Tim's collection of

Really bizarre aviation accidents

Extracted from NTSB Accident reports and Aviation Safety Net.

Lay off the pipe, man
On June 12, 1983 near Yerington, Nevada, a Cessna 172 nosed over during a landing in a field. After police found empty beer cans and some unidentified drugs in the aircraft, the pilot resisted arrest and assaulted the officers. When interviewed at a hospital, he stated, "It was my time to go" and "God told me to crash the airplane." He also stated that a briefcase with money inside flew out the rear window, and that he taped the window shut while in flight. There was tape on the window, however it was found on the outside of the aircraft.

On February 17, 1994, the lone pilot of a Piper PA-34 fell asleep while enroute from Springfield, Kentucky to Crossville, Tennessee, when he awoke 5 hours later over the Gulf of Mexico. He was 210 miles south of Panama City, Florida and had only 20 minutes of fuel remaining. He declared mayday and was assisted by Coast Guard and Air Force aircraft. They directed him to the nearest airport, St. Petersburg. While enroute to the airport the engines quit due to fuel exhaustion and the aircraft was ditched 70 miles west of St. Petersburg. The pilot was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

Seeya, I'm outta here!
Near Clear, Alaska on June 5, 1996, the pilot of an Aronca AR-7 reported that he placed his dog in the back seat of the airplane in preparation for takeoff. The takeoff was performed on rough and even terrain. During the takeoff roll the cabin door jarred opened and the dog tried to leave the airplane. The pilot aborted the takeoff while reaching over and grabbing his dog as it leapt out. As the airplane slowed down, it encountered a small ditch and boggy terrain and nosed over. Neither were seriously hurt.

Crash with no class
On June 17, 1994 in Kent, Ohio, a Piper PA-23 attempted to take off. During the takeoff roll at rotation speed, the airplane veered left of the runway centerline and off the runway. It collided with a dog house and came to rest in a water hole. Post-accident examination showed no anomalies of the flight control system, engine, and propellers. The pilot walked away with minor scrapes.

On June 29, 1994, an American Airlines MD-11 with 97 aboard was enroute from Miami to Buenos Aires. The captain left for a short nap, and the reserve copilot took the captain's seat. A flight attendant entered the cockpit to bring a box of beverages for the flight crew. She attempted to place them on the footrest of the center observer's seat as directed by the reserve copilot. She had trouble doing this and the reserve copilot realized the copilot's seat was in the way. He reached across the cockpit and without the copilot's knowledge activated the horizontal movement switch for the copilot's seat, moving it forward. Unfortunately, the copilot's legs were crossed, and they pushed the yoke forward. The autopilot responded to the control inputs and turned itself off automatically. The aircraft responded to the forward control column input and pitched down, taking the plane into a dive. This resulted in injuries to passengers and crew. The copilot took manual control of the aircraft and returned the plane to level flight. Two were hurt seriously, and 15 received minor cuts and abrasions.

On April 17, 1986, a TWA Boeing 727-200 with 102 aboard was taxiing for takeoff at Detroit. A male passenger saw a mist coming out of the vents (condensation from an overheated air conditioner pack). He panicked and shouted "Open the door!" The lead flight attendant mistook this instruction as coming from the cockpit and opened an exit door. Passengers interpreted her action as clearance to open another door, and soon everyone in the plane was heading for the exits. At least 21 individuals were off the plane before the captain intervened. Two flight attendants were on strike at the time and the flights were being staffed by supervisors and new hires. The lead flight attendant on this flight was a supervisor with no recent day-to-day cabin supervision experience.

The worst-maintained aircraft award?
On July 5, 1991, a Champ 8 airplane was flying over Pomeroy, Ohio with a flight instructor in the front seat and the owner in the rear seat. Witnesses said the plane stalled and hit the ground. Both the pilot and the owner survived. The owner said he didn't know the pilot was having a problem, and didn't take control of the plane to prevent the crash. During post-accident disassembly inspectors found a beehive in the tail and a wasp nest under the pilot's seat. The hospital determined that the pilot was allergic to bee stings and that it was enough to incapacitate him.

Why not to fly Aeroflot
On March 23, 1994, an Aeroflot Airbus A310 with 75 passengers was cruising from Moscow to Hong Kong, approaching Novokuznetsk, Russia at 33,000 feet. The captain's daughter entered the cockpit. The captain let her sit in the left-hand seat while he demonstrated some autopilot features. She got up and then the captain's son took the seat. The son asked if he could handle the yoke. He then turned the yoke slightly and held it in that position for a few seconds before returning the yoke to the neutral position. The captain then demonstrated the same features as he did to his daughter and ended by using the autopilot to bring the aircraft back on course. As the autopilot attempted to level the aircraft at its programmed heading, it came in conflict with the son's inputs on the yoke. As a result the torque limiter soon disconnected the autopilot inputs from the ailerons, releasing the aircraft into a sharp bank. The captain told the copilot to take control while he got back in the left seat, fighting a 5 G load. The seat of the copilot was fully aft, so it took him a few extra seconds to get to the yoke. Unfortunately by this time the plane had entered an unrecoverable spin and hit the ground 2 minutes later.

On May 20, 1991 near Rock Hill, South Carolina, a pilot in a Hughes HU-269 helicopter was flying an aerial observation flight. He turned on the cockpit heat. A copperhead snake emerged from the vent near his feet. As the pilot maneuvered towards a landing area, the snake appeared poised to strike. The pilot tried to step on the snake with his foot and subsequently lost control of the helicopter. The helicopter hit some trees and was destroyed, and the pilot was seriously injured. The snake was not found after the accident.

Star Wars...
On October 30, 1995 at 6:10 pm, a Southwest Airlines 737 was taking off from Las Vegas McCarran Intl Airport. The first officer, who was the flying pilot, said a laser beam swept past the cockpit. He immediately experienced eye pain and was completely blinded in the right eye. After-image effects also induced a blind condition in his left eye. He said the total inability to see lasted 30 seconds, and for an additional 2 minutes he could not focus on or interpret any instrument indications, and he was completely disoriented in his spatial relationship to the vertical. The captain was not irradiated by the beam and assumed control of the aircraft and continued the climb. Many of the larger hotels in Las Vegas have some sort of outdoor laser light show. Most of these installations have both fixed and stationary beams of relatively high power, and "dancing" beams of lower power which flash about the sky in irregular patterns. Recorded radar data was used to perform a trajectory and vehicle attitude study to determine the relative position of resorts with laser shows to the position and orientation of the aircraft. As the aircraft passed through 7,000 feet, the positions of three resorts relative to the aircraft were all located in the clear vision field of view of the first officer, and at a position of less than 90 degrees relative azimuth from the first officer's eye reference point. One had the shortest three dimensional distance to the aircraft at 4.7 nautical miles, while the other two were at three dimensional distances of about 7 nautical miles. The source of the laser could not be established with certainty. Fifty-one prior incidence of laser irradiations to pilots have been recorded by the Las Vegas Air Traffic Control facility over the past two years.