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Tue, Aug 15, 2023

North Carolina Super Petrel Accident Claims Two Lives

Deceased Pilot Reportedly “Very Safe and Conscientious”

The pilot and passenger of a Scoda Aeronautica Super Petrel LS, registration N239WD, lost their lives when the aircraft struck high-tension power-lines while reportedly practicing water landings on Hickory, North Carolina’s Lake Hickory.

The mishap occurred at approximately 11:30 EDT on Sunday, 13 August 2023 and claimed the lives of pilot Jeffrey Jay Cooley, 63, of Granite Falls, North Carolina and passenger Brian Frank Miller, 49, of Hickory, North Carolina.

The accident occasioned widespread power-outages throughout west-central North Carolina. Duke Energy reported over 18,000 customers were without electricity, setting forth in a statement: “After the incident, approximately 18,000 customers were without power due to the downed transmission lines. Our crews were able to switch customers to other lines and by 1:30 p.m. all customers had been restored.”

The accident-aircraft is believed to have departed Hickory Regional Airport (HKY), a public airport approximately three-statute-miles west of the city of Hickory in North Carolina’s Catawba County.

Aviators familiar with him spoke highly of the late Mr. Cooley’s airmanship, asserting he was very safe and conscientious when flying.   

Jeffery Wofford said of Cooley: “He’s always impressed me as just a really conscientious pilot. He’s got a turboprop that he flies regularly. He really goes above and beyond when it comes to safety-related things, and so when I heard about this yesterday, I was just flabbergasted.”

Another pilot acquaintance of Cooley’s disclosed the deceased made a habit of assisting local animal shelters by flying formerly stray dogs to the locales of their new adoptive owners.

Fellow-pilot and friend Joe Brannock averred of Cooley: “Jeff was a very experienced pilot, a very capable pilot, and I have no doubt he was doing whatever he could do until the very end.”

Mr. Brannock further stated he believed the accident in which Cooley and Miller perished was attributable to a medical or mechanical issue insomuch as Cooley was well-familiarized with Lake Hickory and had operated repeatedly therefrom.

The National Transportation Board and Federal Aviation Administration have undertaken investigations of the mishap.

The Super Petrel LS is an amphibious biplane powered by a single, dorsally-mounted, centerline-thrust engine turning an aft-facing, three-blade Arplast-Helice pusher-propeller. The aircraft’s single-step hull is an epoxy/carbon monocoque with a carbon-fiber boom supporting an all carbon-composite, cruciform empennage. The machine’s center section is supported by a pylon that also houses the engine mounting.

The Super Petrel LS’s constant-chord, zero-sweep wings comprise tubular aluminum-alloy spars and PVC foam ribs, and sport angled winglets. Ailerons are present on the upper-wings exclusively. 

With an empty weight of only 705-pounds, the Super Petrel LS manages a respectable 1,323-pound Maximum Gross Take-Off weight (MGTOW). Notwithstanding its anodyne 110-knot Vne and 95-knot cruise-speeds, the Super Petrel LS’s docile thirty-knot stall speed speaks to a high degree of stability—much as its 510-nautical-mile range and ten-thousand-foot service-ceiling speak to an impressive degree of utility.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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