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Mon, Apr 14, 2008

LAL Takeoff Crash Pilot's Identity Released

Plane Received Outstanding Homebuilt Award At Show

ANN REALTIME UPDATE 04.14.08 1200 EDT: Aero-News learned Monday morning the identity of the pilot lost in Sunday's takeoff accident at the Lakeland fly-in has been confirmed.

According to several news reports, Gerard Schkolnik was at the controls of the Lancair Legacy when it crashed less than a mile off the departure end of Runway 27 at Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport. The aircraft was consumed in a post-impact fire.

The loss carries an added pall of sadness... as earlier Sunday, the Experimental Aircraft Association announced Schkolnik's plane was among the winners of the group's Outstanding Homebuilt Aircraft award.


A pilot who had just taken off from Lakeland Linder Airport (LAL) was killed Sunday morning when his Lancair Legacy crashed less than one mile west of the runway.

The Tampa Tribune reports the aircraft, a two-seat Lancair Legacy homebuilt, impacted a pasture near Hamilton Road, about 3/4 mile off the departure end of runway 27.

Sunday was the final day of the annual Sun 'N Fun Fly-In at LAL, and is traditionally a busy day for aircraft departures. "Because of the nature of the crash scene it wasn't immediately obvious whether there were one or two victims," said Scott Wilder, spokesman for the Polk County sheriff's office. "We're getting conflicting reports."

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen confirmed the accident aircraft (file photo of type, shown below) was registered to Wilmington, DE-based G-Kas Aviation LLC. "Presumably, the person on board was attending the air show," Bergen said.

Agency records list the plane's registration as N1177M, a 2006 Lancair Legacy assembled by Thomas Dayan -- who was lost in a June 2006 downing of a Lancair 360, reports the Tribune.

According to the EAA, the accident plane had just received an award for Outstanding Homebuilt Aircraft at the 2008 show.

The accident marks the second fatality associated with this year's show in Lakeland. As ANN reported, the pilot of a CH601 Zodiac was killed when his plane crashed near Polk City, 13 miles northeast of LAL, on April 8. The pilot, later identified as Robert Dodson, was on his way to the fly-in when the accident occurred.

Sunday's accident -- combined with others in the past six years at Sun 'N Fun, including a 2002 mid-air collision and last year's fatal downing of a Wheeler Express that crashed short of the runway -- is making some who live near the airport nervous about the fly-in, reports the Tribune.

"Last year, they had one go down," said Steven Edwards, who lives near where the Lancair crashed. "It's just too close for comfort."



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