Pilot crashes plane Sunday night, fog may have been a factor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pilot crashes plane Sunday night, fog may have been a factor

MARION (KWWL) - Two small plane crashes happened in as many days this weekend, near the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. While federal officials conduct their investigation into the cause of these accidents, several people are recovering from injuries they sustained.

Linn County officials say 64-year old Douglas Tindal, the pilot who crashed Sunday night, radioed for landing assistance due to fog, and that he was running low on fuel.

Jan Walton, Chief Flight Instructor at the Marion Airport, has experienced low visibility during flight. She teaches students to use all the help they can get when having difficulties in the air.

"When you're flying in clouds and fog, you can't see outside," said Walton. "You have to rely on your instruments. Any backup you can get, like cockpit resource management, which you would get from the air traffic controllers at the Cedar Rapids airport, will help you and aid you."

Tindal was on his way to the Washington Airport, but Walton says it's an uncontrolled site, with no air traffic control tower. She says smaller airports still have instrument landing systems, but they're not as accurate as those at larger airports like the one in Cedar Rapids. Walton says a plane's instrumentation goes a long way in helping a pilot to take off and land in foggy conditions, but when it gets especially thick, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits flight. That means no takeoffs or landings for smaller airports and craft with limited instrumentation.

Walton says pilots also rely heavily on weather forecasts to calculate fuel needs, but forecasts aren't always 100-percent accurate, and the weather can change in an instant.

"When you drive a car, you may drive through the country, turn around the corner, and you hit fog. There's nothing you can do about it, and you cannot always forecast it."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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