Remember the beginning of Independence Day, when we first meet Randy Quaid’s character? He’s in a red biplane, drunkenly crop-dusting the wrong property before landing on a local road. While the character saw redemption later in the movie, it seems an Indiana pilot has decided that this version of Russell Casse is the one to idolize — only with out quite as smooth a landing.
On Monday, December 13, a single red ultralight crashed outside the Heather Ridge subdivision in Warren Township, Indiana. The plane landed just feet from the home of Doug Cunningham, who told the South Bend Tribune his experience:
“We visually did not see it, but we definitively heard a very loud crash,” Cunningham said.
Thinking the sound was a car accident, Cunningham ran to his front yard to investigate.
“I went outside immediately and that’s when I saw this ultralight airplane crashed into a sign in our front yard,” he said. “The pilot was out walking around. I immediately asked my wife to call 911 and get first responders rolling. The pilot asked me not to call the police but that wasn’t an option. A plane crashes in your front yard, of course you’re going to call the police.”
The Indiana State Police report on the crash doesn’t list a specific cause, but does note that the pilot “was showing signs of alcohol impairment” and failed a field sobriety test.
The FAA bans pilots from having a blood alcohol content at or above 0.04%, but that won’t show up on any ultralight licensing test — primarily because for ultralight flying, there aren’t any. However, an FAA advisory circular about As long as an aircraft weighs under 254 lbs, carries only a single occupant, and meets a handful of other criteria, any person can fly it without a license or training.
Regardless of training requirements, it should be common sense not to drink and fly. Fortunately for homeowners and landscapers everywhere, this pilot likely won’t be flying any time soon. Maybe he’ll find himself a seasonally-appropriate camper instead.