Early morning collision with the approach lights!

CRJwannabe

New Member
I witnessed a full fledged collision with the MALSR system at my airport this morning. I was standing at the maintenance hanger when I saw a V tailed aircraft (Bonanza maybe ???2F) execute a very low approach. Before landing about 1000' feet SHORT of the threshold (displaced threshold for jets during takeoff, NOT for landing), the aircraft collided with the mechanism holding up the center alignment lights. They are on an orange pole with a T shaped bar that contains the large lights. He did not topple over and nose into the ground like I expected. Instead, the plane landed and proceeded to pass my location which was about even with the threshold that he should have been past when he landed.

I didn't know what to do! I wasn't sure if I should keep my mouth shut and pretend I didn't see it OR report it to the tower. There were a few things playing into my decision. 1. The approach lights were broken and someone needed to know. 2. The approach lights are a very important part of an instrument approach and I wasn't sure if that would take all of them out or just the ones he hit. 3. Perhaps the pilot was unaware that he hit the lights and should be asked to at least stop and make sure his aircraft was safe to resume flight. 4. What if something happens to this aircraft on their flight away from here and I could have helped avoid a problem by notifying the proper people?

Well, after about two minutes of deliberation, I radio'd the tower from a parked aircraft near the hanger. I told them the approach light system had been struck by a landing aircraft. They said thank you and I put down the headset. About 5 minutes later (maybe less), the V tailed aircraft was taxiing by and stopped short of the departing runway. I was outside the aircraft and by now there were other people aware of the situation. They asked me if that was the plane and I said yes. After a quick talk with one of my former instructors, I jumped back on the radio inside the parked aircraft and got on the ground frequency. I said that the aircraft holding short of the runway was the one that hit the lights and asked if he had stopped to check out his plane to make sure there wasn't damage. They said they figured it was this plane and they would take care of it. About a minute later, HE TOOK OFF! The maintenance SUV was behind him on the taxiway apparently checking out his plane. Once the plane took off, the SUV then drove to the "crash site" and saw the lights hanging off the pole (one side of the T was completely loose and hanging freely).

They came by to question me. I had to give them my name (which I hope won't haunt me for my life). They asked if I saw him hit the lights to which I responded with a resounding "YES". They said the pilot of the departing airplane told the tower that he did not hit the lights. Since they couldn't verify my story and had not taken the time to check the lights prior to his departure, they let him go.

As a pilot, I have one major concern in all my flights: safety. Lets forget the fact that he landed about 1000' feet short of the threshold. Lets forget about the fact that he landed on arrows pointing to the big white thick line that should ring bells for any landing pilot. People make mistakes and we all learn from them. The problem is that he HIT something while in flight (not sure if immediate notification for in flight collision plays into this or not, NTSB 830), ignored the potential damage to his aircraft and the safety of his flight, and then blatantly DENIED that he had even hit the lights when asked by the tower. At this point, I wouldn't feel bad if the FAA found him and violated him. Who knows what they would have done if he confessed in the first place. Now they have him on tape denying the collision and then taking off again. There are probably a number of violations they could make.

Call me what you will but I really did have safety in mind when I called the tower. I would hate to see anyone get violated for an honest mistake, but own up to it and take the appropriate action to conduct a safe flight. People like him are why pilots get a bad name sometimes for being reckless jerks.

LESSON OF THE DAY: The BIG WHITE THICK LINE is the start of the landing portion of the runway!
 

aloft

New Member
Idiots like that wont' be with us for long, but it's too bad they'll probably take a nice airplane and maybe a couple of innocent pax with 'em....

As a taxpayer who will pay for those approach lights to be repaired...you did the right thing, don't sweat it.
 

JDMcFly

New Member
You were right in what you did... If that was even a question.

Did you get his tail#?


I can't believe they would just say he denied it and that they can't verify your story, why the hell would you lie?.. I dont' get some of those people sometimes
 

CRJwannabe

New Member
The tail ended with 2F. That is all I know for sure. They didn't think I was lying. They just didn't take the time to look at the lights prior to his take off which was what I was confused about. They have what they need: A tail number and a voice recording of him denying the collision. I am confident that if the FAA is notified they will find him if they want.
 

MissedApproach

Well-Known Member
Wouldn't tower have gotten his # when he came in?
He'd be one lucky SOB to gets away with this!

Maybe somehow he didn't know he had the collision (limited vis over the nose?). You'd think impacting a metal structure would warrant ones attention though.
 

VampyreGTX

New Member
When I was at DCA in Sanford, we had a Falcon Jet come in low and catch the last set of approach lights as well (which meant he touched down in the overrun area as well!). He immediately called tower and asked to taxiback and takeoff again. The tower saw him hit the lights and they denied his takeoff request told him taxi for inspection. He then contacted ground and asked the same thing, to taxi back for takeoff! (Moron didn't realize ground and tower virtually sit together in our tower there!) They denied him and told him he will not get takeoff clearance out of the airport until his plane and the lights are inspected. Needless to say, he was stuck at the airport for two days! It was an international charter from the bahamas (a bahamas owned plane as well). What the heck did the pilot try to tell the passengers? Sorry, but we're not going to stop in Orlando after all, we're heading back home?! LOL
 

fly22

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Just out of curiosity where was this at?

[/ QUOTE ]Why? Fly a bonanza? No just teasing man
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
Regardless of his own saftey (that pilot wasn't too saftey minded anyways....) but what if the plane was unairworthy and crashed into a house after takeoff? Maybe far fetched but it is possible.

When people do things like that I don't think it's so important to protect the individual as it is to protect the people that person might hurt (inadvertently as a result of a total reckless and careless attitude).
 

chris6387

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Regardless of his own saftey (that pilot wasn't too saftey minded anyways....) but what if the plane was unairworthy and crashed into a house after takeoff? Maybe far fetched but it is possible.

When people do things like that I don't think it's so important to protect the individual as it is to protect the people that person might hurt (inadvertently as a result of a total reckless and careless attitude).

[/ QUOTE ]

Good point SkyGuyEd!
 

Tommay85

Well-Known Member
I wouldnt be surprised if he just plain didnt know he hit them.

I was with my dad doing shorts and softs in cross winds. He was distracted by another aircraft in the pattern that he wasnt sure was doing. Anyway a gust of wind hit us as we were just coming off the groung on a soft field takeoff and he didnt catch it right away and we drifted over and caught the bulb part of a runway light just inside the wing tip.

We didnt hear or see a dang thing hit the wing and I was sitting there watching the wing(low wing plane).

We did an after landing walk around and found a gash in the wing.


So he might just not have known he did it. He still should of walked around to look and see if damage was done.

Tom
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
Yes however I guarentee you that if the tower even suggested that I might have hit something during landing it'd be a no-brainer to taxi back, shut it down, and take a good look at my plane.

Worry about the implications later; a possible broken wing or worse is definately a no go item, and it AT LEAST warrents a walk around.
 

flyboy04

Well-Known Member
I was just wondering because i got the chance to take a tour of the gainsville FSS, here in florida and one of the guys was typing up an accident report yesterday at about 11am, i was thinking that he might have been writing about that bonanza.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
I wouldnt be surprised if he just plain didnt know he hit them.

[/ QUOTE ]

I would. He'd have to be pretty dense (and not belong in an airplane) to: a.) Not realize that he was WAY dangerously low and b.) That he just whacked a bunch of approach lights.
 
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