Skip to comments.Water balloon bombers may face charges [Dropped them from airplane]
Posted on 07/07/2005 3:24:15 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Classic cars from all over the West traveled to Logan last weekend for the Cache Valley Cruise-In, but it's a low-flying airplane that has drawn police attention.
Officers are investigating two men who reportedly have admitted dropping water balloons from an airplane flying just a few hundred feet off the ground. The balloon bombing runs occurred early Sunday as Logan streets were filled with people attending the Cruise-In, the city's annual car show.
Police Lt. Rod Peterson said there were no reports of injuries or property damage, but the two men could face state criminal charges and be in trouble with federal authorities.
"I don't think they were thinking," Peterson said of the two men. "It was just a very dangerous, very foolish act on their part."
Peterson said the men were in a Cessna 150, a single-engine, two-person aircraft. The pilot was a 21-year-old Smithfield man who had a student license and was not authorized to have a passenger. His passenger was 22.
About 1 a.m. Sunday, Peterson said, the airplane made a pass over the Logan crowds and dropped water balloons. The airplane made another pass 10 or 15 minutes later and dropped more balloons.
"Of the pilot's own admission, he believes he was between 300 and 400 feet," Peterson said. "Those who were on the ground to witness it believe he was only 150 to 200 feet off the ground."
The lieutenant said the pilot shut off the plane's lights, but the aircraft was still visible from the ground. Peterson said the passenger was the one dropping the balloons and there is some discrepancy about how many were dropped, but the passenger has admitted to dropping a total of five balloons.
The passenger said he was aiming for a Smith's grocery store parking lot.
Peterson found the two men at the Logan airport. When first questioned, they denied being in the air or in the airplane, but they later admitted their roles, Peterson said.
The pair have suggested they dropped the balloons because they had friends below, Peterson said.
Peterson said he expects to meet this week with the Cache County attorney to determine whether criminal charges will be filed. He also plans to turn his case over to the Federal Aviation Administration, which could revoke the pilot's license.
I had forgotten all about that fun activity. Next time my wife and I go flying, we must take along a roll of TP.
My boss and his friends used to make bombing runs with bowling balls against abandoned barns. Living in the country does have some advantages. I think his funniest experiment was to mount Estes model rockets onto his Piper Super Cub and make aerial attacks upon isolated targets around the area.
Since nobody was injured in the episode under discussion, other than flying too low over a populated area, what FAA regulations were violated? Legally, trying to prove the actual altitude of the aircraft may be a little difficult.
There would have been fewer complaints if the water balloons weren't frozen.
- Night without lights.
- Flying at night with only a student license.
- Flying with a pax with only a student license.
Very difficult to say if he was at 500' or 300' - without proper measuring equipment.
Would love to fly in the country without the trials and travails of the "Noise Freaks" as we like to call them.
FAR Part 91.15:
No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow an object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property...
There are other regs regarding the safe distance vertical/horizontal from "an open air assembly of persons" (1,000 vertical, 2,000 horizontal), student pilot with passengers is forbidden, along with nighttime restrictions.
From 300 feet the velocity would be 94 mph vertical however you would have to factor in wind resistance and without the size of the balloon I can not do that. A good estimate would be around 70 miles and hour. It could do some serious damage.
(Somebody had to say it....)
Very true. Some classmates of mine at Utah State University were dropping bowling balls out of airplanes out in the west desert for an engineering project. And yes, they had to take some serious precautions to be allowed to do this.
"However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property."
If they were dropping water balloons on a parking lot full of people and cars, I don't think they met that part of the regulation.
Somehow, I don't think the cops and the FAA will think so, either.
Horsepuckey! Think about it: Let's say the water baloon has a pint of water in it; that's one pound. Let's say further that the
kids idiots were telling the truth and they were between 300 and 400 ft above the ground. Newton says earth's gravity accelerates objects at 32 ft / sec^2; this gives the 1 pound object a speed of just over 100 mph at impact.
I volunteer you to be the target on the ground in this contest! Let's see: one pound object, about 6" in diameter, moving 100 mph ... I think you would get major damage with a body hit and possible death or paralysis with a head or neck hit.
Bottom line: real live true ballistics do support the statement "This joke could have easily killed someone".
I've flown into SBP a number of times - either $100 hamburger runs from Watsonville, or pit stops on my way to LA la land - and found the tower controllers there to be some of least courteous of all the fields I've flown into. Not bad, just not very friendly. Maybe they just pissed these guys off.
Could be but think about the implications. If I wanted to continue my flying career I think I'd find another way to handle my anger.
" I had to pick it up on climb since there aren't any birds at 11,000."
This came up recently in another FR aviation thread. The record height for aircraft - bird smackdown is >30,000 feet! An airliner engine ingested a bird at cruise altitiude.
Now, tossing any kind of object from aircraft has always been a no no under FAR's, though I would imagine that most of us, have, at one time or another, tossed "objects" out of either an open window, or over the side of an open cockpit. It is hoped we all did this over a safe area, and chose our impact points with some care..... The actions of these idjits with water balloons were, IMHO, criminal, and since they were allegedly student pilots, that is as far as they should get.... Akthough a balloon full of water may not seem like much, one only has to figure out the mass and estimated terminal velocity to see that one winds up with a lethal missile. Such items are OK in contests along with flour bags, etc, etc at carefully supervised events, and carefully chosen impact points, clear of any danger, but these dumb yahoos deserve the full impact of the law.
I once witnessed a similar idiot throw a pair of wood chocks out of the window of a C180 for the alleged reason "there was a junk car and I wanted to see if I could hit it"... Well, the guy obviously had no concept of speed, trajectory, or exterior ballistics, because the damn chocks came close to impacting the writer, and his car, as well as a C210 on which I was doing a preflight check and which was a good 300 yards away from the intended "target". The aircraft was NOT mine, it was for a charter,I had passengers standing by the aircraft, and the chocks missed it by less than 5 yards. I lost the charter, as the pax suddenly decided they would rather not fly, then had and had some severely terrified people to calm down. To protect all concerned, I will not mention the airport, nor the state, After said idiot landed, I had a "extended discussion" with this pilot, in which I "explained the error of his ways" to him in no uncertain terms, and left the chocks hanging around his neck. No further report was needed, as said pilot never flew from the airport again. (Fear is a wonderful motivational tool) This type of behavior has no place in modern aviation, except in airshows and some fun contests, where safety regs are in place to make sure that nothing gets damaged.
It is far too bad that we have this kind of abject stupidity more in more in GA today, especially with the advent of the "Sport PIlot" rating, which IMHO, should never have been instituted, not in today's high density airspace situation, and most especially, in the ever increasing restrictions and controlled airspace popping up every day since 9/11....... Just my .02, even if, without a current medical, and current experience, I can't sit in the pointy end any more, but one doesn't forget one's experience and how one feels about idiots creating a hazard for themselves and others. Fly safe!! Greg