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Thu, Apr 19, 2007

LAL Ground Accident Results In Bent SR22, And Many Theories

FAA Investigates Damaging Taxiway Excursion

The sight of a SATSair Cirrus SR22 -- tail in the air and nose in the weeds, with its wing resting on the stone outcropping of a drainage ditch adjacent to taxiway Foxtrot at Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport -- attracted many onlookers Wednesday morning... and even more theories on the series of events that led to the spectacle.

"The pilot steered off the taxiway and into the grass to make way for another airplane, and fell," said one bystander, watching as crews positioned an overhead crane to lift the stricken Cirrus.

A security officer tasked with holding curious gawkers back from the scene offered another theory. "Ground crews were positioning him for parking, and instead of spinning around on the grass, the pilot continued forward into the ditch."

"He [the pilot] skidded on the grass trying to stop," offered another.

Jack Gillen, Public Information Officer for the Lakeland Police Department, told ANN none of the four people onboard, who had flown in from Daytona Beach, were injured. The FAA is investigating the possibility the aircraft's right-side brakes may have failed, compromising the pilot's ability to steer the plane. Cirrus aircraft are equipped with free-castering nosewheels, and rely on differential braking for turning while taxiing.

The sight of a plane in a ditch attracted many onlookers during the two-and-one-half hours it took for crews to hoist the plane onto a flatbed truck, and cart it away.

One onlooker -- holding what appeared to be an 80s-vintage camcorder -- stepped past security, and continued filming the incident even as he was told by a Lakeland police officer to step back.

"Sir, this a crime scene," said the officer forcefully. "I could have you arrested if you continue to disobey my orders."

The man eventually went on his way, sans handcuffs... while others in the crowd questioned amongst themselves the use of the term "crime scene."

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.satsair.com

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