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Letter to the Editor: Plane Crash Should be Investigated as Criminal Act


Dear Editor,

I have read several articles concerning the plane crash on Venice beach that took the lives of a father and his daughter. I would like to voice my opinion as to why this should be considered a criminal act, with the district attorney bringing appropriate charges against the pilot, who can then be evaluated by a judge and jury in our criminal system.
First, the taking of these two lives was no accident. An accident is defined as "an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance". Although the pilot certainly did not plan to have an engine failure, this was a planned emergency landing, which is taught to every pilot, and practiced and evaluated by a flight examiner on a routine and regular basis. Anyone who would plan such a landing on an occupied beach when an unoccupied body of water is available would never pass such an evaluation.
Although his engine failure did not allow him to reach a runway, he did have at least the following two options:
1. Land on the water well away from swimmers. This was a low wing airplane, much like the Boeing 737 that landed in the Hudson River, which means after landing he could have opened the door and stood on the wing until rescue arrived. This is exactly what happened to the passengers on the 737, and not one person was hurt in the process. I believe he did not take this option because he was more interested in trying to save his airplane than with the safety of people on the ground.
2. Land on an occupied beach. He stated that he did not see the father and child until after the landing was completed. I find such a statement to be ridiculous. The weather was clear and he had enough visibility to make an approach and landing on the beach. How could he see the beach and not see the people? His field of view, and ability to see people on the beach, can be easily verified using another airplane. Anyone who has ever been in any airplane at all has looked out the window during landing and seen people on the ground when the plane was a mile or more above the ground. Certainly you can see someone out the window of your car when they are 1/2 mile away, or 1/4 mile away, or 100 yards away, or 50 feet away. He had the same visibility out the front windshield of his airplane, and could clearly see people on the beach during his approach.
Because he chose to land on an occupied beach, and did not make any attempt to keep others from being hurt or killed, I look forward to this pilot having the opportunity to defend himself in court.
My credentials to make such an evaluation include:
1. 23 years as a US Air Force pilot, an instructor pilot, a flight examiner/check pilot, a command pilot and an F-16 test pilot with several thousand hours flight time.
2. 14 years as an airline pilot for US Airways.
3. I also have a Master's Degree in Aeronautical Engineering/Engineering Management.

Paul Tradelius


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