American dies in light airplane crash near Taidong

Very sad news from the China Post website.

Sad indeed, but given the record of Taiwanese operators of microlight aircraft, hang gliders and paragliders, hardly a surprise.

[quote=“almas john”]Very sad news from the China Post website.

Ow, quite sad…


You wouldn’t get me on one of those crop dusters. Too bad about the kid. Looked like he was doing some good in his life.

Info about the type of a/c:

R.I.P Jon :frowning: :frowning: So much he couldve gotten out of a year or two in Taiwan

This is a very sad event. So many of of us have been awaiting a chncge or law that will alllow us to fly in Taiwan. My guess is that this will not help. I suspect, he was over-loaded, eventhough the news announced that he lost power. I love ultralights but I much prefer a Cessna 206 for mountain sightseeing and simple get in the face kind of going. I am just surmisssing, but I guess this has set privat pilots back at lerast 5 years. DAMN!!!
If anyone hears of a memorial fund for this guy, let us know. It sounds like he was really trying to help folks.

Not much point speculating really, but power-out incidents are quite common. There is no system in place by which certified mechanics have to sign off for the building of kit planes or microlights, nor any regular inspections. I know some very nice guys who fly these things but they are far from qualified to build them or work on the them. One guy I knew had a little pile of Rotax 503 engines in the corner of his hanger. I asked him what those were doing there and he said they had come off his aircraft. I asked him why and he replied that they all bad spirits in them. :laughing: Basically he did no maintenance on the thing until the engine would get to be hard to start or begin misfiring in flight, and then buy another engine. This is pretty typical of the guys at his hangar.

As far as I can tell CAA has no intention of ever opening up to civil aviation here. The CTMA has gotten some more room to operate having improved the safety record in recent years, but from what I hear it is heading back into the bad old days of cronyism and chabuduoism. The number of accidents is certainly on the rise again.

Seems as usual it took someone noticeable for the govt to take any action. Just read that the Taiwan govt is looking into making a few private airports for such ultralight planes on
Taiwan proper as well as in the Pescadores islands.

That means they willl start to heavily regulate the ultalights (Taiwan govt loves regulation and bureaucracy).

But on the bright side I think that private ultralight flying is coming . And not far behind Cessna and other single engined. And not far behind that corporate jets. Its coming folks. But dont hold your breath though. And with the cheapest mainstream single engine four seaters being around 350,000 dollars plus(in the USA, no telling how much in TAiwan) Not gonna see me flying round in one. The nicer ones can cost several million dollars. And they aint even jets.

I saw that story too. Typical empty knee-jerk reaction. Misleading, too. All that’s been agreed on is a “feasibility study,” which will almost certainly come to the conclusion that light aircraft are unsuited to Chinese characteristics and it’ll all get quietly swept under the carpet until the next death.
I love Taiwanese government. I really do. See? They really DO care!

[quote=“sandman”]I saw that story too. Typical empty knee-jerk reaction. Misleading, too. All that’s been agreed on is a “feasibility study,” which will almost certainly come to the conclusion that light aircraft are unsuited to Chinese characteristics and it’ll all get quietly swept under the carpet until the next death.[/quote]Absolutely. The whole issue of the opening up to General Aviation has been ‘under consideration’ for a very long time. It’s my opinion that it will be ‘under consideration’ for a lot longer, probably until the time when the few groups that operate now decide to stop killing themselves.

[quote=“Tommy525”]Taiwan govt loves regulation and bureaucracy[/quote]And the Taiwan public loves anarchy and chaos. There, my rash generalization tops yours.

When I first came to Taiwan there was an influx of microlight craft. Most of them were imported, assembled and flown by people with zero training either as airframe mechanics or pilots. Basically Ah-huang assembled the thing without referring to the instructions and the pilot learned to fly it himself, the hard way. If he survived more than a few weeks he was hailed as an aviation god and immediately set out to teach others what little he knew. Well, not everything of course, that would mean the students would be as skilled as he was, and he’d lose his status as aviation god.
Not long after this the sky was full of microlights, until they started to fall out of the sky even more often than ROCAF F5s. I’m not sure if at that time the government stepped in, or if the general public developed the perception that those buzzy little airplanes were death traps and didn’t want to play with them anymore. Whichever it was, the flying population dropped to a tiny number of hardcore enthusiasts who kept to themselves in more isolated areas.
Something like 5 to 10 years ago the accidents were forgotten and a new generation noticed the little planes being flown in other countries and decided to give it a go. This time there were some smarter people involved and a group was formed to share information and try to develop some standards. The Chinese Taipei Microlight Association seems to started out in good faith to set minimum standards for instruction for pilots. Unfortunately they seem to have adopted the same ideas the hang gliding and paragliding association did and failed to set any standards for instructors themselves, or any training program for instructors. While they started out with good intentions, they have fallen into the habit of handing out instructor tickets to cronies and overall standards started to fall rapidly. While there are a few decent pilots and flying clubs out there, most of the guys teaching now fall far short of international standards and accidents are on the rise again.
Like the hang glider and paraglider pilots, there are so few microlights flying that their accidents fail to attract much attention. They have to compete with China Airlines for space on the front page after all. The only reason you’ve heard about this accident is that there was a foreigner involved. Most accidents only involve the pilot and they usually go unreported.

The experience of ultralight pilots (powered and non-powered) overseas can summarized very easily. Either you effectively and transparently regulate yourself, or the civil aviation authority of your country does it for you. The first way you have to set up an umbrella organization that the government can work with as a single point of contact. That group has to develop and institute standards for training, aircraft maintenance and inspection. It has to set up a system for accident reporting and one to evaluate accidents and suggest policy or rule changes to the executive committee. NOTAMs and airspace use changes have to be communicated to members. It has to document that whole process. In most countries it also has to provide or negotiate a group insurance policy to provide third-party cover to it’s members at reasonable cost to its members and insist that members are insured. Such a group should also be a member of that country’s national aerosports council to coordinate operations with other flyers such as RC modellers, powered (or non-powered) operators and so on. In turn the NAC should be affiliated to the international association of sport pilots, the FAI. In return for all this work, the CAA will pass a regulation that all flyers must hold licenses issued by that organization, ensuring that standards are consistent and that the organization has the highest possible membership base.
The alternative is the CAA regulates this kind of flying themselves. The business of a CAA in any country is commercial aviation. They simply don’t have time to work with amateurs on a one-to-one basis. Therefore the CAA method of regulating enthusiasts is simply to ground them. Very simply put, the pilots have to regulate themselves exactly as the CAA would if it had the time and budget to do so, or they will be grounded sooner or later.

I don’t have the actual accident figures among the powered ultralight community but I know they are increasing. There is a culture of cover-up and blame spreading there that discourages investigation of the cause of accidents. Most incidents go unreported if no-one is hospitalized or killed. Not even the CTMA has real figures, or if it does they are not releasing them.

As a parallel I can tell you that in hang gliding / paragliding the pilot population has fallen from about 2,000 in 1990 to about 200 now. During that time the accident rate has remained pretty much constant at one pilot dead every two years, with a slight increase in recent years. Contrast this with developed countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland. Each of those countries has a pilot population of about 20,000, yet they also lose about one pilot every two years. The reason so many Taiwanese pilots die is the same as I outlined above for the microlight crowd. Setting very low standards for instruction and then consistently failing to meet those standards. For example, ten years ago new pilots had the international bare minimum of 25 solo flights before being signed off. Now it’s common that they only have 5 or 6. Theory instruction and examination consists solely of rote memorization and the exam papers themselves have not changed in nearly 20 years. Another problem is that instructor ratings are issued for life. There is no review or recall process at all. In developed countries it is a long and difficult process of apprenticeship, training and examination to become a flight instructor and any incident involving your students or ex-students may start a review process of your practices. Every three or four years you are required to attend clinics to make sure you are teaching to current standards and be recertified.

None of this suggests to me that there will be any positive change in the government attitude to private aviation in the near future. The long term doesn’t look any better unless the current crop of pilots and instructors clean up their act.

I am Margaret Smith in Memphis, Tn, USA. Jon-Eric Hope was my sister’s oldest child. I found your web site with Google and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your compassionate posts. The details of his family are probably best described in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette article on the web dated July 4, 2007.
Jon-Eric was an amazing young man. He had piano lessons for years, and sang with his sister and brother whenever they were together. He loved playing classical music and liked big band as well. Jon-Eric shared a love of the outdoors with most of my family. I took him and his siblings (separately and together) on several trips to the Southwest. I backpack the Grand Canyon on a yearly basis and was lucky to have been able to take Jon-Eric on a rim-to-rim hike a few years ago. He was a competitive swimmer as a teen and had logged some hours toward his private pilot’s license before he went to Taiwan. His climbing, hiking, and love of flight were done with great care on his part. He was not seeking thrills, he wanted different views of the world.
Jon-Eric loved people, and knew he would miss the people in Taiwan. They will miss him, too. His parents and siblings are there now and a memorial service was planned (that may have happened today).
A FAVOR TO ASK OF YOU: I want to express my sympathy to the pilot’s family. I have a Taiwanese friend here who can write the note but I do not know how to get an address. Any ideas?
The family would be glad of any donations made in his honor to a charity of your choice. There is also a fund established for the family’s travel expenses and repatriation of his body to the U.S. I would be happy to provide addresses for donations to that fund, or an address for the family if you wish to have your charitable donations acknowledged.
Thank you for your kind remarks.
Margaret Smith