Rash of small plane crashes concerns flight instructors

Trever West, a recently licensed pilot, says he studies every plane crash and tries to learn from pilot error.

A Bay City dentist died Wednesday after an ultra-light gyroplane crashed into a field in Pinconning. The sixth plane crash since late March has local flight instructors concerned pilots are not properly trained.

Cessna 61817 took off from Saginawâ??s Harry Browne Airport. It's my first flight with veteran instructor Larry Shetron, retired corporate pilot.

I got a hurried lesson about ten minutes before.

"The airplane stays in the air because of airspeed, and it's very, very simple,â?? Shetron told me. â??You teach how you get airspeed, how you control airspeed."

Shetron drills airspeed when training each of his students, and reminds them the majority of small plane crashes are due to pilot error.

The principles of flying haven't changed since World War II.

"The airplane does not think. It does only the pilot tells it to do, so it really hasn't changed at all,â?? Shetron said.

Shetron says news of Wednesday morning's fatal crash is concerning. The engine of Dr. Paul Rogers' gyroplane could very well have failed, but Shetron says flight instructors should equip pilots with the right tools to troubleshoot any problem.

"Flight instructors are a lot to blame, because they don't teach the proper technique for density altitude, changes in the weather."

Shetron makes his students use every crash as a learning experience.

"I want to know the reasoning for it. What happened? If the pilot made an error, what error it was, I'd like to know how that error affected that, and so I can't make that same mistake,â?? Shetronâ??s student Trever West said.

Shetron says the recent rash of accidents is a reminder of how important his job is.

The Federal Aviation Administration will not investigate Wednesdayâ??s crash, because the gyroplane is considered a homemade aircraft. But the agency will examine the engine.