Pilot Selfies, apples, and oranges


The NTSB recently release a “probable cause” report on the fatal crash of a Cessna 150 in Colorado last May. The agency determined the probable cause of the accident to be:

The pilot’s loss of control and subsequent aerodynamic stall due to spatial disorientation in night instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction due to his cell phone use while maneuvering at low-altitude.

That last line is the first time the agency has identified cell phone use as a contributing factor to a fatal accident. They based that conclusion on footage from a GoPro camera, recorded on the penultimate flight a few minutes earlier, that showed “the pilot and various passengers…taking self-photographs with their cell phones and, during the night flight, using the camera’s flash function during the takeoff roll, initial climb, and flight in the traffic pattern.”

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Jersey Shore flight

I was laying on the beach a few Sundays ago watching the endless stream of banner-towing Cubs fly by at 500 feet. I was envious and curious to see the beach from their perspective.

So I called and reserved an airplane the next weekend, and flew my girlfriend out to the coast and all the way down the shore to Ocean City, NJ. The weather was pleasant, sunny and very hot. The clouds stayed annoyingly low for the entire day, which didn’t bother me much since I wanted to be low over the beach. But 1500 feet doesn’t give you a lot of options if the engine decides to cough. Plenty of stretches of open beach were soothing to see.

Approaching the shoreline near Asbury Park, at 1500 feet with VFR flight following from McGuire Approach 124.15

Ramp at 26N Ocean City, NJ20130805-235001.jpg

Unfortunately we only had time for lunch, but the diner on the airport was very good. Next time I’ll reserve the airplane a little longer and maybe go to the beach!