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Josh-D. S. Davis

Xaminmo / Omnimax / Max Omni / Mad Scientist / Midnight Shadow / Radiation Master

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Don't put yourself in a bad position
Pilot, Aviation
joshdavis
I heard about this through my flight school at the time. I think there was a business relationship between that school and mine at the time.

First Pilot: Jai Li (Student)
Second Pilot: "Roger" Wei Jin (Student)
Date: On November 15, 2008

Mr. Jai and Mr. Wei, were both student pilots. Neither was authorized to fly with a passenger. One was signed off for a solo flight, and otherwise, they needed a CFI to be in the plane together. However, they both decided to fly together, one leg each. Everything was fine until they returned.

"I told him it was too dangerous because of the darkness and the propeller is still running," Li said, "but he still wanted to get out of the aircraft from the right side." There was a nearby fuel truck, and Jin was concerned they would be caught. Li stopped the aircraft, and Jin exited the aircraft and ran forward.

"I then hear a loud thump and the propeller stopped running and the engine is off," Li said.

"We have recognized that it was a tragic accident," Jim Witt, chief pilot for the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, said, "and we have changed a lot of policies. We've had lots of training; we've changed all kinds of things." The NTSB's conclusions are accompanied by Li's statement and a toxicology report -- no alcohol or drugs were found in Jin's system. In the safety board's nine-page report, Witt underscored that "common sense" is needed around airplanes.

Here's the summary report:

NTSB Identification: WPR09LA040
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 15, 2008 in Atwater, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 9/10/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 152, registration: N45994
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Uninjured.

On November 15, 2008, about 1750 Pacific standard time, the student pilot associated with the operations of a Cessna 152, N45994, was killed after exiting the airplane and inadvertently contacting the propeller, at the Atwater/Castle Airport (MER), Atwater, California. The airplane was registered to KS Aviation, Inc. and operated by Sierra Academy of Aeronautics under the provisions of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The first student pilot, who was seated in the left seat and manipulating the controls at the time of the accident, was not injured. The airplane was not damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that originated from Visalia Municipal Airport (VIS), Visalia, California, at 1625, with an intended destination of MER.

For the purposes of this report, the student pilot manipulating the flight controls at the time of the accident is referred to as the first pilot; the student pilot that exited the airplane (deceased) is referred to as the second pilot.

In a written statement provided to the National Transportation Safety Board, the certified flight instructor (CFI) of both students reported scheduling the second student pilot for a solo cross country the morning of the accident. Before the flight, the CFI met with the second student pilot at the airport to check weather and endorse his logbook. The CFI watched the second student pilot walk to the ramp to preflight the airplane and then left the airport premises.

In a written statement, the first pilot stated he waited on the first floor of the air traffic control tower while the second pilot was dispatched the airplane. When the flight instructor left the airport premises, the first pilot walked onto the ramp and joined the second pilot for the cross-county flight. When departing MER the second pilot was positioned in the left seat and manipulating the flight controls. After landing at VIS, the student pilots switched seats for the return flight to MER.

After landing, the second student pilot taxied the airplane toward the ramp. The first pilot stated that prior to reaching the parking area, the second student pilot, concerned about being seen by flight school personnel, instructed him to taxi the airplane to the designated parking area, and then he exited the airplane. The first pilot reported that after exiting the airplane, the second student pilot ran toward the front of the airplane and was struck by the turning propeller.

According to U.S. Naval Observatory data, sunset occurred at 1652.

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

The second pilot's failure to see and avoid the rotating propeller after exiting the airplane.

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That's really sad. Though IMO still not as tragic as the one you posted not long back that was a CFI and teenager where a tool had been left in the airplane from maintenance, causing it's failure and crash.

I agree. The one this year was totally unknown and caused by a mistake. The one from 2008 was poor decision making, and general stupidity.

Man that sucks. Stupid decisions. If you're worried about being caught, maybe you ought to not do it.

Agreed. Plus, dusk/night, regardless of getting caught or not, is not a good time to be running around aircraft movement areas on foot.

You know, even though the prop would have been nearly invisible, you have to know it's there and moving because the engine is making noise.

When that happened, the Chinese government, which was funding the Chinese students' pilot licensing in the US, suspended the program for a week while the initial investigation was going on. Half of the instructors at my school were idle, unpaid, during that time.

So not only did his poor decisions cause him to kill himself, he mentally harm his friend and interrupted the livelihood of tens or hundreds of others. (Instructors at schools are paid $15-$20/hr on 1099 without benefits unless they are special people like the chief pilot or assistant chief pilot. As such, going a week without work is really tough. The CFIs are the future airline captains.)

What's the deal with exiting the airplane on the right side?

It's not a problem to exit on the right side.
It's a problem to run forward into the prop instead of to the right, away from the plane.

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