January 2000 Issue

Three Straws Too Many

Inexperience, bad weather and a mechanical failure combine to bring down young pilot

Pilots learn that little problems crop up all the time. Experience tells you which problems are serious and which are mere annoyances. On most flights, a simple problem or two wonít threaten the safety of the flight. Even serious problems are within the scope of pilot training.

There are flights, however, when every card dealt plays into the dealerís hand. A simple cross-country flight becomes an obstacle course of risk on top of risk, where the prize at the end isnít fame or riches, but mere survival. In this high-stakes game, sometimes you win a little wisdom. Sometimes you donít.

Consider the 18-year-old pilot of a Piper Warrior, who planned a trip one January Sunday for a grievous...

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