Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Helicopter and Biplane Crashes in California’s Inland Regions in March


This month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported two crashes at air fields, both located in Riverside County: one involving a new and inexperienced helicopter pilot, and the other, two seasoned pilots operating an antique bi-plane.

On March 17, 2016, a young man in his 20s took off from the Riverside Municipal airport in a 1983 Robinson R22 helicopter. The man was still learning to fly and was practicing take-offs and landings that day at the airfield, with his teacher supervising below. During a landing attempt, the helicopter hit the ground hard, bouncing five to ten feet from the touchdown site. The young man avoided injury in the hard landing, and no other passengers were aboard the two-seater helicopter.

Earlier this month, a separate crash at the Palm Springs International Airport left two passengers injured. On March 2, 2016, two men took off in a vintage two-seat Boeing PT-17 aircraft, also known as a Stearman aircraft. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot radioed the tower to report engine problems, according to Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane lost power and subsequently made a hard landing, sparking a small fire.  Both passengers exited the plane themselves, but had suffered injuries in the crash. Vice chair of the Palm Springs Air Museum, Fred Bell, stated that the skill of the pilot and nature of the aircraft were the determining factors in the landing being as smooth and nonviolent as it was. Passengers in other planes on the runway at Palm Springs International Airport were barred from disembarking, taking off, or landing for about 45 minutes after the crash.

The damaged antique plane was built in 1946 and was originally designed as a military trainer for use domestically during WWII. After the war, the surplus of planes were repurposed as crop dusters, sport planes, and used in air shows for aerobatics and wing-walking. The plane involved in the recent accident had been housed as a tenant at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

For assistance with a legal matter relating to the complex, specialized field of aviation law in California, contact the Los Angeles aviation accident attorneys at Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy for assistance with your claims, at 310-553-6630.

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