Summer…Maybe not the Best Time to Fly?

Bad timing, bad weather, bad luck–and bad people with missile launchers


Courtesy MCT Campus Service

A large piece of MH-17, part of a large debris field in Ukraine.

It seems like there is a new reason to fear air travel every other day this summer.  In just the last few weeks, all of the following stories have been reported.  Some are freak accidents, while some clearly not accidental at all.  Just based on statistics, 2014 has been the deadliest year on record for aviation, trumping even the air disasters of 2010–and this is only July.

1. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17

The second Malaysia Airlines flight to just poof, losing all aboard, in the last couple months–the major difference being that at least we know where the wreckage is this time.  Our US government agencies seem certain the plane did not just crash or explode on its own, but nobody (yet) knows for sure who pushed the button on the missile system that brought it down.  The Ukrainians say it was Russian separatists, the Russian government says it was Ukraine that shot it down.

Either way nearly 300 civilians died, including some pretty important (i.e., maybe irreplaceable) AIDS researchers.  There is heavy fighting around the crash site, with new claims by Ukraine that rebels have even placed land mines on the road that investigators must take to get there.  Dutch and Australian leaders, who lost dozens of their people in this crash, are furious at what they see as interference by Russian forces who may be trying to keep the site from being investigated.

2. AirAlgerie Flight AH5017

According to the Associated Free Press, Air Algerie “Flight AH5017, which took off early Thursday morning [July 24th]  from Ouagadougou in neighbouring Burkina Faso bound for Algiers, went missing amid reports of heavy storms.”  Some weather reports indicate a possible sand storm reaching crazy altitudes.  All 118 passengers and crew are likely dead, but at the crash site in northern Mali, “no intact bodies” have been found, making identification very difficult.  It is possible the plane even started to disintegrate in midair, but the remains hit the ground with such force that pieces are scattered over a large area of wilderness.  Fortunately no one is trying to hinder the investigation of the crash site, but answers may still be hard to come by.

3. Teenage Pilot Dies in World Record attempt

Seventeen-year-old Haris Suleman was trying to break a world record of youngest pilot to fly around the world.  His father was his co-pilot and navigator on the trip, which ended off the coast of Pago Pago, an island in the Pacific near American Samoa.  Their small plane crashed into the ocean nearly 20 miles off shore.  Haris’ body has been found, but his father’s has not.  According to, “Haris hoped to become the youngest pilot to make it around the world in a single-passenger plane, all done in a 30-day trip. Though Haris had flown with his father since he was 8, he had just received his pilot license in June.”  The investigation into the cause of the crash will be difficult considering the deep water and the small plane’s lack of a “black box” to recover any data from.

4. TransAsia crash in Taiwan

At least 48 passengers are dead, and possibly more victims on the ground, after a TransAsia flight crashed into a residential neighborhood.  The cause of the crash may have been typhoon conditions.  Taiwan is a large island off the coast of mainland China.

5. Nine-year-old girl and her father killed in plane crash

Fort Stewart soldier Sgt. Ommy Irizary and his daughter Oceana were killed by a small plane while walking on the beach near Sarasota, Florida.  Oceana was initially taken to the hospital but died of her injuries less than 24 hours after the freak crash.  They apparently didn’t hear the plane coming in as the engine had stalled out, leaving the pilot to attempt an emergency landing.  The pilot was identified by police as Karl Kokomoor, 57, and his passenger was David Theen, 60, both of Englewood, Florida.  Neither was hurt, but the cause of the crash is being investigated.