WBOC Talks with Aero Club After Emergency Landing - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

WBOC Talks with Aero Club After Emergency Aircraft Landing

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC)- The investigation continues into a small plane's emergency landing in the middle of SR 1 across from the Dover Air Force Base Monday evening. The single-engine Cessna involved belongs to the DAFB Aero Club.

The club has been operating since 1987.

"The Aero Club is primarily set up for military folks to allow them a place to learn to fly or rent aircraft for recreational purposes," said Joe Nickle, the club's manager.

Nickle said there are 18 clubs like this at air force bases throughout the country. This one has about 180 members and is a part of force support on the base, like the golf course and bowling alley.

"The Air Force breaks everything down by category. We're a category C, which means we have to generate all of our own income to pay our expenses."

He said that amounts to approximately $10,000 to $12,000 a month.

The club uses a fleet of 13 planes. Most of them are older surplus planes from the military. Nickle says that's what the plane in Monday's emergency landing is. He explained to WBOC the people flying Aero Club planes are only liable for something that happens in two cases.

"Only if it is negligence on their part or if they're violating a regulation," Nickle said. "If they do something they're not allowed to do, then they can be held liable for whatever happens out of it."

As the federal investigation continues, it is unclear at this time what led to the emergency landing. Fortunately for the people in the plane and drivers on the road, the landing caused minimal damage. Nickle said the club has money in an account for damage to cover liability and damage to aircraft.

"We actually are insured. It's through the Air Force but we are primarily self-insured."

While the people who may not have even heard of the Aero Club before saw what happened on SR 1, Nickle said that on the whole, aero club flights are very safe.

"The safety record of the aero club runs very small compared to the general public. General aviation outside the military organization typically runs about five accidents per 100,000 hours. Ours is somewhere around 1.5-2 accidents per 100,000 hours."

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