My home base airport sits in the Santa Ana canyon area of Southern California. It’s so heavily traveled by general aviation aircraft that a certain paranoia about a midair collision sets in. Everyone–and I mean everyone–keeps their eyes peeled while flying near Corona.
When flying over less populated areas, however, a certain complacency can set in. After all, midair collisions are extraordinarly rare. According to the Air Safety Foundation’s most recent (2002) Nall Safety Report, there were only 5 midair collisions for the entire year nationwide, and only three of those were fatal.
But that complacency can come back to bite you in the ass just as it did to a C-180 and Beech Baron over Tehachapi in January. There are no pictures of the Skywagon, but here are a few of the Baron. Note the blood on the back of the pilots seat.
Gotta give credit to Massive Headwound Harry, though. He got that plane on the ground in one piece–no easy feat considering the flight conditions. Despite the way it looks, I’m not sure the damage was critical. The wing spar, attach points, carry-through, control cables, wiring, and gear were all well below the affected area.
You’ve gotta love the NTSB way of phrasing things. My friend Dan pointed out that they make it sound as though the “precautionary landing” was optional. No, when there’s a 200 mph breeze in your face, you’re bleeding from the head, and your twin engine Baron has just been transformed into a convertible, continuing on to your destination is probably not an option.