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Sun, May 03, 2009

Powerless Plane Plummets Perilously, Pummeling Porta-Potties

Cessna 182 Loses Power, Takes Out Porta-Potties in Forced Landing

Somewhere out there is a hapless Skylane pilot who is dreading the next time that he and his fellow flyers get together to tell flying stories... ya know, the ones that start 'there I was' and then end with some kind of superlative aerial feat of piloting prowess that saves the day. Ya gotta pity this guy because no matter which way you word it, crashing into a pack of porta-potties simply can't be cleaned up in any way to sound as heroic as the usual flying story. Though one really has to wonder if he really (as has been surmised) uttered the words, "Aw Crap" (or the scatological equivalent  -- I mean, what would YOU say?) when he saw what lay before him just before impact.

To get to the point, it appears than some mode of power loss downed a Cessna 182 on takeoff from Thun Field at 1520 local time. The Friday afternoon incident apparently occurred as the aircraft was less than 200 feet in the air near the Pierce County (WA) airport. Although Sheriff's officers are reporting that the pilot thought to turn back, the aircraft managed avoid a nearby mobile home and wound up impacting in a storage yard and colliding with a number of porta-potties stored on site.

According to witnesses quoted in media reports, '...the plane bounced off the rows of portable toilets in a storage yard at the north end of the field, flipped, then landed upside down on a pile of wood chips.'

Pierce County Sgt. Mike Blair also said, "If he had made the runway, he would have landed a lot harder than he did by impacting with those Sani-Cans and the wood pile... It probably saved his life, I would think."

When all was said and done, and the dust settled, the aircraft had ultimately flipped over and wound up inverted but with the 67 year old pilot, Clifford Howell, pretty much walking away from it all. Initial reports of another person on board the aircraft have since been denied. NTSB investigators had been dispatched to the scene and we have to admit that we're looking forward to their report...

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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