[jhb_airlines] Mid air accident

  • From: "Paul Reynolds" <paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "JHB List" <jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2008 13:01:27 -0000

I don't usually forward these circular mailings but I thought this one
sufficiently interesting to pass on.

 

 

Paul

 

 

 

The mood couldn't have been more relaxed aboard an executive jet carrying
three Incline residents as it began its descent towards Reno-Tahoe
International Airport Monday afternoon.


 

Mike Chipman was dozing while his wife, Evy, read a book. Steve DiZio was
also reading and occasionally looked-up to check the flight's progress on a
GPS read-out.


Then, they heard what sounded like an explosion coming from the cockpit. The
cabin depressurized and the plane veered to the right before going into a
steep dive.


"The pilot had just put on the seat belt sign, and a few minutes afterwards
there was this explosion ...a really loud bang or crash from the cockpit,"
recalled DiZio, a retired high-tech start-up manager.


Traveling from the Carlsbad Airport in San Diego , the Hawker 800XP jet
struck a glider in a mid-air collision at 16,000 feet over the Pine Nut
Mountains southeast of Carson City .


The accident, which took place at about 3:10 pm., destroyed the jet's nose
cone and the glider whose pilot, Japanese citizen and 30-year glider
veteran, Akihiro Hirao , parachuted safely back to earth.


The pilot quickly brought the jet back under control as the three startled
passengers secured their oxygen masks.


After deducing that the damage to the starboard wing, part of which had
caved-in and was leaking fuel vapor, was too extensive to have been caused
by a bird, and that they would all be dead if they had struck another
conventional airplane, passenger Mike Chipman , a part owner of the Arizona
Diamondbacks baseball team, surmised the truth.


"I knew there were gliders all over the place ... the only thing I could
figure when we realized it wasn't a bird was that it was a glider," he said.


DiZio and the Chipmans said they did not panic after the crash.


"Things go through your mind, but it was sort of like a dream," DiZio
said."There was nothing we could do. We just sort of went calm."


"I did some deep breathing and said a few prayers," Evy Chipman said.


"Though I was aware of the damage to the wing, there wasn't much I could
do," said Mike Chipman . "The pilots clearly had it under control, but it
certainly had my attention."


Though the passengers didn't know it at the time, the starboard engine had
failed. Moreover, part of the glider had ripped its way through the plane's
nose and into the instrument dash, causing it to burst into the pilot's face
and lap.


Despite a gash to her chin, pilot Annette Saunders remained in control
throughout the remainder of the flight, even after a two-foot piece of the
nose structure had bent its way in front of the cockpit window.


After passing the Carson City Airport , the pilot swung the plane around to
bring it in for an emergency landing. As they leveled-out, the co-pilot
turned and yelled over the noise that they had lost control of their landing
gear and would skid to a halt on the aircraft's belly.


Though passengers assumed the emergency position, they said the landing
could not possibly have been better.


"The landing was as smooth as you could imagine, not even a bump," DiZio
said. "We stayed on the runway right up to the end, so she (the pilot) must
have had that just perfectly lined-up even with the crosswinds."


Upon landing, pilot Saunders was taken to the Washoe Medical Center with
minor injuries.


Glider pilot Hirao was found unharmed by Washoe Tribal Police later that
evening.


According to Lyons County Sheriff's Department Captain Jeff Page , the
tribal police spotted a Japanese man, asked him if he was a glider pilot,
and told him that a lot of friends were looking for him. They drove him back
to the Minden-Tahoe Airport , where he had taken off earlier that afternoon,
where he was greeted by friends, examined and quickly released with only
scrapes and bruises.


"To be quite honest, I don't think anybody was expecting the outcome that we
had," Page said. "In my 20 years in law enforcement, I've never seen a
mid-collision where anybody survived. Here, everyone made it."


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