TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Pilot on Cell Phone When Killed (in VA), FAA Says

Pilot on Cell Phone When Killed (in VA), FAA Says

Michael Quinn (
Fri, 3 Mar 2006 12:52:18 -0500

I'm not really trying to jump on the anti-cell phone bandwagon here,
but I heard this on the news on the way home yesterday and thought it
might be of interest to the TD readership.

I suppose it could be argued that this could similarly have happened
if the pilot was talking on the radio to a ground station or other
aircraft, but those transmissions tend to be short, terse, and flight

Like many of you, I have been nearly clobbered more than once on the
road and in parking lots by someone who was too busy chatting to pay
attention to where their vehicle was going.

By the way, there has also been some recent news articles about
potential interference between Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and
aircraft communication and navigation and other avionic systems. A
similarly emotional topic, and best suited for a different thread.

Best wishes to PAT for a speedy recovery, and welcome back!


Springfield VA

This is a printer friendly version of an article from
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Article published Mar 1, 2006
Pilot on Cell Phone When Killed, FAA Says
By Brad Zinn/staff

MOUNT SIDNEY - A Spottswood pilot killed last week after crashing his
airplane along Interstate 81 in Mount Sidney was talking on a cell
phone when the accident occurred, according to the Federal Aviation

The agency's preliminary report prepared for the National
Transportation Safety Board stated that Benjamin R. Hickin, 30, of
Spottswood, was flying above I-81 while speaking to a friend below who
was driving a tractor-trailer northbound on the interstate when the
plane clipped cables running between two transmission towers.

1st. Sgt. Jeff Pearson, of the Virginia State Police, said the
aircraft severed two small lines connecting the towers. "They're about
the size of your thumb," he said.

Pearson estimated Hickin's Cessna was traveling between 120 and 140
miles an hour when he struck the lines. The impact sheared off the
right wing of the aircraft, he said, sending the plane tumbling onto
the interstate. The plane struck a car hauling vehicles sold on Ebay
before it came to rest in a ditch just off the highway and exploded in

Pearson said, "We're not aware of any mechanical or medical

Hickin and the unidentified man he was talking to on the cell phone
both were part owners of the plane, according to the report.

"There was an apparent attempt for the person on the ground to
visually see the aircraft," Pearson said.

Witnesses described the plane as circling the area before the crash.
Hickin died on impact from multiple injuries, according to autopsy
results released by the Medical Examiner's Office in Roanoke.

The FAA has taken fuel samples from the aircraft and will disassemble
the engine as part of its investigation, Pearson said. A
manufacturer's assessment also is pending, he said. "The man from
Cessna was there the next day."

Hickin was an experienced commercial pilot who recently left
Manassas-based Colgan Air for a position with Gemini Air Cargo, where
he was flying internationally.

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