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Thu, Apr 05, 2007

Martha King Involved In 'Minor' LSA Accident

Floatplane Lesson Turns Turtle, Dunks Martha and Float Instructor

ANN Realtime Update, 1712 EDT, 04.05.07: Martha King called ANN's Jim Campbell this afternoon to fill him on her recent adventures and pulled no punches (which we applaud and admire about her) about what occurred on her second day of training in the type of aircraft that was involved in this accident. Ever the Flight Instructor, Martha explained that although she had already gotten rated in land-based trikes (weight-shift LSAs), she and John had elected to broaden their horizons with additional tutelage in a Polaris LSA Flying Boat (file photo, shown below), to learn the float operations side of the business -- and they had a ball -- until the dunking. She further notes that she did not have a lot of weight-shift experience at the time of the accident and explained that on her second takeoff of the day, and as the aircraft was transitioning from water operation to controlled flight (when the aircraft is NOT at its most stable or responsive), the aircraft yawed strongly in one direction... which she corrected in a manner conversant with her fixed wing airplane experience and NOT with the proper operation of a trike. The result was a wet, but not all that violent, impact before the aircraft could be recovered from the hazard.

Martha explained, matter of factly that, "There was some negative transfer in going from normal fixed wing control modes to the trike, and I did what I shouldn't have... I flew it like an airplane and not like a trike." The result was a "Very Cold Dunking" in Lake Shasta that proved to her that, "land trike transition to float operations needs to be approached carefully." Martha also emphasized that "standard reflexive responses by standard fixed wing pilots will get you in trouble in some modes of trike flying." This, she admitted, was one of those times.

Despite the dunking, which she admits was a lot cooler than her preferred water temperature, Martha remains enthused about these aircraft and "looks forward" to continuing her training in the future. "This is a very, very fun way to fly," she explains, and based on some of the comments from her fellow flying boat pilots (who have had similar experiences), she may just "wait a while so that the water warms up."

ANN appreciates the call AND the fact that Martha did not make excuses for what occurred. Instead, she used her soggy lesson as an opportunity to do what EVERY flight instructor SHOULD do, call upon such experiences to be used as lessons to others... so that they might avoid finding out, for themsleves, how cold the water really is...

Bravo, Martha, this is what I expect from a Flight Instructor, even one who was a student during the time in question. -- Jim Campbell, ANN E-I-C.

Original Report, 1501 EDT, 04.05.07: One of the aviation world's most visible aviators and flight instructors, Martha King, was involved in what was (thankfully) a minor training accident shortly after noon California time, Wednesday, in Lake Shasta, CA. Half of the King Schools duo, Martha King (shown below, with husband John), was reportedly receiving flight training from Instructor Dennis Chitwood when the float-equipped LSA trike (identified as a Polaris) they were flying experienced some manner of problem and impacted the water at 1215 PDT, Wednesday.

According  to police and media sources, the aircraft had been flying low over the water when the accident occurred. The impact site is listed as being in Lake Shasta and just in front of the Sugarloaf Marina near Lakeshore Drive south of Lakehead (plotted below in a satellite image). Police reports confirm that Instructor Dennis Chitwood, 51, of Lakehead and Martha King, 61, of San Diego were the only occupants of what is described as a two place, tandem seated float-equipped trike LSA. Chitwood was reported to have suffered no injuries and Martha's were said to be minor, limited to a bruised wrist for which she refused medical attention. A King Schools official has confirmed that the Martha King listed in the accident report is, indeed, the King Schools co-owner.

No cause for the accident has yet been listed but the aircraft's damage is said to be minimal even though it was found floating inverted in the lake, and was towed to the shore by a US Forest Service patrol boat.

According to witness and local resident, Victor Patton, the aircraft had been flying over the lake for a good part of the morning, when, "Something snapped... and the nose went ‘boom’ into the water." ANN will update this report as soon as more information is available.

FMI: www.kingschools.com

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