Hunting is dangerous. Guns are dangerous. Helicopters are dangerous. How about people are dangerous when they don’t properly know how to hunt, shoot or fly? According to News 4 San Antonio . . .
Last September Thomas Swan and a friend were on a hog hunt near Burnet when the helicopter they had hired experienced engine failure. The pilot made a hard crash landing right in the lanes of Highway 281.
“The pilot said ‘hang on’ a half a second before we hit the ground,” Swan said.
Swan managed to escape injury for eight years as a Marine Sgt. in Afghanistan. He was sitting with his legs hanging out the door of the helicopter with his feet resting on the skids. The impact sent him spilling out onto the asphalt.
Swan says he suffered a badly broken ankle, broken tailbone and injured lower back.
“It’s probably the most painful thing I’ve experienced,” Swan said.
Sanger, a pilot, reckons the chopper ran out of fuel. He’s pissed that the heli-hunt company was operating under a “General Aviation” certificate, not a “Commercial Charter” certificate.
“That means that you have maintenance programs, that means you have FAA oversight, that means you have an operations manual, you have a chief pilot, you have a director of operations, you have training standards,” says Sanger.
Sanger claims many hog hunt operators are taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to fly up to six hunts a year with just a “General Aviation” certificate, if they stay within 25 miles of an airport and notify the FAA ahead of time.
He says the FAA needs to eliminate that loophole, or else more hunters will end up like Thomas Swan, whose injuries have made it difficult to continue farming.
Heli-hunts can be hellacious fun, shooting hogs from the air with a machine gun will bring a smile to your face. Until, maybe, it doesn’t.
So before you go, ask the company if they have a Part 135 “Commercial Certificate.” And you, yourself, be careful! As Spider Man’s uncle never said, with great danger comes great liability.