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Old 03 January 2013, 04:53 PM
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BoKu BoKu is offline
 
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Airplane Mom says boy didn't steal plane in Alabama crash

The owner of the Piper PA 30 had given the 17-year-old high school junior his own key and the code to a security gate behind which it was parked, Sherrie Smith said.

"He had used the plane many times before," Smith told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We were working on getting him his own plane when he was a senior."

http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/...s.Plane.Crash/
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  #2  
Old 03 January 2013, 05:05 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
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He may not have stolen it (information from the owner would be nice) but he broke several rules in taking it with passengers* at night when he was qualified for neither. Also, he was probably not qualified to fly twin engine aircraft.

* He could have had a recreational pilot's license, but that is limited to one passenger only.
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Old 03 January 2013, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
He may not have stolen it (information from the owner would be nice) but he broke several rules in taking it with passengers* at night when he was qualified for neither. Also, he was probably not qualified to fly twin engine aircraft.

* He could have had a recreational pilot's license, but that is limited to one passenger only.
Based on the news story at hand, he had only a student pilot's certificate and had been endorsed for solo flight. It was definitely illegal for him to be flying a twin-engine airplane, and illegal to be carrying passengers.

And given that the Twin Comanche is a pretty complex little airplane with two engines with constant-speed propellers and retractable landing gear, he was quite possibly in way over his head. With all that stuff to manage, it is very easy to get way behind the airplane. Not much has to go wrong before it all goes to worms.

[ETA: Other reports are saying the weather was bad and visibility was poor at the time of the crash. Not being instrument-rated to fly in such weather, he would have been in way, way over his head.]

I don't believe that any owner of such an airplane in their right mind would willingly let an unlicensed student pilot fly it unaccompanied, and certainly not with passengers.

My bet is that if the boy did have a key that fit the airplane's locks, it was not given to him by the airplane owner. The door and magneto switch locks on many general aviation airplanes are notoriously indiscriminate. When I was a ramp rat I carried four or five keys, among which I could usually find one to open and start the majority of airplanes at the airport.

Last edited by BoKu; 03 January 2013 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 03 January 2013, 05:39 PM
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Airplane Three teens die in plane crash while "joyriding" near Jasper, authorities say

The plane's owner confirmed on Wednesday that the plane had been stolen, Walker County Sheriff's Chief Deputy James Painter said.

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2013/01/...rash_near.html
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  #5  
Old 04 January 2013, 09:38 PM
UrbanLegends101 UrbanLegends101 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
Based on the news story at hand, he had only a student pilot's certificate and had been endorsed for solo flight. It was definitely illegal for him to be flying a twin-engine airplane, and illegal to be carrying passengers.

Having only a student pilot certificate might not make flight in a twin-engine airplane illegal, if the student is taking initial pilot training in a twin-engine aircraft. That situation, while unusual, doesn't appear to be illegal.

Federal Aviation regulation 61.87(e) details the additional requirements for maneuvers and procedures for pre-solo flight training in a multiengine airplane.

I don't think this is the case in the specific situation, but it is very possible for a student pilot to be signed off for solo flight in a twin-engine airplace.

Again, it is an unusual situation, but has happened, almost always when someone with the means to purchase a twin-engine airplane and that is the aircraft used for flight training.

Yes, it is illegal for a student pilot to carry passengers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
My bet is that if the boy did have a key that fit the airplane's locks, it was not given to him by the airplane owner. The door and magneto switch locks on many general aviation airplanes are notoriously indiscriminate. When I was a ramp rat I carried four or five keys, among which I could usually find one to open and start the majority of airplanes at the airport.
Yep, especially the door locks, and even the magneto key switch, if there was a lot of wear on the locks.

Last edited by UrbanLegends101; 04 January 2013 at 09:44 PM. Reason: corrected the reg citation number 61 not 91
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Old 06 January 2013, 01:32 AM
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Even if you allow somebody to use the vehicle occasionally that doesn't mean you will allow them to use it whenever.

If he had a key to the plane and access to the airport because of school/training that's great, but assuming he didn't have permission to take it out joyriding with friends it's still theft.

My brother (who lives in town) has a spare set of keys to my car in the event of an emergency.. That doesn't mean if he shows up one day and takes it out to rob a store or gets drunk and drives it around he didn't 'steal it'. Certainly ethically and I would hope legally.
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Old 18 January 2013, 10:21 PM
kanazawa kanazawa is offline
 
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More info from the NTSB:

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/br...02X72037&key=1

It looks as if was his first flight in that aircraft...
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  #8  
Old 14 April 2015, 02:21 AM
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Airplane Update: NTSB releases probable cause

Update: The NTSB recently posted the Probable Cause for this accident on their accident synopsis page:

Quote:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The student pilot’s poor judgment to take a multiengine airplane for which he did not have experience or permission to operate and depart into night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in a loss of airplane control and impact with terrain.
It appears that the mom's assertion that her son had been given a key to the airplane and permission to use it was, if not false, at least not supported by the preponderance of evidence. From what I can tell, it does not appear that there was ever any civil action against the airplane owner. I was worried that there might have been grounds for an "attractive nuisance" case that would have set an uncomfortable precedent.

The whole thing was a very sad episode, and I hope this report puts it to rest.

Thanks, Bob K.
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