Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When Close Friends Get Too Close

Don’t assume that just because you’re friends, you can anticipate what the other pilot will do

The airplane was taken to a shop that recommended a complete engine overhaul. The owner didn't want to do that. While the airplane sat at MGJ, its annual expired. The owner wanted to have it moved back to FWN for maintenance, and arranged for someone else to apply to the FAA for a ferry permit on his behalf. A mechanic from FWN arranged for a friend who owned the Comanche to fly him to MGJ to pick up the Cherokee. A close friend of both the mechanic and the pilot saw them eating lunch and drinking iced tea before they departed for FWN in the Comanche.

The mechanic, who also held an Inspection Authorization, had reported 5,840 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for a third-class medical certificate. The Comanche owner had reported 1,450 total hours on his third-class medical application.

The ferry permit required that a mechanic find the Cherokee to be airworthy for the trip to FWN. After sufficient preflight preparation, the mechanic boarded the Cherokee and his friend got back into the Comanche. Both airplanes departed from runway 3 at MGJ. The PA-28 took off first, followed by the PA-24 about a minute later.

Two witnesses near the accident site observed the airplanes flying in the same southwestern direction, when they clipped each other. The Cherokee immediately went into a right spiraling dive. The Comanche entered an angled dive.

The wreckage was located about 11 miles southwest of MGJ. Both airplanes were impacted in wooded, uneven terrain. The PA-24 was located about 600 feet southwest of the PA-28.

Examination of both engines and their respective propellers revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the PA-24 pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance from the PA-28, resulting in an in-flight collision. Contributing to the accident was the PA-24 pilot's decision to overtake the PA-28.

Two float-equipped PA-18 SuperCub airplanes collided about three miles west of Dillingham, Alaska. Only the pilot was on board each airplane. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilots were friends, and they both had departed from Shannons Pond Seaplane Base.

They were en route to a lake about 13 miles southeast of Dillingham where they planned to load the planes with cargo belonging to one of the pilots and take it to Dillingham.


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