significantly increased the throttle as he approached the crowd then for some reason chopped the throttle. Once the pilot realized his sink rate was too great, he again increased the throttle only this time he was too late on the throttle to recover.

The bottom line is people were injured by a pilot who violated the rules governing our sport in a very visible manner. This sucks for the rest of us who try to conform to the rules and train and fly safely. Safe affordable flight is no accident although accidents will happen with safe pilots. This accident clearly shows how not to operate your light sport aircraft.

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