Aerobatic hall of fame pilot Eddie Andreini was flying a routine at the Travis Air Force Base. He was attempting a stunt known as an inverted ribbon cut. Something went wrong. Eddie’s Stearman slid upside down along the runway, coming to a stop at show center. His Stearman caught fire. Eddie couldn’t get out. The crowd watched, prayed, and waited for fire trucks to arrive. Some bystanders wanted to rush to the plane to help, but the announcer warned everyone to stay back and “let the firefighters do their job.”

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ICON Aircraft hired away from Ford Motor Company a superstar PhD to lead its engineering department.  When Cagri Sever showed up at ICON’s facility in Vacaville, the first thing ICON did was send him off on a “demonstration” flight with the company’s chief pilot, Jon Karkow. Karkow flew to
Lake Berryessa, a virtual stone’s throw from the ICON factory.  Once there, Karkow couldn’t resist the urge to engage is some low level maneuvering over the water.  Minutes after takeoff, Karkow crashed onto the shore, leaving both of them dead.


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The Cessna T310Q crashed shortly after takeoff.  For clues into the cause of the crash, the press has focused on the fact that the pilot, Nouri Hijazi, had difficulty getting the engines started. 

But what one witness had to say suggests that the plane was improperly loaded – specifically, it had too much weight in

Experimental amateur-built aircraft crash more often than those assembled in a factory. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau found that, when compared to factory-built aircraft used in similar flight operations, amateur-built aircraft crash three times as often.  Our own National Transportation Safety Board studied the amateur-built accident rates and made similar findings.Victoria Vabre photo

One might expect that, because

Robinson Helicopters began installing crash-resistant fuel tanks in 2010.  Robinson Helicopters with fuel tanks installed before then tend to catch fire during accidents that, but for the fire, would have been survivable.

The Australian authorities thought that the safer tanks were a good idea.  Enough Robinsons had caught fire after minor accidents that in 2013