Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pipistrel Virus SW, N155CL: Fatal accident occurred April 04, 2017 in Micanopy, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Riley R. Stevens: http://registry.faa.gov/N155CL

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA145
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 04, 2017 in Micanopy, FL
Aircraft: PIPISTREL DOO AJDOVSCINA VIRUS SW, registration: N155CL
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 4, 2017, about 0910 eastern daylight time, a Pipestrel Virus SW, N155CL, was destroyed when it impacted a pasture in Micanopy, Florida. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Sebring Regional Airport (SEF), Sebring, Florida, at 0800, destined for Oconee County Regional Airport (CEU), Clemson, South Carolina. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was on a northerly track from SEF toward Micanopy about 8,000 feet mean sea level. The track ended at an east-west oriented line of severe thunderstorms and rain showers that extended about 100 nautical miles to either side of the track, according to preliminary National Weather Service (NWS) weather radar data. The pilot was in contact with air traffic control throughout the flight, he did not transmit any distress calls.

A witness located at his residence about 200 yards from the accident site reported that he had had been outside in the pasture when it started to rain. He went inside his house and 3 to 5 minutes later he heard an airplane engine. He indicated that the engine sound was smooth and continuous and sounded as though it flew over his house. The engine noise abruptly stopped, followed by "a loud pop sound, similar to a lightening crack." He looked outside and saw the airplane in the pasture and asked his wife to call 911.

The airplane impacted about 90° nose down in a grass pasture. All major components were accounted for at the scene, except the left wing and flaperon. The main wreckage was fragmented and confined to an area about 75 feet in diameter, a majority of which was within a wingspan to either side of the engine. The empennage was separated from the aft fuselage. The rudder and horizontal stabilizer were separated from the T-tail style vertical stabilizer. Flight control continuity was established from the rudder pedals to the rudder control horn, which was separated from the rudder. Flaperon and elevator control continuity could not be confirmed due to impact damage.

The engine was buried in the initial impact crater, 3 feet below the surface. All three carbon fiber propeller blades were fractured at or near their root. One of the blades was not located. The gearbox and propeller hub were separated from the engine crankcase. The crankshaft could not be rotated due to impingement with damaged engine mounts and external components.

A large section of the left wing was located on a farm about 4.5 miles south of the main wreckage. The left flaperon was not found.

According FAA records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, single engine sea and glider. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued October 28, 2013, at which time he reported 12,100 total hours of flight experience. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accrued 92 total hours of flight experience in the accident airplane as of April 2, 2017.

At 0853, the reported weather at Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), Gainesville, Florida, about 15 nautical miles north of the accident site included thunderstorms, moderate rain, mist and wind from 100° at 10 knots gusting to 18 knots. The ceiling was broken at 4,300 feet and overcast at 7,500 feet. Visibility was 5 statute miles, the temperature was 19° C, and the dew point was 18° C.

A NWS Aviation Weather Center convective SIGMET for the area surrounding the accident site issued at 0755 warned of severe thunderstorms with tops above flight level 450, and wind gusts up to 50 knots.

An electronic flight instrument system was recovered from the accident site and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder laboratory for examination.


Riley Stevens
1952 - 2017 Obituary

Anderson, SC

Riley Randolph Stevens died April 4th in a plane crash in Micanopy, Florida. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. Riley's father was in the Air Force which meant growing up the family lived all over the US. Riley was born at McDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL, on July 9, 1952. For college, Riley chose the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and went into the service after graduation. While Riley was stationed in Munich, Germany, his sister announced that she was coming to visit and bringing along the person, his sister insisted, whom he would marry. Sure enough, after a month of touring Europe, Riley was over the moon and back. After a courtship of letter writing between Indiana and Germany and a few visits, Riley and Cindy were married in 1980. The couple attended a house-building school in Maine for their honeymoon and then proceeded to build their own home in Monument, Colorado, with great and able assistance from friends and family. Riley worked for Texas Instruments in quality assurance/quality control in Colorado Springs. In 1987, their daughter, Eve, was born and shortly thereafter (1988) Riley joined American Airlines as an engineer on the 727. He became first officer, and captain while flying a variety of aircraft including the MD-80, 737, 757, 767, and 777.

A job opportunity for Cindy took the young family across the country to South Carolina in 1990. In 1993 their daughter Lee was born. Riley enjoyed his career because it allowed him to see the world and then play stay-at-home dad the other half of the week. Riley watched his daughters' swim practice during the week and volunteered as a meet official or lane timer during meets in order to be closer to the action. He also volunteered in a variety of ways at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson, at his daughters' schools as an Odyssey of the Mind coach, and president of the Clemson Aquatics Team.

In 2003 Riley decided to take advantage of his American Airlines benefits to take his family on a trip around the world. He planned for months then led them on the adventure of a lifetime to every continent but Antarctica. Riley was captivated by the wonders of the world from V-8 engines to the structure of molecules to US History and he let his wife and children know about each in detail. 

Riley was the kind of dad who made "flap jacks" on weekends, sang show tunes in the grocery store, and listened with rapt attention to the everyday details of his daughters' lives. He was the husband who told his wife every day how proud he was of her career, and how lucky he felt to share his life with a woman who "gets more beautiful every year." Riley provided his family with a life full of love, comfort, and adventure. He was kind, funny, and wise. He put the good of the whole ahead of himself and lived in a way that ensured all felt loved in his presence. 

Riley was predeceased by his parents, William Fay Stevens and Adna Madeline Bridges Stevens; his brother, William Bridges Stevens; and his mother-in-law, Maybelle Morgan Lee. 

Riley is survived by his wife, Cindy Margaret Lee; daughter, Eve Morgan Stevens, and son-in-law, Stephen K. Allinger, Jr; daughter, Lee Bridges Stevens; sister, Tandy Leone Stevens Gotchall; father-in-law, Donald Moore Lee; and brother-in-law, Marshall Morgan Lee. A memorial service will be held May 7th at 2pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson, 230 Pendleton Road, Clemson, SC 29631 or the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts Foundation, P. O. Box 8458, Greenville, SC 29604 or online at gsafoundation.net.

Condolences may be expressed online at www.robinsonfuneralhomes.com.

Duckett-Robinson Funeral home, Central, is assisting the family.


- See more at: http://www.legacy.com
























Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N55339: Accident occurred April 03, 2017 in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Los Angeles, California 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N55339

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA092
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 03, 2017 in Whittier, CA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28-140, registration: N55339
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 3, 2017, about 2200 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA28-140 airplane, N55339, made an emergency landing in a trucking yard following a loss of engine power in Whittier, California. The pilot, sole occupant, was uninjured and the airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. The airplane was registered to, and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Temecula, California at an unknown time and was destined for San Diego, California.

The pilot reported to law enforcement that the engine lost power while at 1,000 feet and he executed an emergency landing onto a large trucking yard. During the landing roll, the airplane's left wing struck a stop sign.

Law Enforcement reported that the pilot's eyes were bloodshot, red, and watery; he was slurring and mumbling his words; and he was unable to stand up. 

Since the night of the accident, neither the National Transportation Safety Board nor the Federal Aviation Administration have been able to make contact with the pilot.




LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Deputies responding to the emergency landing of a small plane on top of a building in Southern California arrested the pilot on suspicion of being under the influence, authorities said Tuesday.

According to CBS Los Angeles, a preliminary investigation revealed the pilot ran out of fuel and made a hard landing late Monday on top of the Michael Kors distribution center building, located in the 3700 block of Workman Mill Road.

The Piper Cherokee’s left wing clipped a stop sign, but the single-engine plane remained upright after it landed, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva.

As deputies talked to the pilot, they suspected he might be intoxicated and took him into custody, Villanueva said.

Darrell Roberts, the only person on board, could face a misdemeanor DUI charge. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney.

Roberts, 58, got lost and was running out of fuel during a planned flight from Temecula, in Riverside County, to San Diego, about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) south.

“He was headed in the wrong direction and somehow ended up here in LA County,” said Villanueva.

The plane landed in Whittier, a Los Angeles suburb about 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north of where it took off.

“A DUI involving an airplane, that doesn’t happen very often,” Villanueva said.

The 1973 Piper PA-28-140 is registered to a Darrell S. Roberts of Winchester, in Riverside County. A phone number for Roberts could not be found.

The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating, spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The fixed-wing plane sustained minor wing damage and remained in the parking lot early Tuesday. It was expected to be retrieved by a crew hired by an insurance company, Villanueva said.

Source:  http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com



WHITTIER, CA —Flying under the influence was suspected when a pilot ran out of fuel for his small aircraft on Monday. The 58-year-old Temecula-area resident was en route from Temecula to San Diego when the airplane ran out of fuel, forcing him to land where he did, Villanueva said.

The pilot of a small plane was arrested on suspicion of operating an aircraft while under the influence after he ran out of fuel and landed in a business parking lot in the Whittier area, authorities said Tuesday.

Darrell Roberts, 58, of the Riverside County community of Winchester, was taken into custody after the Piper airplane landed late Monday night in the 3700 block of Workman Mill Road, said Lieutenant Alex Villanueva of the sheriff's Pico Rivera Station.

Roberts was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor operating an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and was held in lieu of $1,000 bail.
Get free real-time news alerts from the Newport Beach-Corona Del Mar Patch.
Subscribe

His next court appearance was scheduled for July 5 in Downey.

Roberts was alone in the airplane and was not injured, and the airplane was not damaged police said.

Source:  https://patch.com

Beech Baron 58, M & M Baron LLC, N158BB: Incident occurred April 03, 2017 at Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV), Alachua County, Florida

M & M Baron LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N158BB

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aircraft right main gear collapsed after landing and slid off right side of runway.  
Date: 03-APR-17
Time: 18:37:00Z
Regis#: N158BB
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 58
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: GAINESVILLE
State: FLORIDA

Cessna T210L Turbo Centurion, N7776H: Incident occurred April 03, 2017 near Roswell International Air Center Airport (KROW), Chaves County, New Mexico

http://registry.faa.gov/N7776H

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas 

Aircraft landed in a field after reporting an engine failure. 

Date: 03-APR-17
Time: 16:30:00Z
Regis#: N7776H
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 210
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: ROSWELL
State: NEW MEXICO 

A small plane made an emergency landing Monday morning near Roswell, although no injuries were reported.

The Chaves County Sheriff’s Office said [auth] the plane sustained minor damages after making an emergency landing in a field south and west of the Roswell International Air Center.

The plane landed at about 10:25 a.m., said the Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center, reportedly due to a mechanical failure, with a pilot and one passenger on board.

Authorities have not identified the pilot or others on the plane.

Sheriff Britt Snyder said the Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead in the investigation and the plane will be loaded onto a trailer and taken to the airport where it will be secured.

Snyder said he had no other information about the flight.

Sgt. Chad Pierce of the New Mexico State Police also confirmed the emergency landing in the field, and also said no injuries were reported. Pierce said state police had not made a report about the incident, and no other information was available.

Roswell spokesperson Todd Wildermuth said the Roswell Fire Department had been alerted in advance of the emergency landing. He also said there were no injuries, and had no further details.

Source:   http://rdrnews.com

Piper PA-34-200T, Canandaigua Air Center LLC, N909RA: Incident occurred April 03, 2017 at Greater Rochester International Airport (KROC), Monroe County, New York

Canandaigua Air Center LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N909RA

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rochester, New York

Aircraft blew a tire on landing.

Date: 03-APR-17
Time: 16:10:00Z
Regis#: N909RA
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: 34
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: ROCHESTER
State: NEW YORK

Incident occurred April 03, 2017 in Garden Ridge, Comal County, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.  

Date: 04-APR-17
Time: 00:34:00Z
Regis#: N480TX
Aircraft Make: ULTRALIGHT
Aircraft Model: UNKNOWN
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: GARDEN RIDGE
State: TEXAS

Cessna 172L, N7547G: Accident occurred April 03, 2017 at Twisp Municipal Airport (2S0), Okanogan County, Washington

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA216
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 03, 2017 in Twisp, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/17/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N7547G
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that, about 50 ft above the runway, a wind gust from the south caused the airplane to drift. The pilot added that she attempted to go around but was unsuccessful. The right wing impacted the ground, and the airplane cartwheeled. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings.

The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

According to the pilot, the wind about the time of the accident was variable from 6° to 8°, gusting to between 10 and 12 knots. The airplane was landing on runway 28.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain crosswind correction during landing, which resulted in the airplane cartwheeling.

The pilot reported that, about 50 ft. above the runway, a gust of wind from the south caused the airplane to drift. The pilot added that, she attempted to go-around but was unsuccessful. The right wing impacted the ground and subsequently, the airplane cartwheeled. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings.

The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

According to the pilot, the wind about the time of the accident was variable from 6° to 8°, wind gusts 10 to 12 knots. The airplane was landing on runway 28.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N7547G


NTSB Identification: GAA17CA216
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 03, 2017 in Twisp, WA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N7547G
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that, about 50 ft. above the runway, a gust of wind from the south caused the airplane to drift. The pilot added that, she attempted to go-around but was unsuccessful. The right wing impacted the ground and subsequently, the airplane cartwheeled.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings.

The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

According to the pilot, the wind about the time of the accident was variable from 6° to 8°, wind gusts 10 to 12 knots. The airplane was landing on runway 28.


















AIRCRAFT:   1970 Cessna 172L; N7547G; sn 17259247

ENGINE- M&M, S/N:   Lycoming O-320-E2D sn L-28156-27A

PROPELLER – M&M, S/N:  McCauley CTM7557   sn 725016

APPROXIMATE TOTAL HOURS (estimated TT & TSMO from logbooks or other information):

ENGINE:  5523 TT     1222 SMOH   

PROPELLER: Unk TT    804 SMOH     

AIRFRAME:   5523 TT                                  

OTHER EQUIPMENT:  King KMA20, King KX175B, King KX175B, Narco AT50

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  Aircraft flipped on landing.

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES:    Damage includes, but not limited to, prop strike, both wings, top of Cabin, rudder, vertical stabilizer.  See photos for additional details.
     
LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:   Private Hangar: Twisp,  WA

REMARKS:   Sold AS IS/WHERE IS.    

Read more here:      http://www.avclaims.com

Piper PA-22-150 Tri-Pacer, N7822D LLC, N7822D: Accident occurred April 03, 2017 at Scappoose Industrial Airpark (KSPB), Scappoose, Columbia County, Oregon

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

N7822D LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N7822D


NTSB Identification: GAA17CA199
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 03, 2017 in Scappoose, OR
Aircraft: PIPER PA 22, registration: N7822D
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot in the tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that he accomplished several takeoffs and landings to the asphalt runway during his solo flight in the pattern. He reported that during his sixth landing, the airplane swerved to the left and subsequently swerved to the right during the landing roll. He attempted to control the airplane's direction with rudder pedal application, but he inadvertently applied the toe brakes and the airplane nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both left side wing struts, the rudder, and the windscreen.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.



SCAPPOOSE, Ore. — A small plane flipped over after landing at the Scappoose airport Monday night.

Crews from the Scappoose Fire District were called at about 8:30 p.m.

The pilot, the only person on board, was uninjured.

Source:   http://katu.com

'We have the worst record in the world': the deadly business of Brazil's bush pilots ···· Pilot Clinger Borges do Valé made a fortune flying supplies to garimpeiros – illicit gold miners – in the Amazon but also lost three brothers to aviation accidents

Pilot Clinger Borges do Valé: ‘We had parties with tables full of drugs. But it’s not like that any more. The good days are over.’


To lose one brother in an air crash may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two is a tragedy; but to have three siblings die in separate aviation accidents shows just how insanely dangerous the job of a bush pilot can be in Brazil’s Amazonian wild west.

Clinger Borges do Valé is a survivor in what could well be the world’s most ill-fated flying family – though only just, having himself crashed 11 times and lost two of his passengers to a cabin fire.

“I’m the luckiest pilot in the world. Anyone else would be dead,” Valé says with a grim smile over an evening beer with his wife, son and nephew in the town of Itaituba, which serves as a hub for illegal gold mining communities deep in the forest.

Supplying them by plane is a lucrative, risky business. Unregulated gold mining in Latin America reportedly earns more export dollars than drug smuggling, but comes with a heavy toll on the environment and human life.

In Brazil’s Amazon basin, illegal miners – known as garimpeiros – have been responsible for deforestation, attacks on indigenous villages and mercury contamination of rivers.

Now retired, Valé – like thousands of other bush pilots – flew for over 40 years to remote, bumpy, half-hidden airstrips in small turbo-prop planes, ferrying garimpeiros and prostitutes, shipping out equipment and returning with gold.




Maintenance was poor, fuel often in short supply. Some runways were barely over 300 metres. Navigation – initially without GPS – was a challenge, particularly in the burning season, and the tropical rains were sometimes heavy enough to bring down planes.

The casualty rate was high. “I have lost count of how many of my friends were killed in accidents. Without doubt this is the most dangerous place to fly,” Valé says.

Yet he and all six of his siblings became pilots. “In Itaituba, it was either that or become a garimpeiro,” he recalls. Given the high murder rate among miners and the low prospects of striking it rich, “It wasn’t much of a choice,” he says.

His eldest brother Claudiso was the first of the family to die, when his plane crashed into the jungle about 40 years ago. A decade later, another brother, Willemis, was killed – along with five of his passengers – when his plane’s engine failed soon after takeoff from Itaituba and ploughed into a castanha tree.

The most recent fatality was last December, when a younger brother, Wilton, came down into the forest three hours away. “Nobody knows what happened,” Valé says.

The crash barely made the news. Itaituba does not have a newspaper. Bigger media organisations rarely make it out to this Amazonian community. The government has – at least in theory – been trying to crack down on the garimpeiros for years. And besides, plane accidents are anything but a rare occurrence in this part of the world.

Itaituba is rarely mentioned in top 10 lists of the planet’s most perilous airports, but passengers and pilots flying to and from here in recent decades have been many times more likely to die than at better-known destinations.

Elsewhere, this might be a source of concern. In Itaituba, it is more like a badge of honour. The walls of the airport cafeteria are decorated with a painting of a plane landing on top of another back in the 1980s, when this claimed to be the busiest airport in Brazil. Locals matter-of-factly recall watching Cessnas and Beechcrafts plunge into the nearby Tapajós river or plough into trees.

There are numerous online compilations of garimpo pilots’ planes plans skidding and lurching across dirt runways. At the town museum, the guide Regina Macedo D’Oliveira assiduously recounts tales of engine failures, fuel shortages and navigation problems. “We have the worst record in the world,” she confirms.

For some, the pilots and miners are heroic adventurers. For others they are environmental criminals driven by greed.

The mix of awe and anger they generate are similar to that for mobsters or drug traffickers. The most powerful garimpeiros used helicopters and machine guns to wipe out rivals or indigenous groups that resisted encroachment on territory.

But they are probably best thought of as products of a global system that values gold above forests.

In his heyday, Valé lived like a character out of Miami Vice, buying a house with a pool and a yacht that he would fill with women. He would be paid in gold – sometimes up to a kilogram at a time. It was a wild era.

“We had parties with tables full of drugs,” he recalls wistfully. “I would buy three new cars per year and take bags full of cash when we went on holiday. But it’s not like that any more. The good days are over.”

The garimpo business continues, but it has fluctuated with the price of gold, the rumours of new seams and government crackdowns. The traffic at Itaituba airport – now modernised and upgraded but still about 80% dependent on garimpo business – is an indicator.

“We have 30 flights a day. Back in the 80s, we had 300 or 400. There were so many back then that planes had to circle in the sky to wait to land while others were parked up on every spare spot on the apron,” said Antonio Anderson, an airport employee. “It is much calmer now. We only had two small accidents last year.”

Valé quit due to health problems. But the next generation of his family are now at the controls. His son Diogo and nephew Cleverson say they are undaunted by the horrific mortality rate..

Safety standards have improved a little, but there are still accidents. A few years ago, Cleverson was about to land when his engine suddenly stopped. The plane ploughed into trees at the end of the runway and flipped over. “It was incredibly noisy,” he said. “And then it was quiet and I shouted out ‘I’m still not dead.”

Original article can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com