Witness Said Landing Was "Like A Rock Skipping Over A
A woman taking her first -- and
probably last -- airplane ride bailed out of a 1959 Piper PA-22
Tri-Pacer as it rolled down the runway engulfed in smoke. Sadly, it
wasn't the first time that particular aircraft had rolled down that
particular runway, that particular day, with that particular
Pilot William Supan, 57, made three separate landings Monday at
Modesto Airport with smoke problems. "When he came down the first
time," said witness Jason Tilford of Sky Trek Aviation,
"(Supan) said it was just smoking a little bit out of the
Supan said it was just exhaust smoke and he needed a new hose
clamp, so he went to Wal-Mart to buy a new one, said witness
Anthony McFarlane Jr. a lineman at Sky Trek.
When Supan went up a second time, however, smoke began pouring
from the cowing again -- forcing an immediate landing, reported the
"He found the (exhaust) hose had been almost cut in half. He
didn't know how, but he had some more hose and replaced it," said
Fire personnel responded to both landings and suggested a
consult with a professional aircraft mechanic after the second one.
He went up again anyway.
The third time Supan took off, he came back down, "really quick.
His wings were wobbling and he wasn't in very good control of
altitude. I thought it was a cockpit fire. The plane came screaming
over (our) building and bounced really hard on all three landing
gears," said Tilford.
"He came down really fast and smoke was trailing the side of his
plane. It hit the deck really hard, and then it was like a rock
skipping over a pond. I counted nine times (it bounced)," said
That's when passenger Jinhua Lin, 43, bailed out of the
aircraft. Supan made it back to her after getting the Piper stopped
about 100 yards away, past the end of the runway, according to the
Bee. Witnesses told investigators the plane "torched" just as he
"He said there was a puff of smoke in the cockpit and tremendous
heat coming from under the floorboards. He said Lin was really
nervous because it was her first flight and jumped (from the plane)
because of the heat on her feet," Tilford said.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the plane and the surrounding
Both Supan and Lin were transported to a local hospital where
Supan was treated for smoke inhalation. Lin was reported to be in
stable condition with a fractured leg, and a case of road rash.
The Modesto Bee reported Supan could not be reached for
FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said officials were "surprised"
Supan took off the third time.
"We're going to have a long talk with Mr. Supan," Gregor