Piper down in Washington (state)


The proud, the few
Jun 26, 2004
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[FONT=verdana, Arial,Geneva]3 Killed As Small Plane Crashes Near Paine Field[/FONT]

[FONT=verdana, Arial,Geneva][SIZE=-1]October 15, 2005

By KOMO Staff & News Services

[FONT=verdana, arial,geneva]EVERETT - A small single-engine plane crashed near Paine Field airport Saturday morning, killing all three people on board including a pilot and two students from Aviation High School, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The Piper PA-28 aircraft went down around 9:45 a.m. southwest of the airport in the 2600 block of Alexander Road., said Karen Byrd, a duty officer at the FAA's regional operations center in Renton.
"It was a plane out of Boeing Field, intending to land at Paine Field," explained Leslie Hines with Snohomish County Fire District Number 1. The pilot was "attempting to land at Paine Field and decided not to land," she added.
Witnesses told KOMO News the plane wobbled in obvious distress.
"The plane would try to go up and it would drop a little bit and go up and I just kept telling myself, 'lift that plane up, lift that plane up,' and then I heard the tree snap," said witness Alvin Marston.
Pat Peck added, "We heard a crash, you know where trees were breaking and we looked up and saw the plane coming this way and it looked like he hit his wing and then he just came down like that and hit nose first."
The plane then crashed in an undeveloped area. Several witnesses praised the pilot for not hitting any of the homes or condos in the area. "The land is all cleared and there is a cul-de-sac put in but no structures, so it's an open space," explained Hines.
When the plane hit the ground, it burst into flames just 100 meters from Trevor Nisbitt's front door.
It was "just a loud crashing noise and I came out and saw the flames and wreckage," he said. "It was mashed beyond recognition just about, and on fire."
The nearby workers rushed over to try to help, but knew right away there was nothing they could do.
"It shakes you up, you know," said Mitch McDonald. "We thought we could go out there and help somebody, but by time we got around the corner there was nothing anybody could do."
By the time fire crews arrived there was clearly no chance of finding any survivors.
The pilot and two teenage girls from Aviation High School were killed. The school is a public school at Boeing Field that opened last year and works its classes around an aviation theme.
However, we're told this trip was not a school event.
Investigators say the plane took off from Boeing Field and flew to Paine Field. It momentarily touched down on the runway before suddenly taking off again. Within seconds, it crashed.
Investigators don't know why the pilot didn't keep the plane on the ground.
"There is indication that that one wheel had gotten off the runway," said Jim Struhsaker, a senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. He wonders if that one wheel sliding off the runway is the reason the pilot tried to get the plane back into the air.
"All I know right now is the one wheel was off and it might have done something to the pilot as far as feeling where he was...he wasn't on the center line."
Investigators are now listening to the tapes of conversation between the pilot and the tower moments before the crash, but they say the pilot never declared an emergency and didn't indicate a problem on board.
The victims' names have not been released.
Aviation High School Helps Students Learn To Fly
As we mentioned, the two students killed attended Aviation High School near Boeing Field. The school opened just last September with a curriculum heavy in math and science.
Students get the chance to take classes that prepare them for flying lessons.
The Experimental Aircraft Association even invited students to join the "Young Eagle Program" with pilots volunteering their planes for free introductory flights.
That's what was happening Saturday, with dozens of students taking trips between Boeing Field and Paine Field in Everett.
News of the crash hit the school hard.
"We are still in the mode of taking in the information and trying to deal with the grief and support the families, trying to support the siblings who go to our schools as well," said Catherine Carbone Rogers with the Highline School District.
The school plans to have grief counselors on hand Monday morning. In the meantime, the Young Eagles have programs in 100 cities across the country. We're told they've flown more than a million flights since it started, and this is the first deadly accident.