I was flying with my dad and my girlfriend in a small, single engined airplane (a Piper Cherokee for those interested). We were making an approach to a small airport in Arkansas when the engine died and the plane went down. My dad, the owner of the plane and the one piloting, struck his head and has a scar from it. My girlfriend (at the time) injured her neck and went to the hospital. I walked away unscathed.

Edit: Here's a link to the FAA crash report. I sent the mods a message about what I can do for proof. I have pictures of my ID and a birth certificate if they need it. Other than using those to match up with the aircraft registration number, I'm not sure what else I can provide.

Edit 2: I'm off to work. I'll try to get on later and answer any other questions that you all may have. You guys have been awesome! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this with you all.

Comments: 1127 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

NoDiggityNoDoubt780 karma

Did you die?

fiftyfourbones872 karma

I'm not sure. I could very well be in some sort of limbo for my sins this very minute. I have often thought that while browsing Reddit.

daemon1457 karma

So ... have you met the smoke monster?

fiftyfourbones45 karma

Never seen that show, regrettably...but I've gotten two spoilers from this AMA already. Should've seen it coming.

Switchitis384 karma

Hi, a few questions

1) did anyone involved crap their pants?

2) If a dangling yellow oxygen mask dropped in front of you at a random point mid crash, would you have thought to secure yours, or help with your girlfriends first. (I've always imagined I'd be too busy crapping myself to help anyone secure their mask)

3) did you flashback to the book hatchet mid crash?


fiftyfourbones333 karma

1) No crapped pants. When we crawled from the wreckage, the three of us were shaking uncontrollably. Like something from a movie, our entire bodies were shaking as if we were stuck in a freezer for an hour.

2) I don't know. It was my dad's small Piper, and those planes don't have anything like that.

3) No flashbacks. No life-flashing-before-your-eyes moment. Everything just seemed to be happening in slow-motion. I can remember every detail, strangely enough.

Chicken-n-Waffles20 karma

Did you or your dad open the door before impact? It is part of the crash checklist so that the door doesn't get jammed.

fiftyfourbones12 karma

I didn't. I don't know if he did or not...I will have to ask him.

Moth3r_1n_l4w264 karma

Have you broken up with your girlfriend since then? Since she tried to sue your dad... Kinda harsh

fiftyfourbones464 karma

Yeah. We broke up later that year, as a matter of fact. She hurt her neck, and she sued my dad and won a large sum of money. I'm not sure the exact amount, but I heard $20k was the settlement. My dad wasn't at fault, but somehow she managed to get the money. I haven't spoken to her since our breakup.

DreamKnauf495 karma

Woah..Talk about a bitch girlfriend....

fiftyfourbones348 karma

I am not 100% sure, but I heard that it was her mother's idea to sue my dad. I don't know though...haven't spoken to her.

Kelli37249 karma

Did she sue your dad personally, or his insurance? Just wondering, because with any type of accident, insurance claims are pretty normal. Although yours does sound like there might have been hard feelings involved.

fiftyfourbones44 karma

I'm not sure. Most of the story I heard about the lawsuit was second-hand from my stepmom. My dad doesn't talk much about these sorts of things.

But yeah, she caused a lot of problems and I wasn't happy.

moolbdnilttam117 karma

what a C

fiftyfourbones161 karma

Yeah. Not a fan.

airitout34 karma

If it seriously just "died" with no negligent act by your dad, it's odd to me that she was able to sue and win. Did it go to court? Does Arkansas (or Louisiana, I guess) have a guest-statute law? A typical guest-statute bars the passenger of a vehicle (including planes) from recovering damages in court solely based on ordinary negligence. Typically the injured passenger must prove gross (or wanton) negligence in order to sue the driver of the vehicle.

fiftyfourbones40 karma

My dad lives in Texarkana, on the border of Texas and Arkansas. I'm not sure where the case took place.

All I know about the whole legal situation was told to me by my dad, which is next to nothing.

mikemueller211223 karma


fiftyfourbones43 karma

It's an actual town. Sits right on the border of the two states. My dad lives on the Arkansas side.

DeepSpaceHomer179 karma

I had a near death experience and right after I came out unscathed I started laughing uncontrollably at how lucky I was. I think it was a nervous, "holy shit I nearly died" laugh... did you laugh at all?

fiftyfourbones161 karma

I didn't laugh. All I remember was how bad I was shaking. Shaking like you wouldn't believe. We all were. I had never seen my dad look so helpless and scared. When we huddled together after the crash, we were too scared to speak.

Sirbinkai136 karma

Hey, Solo pilot's license holder here. This must have been so scary. This is one of my worst nightmares come true!
1. If you haven't already, do you ever plan on going in small prop planes like that again? 2. What would have happened if the engine went out earlier in the approach or in the flight?

fiftyfourbones151 karma

Hey. Air Traffic Controller by trade! If you ever fly through central Louisiana, give us a call here at Fort Polk Approach.

  1. Yeah, I've been up in my dad's new bonanza since then, along with a few cross-country flights in the Air Force's T-6 trainer.

  2. If the engine had gone out sooner, I'm not sure what would have happened. Perhaps my dad (the pilot) would have had more time to align himself to the runway. As it turned out, the engine died while we were on our downwind leg in the VFR pattern. He had to make a sharp base turn to the runway, but it was too short.

Edit: As much as I'd like to say this event made me pick the career I have, that's just not the case. I picked ATC as my Air Force specialty months before the crash. However, it gives me a new perspective when communicating with general aviation pilots.

Virus_With_Shoes33 karma

Hey! Student pilot working on my PPL in Shreveport out of KDTN.

TempoRiver257 karma

Acronyms everywhere. I feel sort of left out.

fiftyfourbones64 karma

I know. Aviation jargon is like a whole other language sometimes. If you're curious about any of the acronyms, let me know and I'll explain them.

Nimanzer28 karma

I'm curious! :D

fiftyfourbones65 karma

PPL = Private Pilots License

KDTN is the identifier for Downtown Airport in Shreveport. All airports have identifiers like this. You're probably familiar with some of the larger ones like ORD for Chicago O'hare, JFK, DFW, etc.

ATC = Air Traffic Control

fiftyfourbones64 karma

Awesome! If you ever fly down near Alexandria or Leesville, give us a shout at Polk Approach.

Also, PM me your tail number and I'll make sure we hook you up with anything you need.

cmonnats69 karma

What was reason the engine died? Was it old, out of gas, or what? Also, How old were you when this happened?

fiftyfourbones87 karma

To this day, we aren't 100% sure. When the FAA did the investigation, they checked the gas levels and other fluid levels, and everything was in order. The plane was an older model, but like all aircraft it was regularly inspected and certified for flight. My dad thinks it may have been some sort of fuel problem, but there's really no sure way to know.

I was 18 at the time.

TheOnlyDoctor68 karma

What did it feel like? brink of death?

fiftyfourbones188 karma

Slow motion. When the engine died, I really didn't know what was happening. I was in the back seat, and didn't see the propeller stop until my dad made a "mayday" call on the advisory frequency for the airport. At that moment, we were at about tree-top level and descending rapidly. The next moment, my attention was out the side window where I saw the right wing teetering up and down (my dad was struggling to maintain control while trying to choke start the engine). When we were over the runway, I saw the wingtip almost touch the ground and I yelled at my dad to "Watch the wing! Watch the wing!" Looking back, that probably didn't help much. Seconds later we hit the fence. I saw my dad lurch forward and hit his head.

When we flipped three times and stopped, the plane was upside-down, so we had to crawl on our hands and knees out of the wreckage.

Outside, I saw people from the airfield in the distance running our way. The airplane wings and tail were pretty much gone. I smelled gas. My hands and knees were shaking uncontrollably. My dad, my girlfriend, and I immediately huddled together and started sobbing.

Most vivid memory of my life.

TheNr2419 karma

Any pictures of the plane after and/or before the crash?

If not, could you show a picture of this type of plane?

Thanks, you sound brave.

fiftyfourbones17 karma

Thanks. I'd really love to get a picture of the wreckage myself. I'll have to contact my dad (the pilot) to see if he has anything like that. As soon as I find something I'll post it.

Piper Cherokee

vviikkrraanntt60 karma



fiftyfourbones76 karma

I'm not sure what you're talking about...but you're starting to make a lot of sense.

AkAdude9 karma

He means you are the new prophet sent from heaven.

fiftyfourbones22 karma

I assumed as much...I can't deny it, so it must be true.

heyguys27459 karma

Do the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 mean anything to you?

fiftyfourbones34 karma

Never seen that show, always wanted to.

theleftphalanges49 karma


fiftyfourbones80 karma

Not at all.

It didn't really affect me emotionally. I may be a little more timid when I ride in small aircraft, like the Beech Bonanza my father owns now, but the way I look at it...there's no way I'll ever get in a plane crash now, right? Lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, so to speak.

My dad on the other hand went through a bunch of crap over it. First, that girl that was with us sued him for a lot of money. Second, he didn't fly for five years after the crash. He even sold his Harley that year. It's all behind us now, and like I said he's back to doing his favorite hobby.

tallbus1125 karma

Not to be a dick but statistically because they are independent series instead of dependent your chances don't change, you're just as likely to get in a plane crash.

fiftyfourbones73 karma

Good to know, thanks!

WitheredPoolboy26 karma

First things first, how often does it occur to you that you actually survived a plane crash? I'm assuming there aren't too many out there who can say that, be it a small or large plane. Also, what is the biggest thing that you took away from the experience? I personally have no idea what I would be thinking knowing that I lived through something like that.

You're one lucky motherfucker.

fiftyfourbones33 karma

That's actually an interesting question. I guess I think about it pretty often. I tell the story to people all the time, as a matter of fact.

I'm an Air Traffic Controller now, so the situation put a new perspective on my job. When I communicate with the pilots during less-than-desirable conditions (bad weather, mechanical failures, fuel emergencies, etc.), it helps me put myself in their shoes when giving them the help they need.

Very lucky, I guess.

MsBostonLee25 karma

What was your initial reaction upon landing?

Do you remember the plane falling, what did it feel like?

Thank you.

fiftyfourbones43 karma

We didn't land. When the engine died, my dad (the pilot) tried to maneuver the aircraft to the small runway of the airfield, but we were to far down the end of the runway to make a safe landing. My dad tried to break out of the landing, but he struck a fence-line at the end of the airfield. Our plane flipped three times before coming to a stop, upside-down.

My thoughts were initially about the wing. Over the runway, the wings were teetering back and forth, and at one point I remember looking out the side window and seeing the wingtip almost touch the ground, which would have been bad.

After we hit the fence, I saw my dad's head buckle forward and hit the instrument cluster of his plane. When the plane came to a stop in the adjacent grass field, I remember shouting out to see if my dad was ok. He yelled back yes (my girlfriend and I were in the back seat of the Piper). A few moments later, we were crawling from the wreckage. My dad had blood gushing from the top of his head where he had hit it, so I though he was seriously injured. It turned out to be a minor cut that only needed a few stitches.

rage42029 karma

Usually in these crashes the plane doesn't really "fall", the pilot just tries to find an open place he can reach by gliding, and if they can't reach a safe place to land they end up hitting whatever they go down into.

fiftyfourbones30 karma

That's right. When the engine died, we were in a VFR traffic pattern that ran parallel to the runway. My dad had to make a turn to the runway which resulted in him being too far down the runway to make a landing.

TheNr2438 karma

So in this picture, you'd be in the "downwind leg"?

fiftyfourbones20 karma

That's exactly right.

andrewg14ak17 karma

What movie was playing on the flight before the plane crashed?

fiftyfourbones128 karma

It was a PA-28. A small, single-engine aircraft. They don't have in-flight movies or any sort of entertainment.

But, to answer your question, it was Jurassic Park.

fiftyfourbones15 karma

Not fun at all.

Were you a passenger or the pilot?

FartyNapkins13 karma

Where did they bury the survivors?

fiftyfourbones32 karma

They buried me alive with a flashlight in a grave that was meant for a woman named Paula Schulz...but I got out.

Reinheardt10 karma

Do you ever dream of plane crashes?

I used to work for an airline, so I was all over the place usually. I was never afraid of flying when I was younger but I've since become nervous being on so many flights.

If you do dream of crashes how do the dreams end?

Sorry your ex sued you too, I don't really think that's fair.

fiftyfourbones9 karma

I've never dreamed of plane crashes. I think about it from time to time...and the story makes for an entertaining anecdote at parties, but there's nothing much more to it than that.

Flights do make me nervous from time to time. I fly with my dad every once in a while in a small Beech Bonanza he now owns. That is a little nerve-wracking, due to the jostling and shaking of the plane, but it's nothing traumatic.

She sued my dad because she hurt her neck, I think. The rumor I heard was it was all her mother's idea. My dad doesn't talk about it, but I think it cost him something like $20k.

Joshesmuybueno9 karma

What was your first reaction when you noticed the plane was going to crash?

fiftyfourbones14 karma

Strangely enough, I never once thought something cliche like "Oh God, I'm gonna die". Mostly, I was just wondering what the hell was going on.

At first, I had no idea we were in trouble. When my dad flies, he's always pushing knobs and buttons, and I am never sure what he's doing. Plus, the plane is really small and noisy, so when the engine crapped out, I didn't even notice. It wasn't until after my dad started making a "mayday" call on his headset that I realized the engine had quit. Once we were over the runway, though, I started seeing out the side window that the wingtip was inches from the ground. That's when my dad was trying to keep the plane level but having a hard time. That's when I freaked the most, I think.

We were too far down the runway, so my dad pulled up to land in a field or something. When we hit a fence at the end of the airfield, my first reaction was to grab the seat in front of me and hold on, but the plane flipped three times and we were thrown around.

Joshesmuybueno13 karma

Sounds like your dad was SUPER calm

fiftyfourbones29 karma

My dad is always super calm. He's the most level-headed, intelligent man I know...and that's no exaggeration.

[deleted]15 karma


fiftyfourbones17 karma

They say he was quite handsome in his heyday. He's old now.

justpaul959 karma

Are you scared of flying now? If not, who do you trust more: an independent pilot or a big airline company's pilot?

fiftyfourbones12 karma

Not scared of flying. I do get a little timid when flying in my father's small Beech Bonanza, but I was like that before the crash. Small airframes tend to shake and rattle during much of the flight, and that's hard to deal with.

I have a much easier time on airline flights. Not really because I trust the pilots more, but because I know their flying under Instrument Flight Rules at all times and every point of the flight is controlled and regulated. Small planes like my dad's are often local flights under visual rules, and that unnerves me just a tad.

sebastian_____5 karma

That's terrifying, how did your family and friends react? was It a personal thing or did your whole community find out?

fiftyfourbones14 karma

The night after the crash, I just sat in my room for a while. My dad had spent the rest of the day talking to FAA officials. When he came home, he came up to see if I was ok. He's a man of little words, but I could tell he was devastated that he put me in that situation (even though it wasn't at all his fault).

The next day, we sat with my grandparents to talk about the whole thing. He swore to them he would never fly again. He didn't live up to that promise, but to this day they don't actually know he took up flying again.

It was big news in the town for quite a while. I shipped off to the Air Force not too long after that, so I didn't really deal with much of that.

chaos1223454 karma

hey may i say that i feel terrible for you and your loss. i very good friend of mine, casey, died in a similar plane crash 3 months ago. our one friend evan survived the crash and he hasnt been the same since.

fiftyfourbones3 karma

I hate to hear that.

No one was seriously hurt from the crash, so we got off seriously lucky.