Inadvertant Engine Start Sends Plane Across Walkway
It could have been much worse... but fortunately, the only
victims of an inadvertant engine start that sent a Dova Skylark
careening across a pedestrian walkway Saturday evening at the Sun
'N Fun Fly-In were the plane itself, two ground vehicles, and the
nerves of many who witnessed the accident.
The Skylark (file photo of type, above) -- a two-seat, low-wing,
T-tailed light sport aircraft manufactured through a joint
European-Canadian venture -- clipped a parked car with several kids
inside as it crossed Sun 'N Fun Drive, a pedestrian and vehicle
throughfare on the south end of the airshow field.
The car suffered minor damage, but the children inside were not
injured -- nor was anyone else, thankfully, in the afterhours
A Toyota pickup
traveling down the road didn't fare as well, however. The aircraft
collided with the truck before it came to rest against a fence
bordering the campground -- with one of the Skylark's
wings hanging over the waylaid pickup.
So, how did it happen? Lakeland Police Department spokesman Jack
Gillen told the Lakeland Ledger that fly-in attendees may have
fiddled with some of the Skylark's controls throughout the day, as
they sat inside the aircraft on display at the Sportplanes.com
Gillen told the Ledger just before 6 pm Saturday night, airplane
representative Eric Dellenbach flipped the Skylark's ignition
switch to check the fuel level. Instead, the engine started up and
"went full throttle," overpowering the plane's tie-downs.
Dellenbach, who was in the passenger seat of the Skylark at the
time, tried to stop the airplane -- but only the pilot's side
rudder pedals are equipped with toe brakes, so he was unable to
stop the aircraft before it went across the field.
The Skylark, valued at $75,000 (before the accident), is a total