Back in January 25, 2011 I wrote a blog called “No Flight is Routine” and I talked about a few fatal accidents that hit close to home. The first one happened to Bill Law, owner of Bill Law Aviation in Rochester, NY and had to do with fuel starvation. I was attending Bill’s ground school and just started flying when he died. As a student this was shocking. How could a guy with decades of experience and thousands of hours of flight time crash his twin on a 30 mile hop from one airport to another? How could a divine god like instructor make such a mistake?
Under “A Sad Loss”, I made a slight reference to a second story that I glossed over because I knew the people involved. This story really was about Russ Jeter and the crash of the amphibian he was flying with his son Jacob. I didn’t want to name names or get into the details of the crash out of respect for the family. Russ’s wife Kim is my ex-wife’s cousin and I had met Russ a Kim a few times here in Canandaigua at family gatherings and even flew out to Santa Barbara for their wedding in 2005. They knew I was working on my pilot’s license and would often ask how I was doing. At the time I never had the answer I wanted to give them…that I had my pilot certificate.
Anyway, the last time I remember seeing them was at another family gathering and Jacob, their son who died in the crash was there too. So when I heard of this tragedy, my heart sank, and it really brought home the fact that accidents can and do happen to anyone. Russ is a good pilot, even his wife Kim is a good pilot, and flying was one of the many things that brought them together.
So today I was surprised and saddened a bit, to hear that a video with Russ’s story was now online for everyone to learn from so that we can do our own self assessments and truly understand how important it is to be fit for flight.
Russ and Kim, I am very sorry for your loss. You did inspire me to keep pushing myself and I did earn my pilot certificate, ground instructor certificate, high performance and complex endorsements and even joined the Civil Air Patrol and went on to become a Transport Mission pilot. Thank you for helping educate us all!