Local News

Hazy Conditions Hazardous Even for Seasoned Pilots

Posted July 18, 1999

— Most pilots say the flight path to Martha's Vineyard can be tricky -- especially an approach at night over the dark ocean. WRAL's David Crabtree got a bird's eye view of the conditions that can hamper even the most seasoned pilot during a flight Monday from Hyannis to Martha's Vineyard.

The Martha's Vineyard Airport was to have been John F. Kennedy Jr.'s first stop Friday night. Pilots who regularly use the airport and fly under similar conditions know what Kennedy night have been up against.

"One gets used to it, but it can be difficult," says pilot David Riggs of the haze. Riggs has flown in and out of Martha's Vineyard for 20 years.

During Crabtree's flight, the horizon was non-existent; the ocean and sky literally became one.

Riggs says early in a pilot's flying career, paying extra attention in this type of weather is key.

"It all depends on the equipment and how familiar you are with the territory, but it's not like a clear day," he says.

Crabtree's trip took place during the day; the Kennedy flight was at night. Even though the sun was gone, the haze was not.

"It's a little different at night," says Riggs. "If you have lights, actually that helps you, lights on the shore, whatever. The haze stays there."

Riggs knows there are risks every day he comes to work, but he loves what he does and says he gets a rush every time his plane takes off and lands.

While the flight lasted just 15 minutes and took place during daylight, Crabtree says it was a relief when the plane landed safely.

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