Jogger Killed on Beach By Pilot Making Emergency Landing

A bizarre mishap led to a death in South Carolina when a small plane making an emergency landing killed a jogger on the beach. Robert Gary Jones, 38, was jogging and listening on his iPod when he was hit from behind. Edward I. Smith says that he had lost the propeller of his airplane and was blinded by oil on the windshield at the time of the landing.

Smith was flying an Experimental Lancair IV-P but would not discuss the accident, stating “I’ve got a lot of issues going on right now. I’ve got a plane that’s all torn up. And I’ve got a young man that I killed.” Just for the record, it may be better in the future to start with the dead man and then raise the busted up aircraft in terms of prioritization.

Smith had a passenger on board. The plane started leaking oil when it reached 13,000 feet.

In terms of possible litigation, one complication is that the waves washed away skid marks from the accident. It will be interesting if Smith put this plane together and what relevance the “experimental” classification has. Planes have long been treated as an “ultrahazardous activity” or “abnormally dangerous” activity allowing courts to apply strict liability rather than negligence. While this status has changed in some states, experimental aircraft might still qualify. Even under a negligence standard, Smith might be in trouble. The emergency landing can be defended on the basis of private necessity but the cause of the breakdown may prove more difficult for him.

For the full story, click here.

15 thoughts on “Jogger Killed on Beach By Pilot Making Emergency Landing”

  1. While its understandable that a layman would paint the pilot as the villain here, I don’t hear anyone in the aviation community saying the guy did anything wrong. And that’s a community that is notorious for vicious critiques of any pilot lapses; it’s a survival trait, I think.

    Mechanical failure at altitude with concurrent loss of forward visibility, and the guy *still* managed to put it down in one piece on what the “ordinary, reasonable, and prudent” pilot would think is a safe and deserted stretch of beach. It was probably the best of a set of otherwise terrible alternatives (ditching in woodlands, ocean, or a road lined with the inevitable utility poles/wires). What the pilot did was a textbook-quality decision.

    He definitely needs to stop making public statements, though. He’s clearly not adequately trained for THAT.

  2. Dittoing the comment above. Experimental planes are usually SAFER since the person who built the plane is the person who will be trusting their life to it and they’re not going to cut any corners.

  3. Well OCULUS, when your opinion of my decency matters, I’ll let you know. Don’t hold your breath though. That’s a club with very few members. I require little or no external validation. If you find me indecent, there is always the option not to read my posts. It is well established that the corollary of Free Speech is the Right to Ignore.

    Skip right on by. I won’t be offended at all.

    Have a nice day.

  4. Experimental doesn’t really mean much.

    When most people think of experimental, they think it’s being used to test new things.

    For the FAA, experimental means any plane other than a stock production plane.

    Production planes can be known to be all the same, built to the same specifications using the same techniques, and therefore from a safety point of view interchangeable. They are then covered under a Standard Airworthiness Certificate, which covers both the individual aircraft, and also all aircraft of that type. As long as both categories are considered safe, then the certificate remains valid.

    Experimental certificates cover only one unique aircraft, which is then covered by it’s own Special Airworthiness Certificate. The FAA inspector will then almost certainly take extra care in ensuring that the aircraft has been constructed in a safe way, and they’re not shy about insisting that the constructor redesigns or rebuilds bits that they’re not happy about.

    Every non-commercial airport has many aircraft flying under SACs, and in some they’re in the majority.

  5. Ok, but one would think that a decent “one” would want to wait until after the bereaved have had a chance to bury their lost loved one and mourn that loss before that decent one began making jokes about his death.

  6. If one cannot laugh about death, then one cannot truly laugh about life. To do otherwise is like spending only one side of coin. We all die. Truly, it is sad when people lose their lives in an accident. But your choices are simple: laugh or cry. I’d rather err on the side that Mr. Jones was man with a sense of humor. I know that if I die this way – unlikely as I’d never jog on sand – I’d hope someone at least got a good laugh out of it.

    Life is short. Laugh hard.

  7. I’m confused. Doesn’t the article say the man died? If I’m reading that right and he died I’m having a hard time understanding all the jokes about it.

  8. “Robert Gary Jones, 38, was jogging and listening on his iPod when he was hit from behind.”

    I know that in our travels we see this all the time,especially people jogging on the roadsides in our communitys.

  9. this is a really bad news and I think that the government should have stricter laws regarding flying the planes. it is extremely hazardous and dangerous.

  10. Buddha,

    That does amuse me…..that you’d pick this song….

  11. [youtube=]

  12. I guess Jesus was not with him on that Flight. Maybe he should have aimed for Virginia Beach, Va. and Pat could have helped him in his time of need….

    I hope the jogger was not listening to Sky Pilot…..


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