SCE’s Powerlines — Pilots Cannot Avoid What They Cannot See
June 9, 2016 | Aviation Accidents
This latest tragic and fatal aircraft wire strike crash killed both souls on board the Rutan Varieze light aircraft, registration number N80681, on May 28, 2016 in Santa Paula County. This latest event and the previous three very likely would not have happened if Southern California Edison (“SCE”) spent a fraction of the money it gets from all the Santa Paula and Ventura County residents—ON PROPERLY MARKING ITS WIRES TO MITIGATE THE HAZARD TO AVIATION NAVIGATION ITS WIRES CREATE.
Edison’s inadequately marked wires can and do become invisible to pilots. Edison knew this from its own experience as early as the July 3, 2011 airplane wire strike near Santa Paula Airport, and from San Diego Gas & Electric’s experience in 2004 where its wires killed an experience combat Huey flight crew who had just returned from an eight month deployment where they flew in the most hazardous flying conditions imaginable during the Invasion of Iraq. Judge Oberholtzer’s Order of Motion for New Trial and Motions for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict in Harris v. SDG&E wrongful death lawsuit.
SCE, its dedicated safety department and its fleet of in-house lawyers have also found every single shade of grey which exists in U.S. Department of Transportation FAA Advisory Circular 70/7460‑1K Obstruction Marking and Lighting. Why? To put its bottom-line profits before the safety of pilots who fly in and around the same airspace its wires occupy.
As an example, click here to view the video from a flight where I did a route, power-line, and safety reconnaissance flight in and around Santa Paula Airport. Please let me know when you see these wires. I knew exactly how high they were, did my first pass 200’ above them, and did not see them until I was right on top of them. I was a helicopter terrain flight instructor when I was a pilot in the Marine Corps. I taught other pilots to fly terrain flight (200 Above Ground Level and Below) safely and tactically sound. These particular wires are a boobie trap that very well would take my life and lives of my crew and passengers if I were flying on that published helicopter arrival route, crossing those near invisible wires for the first time. Unfortunately, Philip “Zak” Margolis, a 4500+ pilot, was not so lucky. His helicopter hit the wires on May 23, 2014—2 years and five days before the tragic fatal wires strike crash on 5/28/16. Zak was not violating a single Flight Aviation Regulation when those wires killed him that day.
At this point, and without the NTSB at least releasing its Preliminary Report on the 5/28/16 Rutan Varieze fatal crash, it’s far too early to speculate why this pilot hit those wires. Why those two human are no longer with us. However, according to Eyewitness News ABC 7, “[a]nother pilot in the area reported hearing the pilot of the experimental aircraft report engine failure and say he planned to try an emergency landing.”
No pilot can avoid what he or she cannot see.
Tragically, pilots and passengers and/or their families can encounter unjust legal hurdles when seeking justice after a crash or fatal event. There are many legal options.
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