Aircraft Breaks Apart In Midair, Pilot Parachutes To
Reno (NV) pilot Ross Loudon didn't think he'd make it. When his
homebuilt 1975 Wallace Skybolt (file photo of type, below) came
apart in the sky near Cold Springs, he was inverted at just over
2000 feet AGL.
"I just feel really lucky," Loudon told the Daily Sparks Tribune
from his hospital bed at Washoe Medical Center. He flew as much as
five times a week and said he practiced bailing out just about
every time he went up.
But "I never really thought if it came apart that I would have
much hope of getting out," he said.
So what happened?
"It shook for a second or two, and then it just came apart. I
honestly don't know why," he said. The biplane's plastic bubble
canopy came off and hit him in the face, "so I was pretty much
blinded. After I got hit and the plane just started falling toward
the ground, I knew I needed to get out," he told the Tribune.
He almost didn't get out fast enough, however. Loudon said, as
the aircraft spiraled toward the ground, he unfastened his safety
harness and pulled the rip cord on his parachute. It opened only
partially, just seconds before the aircraft hit the ground. But
that was enough. "It slowed me down just enough to keep me
(alive)," he said.
Loudon said he purchased the aircraft from a man in Florida who
had rebuilt the aircraft "from the ground up."
"I thought it was a... solid plane right up until it came
apart," he said.
FAA Preliminary Report
Make/Model: EXP Description:
Date: 03/17/2004 Time: 1520
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury:
Serious Mid Air: N
State: NV Country: US
ACFT CRASHED DUE TO AN INFLIGHT BREAKUP DURING AN AEROBATIC
WAS DESTROYED, ONE PERSON ON BOARD PARACHUTED OUT AND
INJURIES, RENO-STEAD, NV
INJURY DATA Total
# Crew: 1 Fat:
# Pass: 0
Fat: 0 Ser:
Fat: 0 Ser:
Activity: Pleasure Phase:
Maneuver Operation: General
Dep Date: Dep.
Flt Plan: UNK
Wx Briefing: U
Last Radio Cont: UNK
Last Clearance: UNK
FAA FSDO: RENO, NV
Entry date: 03/18/2004