Training is everything when it comes to flying experimental planes, according to Joseph C. Bartels, owner of Redmond-based Lancair International Inc.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Bartels’ company was mentioned in a Federal Aviation Administration advisory warning about the safety of high-performance homemade aircraft, saying the planes are prone to stall and have been involved in a disproportionate number of crashes.
Bartels said Lancair sells safe airplane kits that will operate perfectly, as long as the builder and pilot are trained correctly.
“It always amazes me how people get into Dutch,” said Bartels, who has owned Lancair since 2003. “The FAA info letter recently published suggests correctly that the owners of high-performance aircraft, such as Lancairs, should participate in training.”
After learning how to handle a plane’s high- and low-speed flight characteristics, Bartels said pilots should continue to train with instructors who are familiar with Lancair or other high-performance planes in order “to avoid any adverse flight characteristics that he may encounter, no matter what the speed.”
Problems with homemade kit planes — which can be sold partially manufactured by companies such as Lanc-air, as long as the buyer builds at least 51 percent of the plane — are not based on the design of the plane, Bartels argued. Instead, crashes happen when a pilot has either not been properly trained or uses poor judgment, Bartels said.
“Training, training, training, training,” he said.
Bartles said last week’s accident in South Carolina — in which a Lancair plane struck and killed a man jogging on the beach — was unfortunate, but unrelated to Lancair’s design. He said the Lancair plane’s propeller broke off, causing an oil leak that blacked out the windshield — problems he said can happen with any type of plane.
Bartels said he believes the pilot of the Lancair plane did everything correctly when trying to bring the plane down safely, but couldn’t see out of the windshield and hit the jogger.
“This is an incredibly freakish accident,” he said.
— David Holley, The Bulletin