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Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

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Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KlausNW » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:51 pm

Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane in Mulchatna River Takeoff

Story posted here: http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/mans-head-struck-by-floatplane-in-mulchatna-river-takeoff/26688376

ANCHORAGE -

A man aboard a skiff was critically injured Wednesday when he was struck in the head by a float plane taking off from a Western Alaska river.

41-year-old Travis Finkenbinder of Trapper Creek was operating an 18-foot skiff on the Mulchatna River, and 34-year-old Benjamin Hancock of Anchorage piloted the deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane that collided with Finkenbinder.

McKinley Capital Management confirmed both men are employees of the capital investment firm’s flight department, which often takes clients and employees to remote areas to fish and to a company-owned lodge on Lake Clark.

“McKinley is a pretty close-knit family,” said senior vice president J.L. McCarrey. “We’re concerned for the welfare of our family.”

WHAT WENT WRONG?

At the time of the incident, the men were part of a group to shuttling equipment from one fish camp to another, according to Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen. The Beaver piloted by Hancock and another identical aircraft were being used to ferry the skiffs around.

“One of the Beavers on floats was taking off, and it hit a downdraft and it hit Travis in the head,” Ipsen said. “The pilot realized he hit something, landed, and saw the skiff basically turning in circles.”

Hancock taxied and stopped the boat with one of his floats.

Another aircraft in the group landed to assist and started transporting Finkenbinder to King Salmon to receive medical attention. Ipsen said he was later medevaced to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

Friday at 11 a.m., Finkenbinder was listed in critical at Providence, according to spokesperson Ginger Houghton.

According to Ipsen, the Beaver’s pilot has been devastated by Wednesday’s events.

“These guys are friends -- they work together, so as you can imagine it’s very upsetting,” Ipsen said.

McCarrey described both men as "very experienced pilots" and longtime McKinley employees.

Troopers were first informed of Finkenbinder’s injuries by the Bristol Bay Police Department around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Officers from that department alerted the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. NTSB’s chief Alaska investigator, Clint Johnson, said the incident will be investigated as an aviation accident.

“It is an accident that involved serious injury in conjunction with an airplane,” Johnson said.
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KeithSmith » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:01 am

I'm not buying that "hit a downdraft" line. Even if that were the case, that is cutting things way too close.
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KlausNW » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:12 pm

That's my thinking also when reading the article. Sounds a little like taking a video or just horse-play out in the middle of nowhere.
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby akavidflyer » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:47 pm

I am guessing that you guys have never flown there.. The stretch of river that is relatively straight is occupied by tons of boats and planes taking off and landing. That there are not more incidents damn near on a daily basis is nothing short of a miracle.

I for one have hit a down draft numerous times on take off that will put you right back on the water. Depending on the winds, you can lift off just as a gust is coming in over the river bank and it will slap your ass right back on the water. Many famous bush pilots have planted planes in the lakes and rivers and surrounding hills for this very reason, well before every one had a video camera in their hands... Shit happens some times.

I was not there so I cant say if it was a stunt done for video or not, but I have been in similar situations where it was all I could do to keep from eating trees or tundra while dodging boats that come around the bend in a river right in front of me. It is easy to over fly the river when landing so you know what traffic is doing, but on take off, your all in and if someone comes around the bend and you both try to occupy the same space at the same time things get ugly.

:cheers:
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KeithSmith » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:39 pm

Except the guy who was hit was working with the seaplane pilot. He wasn't just a random boat in the water.
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KlausNW » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:53 am

Follow-up:

Pilot who ‘buzzed’ Mat-Su man with float plane, causing severe brain injury, sentenced for assault

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/crime-c ... r-assault/

Author: Laurel Andrews 3/20/18

Samantha Finkenbinder says her husband never regained consciousness after he was "buzzed" by a float plane on a Southwest Alaska River in the summer of 2014 and suffered severe brain damage.

On the afternoon of June 25, 2014, Travis Finkenbinder was driving an 18-foot skiff down the Mulchatna River, about 65 miles northeast of Dillingham. He and a second boat operator were heading downriver to drop the skiffs off, with Finkenbinder leading the way.

Behind them, commercial pilot Benjamin P. Hancock was flying in a Havilland DHC-2 float plane.

Hancock buzzed the two boat operators — meaning, he flew his plane intentionally low above them for fun. The plane flew about 15 feet above the second boat operator, who said he watched as it then dipped even lower, and grazed Finkenbinder's head.

"My husband never heard or saw what happened to him," Finkenbinder said.

Hancock was sentenced last week to a $25,000 fine, probation and restitution. He pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree on Oct. 30, admitting he'd hit Finkenbinder with his aircraft.

"(If) what happened to my husband, this tragedy, can give a second thought to a pilot in the future who might want to buzz somebody for the thrill of it, if it can make them just have a second thought to check themselves, that's really all I can ask for," Finkenbinder said.

Initially, Hancock told investigators that his airplane had encountered a downdraft and he hadn't intended to fly that low.

But according to the National Transportation Safety Board's final report, issued in the summer of 2016, investigators found the cause of the accident to be Hancock's "improper decision" to fly at a low altitude "deliberately in close proximity to the boat operators."

Hancock was indicted on an assault charge in November 2016. Neither Hancock nor his attorney returned a call seeking comment for the story.

Travis Finkenbinder, now 44, fell over and struck his head on the side of the boat after being hit. He suffered hemmorhaging in his brain. His sinuses were crushed upon impact, his wife said, blocking his airways and restricting the oxygen to his brain. Hancock later told investigators he saw Finkenbinder's boat spinning in circles in the river.

That evening, when Finkenbinder made it to an Anchorage emergency room, doctors told his family to prepare themselves to say goodbye.

"They fully expected Travis to die on the gurney in the next couple of hours," Finkenbinder said.

Now, more than three years later, Finkenbinder is in a "minimally conscious state," which his wife described as one step above a persistent vegetative state. He can't talk, but there are moments when he's more aware of himself and his environment. He'll make a thumbs up if you ask. But five minutes later, he might not.

"Travis has never been conscious since the moment that airplane hit him," Finkenbinder said.

Finkenbinder spends more than 12 hours a day in a wheelchair. His nutrition comes from a feeding tube. He is at constant risk for aspiration, because he can't swallow properly, his wife said. With brain damage expected to atrophy the most critical parts of his brain, Finkenbinder was given about 10 years to live from the time of the accident.

The family moved to Wasilla to be closer to a hospital. Emergency room doctors know them by name, Samantha Finkenbinder said.

Finkenbinder said Monday that she was disappointed the case hadn't gone to trial, which may have resulted in a steeper punishment. But, she got what she had truly wanted, she said – for Hancock to admit to what he had done.

Hancock and Finkenbinder were close friends, Samantha Finkenbinder said. She called Hancock's initial statements denying that he had buzzed Finkenbinder a "massive betrayal."

Hancock was sentenced to a $25,000 fine, additional restitution, and he will be on probation for three years. Anchorage assistant district attorney Allison O'Leary said Hancock's pilot's license had been revoked. An FAA spokesperson could not immediately verify that information.

Finkenbinder said she will receive only the life insurance premium payments that her husband had made prior to losing the policy, which amounts to less than $10,000 in restitution.

She hopes her story will shed light on unsafe flying practices. "In the state of Alaska, buzzing is a real issue, and it's a lot more common than people know," Finkenbinder said.

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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby jjbaker » Tue Mar 20, 2018 2:54 am

Hard to see the kids almost grown up before this half-assed partial justice sentence was served.
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:23 am

Joking around has caused a lot of serious damage to others. My freshman year in College one kid ran down the hall and slammed into a guy he was always calling a Nerd. Broke is back and paralyzed him for life all supposedly in jest. I see why too many pilots doing things that endanger them and others. This guy was not however a recreational pilot having fun, but a professional, who was not very professional at. all. There are enough bad stories for aviation already without adding fuel to the fire with accidents that should never have happened.

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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KlausNW » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:57 pm

I've been in the situation many times. I love being out in the remote of Alaska, no place better.

When you are out in the lawless freedom of the wild, bad decisions are made. All week long you are herded to follow everyone's rules starting before you commute to work. Each day you are forced to color between the lines, everything you do has rules. Then the weekend comes and you are a million miles from all of civilizations rules. Unfortunately, the laws of physics still surround you.

I've told myself many times that I was free to do whatever I want out here in the wild. When things go terribly wrong, reality kicks in. Civilization rules are there to protect everyone from the rules of physics and each other.

I feel bad for all the players in this horrifying event. The government punishment is not going to change anything. Locking the pilot up will not make society better. These guys lost self control while experiencing the freedoms that the remoteness offers. Age does not matter when you feel that freedom, the handcuffs are removed and self control goes out the window.
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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Mar 20, 2018 2:15 pm

You are right Klaus that locking him up will accomplish nothing and I do not know about this area, but from what I have now read, this is much busier than being "Out In The Wild".

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Re: Man’s Head Struck by Floatplane

Unread postby KlausNW » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:01 pm

RKittine wrote:from what I have now read, this is much busier than being "Out In The Wild".

Bob


Yes, there's many people out in that remote area. It's safe for me to say that ALL those people out there male and female are living primitively. Generators and plumbing are the big luxuries. There is very few rules other then bring your own booze. Nobody goes to this area and punch a time clock.

Goto google satellite maps 75 miles north of Dillingham and look for a single road or electric source. Better yet, look at the road system around Dillingham and that's the closest town.

It's deadly beautiful !!
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