Monday, September 17, 2012

Ultralight crashes raise questions about safety


SPRING HILL, Florida -- A wooden cross and flowers sat facing the street in front of Pilot Country Airport one day after an Ultralight aircraft crashed into power lines before landing. The pilot, 53-year-old William Athey, was killed upon impact. 

 Athey's family, along with fellow pilots and the manager of Pilot Country, did not want to talk on Monday. They're still too stunned by his passing.

Pilots are also concerned about how incidents like this one, and one just hours later on Sunday that killed 50-year-old Ultralight pilot Christopher Washington at Hernando County Airport, affect the general perception of aviation. They stress that it's very safe, especially with the correct training.

Ultralight aircrafts are often built from a kit. The planes typically weight 254 pounds or less, carry up to five gallons of fuel at a time, and have just a single seat. A pilot's license is not required to fly them, and the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't require an airworthiness check. Appropriate instruction and practice is highly recommended.

William George "Bill" ATHEY 

ATHEY, William George "Bill" 53, of Odessa died unexpectedly Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. He is survived by sons, Ryan & Wilson Athey; parents, Billy F. and Georgia Lee Athey, all from Odessa; and sister, Sybil (Rick) Bowen; his nieces, Leanne and Marisa Bowen of St. Louis, MO; and special friend, Vicky Truong of Tampa. He was a Senior Software Engineer at CAE in Tampa engineering flight simulators for the past 6 years. In addition, he was very involved in Educational and Community Outreach Programs at CAE. Previously he was employed 20 yrs as a software engineer in Clearwater for Honeywell where he developed software for Space Guidance and Navigation. He received numerous awards for Software Development, Outstanding Community Service and was inducted as a Honeywell Inventor. He was a graduate of Eckerd College with a BS in Information Systems/Computer Science. Bill was a lifelong learner of science/nature and loved to share his knowledge with schools and community groups. With his guidance, some participated in the Starshine Project where students polished mirrors for a satellite launched from the Space Shuttle in 1999/2001. He held an Extra Class Amateur Radio license and was a certified First Responder. He was an Eagle Scout and served as Scoutmaster of Troop 68 for 12 years; recently receiving BSA District Merit Award. He twice completed the Wasatch Front 100-mile Endurance Run in Utah. He loved to hike, backpack, Geo Cache, scuba dive, pursue flying, investigate genealogy and fly his newly created Quad Copter. He played various stringed instruments and raised white homing pigeons which have been used in Epiphany celebrations in Tarpon Springs. He loved long-distance bicycle riding and competed once in Olympic trials. Bill spent his life in service to others and above all honoring his Lord, Jesus Christ. Visitation will be Saturday, 5-7 pm at Blount & Curry Funeral Home, 6802 Silvermill Drive, Tampa. Services will be held Sunday, 2 pm at Hillsdale Baptist Church, 6201 Erhlich Road, Tampa. Graveside services to follow at Keystone UMC, 16310 Race Track Road, Odessa. Please sign online guestbook

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