Not actually a small plane, a crash, or experimental

Photo courtesy of
‘Taxi back after landing’
courtesy of ‘jitze’

WTOP reports here that the pilot of an ultralight was unharmed – and presumably nobody else was either – after he set his vehicle down on a road median in Maryland. Unfortunately the article fudges a few terms and exhibits the ususal problems the media has when reporting on general aviation.

It’s an accurate statement, but WTOP tosses in that this is an “experimental plane” which makes it sound like something the pilot cobbled together out of junkyard parts. What the FAA calls planes in the “experimental” category is just a grouping most of us would think of as small planes flown by hobbyist pilots. There’s some restrictions on flying passengers and other commercial actions but in general there’s no reason to single these out to sound like they’re iffy in any way.

The use of the term “crash” is also problematic, since most of us would think of a crash as a fairly uncontrolled landing. The pilot here might simply have had to engage in a forced landing outside of a proper landing zone – which would require involving the FAA – but was able to do so in a controlled manner.

If the media is going to report on these things I wish they’d make up their mind whether they’re going to go balls-to-the-wall on the technical terms or simply report things in plain english. This term mixing seems to only happen when they are salacious official words.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


One thought on “Not actually a small plane, a crash, or experimental

  1. “Experimental” is sort of a catch-all term in general aviation, anything that doesn’t fit another category goes in there- this includes, for the record, things like ultralights, kitplanes, and even classic warbirds. Its a pretty diverse and interesting group actually. And has nothing to do with the kind of mad-science crap the media tends to try to make it sound like sometimes- even a garage-built kitplane doesn’t fly without being FAA certified first.