Knoxville pilot says experimental aircraft are safe

Knoxville pilot says experimental aircraft are safe

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Two people in the plane that crashed near Crossville were reported to be in critical condition at a Chattanooga hospital. Two people in the plane that crashed near Crossville were reported to be in critical condition at a Chattanooga hospital.
Sam Robinson says he would not fly an experimental plane if it were not safe. Sam Robinson says he would not fly an experimental plane if it were not safe.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - An airplane crash Tuesday in Cumberland County has put a spotlight on the safety of experimental airplanes.

Pilot Sam Robinson, who is the Knoxville chapter president of the Experimental Aircraft Association, says recreational aircraft are safe.

Robinson built his own experimental aircraft, an RV10.

"The plane was built in our garage," said Robinson. "My wife and I built the plane."

It took Robinson and his wife eight years to complete it. They were first able to fly it on December 28, 2011.

"It's really no different with an experimental than it is with a commercially-built airplane built in a factory," said Robinson.

Robinson said there are hundreds of companies that provide kits to build airplanes, but you need to be careful and find one that is credible because once it is checked by the FAA you might not be able to fly your airplane.

"As you are building it," said Robinson, "It is a good idea to have people come and look at it that have built planes before."

It also helped that Robinson is a mechanical engineer.

Robinson says he would not fly an experimental plane if it were not safe.

"I do not feel it's a dangerous hobby," said Robinson. "If you look at the data over the last several years, the things causing accidents in experimental are the same things causing accidents in factory-built airplanes, a lot of pilot error."

Robinson hopes Monday's accident will not make people feel these type of planes are not safe.

Robinson says after you build a plane, FAA officials will inspect it and give it an airworthiness certificate.

He says one reason he decided to build a plane was the cost. Experimental planes are much cheaper. A plane like his that was commercially built could cost a half a million dollars. He paid $140,000.

Robinson says there is about a half dozen experimental planes at Island Home Airport, where he keeps his plane. 

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