Scuffles With Pilot, Then Jumps To His Death
It was a pleasure
flight -- given to 88-year old Joseph Frost by his son, Robert, as
a birthday present. The elder Frost seemed in good spirits as he
climbed into Bill Allen's PT-17 (file photo of type, below). They
chatted about the recent California forest fires and politics. And
then, without warning, Frost took off his helmet and tried to jump
out of the open-cockpit aircraft.
"He didn't give me any indications that this was going to
happen," said Allen, who said he did all he could to prevent Frost
from going through with his intended suicide.
But about a half-mile from Gillespie Field in El Cajon (CA),
Frost climbed out of his seat, bent on leaping to his death. Allen
says he fought with Frost while, at the same time, fighting to
control the aircraft.
"I pulled back on the stick," Allen said, hoping to use positive
Gs to push Frost back into the front seat of the Stearman PT-17. "I
tried to get him over the field. I held him as long as I could. He
damn near took my arm with him."
Finally, faced with
losing his passenger or losing his aircraft -- and perhaps his own
life -- Allen says he let go. Frost fell to his death, his body
severed on the power lines below. His remains crashed through the
roof of an enclosed patio at an apartment complex.
Frost reportedly suffered from a brain tumor that was robbing
him of his sight. But there was no indication that he was suicidal,
according to family and friends.
"I think that was Dad's idea, to go out in a flash of glory,"
said son Robert.
FAA Preliminary Accident Report
Make/Model: A74N Description: BOEING
Date: 03/29/2004 Time: 0043
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury:
Fatal Mid Air: N Missing:
State: CA Country: US
ACFT ON APPROACH TO GILLESPIE FIELD RUNWAY 27L, THE PASSENGER
JUMPED OUT OF THE ACFT FATALLY INJURING HIMSELF, NO ACFT
DAMAGE, NO GROUND INJURIES, OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES ARE UNKNOWN,
SAN DIEGO, CA
INJURY DATA Total
# Crew: 1 Fat:
# Pass: 1 Fat:
Fat: 0 Ser:
Activity: Pleasure Phase:
Approach Operation: General
Departed: SAN DIEGO,
Dep Date: Dep.
Destination: SAN DIEGO,
Flt Plan: UNK
Wx Briefing: U
Last Radio Cont: UNK Last Clearance:
FAA FSDO: SAN DIEGO, CA
Entry date: 03/30/2004