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Plane crashes into Hilton Head beach jogger

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 3:45 PM
Last updated Wednesday, March 17, 2010 3:29 PM
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - A father of two in town on business was jogging and listening to his iPod when he was hit from behind and killed by a small plane making an emergency landing on the beach, officials said today.

Robert Gary Jones, 38, of Woodstock, Ga., died instantly Monday evening when he was hit by the single-engine plane, which had lost its propeller, said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen. The pilot's vision was blocked by oil on the windshield.

The coroner said Jones apparently did not see or hear the plane, which was "basically gliding."

His mother, Pauline Jones, said Tuesday that he was in Hilton Head for work but was supposed to fly home to suburban Atlanta on Wednesday for his daughter's third birthday.

Her son was often out of town for his job with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, where he had been a salesman since 1997.

"Any time he traveled, I would worry myself to death about him," said his mother, who lives outside Tampa, Fla., where he grew up. "I'd call and say, 'Where are you, where are you?'"

Federal Aviation Administration records show the experimental Lancair IV-P plane that hit Robert Jones was registered to Edward I. Smith of Chesapeake, Va.

Smith was on the beach with his plane Tuesday and confirmed he was the pilot. He said he did not want to talk about the crash and offered few details.

"I've got a lot of issues going on right now. I've got a plane that's all torn up. And I've got a young man that I killed," he said.

Authorities said there was also a passenger on board but did not identify him or her.

The plane started leaking oil at about 13,000 feet and tried originally to make it to Hilton Head Airport, said fire and rescue spokeswoman Joheida Fister.

The oil on the windshield blocked Smith's vision and he told authorities the propeller came off. When he tried to land on the beach near the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa, the plane hit Jones and came to rest a little farther down the beach, Fister said.

The plane was still on the beach Tuesday afternoon. Waves lapped against it and the tail was attached to an anchor with a rope so the tide wouldn't pull it out to sea. The waves had washed away any sign of it skidding across the sand.

Yellow crime scene tape stretched from the water to the dunes to keep people away. Tourists walked up to the tape, gawking and snapping pictures. Other than the missing propeller, the plane appeared undamaged.

The plane left Orlando, Fla., at 4:45 p.m. and was headed for Virginia, Fister said. The four-seater plane has a turbine engine, can be built from a kit and can fly up to 370 mph, according to the Lancair Web site. The IV-P model has a pressurized cabin.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Fister said.

An FAA spokeswoman referred inquiries to the NTSB.

___

Associated Press Writers Dorie Turner in Atlanta and Susanne m. Schafer in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

Comments (40) Add comment
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baronvonreich
0
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baronvonreich 03/16/10 - 03:53 pm
0
0
What an irresponsible pilot!

What an irresponsible pilot!

CarlA
114
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CarlA 03/16/10 - 04:07 pm
0
0
Man! Talk about being in the

Man! Talk about being in the wrong place, at the wrong time!

Newsreader
11
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Newsreader 03/16/10 - 04:08 pm
0
0
This article does not

This article does not describe an irresponsible pilot, but he sure is unlucky. Now if the investigation shows that he was negligent or acted irresponsiblily than I am sure the FAA and/or NTSB will report it. I hope that Hilton Head Authorities would then prosecute appropriately.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 03/16/10 - 04:11 pm
0
0
?

?

fd1962
26
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fd1962 03/16/10 - 04:13 pm
0
0
Four seater plane? I wasn't
Unpublished

Four seater plane? I wasn't aware that experimental category airplanes were allowed to take passengers.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 03/16/10 - 04:18 pm
0
0
I guess the pilot couldn't

I guess the pilot couldn't see the man. The article says that the plane lost its propeller and that the pilot's vision was blocked by oil on the windshield. And you never know, it could have been a choice between hit a hotel, hit a family or hit a single person. The pilot probably only had seconds to make a decision about where to land.

How ironic for this poor fellow. He's out jogging to improve his health & ends up losing his life. His poor family.

seenitB4
81875
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seenitB4 03/16/10 - 04:23 pm
0
0
You never know what could

You never know what could happen in life... very sad for this family.

GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE
0
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GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE 03/16/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
re: Baronvonreich @ 3:53 -

re: Baronvonreich @ 3:53 - What an irresponsible poster!

GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE
0
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GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE 03/16/10 - 04:37 pm
0
0
.

.

Fiat_Lux
14853
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/16/10 - 04:36 pm
0
0
Talk about a bolt from the

Talk about a bolt from the blue, poor guy.

CobaltGeorge
150857
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CobaltGeorge 03/16/10 - 04:47 pm
0
0
baronvonreich, "What an

baronvonreich, "What an irresponsible pilot!" How can you even make yourself say something like that.

I guess GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE Tuesday, Mar. 16 4:26 PM has the answer.

ustabe
1
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ustabe 03/16/10 - 04:56 pm
0
0
Not to take the baron's side,

Not to take the baron's side, but I was struck by the order in which the pilot expressed his problems: "I've got a lot of issues going on right now. I've got a plane that's all torn up. And I've got a young man that I killed." I realize that he's undoubtedly upset, but really -- wouldn't you think that he'd first mention being sorry about the death of a young man?

GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE
0
Points
GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE 03/16/10 - 05:00 pm
0
0
ustabe, not really. I don't

ustabe, not really. I don't see the order in which he mentioned them is any indication of what his priorities are. I think it is simply the way they came out.

sueboo418
36
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sueboo418 03/16/10 - 05:06 pm
0
0
Baron WOW!! Like this poor

Baron WOW!! Like this poor man did it on purpose. The pilot was more than likely in shock ustabe. When something like this happens, which is a freak accident, you never know how people are going to react or what they might say. I am sure this man is traumatized, give him a break. My prayers to both families.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 03/16/10 - 05:22 pm
0
0
This is why I don't

This is why I don't excercise.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 03/16/10 - 05:51 pm
0
0
Speaking as another pilot,
Unpublished

Speaking as another pilot, this man didn't exactly drop like an Otis from 13,000 feet. He had some time. He obviously decided to attempt to save the plane, if possible, too. He chose NOT to put it down in the spacious Atlantic Ocean, where the salt water would have ruined that $100K turbine engine. And planes have been routinely landed for years with no reference at all to the view out the front windshield, another cop-out. Unfortunate episode certainly, but negligence involved, imo.

spankmaster30
0
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spankmaster30 03/16/10 - 06:34 pm
0
0
Lets see, the pilot claims he

Lets see, the pilot claims he couldn't see but lands the plane on the beach no problem with no damage to the plane except for the propeller falling off...REALLY?? I think instead of ditching it in the ocean, like he should of, he was thinking about his expensive plane and now and innocent person is dead because of his decision. I'm not saying he did it on purpose but he is responsible for the man's death.

RoadkiII
6445
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RoadkiII 03/16/10 - 07:09 pm
0
0
I am not a pilot but have

I am not a pilot but have flown numerous times with friends who are. Fortunately none of them encountered any serious problems while I was with them. But I can tell you a normal landing can be risky, a slight wind change in a small plane can literally blow you off of you landing path. This guys was attempting an emergency landing with little visibility. I am sure he didn't want to harm anyone else, simply save his life and the life of his passenger. Get real people.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 03/16/10 - 07:33 pm
0
0
He saved his baby by not

He saved his baby by not ditching it in the ocean. What a pilot. Why even his own thoughts were first the plane and second a dead body. I didn't notice any reference as to why he didn't turn toward the ocean for a landing. I also noted that although he had oil on the window, he was able to try to keep it on the sand.

GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE
0
Points
GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE 03/16/10 - 07:55 pm
0
0
fd1962, I'm not sure I

fd1962, I'm not sure I understand your 5:51. You are suggesting that this pilot is negligent? If, you are as you say, a fellow pilot, surely you would not at all arm chair quarterback this pilot's decisions until the full investigation was done. You have no way of knowing all the events for this terrible accident. And if you are an IFR rated pilot you know that your statement "And planes have been routinely landed for years with no reference at all to the view out the front windshield" is not accurate at all. No matter the weather, you can still see forward to a certain degree; but, with oil on the windscreen, you can't even see the prop.

GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE
0
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GO_BAMA_2010_ROLL_TIDE 03/16/10 - 08:00 pm
0
0
Thank you RK for a great

Thank you RK for a great response.

NoCatchyName
6
Points
NoCatchyName 03/16/10 - 08:20 pm
0
0
GO_BAMA, I am no pilot, but

GO_BAMA, I am no pilot, but have fair to middling reasoning skills. Please explain how it could be that "with oil on the windscreen, you can't even see the prop" yet this pilot could see the beach well enough to put the plane there both shiny side up and safely away from the water.

jack
10
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jack 03/16/10 - 08:28 pm
0
0
keep the damned cell phones

keep the damned cell phones and iPods oout of your ears and know what the hell is going on around you!

jack
10
Points
jack 03/16/10 - 08:28 pm
0
0
keep the damned cell phones

keep the damned cell phones and iPods out of your ears and know what the hell is going on around you!

RoadkiII
6445
Points
RoadkiII 03/16/10 - 09:00 pm
0
0
Planes also have side

Planes also have side windows. Pilots can look forward to a certain degree from the side window, enough to judge how far for dunes on one side and water on the other. You can also judge you altitude. There was a similar incident a few weeks ago and the pilot was hailed a hero.

UGA
1
Points
UGA 03/16/10 - 09:11 pm
0
0
No way fd1962 is a pilot.

No way fd1962 is a pilot. Any pilot would have learned in basic ground school that experimental planes can carry passengers (of course, the story just said it was a 4 seater, not that it had any passengers). And any pilot would also know that ditching in water where land is available increases the chance of death substantially. I'm not saying the pilot did the right thing here but the fd guy is clearly a wannabe.

Poser.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 03/16/10 - 10:24 pm
0
0
My condolences to his family.

My condolences to his family.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 03/16/10 - 10:36 pm
0
0
First, G0_Bama, even flying
Unpublished

First, G0_Bama, even flying normally in moderately heavy rain you have almost NO visibility through the front windows, and planes don't have windshield wipers like cars have - they don't work in the air, but you can ALWAYS see out both sides. In landing configuration, the nose and engine cowling elevate in a flare and obscure the view straight ahead, particularly for tail-wheel type planes. To improve visibility ahead on landing, a pilot cross-controls the plane into what's called a slip, which allows the plane to essentially fly straight ahead but sideways at an angle while losing altitude, and affords you a near complete view of the upcoming runway through the side window on the side you choose to slip towards. Lowering a wing and adding power improves the view even more, allowing you to 'slide' into the landing. You straighten the plane for a perfect landing just before the touchdown. It's NOT a difficult maneuver, and becomes second nature to pilots. Incidentally, Google a pic of Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. He looked into a massive gas tank - no front windows at all! Hope this helps you.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 03/16/10 - 11:02 pm
0
0
And, UGA, I shouldn't even
Unpublished

And, UGA, I shouldn't even acknowledge your ignorance with a reply. Re-read the 10th paragraph to confirm your reading comprehension skills, please. ('before' you edit, of course). I doubt also that experimental plane restrictions are key components of flight instruction basics. Most people would disagree, however, that landing a plane in the water instead of on a busy beach would 'increase the chance of death' substantially, but maybe you walk on the water to get your exercise more often than the rest of us do.

spankmaster30
0
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spankmaster30 03/16/10 - 11:08 pm
0
0
fd1962, if this is true why

fd1962, if this is true why didn't he see the jogger? And Jack, it's the joggers fault now since he had an mp3 player???!!! Really??? Plus the article said that it was basically a glider with no noise, I don't know about you but the ocean makes plenty of noise so even if he did not have an MP3 player he would not have known it was coming up behind him. I don't know about you but I normally don't check behind me when I'm running on the beach looking for planes that are falling from the sky....

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