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Fri, Jan 04, 2013

Alabama Teenager Fatally Injured In Accident Did Not 'Steal' The Airplane

Teen's Mother Said The Aircraft's Owner Had Given Him A Set Of Keys

ANN Realtime Update 1140 EST 01.04.2013

FAA records indicate that the Twin Comanche that went down resulting in the fatal injury of a Jasper, AL teenager flying the aircraft and two of his friends was not registered with the agency.

The Associated Press reports that the FAA received a registration application for the aircraft in May 2010 from HiFlight Aviation in Jasper. It was returned to the company for technical corrections, but the company did not respond and the application was cancelled.

The State of Alabama lists a business record for HiFlight Aviation, but its telephone number is no longer in service.

Original Story: The real tragedy of this story is that a young man who was said to be a checkride away from getting his private pilot certificate was fatally injured on Tuesday night along with two of his friends apparently doing something he should have known better than to do. The 17-year-old was reportedly piloting a Piper PA 30 Twin Comanche that, according to his mother, he "had used many times before."

The plane went down in a swampy, wooded area less than a mile from the Walker County Airport (KJFX) in Jasper, AL, northwest of Birmingham, according to the FAA. The Associated Press reports that 17-year-old high school junior Jordan Smith, who had already been offered an aviation scholarship at Wallace State Community College, had met two friends at another airport, according to his mother Sherrie Smith.

According to Walker County Airport manager Edwin Banks, the Twin Comanche departed about 2230 local time. Weather conditions were reported to be overcast with a "low cloud ceiling." While the Walker County Sheriff originally said that the authorities thought the teenagers "stole" the plane for a "joyride," Sherrie Smith said that the plane's owner had given Jordon a set of keys to the aircraft, as well as the gate code for the airport.

But the situation was summed up pretty well by Banks. "It was a student pilot flying an airplane without permission, an airplane that he was not qualified to fly at night," he told the AP. Add to that mix he had his friends on board.

Anyone who has been around aviation for any amount of time knows that is rarely a recipe for a good outcome.

(Twin Comanche pictured in file photo. Not accident airplane)

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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