Airplane anatomy: Training is key to safety

By: Sara Zendehnam Email
By: Sara Zendehnam Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The plane crash in Ridgway is just the most recent of several small plane crashes that have happened throughout the Western Slope over the last few months.

Now one pilot is helping us know more about the amount of preparation that goes into flying one of these planes.

Pilot Curtis Thomas said in a situation where a planes engine is malfunctioning, a pilot should always be ready for an emergency landing. The ideal landing strip would be a flat field. A road could also work, but a landing plane needs 2,000 to 3,000 feet of space. Landing in water is always a last resort.

Other pilots said many of them practice emergency landings on land, but water landings are very difficult even for the most experienced fliers.

Our high mountains don't help with those situations. Experts said unless you've trained here, it's hard to navigate safely, "There's a lot of people that come to this area and don't get training sometimes there's accidents," Thomas.

Every two years pilots are required to do a flight review with a certified instructor. There is more training for pilots who want to carry passengers as the FAA requires maintaining a certificate.

Thomas said there are those in the skies who don't get advanced training because of the cost, which is a reason he thinks pilots aren't able to handle emergencies.

Local commercial airline pilot Jared Jones said the type of Socata plane involved in the Ridgway crash usually has a price tag of about $3,000,000.

Only 324 of these kinds of top notch planes have been made since 1990 and are known for having a reliable engine.

Jones also said the cockpit is as advanced as you can get in terms of aviation and can go on full auto-pilot and navigate itself if need be.

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