Crash landing ends navigator’s dreams

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A crash landing in a privately owned vintage military plane destroyed the dreams of a commercial airline pilot who had hoped to start an airborne school for navigation enthusiasts. The 1944-built, AT-7/SNB-type warbird (featured in this column in Issue # 106, May/June 2000) was being brought down to an airstrip near the owner’s home in Urbana, Ill., when the craft’s wheel brakes suddenly locked, sending the plane end-over-end. Eventually it came to rest on its back, according to Douglas Brutlag, a commercial 767 pilot who was flying the plane with a partner . None of the crew was injured, he said, in part because the two adults had had the sense to lie down during the crash and were spared being crushed to death. The son was apparently small enough to avoid the same fate.

"We all three walked away from it without injury," Brutlag said.

Brutlag had hoped to offer an airborne celestial navigation course in the plane, which was fitted with an Astral Dome for sextant sights through the roof of the cockpit.

This brush with death hasn't deterred this navigation enthusiast, however. He is now planning to fly a DC-4 over the Pacific to attempt a re-creation of Amelia Earhart's final flight. He is looking for a supplier to deliver 10,000 gallons of aviation gas to remote Canton Island for refueling purposes. Contact this flying adventurer for progress reports via e-mail:

By Ocean Navigator