I-285 Crash: Plane Not So ‘Popular’

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Not long after I published a story on the history of the Piper Cherokee Lance that crash landed on the eastbound lane of i-285, a reader reached out to me.

A self-identified attorney and a flight instructor took issue with the headline: ‘“I-285 crash: a popular plane’s past”

Additionally, he pointed out some troubling statistics that he said he’d gathered. Overall, he presented an interesting argument. We went over his letter several times and refined his point:

That, perhaps, the plane’s model (which was only manufactured from 1976 to 1979) was difficult to fly at low altitudes and that difficulty can’t be ruled out as the cause of the crash.

The Lance was not Piper Aircraft’s finest hour. Rather, it was an attempt to add sizzle to its predecessor, the Cherokee Six.  

A later version, the Piper Saratoga, had a fairly long shelf life; but not the Lance.

For balance, it should be noted that, that plane wasn’t free from notable accidents. JFK Jr. died after crashing one off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

Earlier versions of the Lance, such as the one that crashed into I-285, were comparatively  ‘heavy’ and difficult to fly, especially at slow speeds. Later versions of this model, the Lance II and the Turbo Lance II,  particularly with the T Tail design, made the plane even more difficult to control at slow speeds.

I think it’s important to emphasize, again, that the Cherokee Lance (PA-32R-300) did not have that problematic T Tail design, and was basically a Cherokee Six with retractible landing gear.

Due largely to ‘challenging’ flight characteristics, the ‘Lance’ production  was short lived. Sales plummeted. Between ‘76 and ’79, Piper built less than 2,000 of them [per AOPA].

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association [AOPA], of the 1,941 Lance Aircraft built, there have been 127 fatal accidents. That’s a rate of .065 – roughly double the ‘popular’ Cessna 172,  with about 43,000 built [more than 20 times the number of the Lance].

Today, a little more than half of the Lances built are still ‘registered’. Eighty percent of Cessna 172s, meanwhile, are still in the sky.

So, assuming nothing wrong with fuel or mechanically with the engine, then as an aviator for 45 years, my guess is this crash may have something to do with the plane; not just the pilot.

On a hot day, with a heavy, somewhat underpowered plane, the pilot who died shortly after taking off from DeKalb Peachtree Airport earlier this month, had his hands full in a Lance.

This Atlanta-area lawyer didn’t want his name attached to the letter, so I was unable to get it published in the newspaper.

Still, I thought it important enough to share, here.


Could Atlanta be the Next Silicon Valley: Atlanta Fed

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (SouthPoint blog):

Analysis: Poverty Shows Up on Ga. School Report Cards

Kids from low income families tend to do worse in school than kids from high income families.

Whether that’s because they have more resources at home, or their parents spend more time with them, or they go on stimulating activities, who knows.

Brass tax: There is a direct relationship between family income and student performance.

Georgia’s new system for grading schools is far more complex than the one it replaces. Educators see it as an improvement in gauging performance at schools with high poverty rates.

But an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that the new system says as much about poverty as it does about academic performance. Poor schools got significantly lower grades than their more affluent counterparts, the newspaper found. The median grade of poor elementary schools was 15 points lower than the median grade of more affluent elementary schools. The median grade of poor middle and high schools was 14 points lower than the median grade of more affluent middle and high schools.



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(Potentially) Why The Atlanta Braves Are Switching Stadiums

The head office talks about the fan experience — how much folks spend in, and around, the ballpark.

It’s central to the way the Braves do business. Because if you’re going to the game, it’s unlikely you’ll be cooking dinner at home that evening.

The Atlanta sports franchise wants a piece of that. They want to own an attractive property, a place for concession stands and restaurants.

Today, the stadium isn’t, well, that. So, under controversial circumstances, the team is building a new spot in Cobb County.

A Wired Magazine analysis, using data from processing company Square, shows, perhaps, some of the reasoning.

WIRED asked the payment-processing company to look at the sales data collected from the areas surrounding several baseball stadiums on opening day. Then, we cross-referenced the sales data with how well or poorly those stadiums performed in WalkScore, the website that ranks physical properties by how accessible they are to pedestrian foot traffic. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, the most pedestrian-friendly ballparks generated a lot more revenue for local merchants on opening day.


Notice the Braves in last place. Bummer.

And so you see very walkable stadiums with all this economic activity going on around them, like AT&T Park in San Francisco, which saw a payment volume of $44,463.68 on opening day. Just across the Bay in Oakland, where the Athletics play in a stadium that’s essentially in the middle of an asphalt desert, practically accessible only by car or from the transit station that’s physically attached to it, transaction volume was a lousy $526.39. (Which is actually an improvement. In the three weekend days leaning up to opening day, for which Square also pulled data, stadiums for the Oakland A’s, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Anaheim Angels saw only dozens of payments, compared to hundreds or thousands it saw elsewhere.)


Security: Georgia’s Ethics Commission Website, Same as Sutherlin City, Oregon

Iranian hacker collective the Ashiyane Digital Security Team hijacked the website of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (ridiculous long name, right?!)

The sophistication of the attack most likely wasn’t impressive.

Some of Ashiyane’s other exploits: defacing the cities of Amity and Sutherlin City, Ore’s websites.; and the British website of the Wells Skittles League (the sport is an obscure European Lawn Game,) among other low-level targets

That probably says something about the state’s priorities when it comes to IT: defacing a government website isn’t very high on the list.

Some background on Ashiyane (from Wikipedia):

[The group] is an active Iranian hack and security team and claimed to be the oldest one in Iran. Founded by Behrooz Kamalian in the early 2002, Ashiyane focused on improving the security of Iranian websites. Since then, Ashiyane held several seminars and courses for beginners with the aim of demonstrating the importance of online security.[2] Ashiyane currently has more than 30 official members and their office is located in Tehran. Ashiyane ranked first in Zone-H‘s list of notifiers for a while.

In Lieu of Snow Days; Travel Delays: Stats

As powder turned to ice this week, two things were clear — flights were getting canceled and people were scrambling for local hotel rooms.

On Monday morning, Delta, for instance, knew that its planes would be delayed or worse.

Earlier, the National Weather Service had already expanded a winter storm watch it issued the previous day to include the entire metro Atlanta area.

Independently, a team of Delta meteorologists started flagging certain customers, offering them waivers, giving those folks the chance to move up their flights or book new tickets.

“We were trying to move customers ahead of the weather impact, or beyond it,” a spokesman told me.

On the day of the snowfall, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International saw 931 of its flights delayed or canceled, topping the list of airports with errant travel plans, according to data provided by FlightAware, a Houston-based global aviation software and data services company.

That number rose from less than 16 the day before. And on Wednesday, 1099 flights were either canceled or delayed.

Similarly, searches for rooms on Expedia-owned Hotels.com rose.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, people scrambling for rooms on both desktop and mobile devices skyrocketed.

(Note: Hotels.com capped the data provided to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at 100 searches)

* I gathered this data as part of my role at the AJC; The information is either being used in interactive graphic for the newspaper or in further reporting.

I’m posting it here in an effort to empty my notebook.