Even With the Best Training, Pilot Error Can Happen - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

10/12/06 - East Texas

Even With the Best Training, Pilot Error Can Happen

by Ramonica R. Jones

Flying is a popular hobby for some East Texans, but a deadly crash Wednesday in New York City has some concerned about who's allowed to get a pilot's license.

That plane crashed into an apartment building. The pilot was trained to fly, but flight training doesn't end when pilots get behind the controls.

Private pilots get plenty of training before getting behind the controls of a plane - about 40 to 50 hours, not including some instrument training - but East Texas pilots know even the best trained flyers can get hurt in flight.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the cause of Wednesday's crash.

Wendell Billiot, president of Maximum Aviation, said, "All that stuff's yet to be determined, exactly what the cause of it is - but ultimately, planes fly fast and if people get behind the aircraft, make the wrong turn, etc., that kind of situation can happen very quickly."

Some of East Texas' most frequent flyers were trained in East Texas. Wendell Billiot has some advice for flight students or anyone interested in flying a private aircraft.

"Come to a good accredited flight school, get a good instructor, continue to learn throughout their flying career. We have a great flying school in Lufkin and we're fixin' to start a program at Angelina College and look forward to working with the community."

Flight schools do not perform background checks on potential pilots, but not just anyone can get a license. Flight instructors are always checking for red flags before granting permission to fly.

The cause of Wednesday's wreck in New York has yet to be determined. There are no black boxes in private aircraft, but air traffic control transmissions and recordings of the flight path will help investigators find out what caused the crash.

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