THE ATP CERTIFICATED PILOT was highly experienced with more
than 18,500 hours logged. He held flight instructor ratings for
singles and multis, was commercially rated in helicopters and
seaplanes, and held a Learjet type rating. He also had a current
first class medical certificate.
It’s impossible for me to imagine a pilot more qualified to fly
a nearly new Cirrus SR22 high-performance piston single from
York, Nebraska, to Eagle Creek Airpark in Indianapolis.
For any pilot to accumulate so many hours and so many certificates and ratings he would have had to have received training
on all aspects of flying many times, including flight physiology.
Such training is a requirement to earn a jet type rating as he
held, and is also at least a part of the required retraining and
checking to keep a type rating current.
The Cirrus was a turbocharged model capable of cruising at a
certified ceiling of 25,000 feet. Actually, the Cirrus could have
climbed to a higher altitude, but it was FAA approved only to
25,000 feet. Over the years the FAA has become more demanding in setting maximum operating altitudes for turbocharged
unpressurized airplanes. Some turbocharged piston airplanes
certified under the previous rules have no operating altitude
limitation and can fly as high as they will climb. But the SR22 is
a very recent design and meets the latest standards.
The SR22 was owned by a non-pilot who purchased the air-
plane to travel between York and Indianapolis regularly. He hired
the accident pilot to fly him on the route during the week. The
owner told the NTSB that the pilot routinely flew westbound to
Nebraska at lower altitudes to avoid the strongest head winds, but
they would fly east usually at the SR22’s maximum approved
sr t d r
A Very Hostile
BY J. MAC MCCLELLAN
High altitude flying risks are sometimes not given their due r t u
altitude of 25,000 feet to take advantage
of stronger tail winds.
On the day of the accident the pilot
flew the owner on the 525-nautical-mile
trip from Eagle Creek to York at an altitude of 6,000 feet. The NTSB does not
report how long that westbound trip
took, but with typical winds it would
have been around three hours.
o y o l l i
The Center controller
noted that the pilot’s voice
had changed, and had
taken on a “helium/Mickey
For the return trip to Eagle Creek
the pilot departed York under VFR and
contacted Minneapolis Center to pick
up his IFR clearance. The flight was
incrementally cleared to the requested
cruise altitude of 25,000 feet.
The SR22 is equipped with multiple
data recording devices that are part of
its standard integrated avionics system.