of airplane from the street in the early morning hours
(click image to view full screen)
WHEEL OF FORTUNE RESCUE ENDS 3 HOURS TRAPPED ALOFT PLANE
SUSPENDED FROM POWER LINE
Friday, April 10, 1998 Section: News Page: A1 BY GORDY HOLT
and VANESSA HO P-I REPORTERS
His flight into [Tukwila]
Boeing Field was Warren's final trip from Silverdale, where
he lives, to a crane operator's job he'd just quit at a
shipyard near Boeing Field. It wasn't the job he didn't
like, said a co-worker, Dave Macomber. ``It was the commute.''
Yesterday that was longer than expected: The Cessna 150L
Warren that used to commute in was snared by a high-voltage
power line west of the airfield.
Warren spent the morning 60 feet above the ground hanging
upside down in his seat belt while the Tukwila firefighters
sent to rescue him made certain they didn't drop him on
his head. Finally freed after his three-hour ordeal, Warren
spent the early afternoon undergoing tests at Harborview
Medical Center. But he emerged as he knew he would, in fine
shape. Snagging the power line ``was definitely the weirdest
experience'' of his flying career, Warren later told reporters.
``It felt like I'd hit the end of a bungee cord.'' As sparks
lit up the sky, the aircraft hung for a moment, then tipped
forward, then toppled to the left as the power line caught
its right wheel - and held. Warren said he did not panic
(``You just don't in these situations'') but turned his
attention to the Boeing tower air controller he'd been talking
with on his landing approach. ``I think I've got a situation
here,'' Warren told her. ``Yeah, you're hanging by your
wheel,'' she said. As his plane twisted gently in a light
morning breeze, firefighters in a cherry-picker worked methodically
to stabilize the plane and then carefully pluck Warren from
the aircraft to safety.
The spectacle, which mesmerized a crowd of anxious onlookers,
was not as frightening as it might have appeared, according
to Warren. ``The worst of it was that seat belt,'' he said.
``When you hang there for three hours, your legs go numb.''
His thighs also were rubbed raw from the strap. ``I've got
strawberries this wide across here,'' he said, sweeping
a hand across his lap.
Kentucky bred and 47 years old (age), Warren has made a
habit out of tricking fate. He lives in a home at Silverdale's
Apex Air Park where he keeps two planes and is building
a third. He shares his home with pilot Lee Oman, and for
about a year the two of them have been building a custom
racing plane. Warren also has been learning acrobatic flying
from Oman, who flies like that for a living, said neighbor
Gary Graves. Though a veteran heavy-equipment operator,
Warren has been leaning toward aircraft. His weekends are
devoted to flying. He thought nothing of cruising to Port
Townsend or Harvey Airfield in Snohomish to visit friends
or for what Graves describes as ``the $100 hamburger,''
when fuel costs are factored in. Warren had only one previous
brush with danger in a plane, his neighbor said. On a landing
in Kentucky several years ago, his Beechcraft Bonanza's
landing gear collapsed. The pilot was unhurt, and bought
another V-tailed Bonanza. David Brophy of Dave's Aircraft
and Engine Machine Shop at Apex Air Park, said he has known
Warren for about 20 years and frequently worked on his aircraft.
He called Warren ``a very careful pilot,'' who holds an
instrument rating, which allows him to fly in conditions
where he has to rely on instruments instead of visual observation.
``He's a pretty good head. He is a real stable guy,'' said
from the platform just prior to rescuing the pilot
(click image for larger view
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had a more frightening mishap. In 1991, Warren helped
rescue him after Oman fell from a biplane on which he
was wing-walking at Hillsboro Airport near Portland. As
a crowd watched Oman dangle by a nylon safety harness,
Warren and another man stood in the bed of a speeding
pickup truck, and raced down the runway. When the plane
dropped low enough to reach Oman, Warren's partner cut
him free and allowed him to drop into the truck. For the
past three months, Warren has used his $18,000 Cessna
150L to commute from his home at Silverdale's private
Apex Air Park about 20 miles west of Seattle across Puget
Sound. At Boeing Field he would pick up his car and drive
to his job at Duwamish Shipyard on West Marginal Way.
Warren does not know exactly what happened about 5:40
a.m. just seconds before touching down. This he does
know: ``Somebody's looking after me.'' Warren said he
was within 20 feet of the runway when the aircraft, on
its own, rolled hard to the left. As he struggled to regain
control, the plane veered away from the airfield, over
Joyce Mayovsky in a parking lot near the air-traffic control
tower. ``I was inside the lot, driving south along the
fence when I saw (aircraft) lights passing low overhead.
I thought it was funny. They were so low and not usually
there,'' she said. ``All of a sudden the lights stopped
and sparks were flying. I waited for a crash but there
wasn't one. I was shaking so bad I just sat there.'' Experts
say a cause for the Cessna's erratic behavior may never
be know for certain, but there are suspicions. Warren
suspects swirling air - vortices - caused by passing aircraft.
Small aircraft are routinely warned away from large jet
aircraft because of these conditions, but there were no
large aircraft in the area early yesterday.
Smaller planes had been, though. ``I'd been told (by the
tower on his approach) that aircraft had been in the area
just a few minutes earlier, maybe three minutes,'' he
said. ``I don't know what else it might be.'' Dick Sears,
a consulting aeronautical engineer with Aviation Partners
Inc. at Boeing Field, said such swirling air can be a
produced by even a small aircraft. ``It was a very quiet
morning. When the air is still like that, these swirls
have been known to hang for minutes,'' Sears said. ``With
no wind, they just kind of sit there and spin.'' Federal
Aviation Administration spokesman Tim Pile also gave credence
to the pilot's suspicion. ``If that's what the pilot said,
that's certainly something the investigator will check
out.'' Pile said a National Transportation Safety Board
investigator has been assigned to the case.
With Warren upside down and fuel leaking from the aircraft,
firefighters worked frantically to stabilize the plane,
then extricate its pilot. They first waited 2 1/2 hours
for confirmation that the power was off in the line. The
incident left 2,500 customers from South Dakota Street
to East Marginal Way without power for several hours.
Tukwila, Seattle and King County Airport fire departments
all responded. Because the Cessna was leaking fuel - five
to 10 gallons - firefighters sprayed a knee-deep layer
of flame retardant foam on the ground under it. The airport
shut off nearby fans and diverted heavy aircraft to minimize
vibrations. Six firefighters on two ladder units wrapped
nylon straps around the plane's propeller and fuselage
and hung them from a pair of waiting cranes.
firefighters trained in high-angle rescues, made their
rescue approach on a ladder rig [ladder 54 LTI aerial
platform], inching slowly toward an aircraft window. ``With
a 2,000-pound plane swinging into the ladder truck, we
could have a problem,'' Ewing said. Still buckled in his
seat, Warren opened his left window, slid his legs into
a harness and unclipped his seat belt. To the cheers and
whistles of a crowd of Boeing workers, Warren slid carefully
down the wing, stepped on a firefighter's leg for balance
then onto the ladder platform. ``The firefighters did
a good job,'' he said. The crane operators then retrieved
his 1,600-pound Cessna 150L shortly after his rescue.
First it was lowered to the ground, then righted and set
gently down on its landing gear.
At Duwamish Shipyard Inc., Warren was one of three crane
operators. Now there are two. Macomber, one of the two
still on the job, said: ``A lot of crane operators are
pilots. They like being in the action seat. To put it
succinctly, he's a man of adventure. He's a fast-thinking,
fast-talking kind of guy.'' Macomber said Warren has a
quick wit, used to sell real estate, once ran a business
exporting goods to Russia and is studying Russian.
Kyle McCleary, the shipyard's controller, said his office
learned of Warren's predicament in a call from the airport
tower. ``We might have an employee of yours up here,''
he described the tower worker as saying. Shortly before
his shift would have ended yesterday, Warren dropped by
to pick up his last paycheck, then went back to Boeing
Field to inspect the Cessna. Macomber said Warren told
him he was initially scared while hanging on the line,
but eventually relaxed. ``He was fine. Here's a guy who
loves cranes and airplanes and he's all rat-nested in
the wires, surrounded by all the toys he loves in life.''
By all accounts, Jerry Michael ``Mike'' Warren is in love
with flying, say friends. `He's pretty lucky,'' said Seattle
Fire Chief Jim Sewell, who was on the scene to see if
for himself. ``He should buy a lottery ticket today.''
P-I reporter Rob Taylor and researcher
Lytton Smith contributed to this report.
securing the airplane prior to performing rescue.
excerpts, click link to read entire story
Times - Rescuers, pilot kept their cool
greatest fear was if a gust of wind picked the plane up
off the wire, where was it going to go?" They opened the door and talked
to Anton, whom they later described as "in good spirits."
"We said, `How are you?' " Ewing said. "He said he'd like
to get out of there." Ewing and Rees instructed the pilot
to put on a harness supplied by the firefighters before
unclipping his seat belt. After he unsnapped his seat belt,
Anton dropped to the roof of the cockpit, slid down the
wing, onto Rees' leg and into the raised basket where the
rescuers were standing. Then, applause........
Times - Wake Turbulence sometimes unavoidable, possibly
......He descended eastward for the airport, then turned
north into the wind just south of the control tower for
a landing on 31 Left, the larger of Boeing Field's two parallel
.......The plane was snagged by the wires as if by a bungee
cord, Anton said. "There were a couple of big fireballs"
as the wires shorted out. The plane sprung back and then
came to rest upside down, hanging by a wheel.....
the aerial platform from the turntable during the rescue
was firefighter and ladder54 member Randy
firefighter / rescuers are all part of Tukwila's Special
Operations Rescue Team and are trained for high-angle and
rope rescues such as this. They are also trained to technician
or expert level in Confined Space Rescue, Swift Water Rescue,
Trench Rescue, Structural Collapse Rescue, and technician
levels for Machinery and Transportation Emergencies Rescues.
Simon LTI aerial platform fire truck enabled the firefighter
/ rescuers to reach the pilot with maximum safety during
up view of firefighter and final moments of the
rescue at over 6 stories above the ground. The pilot is brought
into Ladder54's aerial platform by firefighter.
on image for larger view in another window)
here to see photos of TUKWILA
FIRE SPECIAL RESCUE APPARATUS AND RESCUE EQUIPMENT
CONFINED SPACE RESCUE
STRUCTURE COLLAPSE RESCUE
more information or details about the tukwila fire department
rescue team contact the rescue