Entries in Pilot (4)


Pilot Rescued After F-15 Jet Crashes East of Okinawa

Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR(KADENA AIR BASE, Japan) -- The pilot of an F-15 fighter jet that crashed early Tuesday morning was rescued from the ocean east of Okinawa.

The plane was flying out of the U.S. Air Force Base at Kadena and suffered difficulties about 15 minutes into the flight that forced the pilot to eject and the aircraft the crash into the water approximately 70 miles east of Okinawa, according to a press release from the United States Forces Japan.

American and Japanese crews responded to the scene of the accident and recovered the pilot about one hour later.

The pilot's name has not been released.

Despite the plane's generally good safety record, the crash is the third major incident in the past decade involving an F-15 jet in Okinawa.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sleepy Pilot Mistakes Planet for Oncoming Plane, Aircraft Nosedives

Hemera/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- A sleepy pilot who mistook the planet Venus for an oncoming plane sent his Air Canada jet into a steep dive that bounced passengers off the ceiling, injuring 16, and nearly caused a collision with a real plane flying 1,000 feet lower.

Air Canada initially described the injuries to 14 passengers and two flight attendants as the result of "severe turbulence," but a report released this week by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada explains what really happened over the Atlantic Ocean on an overnight flight from Toronto to Zurich on Jan. 14, 2011.

According to the report, the plane's first officer had been sleeping, as is permitted by Air Canada on transatlantic flights, when he was awakened by the pilot's report of the plane's position.

The pilot indicated that a U.S. Air Force cargo plane was approaching the Air Canada 767-300 at an elevation about 1,000 feet below the passenger jet.

The "confused and disoriented" first officer, however, believed that the planet Venus was the approaching plane, and was coming right at the Air Canada jet. He forced the plane into a dive.

Passengers who were not wearing seat belts, many of them asleep, were slammed into the ceiling and overhead bins.

Realizing what had happened, the pilot was able to pull the plane out of the dive after it had descended 400 feet. The U.S. military plane passed safely underneath.

Seven of the injured were treated in a Swiss hospital after the plane landed safely.

Astronomers say that on that night in January 2011, Venus would have looked exceedingly bright from the airplane's cockpit, and a groggy pilot could easily have mistaken the planet for a plane.

"It looks like the headlight on an airplane," said Joseph Rao of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. "It's exceedingly bright. It doesn't twinkle, it's not like a star in that it twinkles. It looks like a steady, white spot of light in the sky. In fact we call it the evening star but they really should call it the evening lantern because it is so much brighter than any of the other stars."

"On that night it would have been ten times brighter than the brightest star," explained Dr. Arlin Crotts of Columbia University.

John Nance, a former commercial pilot and ABC News aviation analyst, said it was "not outlandish" for a pilot to confuse an object as bright as Venus for an oncoming aircraft. "What's surprising is that it went far enough to take evasive action," said Nance.

A passenger onboard the flight captured the aftermath of the incident on video, now posted on YouTube. "We just had the most amazing turbulence," says the passenger, who notes that another passenger's laptop had gone flying. "I hit the roof, everyone is safe, but this is part of the damage," she says, showing damage to the overhead bins.

According to the report, the first officer had slept 75 minutes, and was suffering from "sleep inertia" and fatigue. Canadian regulations permit 40-minute naps, and pilots and co-pilots are supposed to be allowed an extra 15 minutes once awake to regain full alertness. U.S. rules do not allow in-cockpit naps.

"This occurrence underscores the challenge of managing fatigue on the flight deck," said lead investigator Jon Lee in a statement.

ABC News explored the connection between pilot sleep, or the lack of it, and air safety, in a series of reports in 2011.

In the U.S., more than two dozen accidents and more than 250 fatalities between 1991 and 2011 have been linked to pilot fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB investigation into the Feb. 12, 2009 crash of Continental 3407, operated by Colgan Air, near Buffalo, N.Y., determined that both pilots were sleep-deprived at the time of the crash.

While the FAA has imposed some new rules to fight pilot fatigue, it did not address the problem of pilots who commute long distance to their bases, often spending the night in crew lounges, or in so-called crash pads near the airport, where quality sleep can be elusive. Both pilots in the Colgan crash were "commuters" who had slept in the airport crew lounge before the fatal flight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pilot Falls Ill and Dies as Plane Lands

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(PRAGUE) -- A Czech CSA jetliner carrying 46 passengers from the Polish capital of Warsaw landed safely in Prague Ruzyne Airport shortly after midday on Wednesday after the flight’s captain fell ill as the plane was landing and was declared dead soon afterwards.

The plane was on approach to the Prague airport when an emergency was reported and the first officer took control of the turbo propeller plane, an ATR-42-500, after the captain “who was 55 years old, was incapacitated due to health problems,” according to Peter Zmolnik, the president of the Czech Association of CSA Transport pilots.

“The captain had almost two decades of service with CSA and was based in Prague,” he added.

Czech CSA spokeswoman Hana Hejskova added, “The safety of the passengers on board of the plane was not threatened because the airline’s pilots are trained to deal with such incidents.”

The flight, OK-777, touched down at 12:02 p.m., a bit later than scheduled.

Doctors in Prague could not help the captain after the plane landed and he was declared dead half an hour later, Hejskova said, adding that the pilot’s family had been notified.

She declined to give the cause of the pilot’s illness or the cause of his death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prince Harry Named Top of His Class in Apache Helicopter Training

Sgt Russ Nolan RLC/MoD via Getty Images(LONDON) -- The public image of Britain’s Prince Harry as the fun-loving prince compared to his studious older brother, Prince William, may be up for debate after the 27-year-old Apache helicopter pilot received an award while William, a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force, has not.

Prince Harry of Wales, known as Captain Wales in the British army, was named the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots, Britain’s Defense Ministry announced.

The prince received the honor at a dinner Wednesday to mark the end of what is known as the Conversion to Role Course, a rigorous 18-month training program that leaves Harry and his fellow trainees “up to the challenge of operating one the of the most sophisticated attack helicopters in the world,” according to a press release issued by the ministry.

Harry’s award was one of only two given at the end of the training course and honored the student whose “overall performance during the course is assessed as the best amongst their peer group,” the ministry noted.

U.K. tabloid The Sun broke news last month that the 18-month training program included Harry -- known for his mischievous personality and penchant for good times -- being hooded and threatened in intense hostage training to prepare him for a possible return to Afghanistan.

The prince, who entered the military in May 2005, first served in Afghanistan with the Household Cavalry of Britain’s Army Air Corps in 2008, but was held back after his presence in the country was leaked because he was considered a high-value target.

“He’s being prepared for capture and torture by the enemy in a war zone. It doesn’t get more real than this,” the Sun quoted a friend of Prince Harry’s as saying.  “If Harry’s Apache goes down, he’s on his own. These exercises are a glimpse of what he might face in a worst-case scenario.”

The paper reported that Harry endured those “nightmare scenarios” as well as a “defense, survival, evasion, resistance and extraction” program at the RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall.

According to the Sun, Harry, the third in line to the throne, is the first British royal to complete that level of intense training.

Part of the training for which Harry received his award was conducted in the United States, where his short stay grabbed headlines late last year.

The prince completed a two-month helicopter training program in California and Arizona, where he tested missiles and rockets in the desert, a location meant to simulate the scorching aridity of Afghanistan.

During his time off in the States, Harry also managed to sightsee in Los Angeles and try his luck in Las Vegas, where he reportedly gambled, took in a show and was spotted chatting with ladies and sipping cocktails at a nightclub.

The prince will now join his fellow soldiers in being assigned to squadrons in the Apache Force of the 16 Air Assault Brigade, the largest brigade in the British army, with more than 7,400 soldiers, according to information released by the Defense Ministry.

No information was released on when, or if, Prince Harry could face a possible deployment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio