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Embry-Riddle Training Plane’s Door Crashes to Pavement at 16 College Court in Palm Coast

| October 18, 2013

An Embry-Riddle Diamond AD42 plane like the one that lost a canopy door above Palm Coast Thursday. (ERAU)

An Embry-Riddle Diamond DA42 plane like the one that lost a canopy door above Palm Coast Thursday. (ERAU)

A canopy door from a two-engine plane belonging to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University came undone during a training run over Palm Coast’s C-Section around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and fell to earth, slamming the pavement within yards of several houses around a cul-de-sac. No one was injured on the ground, and the pilot and trainee aboard the plane made it safely back to the Flagler County Airport.

The cause of the mishap is unknown. It is the first time in recent memory that an Embry-Riddle training plane–the likes of which fly above Flagler routinely–has had any sort of accident.

“We are still investigating, and it’s going to be several days until we’re exactly sure what happened,” Embry-Riddle Spokesman James Roddy said. Many questions remain unanswered, including whether the Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the mishap, and where the plane was. Roddy said he “assumed” it was grounded.

The plane is a Diamond DA42, which seats four, has a top speed of around 220 mph and a range of about 1,000 miles.

A resident of the C Section called 911 to report hearing a loud crash outside, and seeing what looked like a plane door sitting in the road near 16 College Court. The plane was flying overhead. At 5:23 p.m., Embry-Riddle called local authorities to alert them that one of their planes had lost a door, and that the plane had landed safely. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office turned the door over to university officials at Airport Director Roy Sieger’s request at 5:45 p.m.

“Witnesses,” a sheriff’s report found, “stated that they didn’t see it fall but heard the crash and went outside to see it sitting in the middle of the street. The falling door did not strike anything or anybody, other than the street, and it didn’t cause any damage to anything as a result.”

Embry-Riddle, Roddy said, conducts some 250 training flights a day.


“This is an incredibly rare event for us,” Roddy said. “In fact I had our director of aviation pull information, the last six and a half years we have flown 388,000 hours of flight, and we’ve had one accident in those six and a half years, and it was a bird strike. So these events for Embry-Riddle are incredibly rare. Safety is the absolute number one priority for us.” The identities of the pilot and the trainee were not released.

For Palm Coast and Flagler County, it is only the latest in a series of plane emergencies, some minor, one disastrous, this year.

The evening of March 13, a single-engine Piper on a training from Phoenix East flight school in Daytona Beach executed an emergency landing on Palm Coast Parkway, just west of Belle Terre. No one was injured, and only a semi truck sustained minor damage when the edge of the plane’s left wing clipped a part of the cab. In April, an experimental plane crashed into Lake Disston at the west end of the county. Its two occupants swam safely to shore.

On Jan. 5, three people aboard a BE35 aircraft died when the plane crashed into a house on Utica Path in Palm Coast, just short of the runway at the Flagler County Airport. The plane had developed engine troubles minutes earlier. The house was virtually demolished by fire, but its occupant survived unharmed.

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28 Responses for “Embry-Riddle Training Plane’s Door Crashes to Pavement at 16 College Court in Palm Coast”

  1. taxpayer says:

    Thank God no one was hurt.

  2. Bruce Van Deusen says:

    Blame gravity.

    Too bad we can’t amend that law.

  3. orphan says:

    With billions PLUS square miles of airspace I have never understood why these STUDENTS fly over my head all day long!
    There is an OCEAN with TRILLIONS of square miles RIGHT HERE! Why not use that arena? Embry-Riddle could place floating towers to replace the ones in our neighborhoods that they like to use for (whatever) practice!
    I don’t like being in a situation where all day long there is equipment over my head that might/does fail.
    I’m not *chicken little* here. Let them play out over the ocean, not over my damn house!

    • Moe says:

      the reason ERAU doesn’t allow their airplanes fly over water is because the C172 will not make it to land in case of an engine failure!!

    • hmmm... says:

      And what happens if they crash land out in the ocean? Who will pick them up? This was a freak accident, and theres no sense blaming the university. You’ll be thankful years from now, when something along the lines of the hudson crash happens, and you know that the only reason you survived the crash was because the pilot went to Embry riddle.

    • Roanoak Guy says:

      The FAA decides how the Air Space is used if you have beef with Aircraft flying over your house talk to the FAA!

    • Tim says:

      That airfield was most likely there long before the housing areas were built. I don’t understand why, except money, that the counties allow zoning those areas residential. IMO they local flight traffic area should be restricted to commercial and agricultural uses.

      As for why they fly in the area all the time the students have a variety of skills, normal and emergency, they have to learn by practice that involve taking off and landing so they have to stay in the local area to keep flight time to a minimum.

  4. Chicken Little says:

    The sky is falling….The sky is falling !!!!!!

  5. confidential says:

    These students and instructors should not be training and or making occasional airborne pirouettes and stunts all the time over populated City of Palm Coast!
    Did the family that had their house burned and miraculously escaped injury in January 5, have been properly compensated by the aircraft insurer?
    The abusive use of the air space above us in PC is totally reckless. Doesn’t the FAA has marked corridors west of Route 1 on more agricultural less populated areas or over water next to our beaches?
    These often air misshapes at times with tragic consequences should be a warning sign to us all here in this city.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Flagler County Airport, turned over to the county after WWII in 1946 when there was nothing but rattlesnakes and potato farmers around. Who both probably enjoyed looking up at the noise of a machine that soared above them, jousting with clouds and wondrously defying gravity! Giving the farmer if not the snake a sense of wonder at the possibilities they may rise to.
      Half a century later, both of their spirits would still be more impressed with those wondrous possibilities of flight than your mortgage holder is today with your stucco encrusted pride and joy on a asphalt cul-de-sac. Me too.
      And as the snake would say, you knew damn well I was here before you. So buyer beware.

      P.S. In 70 plus years the airport has server our community, hundreds if not thousands of our neighbors have been killed in car wrecks on streets like the one you live on. The number killed by airplanes falling on them is zero or close to it. In any case, it is so rare there are no statistics available on line to ponder. Get your fears in the proper order. Useless Worry is unhealthy for all of us.

  6. anonymous says:

    I agree with orphan. I used to joke about this happening. I live in Matanzas woods and constantly here these training exercises where the pilots continually kill the planes engine. Should be against the law.

    • Moe says:

      they kill the engine so the students can learn what to do if it was a real emergency… it’s a plane and people lives that those kids will be responsible of someday… not a schoolbus

      • Chris says:

        It doesn’t do any good. We have been trying to get them to stop flying over our houses every day and doing stalls directly over the tree line and we get nothing done. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before.

    • anonymous (Certificated Flight Instructor) says:

      We do not actually shut down (or “kill” as you say) any engine in a single engine aircraft during training. In order to simulate the engine shutdown, we bring the throttle to idle (same as letting you foot off the accelerator in your car) and let the aircraft glide down to around 600′ above ground level (checking to make sure that the engine is still functioning every thousand or so feet). In order to obtain a pilots certificate, a student must undergo training with simulated engine inoperative. Would you prefer that the certification requirements change and pilots have no experience with gliding an aircraft in the event of an emergency?

  7. gb says:

    Couldn’t it at least have taken out a red light camera pole?

  8. Rick says:

    If memory serves me right… And it does, the airport was there long before the surrounding neighborhoods were built. So, I see no justification for the complaints from those of you who built/bought or rented homes in very well known flight paths.

  9. pilot says:

    Thank goodness that nobody was hurt or no damages were made from this..
    But Embry-Riddle is aviation number one college in the nation.. All students from around the world come to Daytona Beach, or Phoenix, Arizona to study and train at this college! Like the article conducted, there was only one mishap before at Riddle. Riddle is top notch and does not or will not let anything happen unlike the other reports you have read on planes crashes from other colleges.. So to the people who claim that students/ instructors/ the FAA should not allow planes to fly over a city, such as Palm Coast, need to realize you all PICKED to live here with aviation’s number one school in the nation JUST 30 MINUTES AWAY! but in air borne, less than 30 minutes… THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!

    And to the people who want to talk about doing MANEUVERS that COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOTS NEED TO KNOW! should be against the law obviously does not know shit about being apart of the aviation world and becoming a pilot. These so called “exercises” show us if A STALL (which we KILL THE ENGINE) were to happen, how to fix it. A STALL IS TO MOST LIKELY HAPPEN ON TAKE OFF OR LANDING! So please remember that next time your butt is sitting in a United, Jetblue, Southwest or any other kind of airline/aircraft before you speak again!

    Love always,
    a PILOT IN TRAINING WHO FLIES OVER PC ALLLLLLLLL THE TIME! (:

  10. NortonSmitty says:

    This plane is flying all day every day over our area. It is an efficient, modern twin-engine trainer that allows advanced pilot training in a rugged complex aircraft at a reasonable initial cost. It was one of the first trainers to offer efficient diesel power in any class of plane. The door failing could be attributed to any number of reasons. It may not have been properly latched, it may have had a crack somewhere that was not detected in its regular inspections. Or it may be that the plane had so many hours on the airframe it’s just plain worn out. They all get that way eventually.
    The NTSB will look at the hours on the plane and see if this is a problem that has shown up on other Diamond DA42’s and determine if it is something they will need to address by requiring the replacement of the failing part at so many hours of use. Maybe the additional vibration of the Diesels will factor in the findings, maybe not. But it will be studied to a degree rare in modern Government agencies designed to protect us and a fix will be mandated that will insure that this never happens again on this plane.
    Because when the door of a small plane harmlessly falls on your street it makes the news. Your chicken that should be inspected that gives you the shits, sadly not so much.

  11. Bruce Van Deusen says:

    Trainers are generally very forgiving aircraft. Practicing mid-air restarts is very important to a student pilot, as is practicing what to do if it won’t restart.

    That training saves lives.

    If you read the article, the Embry Riddle operations have a great safety record. The door falling off is a freak accident. Lots worse things happen on the ground a lot more often.

  12. BSAE5254 says:

    For those of you that aren’t in aviation I understand your concern but there are reasons they fly in the places they do and not over water. Imagine, if you will, it was your son or daughter is a student flying one of these planes because they want to become a pilot. Which would you rather they fly over: A) the ocean where, in the event if an emergency, there is no place to land for miles. I’m not sure if you remember the plane that landed in the Hudson, but there is a reason why the captain is seen as a hero, typically planes don’t land well in water. B) over the unpopulated area of Florida where, I’m not sure it you’ve been out if your neighborhood, there is mostly trees and swampland which again means more water. Or C) an area where there are thousands of tiny runways called roads. Additionally, after receiving my degree as an aerospace engineer there is one definitely thing I’ve learned… Planes are designed not to have these things happen. In fact you have a better chance of some teenager driving his 1995 Toyota corolla into your living room. Last, if you don’t want equipment flying over your head all day you better inform the airlines too, if you look up at almost any point during the day where you are locate it will be hard not to see a commercial jet. There are reasons for everything with regards to aviation. Accidents happen but rarely. You are safe, in all honesty I feel safer with about airplanes flying over my head than the cars driving in the street.

  13. Flyboy says:

    Just to educate some of the non-flying folk here; the reason student pilots train over land areas and not in “billions and TRILLIONS of airspace over the water” is because while the planes can fly fine with one engine, they aren’t built to glide very far should all engines fail; and it does happen! Also, no training maneuver involves “killing the engines”; there are only two maneuvers that are carried out at low power settings (where the engine is placed in an idle setting to SIMULATE an inoperative engine) and one maneuver that requires the full shut down of an engine and that maneuver is conducted above 3500ft and stunt training DOES NOT take place over populated areas below a certain altitude and this is MANDATED BY LAW.
    While most of the flying community understands your concerns, it should be understood that most of the student pilots training right now are the ones who’ll be flying you in the future; by asking the government to lawfully restrict their training, you’re only restricting the quality of the pilot that this country produces.

  14. Kip Durocher says:

    Volusia County, Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach did not want them crashing into their towns but the wise money spoke and our citizen concerned leaders here in Flagler County said, “Sure come on, we will stick the taxpayers for any expenses from your crashed and house burning.”

  15. Retired says:

    I don’t think that there were 350 touch and go flights per day when those properties were purchased.
    The vast majority of those flights are from out-of-county flight schools which pay no fee for use of the field, but do require Flagler County services. Perhaps they should be paying their fair share in some type of fees, at the very least.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I don’ understand why some people are so ignorant. It is my understanding that the airport was built way before anybody had a home around that area. If you did not like planes flying over your house, you chose the wrong place to buy a house near world’s biggest aviation university.

  17. Sam says:

    I fly these particular Diamond aircraft at THIS particular university, and I know as a certain fact, that flying, even Florida’s congested airspace is still statistically hundreds of times safer than driving. I also know that these Diamond “Twin Star’s” are never flown without the finest flight instructors in the country who all have hundreds of hours of flight time under their belts. There will always be flights in the air across the country 24/7, so in my opinion, there’s no use in arguing that we “go away”. This undeniably the worlds best aviation institution, so it would be appreciated if the statements and opinions were at least informed.

  18. confidential says:

    When I picked to leave here was over 21 years ago and I am located about 10 miles from the airport. Our BOCC invited Embry Riddle to settle here in 2004: http://www.nieworld.com/cc/aviation2.htm after was refused by our neighbors to the South. I knew then after 13 years that I bought my property here, that starting 2004 the noise disturbing our peace and quiet and danger overhead will change Palm Coast forever courtesy of our BOCC.
    I have addressed the issue with FAA in Jacksonville and the flying over at low altitude and the frequency stops for a while and then restarts again. So is not that we have to live with it or move…is that we need to make our rights stand! Most of us moved here way before 2004 and the airport was there but not housing a training University.
    Pilots in training have rights too but maybe they were approved in the wrong place.

    • Pcmommy says:

      Florida has more “flying” days than just about any other state, closely competing with Texas and California. Also, there are more aircraft registered in these three states than any other area. With the availability of good flying days, the availablity of airports, and market for aviation, proximity to coast for foreign trainees, Florida is a fantastic location for flight training and aviation in general.

      Statistically speaking, and professionally speaking, the “Dangers overhead” are extremely minute, especially considering you are 10 mi from an airport. The FAA prohibits flying lower than 500′ above the ground in less populated areas and 1,000′ above the ground in populated areas. This is for safety reasons obviously. The exceptions are in case of emergency or for takeoff/ landings. Common flight training maneuvers are not “hot dogging” in any shape or form. If you suspect a pilot is flying too low to your home, you should be able to read the tail number, aircraft identification number and report it to the FAA. If the aircraft is in the process of takeoff/landing, well you understand the decrease in altitude.

      This was a freak accident and thank God there were no injuries to persons or property. This type of situation is about as rare as the space shuttle breaking up overhead an debris falling on your house, even in that horrific case I don’t recall any injuries on the ground. I have never heard of something like this happening on this particular aircraft and I’m sure you are most likely to be injured at a sewing class, sporting event, parking lot, driving, walking across the street, or eating my mom’s baked garlic mahi mahi. In all seriousness at the center of most any aviation professionals mind is safety, remember, their hides are first on the line, in the event of an emergency.

      I didn’t go to ERAU but my husband and I are aviation professionals. Your concerns aren’t uncommon, although they are typically the result of misinformation, little information about the industry and it’s stringent safety standards. Statistically speaking, Aviation is astronomically safer than driving. I don’t fault anyone who is not informed on the industry, but I encourage you to find the facts and if you are concerned, politely share your concerns with an aviation professional, flight school, or local airport officials.

      They can be noisy at times, but so can barking dogs, traffic, neighbors, the TV and birds. The next time an airplane flies overhead perhaps the opportunity presents itself to reminisce how man has longed to fly like the birds for thousands of years and in the past 100 years, int has been made possible to transport literally tons of weight or hundreds of humans across the world at 700+ mph in a metal tube…even around the moon and back.

      Flight schools do offer short discovery flights if you are interested in tasting flight for yourself. I encourage anyone interested to try it for yourself, you may just fall in love with aviation! Cheers!

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