Tulsa Pilot Defends Experimental Planes After Saturday's Deadly Crash

Tuesday, June 1st 2010, 4:10 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley & Terry Hood, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa's aviation community is mourning a fellow pilot. Kevin Covell and his mother died Saturday when his experimental plane crashed near Collinsville.

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Pilots say the crash shouldn't put a stigma on their hobby.

John Nys loves to build planes. He's currently working on three so-called experimental airplanes.

You can see all the parts come formed with the rivet holes already in them," Nys said. "It's just a giant jigsaw puzzle."

The planes, he says, cost at least $40,000 and can take up to three months to put together. The FAA then inspects each one and awards an air-worthiness certificate.

"They're strong enough to do aerobatics," he said. "They're strong airplanes, they're good airplanes all the way around."

Nys was sad to learn on Saturday that one of his fellow pilots died in a crash near Collinsville.

The experimental plane was registered to Kevin Covell. Nys says Covell's mother was also on board. Witnesses describe hearing the plane's engine stall and the pilot turned around to go back to the airfield. Nys says the plane could have made a safe landing, despite losing an engine, if Covell would have continued flying straight and looked for an open field.

"I guess the hardest part is to lose somebody," Nys said. "And know that it could have been avoided."

Nys says home-built planes are just as safe as factory built planes. He says Saturday's tragedy won't keep him from living his dream.

"We do know it is a little more dangerous than some activities but it's such a joy that we're all willing to take that chance," Nys said.

The NTSB and FAA are investigating Saturday's crash. It could take as long as a year before the exact cause is known.