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Triumphs and tragedies: A look back at 2008Triumphs and tragedies: A look back at 2008

The ups and downs of 2008 proved a challenge to general aviation, with some incidents dividing pilots and others uniting them. The year saw the first U.S. pilot to be jailed for a fatal accident, general aviation saved the life of another, and pilots prevented a TV crew from flying GA into a major airport for a so-called story. Here are the Top 10 stories, ranked by readership, that captivated pilots in 2008.

Strub accident scene Photo courtesy Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

In February, Mark Strub made history as the first U.S. pilot to be jailed after an accident took the life of his passenger. In an exclusive interview with AOPA Pilot, Strub walked members through the fateful day that changed his life forever.

Two general aviation pilots sparked an investigation of an F-16 pilot who flew in formation around them without prior approval in an Arizona military operations area. The FAA later released radar video of the event, containing the pilots’ harried calls as their onboard collision avoidance systems sounded with the F-16 off their wings. The F-16 pilot was reprimanded. The incident divided pilots on the issue of whether GA pilots, who are allowed to fly in MOAs, should voluntarily avoid them while they are active. AOPA worked with the Air Force to educate military and civilian pilots of the activities that take place inside MOAs.

A Husky pilot who was flying low over the Black Rock Desert helped to save a man’s life. As AOPA later learned, the man he rescued in the desert was the son of a fellow AOPA member.

Steve Fossett also topped the list of most interesting stories for the year. His wreckage site was found in California, a little over a year after he disappeared in a Bellanca Decathalon. The remains were later confirmed to be his. Cessna SkyCatcher

The controversial Cessna SkyCatcher, which will be built in China, piqued pilots’ interest when Cessna announced that it would make small design changes. The announcement came after a SkyCatcher was destroyed during spin tests.

Two pilots alerted AOPA to a TV crew’s request for them to use GA airplanes to fly the media into Chicago O’Hare International. The pilots followed AOPA’s Airport Watch program when their suspicions about the crew’s intentions were raised.

Logan FloodLogan Flood

Pilots were inspired by the determination and courage of Logan Flood, a pilot who almost died in a GA aircraft accident but overcame the odds and returned to aviation, becoming a first officer for Republic Airways. Flood recounted his story for AOPA Pilot, from the events leading to the accident, the accident, his recovery in a burn unit, and his journey back to the cockpit. At AOPA Expo 2008, AOPA President Phil Boyer presented him with a lifetime achievement award. Now, pilots across the country recognize Flood and greet him at airports.

Galveston Airport after Hurricane Ike Photo: George Gould

In September, Galveston, Texas, bore the brunt of Hurricane Ike. The airport was demolished. AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer George Gould took AOPA behind the scenes at the airport for an early look at the damage with this slide show.

What story interested you most this year? Did it make our Top 10 list? Share your thoughts in this online forum.

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