Why are so many experimental aircraft involved in crashes? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Why are so many experimental aircraft involved in crashes?

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MESA, Ariz. -

Home video captured a home-made helicopter making a hard landing in the middle of a Mesa neighborhood.

Thankfully, the pilot who built that chopper walked away unhurt, but he did tell FOX 10 he won't be flying it anymore.

So what kind of work goes into building one of these kinds of aircraft? We spoke with a man who's been working on his own plane for years.

The valley has had quite a few crashes this past year involving experimental planes.

One killed a prominent Chandler businessman -- another crash killed the owner of Stern Produce -- and now this one.

But unlike the rest, this pilot walked away. The helicopter nearly hit a house and crashed into a bush.

"Obviously something went wrong," says Roger Whittier, Experimental Aircraft Association.

Firefighters say the pilot told them he lost power to his homemade helicopter while flying from Chandler Airport to Falcon Field in Mesa.

"Just like stuff breaks on a car, stuff can break on an airplane and when it does the pilot is faced with an emergency situation and has to make the best of that situation."

Roger Whittier is president of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He says it's not uncommon for very experienced pilots to build their own aircraft. His chapter has 70 active members. It takes years to build an experimental plane and it's very expensive.

"We put a lot of our heart and soul on building the airplane and taking good care of the airplane and flying the airplane safely," says Whittier.

Whittier has been building his plane since 2006. It's about 80-percent complete. He says just because it's a homemade or experimental aircraft, doesn't mean the pilot isn't experienced, and experimental aircrafts still have to meet FAA requirements.

"I think he was a good pilot," Whittier says. "Any landing that you get to walk away is a great one, if you get to use the airplane it's an even better one."

Whittier says flying an experimental plane has the same risk as riding a motorcycle. He also says the safest way to fly is commercial.

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