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Palo Alto pilots stress safety after fatal accident

Original post made by petercarp on May 28, 2010

By AOPA ePublishing staff

Palo Alto, Calif., area pilots turned out in force May 20 to prove their commitment to air safety in the ongoing wake of a fatal Cessna 310 accident Feb. 17. The multiengine airplane crashed into the community, killing all three on board the aircraft, creating extensive property damage on the ground, and knocking out power to the city. No one on the ground was injured.


About 200 pilots attended the AOPA Air Safety Foundation safety seminar, "Safe Skies, Good Neighbors," presented by aviation author and 2008 CFI of the year Max Trescott. The large turnout for the safety seminar demonstrated local pilots' dedication to safety and respect for the surrounding communities.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Bob Lenox, who reached out to AOPA immediately after the accident, worked with the foundation and Palo Alto Airport Association board member Mark Deem to tailor the safety seminar specifically to the flying conditions and procedures at the airport.

"Bob's engagement helped prevent negative long-term impacts on GA in Palo Alto after this fatal accident and created an opportunity to better educate pilots," said AOPA Airport Support Network Director Joey Colleran. "This is a great example of how local pilot participation, working together with AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation, can act to improve safety and address community concerns."

Comments (3)

Posted by Bru, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

Bru is a registered user.

A true commitment to safety would have been proactive. In my opinion, harsh as it may be, the Palo Alto airport has proven a strong propensity for doing nothing, and just de-regulating people's behavior, ie. flying, that have deadly impact on others and the community.

The fact that this might not happen or might happen at a very low frequency is not important to me, the fact is what never should have happened, happened, and the response from the airport community has been basically to stay quiet, keep their heads down and see if this just blows over. Yes, we have heard a few articles in the Palo Alto paper about safety, but it seems to be more for image than anything. That's just my perception from what I read here and elsewhere about this incident.

There are more unapologetic posts still proclaiming pilot's rights to fly anywhere anytime that I am comfortable with, and not just because it seems the wrong time to make those kinds of statements if pilots want to appear concerned.

There was one pilot who posted an article suggesting forbidding turns over East Palo Alto, but I never saw that go anywhere or even mentioned in any other public forum. Perhaps that is being discussed here, but I don't see it. What I perceive is a bunch of pilots getting together and to me it appears more of a team building exercise for pilots than anything else.

Weeks later now we still do not hear a closer reporting of what might have happened. I would expect there is enough information to at least rule some things out and make some statement about this accident. I expect that the worse this looks for pilots, the more human and bad judgement this event appears, the longer they will take to release that information.

In other words, we have a microcosm of what is a big problem in the rest of the country, which is regulation that is too close to what it is regulating, and the idea from inside whatever body that regulation is bad, and interference and they people are best left to self-regulate. I think this is a big problem, and it increasingly shows up in increasingly negative ways in things that we have been doing for a very long time. We are harvesting the mistakes that we have allowed to happen by not being proactive and more careful, by looking at things statistically in a cold light, and not thinking of the individual lives.

Unless something is done we are gambling with someone's life somewhere in East Palo Alto at some time in the future. The fact that we do not know who it might be or when it might happen, or if it will happen at all is always used as an excuse to do nothing, especially if there is a poweful or rich constituency behind it.

The time past for the Palo Alrport to prove itself responsible. That body should have always been working to increase safety and efficiency, not just appear concerned after the fact.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on May 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I guess they forgot to invite the pilot Palo Alto Police and Fire are right now fishing out of the marsh just south of the airport.


Posted by John the Man, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm

It's all moot. That airport is going to be shutdown in a few years, when the county requires the city to take over paying for its operation.

When people see how much it costs, that'll be game-over. But even if it isn't, the people of EPA and their advocates (like me) will say enough is enough. The people of Palo Alto have never had to endure the noise, the people of EPA do. And of course, they don't risk planes falling out of the sky into their neighborhoods.

They are tired of rich white folks deciding their toys are more important then their safety or at least their quality of life. And they should be.

This is all too little, too late. A 'commitment' to safety would have been shown before this last accident. Forget it, that airport has had a LONG run, it's time it is shut down and someone else take on the burden of dealing with private aircraft.


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