TNB Night Owl – Don’t Drive Into Airplanes

This is a TNB Public Service Announcement. Don’t Drive Into Airplanes.

We at TNB were not aware this message needed to be provided. We were wrong. The Texas Supreme Court recently verified how wrong we were.

There are instances where airplanes and automobiles crash. Nearly all of these involve the airplane attempting to use a stretch of road as an emergency runway and striking a car in the process. Sometimes people have to engage in a bit of turnabout, however.

In early May, 2018, a pickup truck driver on the tarmac at Baltimore/Washington International airport somehow neglected to recall a basic concept of vehicular safety, that of “Don’t drive into a giant piece of metal making roaring noises.” The results were more or less as expected. Despite the fact that the plane was in the process of slowly taxiing, there were no injuries.

Perhaps the destruction of the pickup truck was on the mind of Mary Dorstal of Florida when she engineered her own airplane collision. She wisely chose to strike a smaller airplane in December, 2018, when she drove into – and subsequently over – a piece of fencing at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Two minutes of wild driving around the tarmac commenced, during which time she had her crash into an aircraft used by a flight school. The collision damaged the plane’s wing, but unlike the pickup truck, Mary’s vehicle was still able to be driven. As the authorities arrived, Mary decided that retreat was appropriate. Driving into and over another piece of fencing, she tore off into the night…

… and was arrested five minutes later. The reason for her rampage might be explained by some reporting from local station WFTS:

According to an arrest report, deputies said she smelled of alcohol. Deputies saw an open box of wine on the front passenger floorboard. Dostal said it from yesterday. Dostal told deputies she only had one glass of wine and she thought she was in Ohio.

Topping Florida Woman, however, is Texas Man. Specifically, Texas Government Man, in the person of Christopher Webb, a Texas Juvenile Justice Department employee. This is because he managed to drive into an aircraft without even being in the car. Or, more accurately, bus.

As noted in a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court, Webb pulled into the parking lot of the North Texas Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Texas, parked the small (fifteen passenger capacity) bus, and brought two passengers into the facility. Before exiting the bus he turned off the motor and removed the ignition key.

He did not, however set the emergency brake. Which, when one parks on a steep incline… as was Webb’s chosen parking spot… a driver is required to do. Particularly if the vehicle is heavy. Like, say, a fifteen passenger bus.

As Webb and his passengers walked away the bus started rolling backwards, slowly at first, then faster. It rolled across the parking lot –

PHI, Incorporated is a company which provides, among other services, care flights for hospitals. They had recently done so for a patient travelling to North Texas Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Texas. The patient had been removed to the hospital, but the helicopter was still present, and it was directly in the path of the rolling bus. The bus stopped rolling after striking the helicopter hard enough to put the chopper decisively out of commission.

The reason the court weighed in? The state argued that because the act happened as an accident in the normal and proper performance of duties by a state employee, they should have immunity from a lawsuit seeking restitution. The court established that proper maintenance had not been performed on the bus, preventing the gearshift from being firmly in park; and also, that using the emergency brake for a bus on an incline was an expected function of proper operation. PHI has been cleared to sue for damages associated with the crash.

But Christopher Webb gets to watch Bruce Willis take out a helicopter with a driverless car in a Die Hard sequel, turn to his friend, and admit, “I’ve done that.”

Question of the night: What’s been your most memorable ride?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.