AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 36

PILOT BRIEFING
PERSPECTIVE

|

Tragic summer Sunday
A new pilot searches for meaning
B Y L A D O N N A B E AU M O N T

36 | AOPA PILOT October 2020

friends. The general aviation community in the Inland Northwest is
tight and supportive. We were careful not to make assumptions or start
rumors. Texts, emails, and Facebook posts helped us account for one
another.
My first calls were to my parents. As a new pilot, I knew they would be
frantic if they caught the story first. Having caused them plenty of worry
in my life, I spared them this. I have had my private pilot certificate less
than a year, and I fly over the lake whenever I have a free moment. Last
August, my dad was my first passenger. We toured the lake, where I was
raised, flying over the eventual site of the deadly collision. When I spoke
to him about the accident that day, the sobering reality struck us both. It
could have been me. It could have been us.  
"I love you, Zil," the falter in his goodbye betraying his emotion.
"I love you too, Dad." Our sentimental acknowledgement of so many
things included both heartbreak and gratitude.  
When someone dies, for any reason, it is human nature to look for a
way in which they are different from us. Well, he was a smoker, a daredevil, lived a risky lifestyle. She had a history of diabetes, heart disease,
didn't take care of herself. Rationalizing death gives us some reassurance
that we are safe, that we are not next. 
The same goes for aviation. When we hear of an accident, we want to
think there was a clear chance taken, a recklessness committed. We search
for a deficiency or mistake of which we are not guilty. The comfort we find
there helps us carry on. 
What happens when there is no fault? What do we do when an accident is just an accident?

AP IMAGES

ON SUNDAY, JULY 5, I answered my cellphone from
the backyard. Summer had finally arrived in northern
Idaho, and I was enjoying a sunny afternoon under a
cloudless sky. 
"I am so happy to hear your voice," my friend,
Becky, said softly. 
Strange, I thought. I just saw you a few days ago. I
launched into the latest updates. 
"Honey," she stopped me. "I'm just glad you're on
the ground. There was an airplane crash over the lake
about a half hour ago." I was stunned. 
The details of the accident unfolded over the next
several hours. A midair collision over Idaho's Coeur
d'Alene Lake. Two small aircraft...one a floatplane, the
other a Cessna...head on...possible survivors...no survivors. Piece by piece, the data filtered in, but there was no
good news. We all hoped that there were no passengers.
Two pilots, killed tragically, but doing what they loved.
In the end, eight precious lives were lost, three
children and five adults. All of them were enjoying
the holiday weekend from above, taking in spectacular views common to our part of the country. None
were anticipating their untimely demise on a glorious summer day. 
Victim identities were slow to emerge, and there
was little speculation as we checked on our pilot



AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 10
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 11
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 21
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 30
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 34
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 37
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 40
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 43
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - 112
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - October 2020 - Cover4
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