Given the size and diversity of the GA pilot population, I guess we should expect to see some really dumb decisions periodically. An incident that occurred a few months ago near Las Vegas got me thinking about how little some people think.
A Piper Cherokee buzzed a car on a country road, but the pilot misjudged the altitude and hit the roof of the car. The left main gear broke out the car’s front and rear windows before separating from the aircraft. The driver, who suffered non-life threatening injuries and was known to the pilot, had to be cut out of the vehicle.
The aircraft subsequently landed in a field where the pilot likely had some “‘splaining” to do with local law enforcement and ultimately to the FAA. Everyone knows that FAR 91.119 requires aircraft to be at least 500 feet away from a person, place, or thing in uncongested area, but apparently his depth perception was a mite off.
The Air Safety Institute produced a couple of Pilot Safety Announcements (PSAs) to address just such a situation but I guess this pilot didn’t get to see them. These antics are expensive, dangerous, and don’t exactly endear us to the public, many of whom would be quite happy to see GA grounded.
If you know a fellow pilot who’s a few bricks short of a full load on making these types of decisions, PLEASE send him the links. A few more sobering thoughts: Aside from the obvious one of death and dismemberment, aircraft insurance will either be exceedingly expensive or impossible to get after this. Anyone with professional flight aspirations can fuggedaboutit. There are too many qualified candidates with good judgment available.
As for the Cherokee pilot, what excuse do you think might work to get him off the hook, other than “It seemed like a good idea at the time?”