On a bright and sunny day in 2004, a Ford Trimotor replica plane (known as a Bushmaster 2000) took to the skies. It should’ve been an enjoyable flight at an airshow. The flight didn’t end well. No pilot expects to encounter a bad day but every pilot knows that risk is always part of the equation in an aircraft. To counter the risk, pilots are taught to meticulously follow their checklists. Each step is an important check to ensure that the jet is properly configured and ready to fly.
In this case, the pilot missed a critical step. The crash on September 25, 2004 was caused by pilot error due to the pilot not removing the gust lock from the tail during pre-flight. This resulted in the plane rapidly rolling to the left on takeoff and crashing into an adjacent parking lot.
Both pilots were critically injured. Two women in a nearby car received minor injuries during the crash. The crash serves as an unfortunate reminder that checklist discipline and a comprehensive preflight is crucial to safe operations. One critical oversight led to the destruction of a beautiful aircraft.
The original Ford Trimotor, nicknamed the “Tin Goose” is an American 3 engine transport aircraft that entered production in 1925. It has saw many years of service in both civil and military aviation and was sold around the world. The plane was always regarded as reliable and dependable. At one-time Ford ads proclaimed, “No Ford plane has yet worn out in service.” A statement that rings true as “Tin Goose” tri-motors are still seen in air shows around the world today.