Passengers have recently complained about their seat assignments and being bumped from first class, but this story just may put everything in perspective.
It seems that 26 year-old Christopher Griffin was taken for the ride of a lifetime while trying to be a good Samaritan. Griffin worked for the Big Creek Fish Company in Egegik, Alaska when a MarkAir Express Cessna 207 landed on the beach near the fish processing plant.
Griffin jumped in his truck to meet the airplane and offload any supplies it may have brought. After unloading about a dozen boxes from the airplane, the pilot started up the single engine Cessna and taxied to the end of the beach.
The plane struggled to turn around the in the muddy sand and the nosewheel became stuck. The pilot then asked for help. It seemed his plan was for Griffin to push down on the horizontal stabilizer at the back of the airplane, which would raise the nosewheel, while the pilot added enough power to get out of the sticky situation.
“Take your hat off, it’s going to get pretty windy!” Griffin recalled the pilot saying. That turned out to be understated a bit.
Griffin obliged and pushed down on the front of the airplane’s stabilizer while facing towards the back of the plane. This effort paid off and the airplane began to move. The stabilizer–the small wing at the back of an airplane–caught him in the abdomen, but he figured the pilot would stop once he was able to get out of the muddy area.
Amazingly, the pilot continued to accelerate until lifting off the ground. Griffin considered letting go even after the airplane was in the air, but decided against it since the “water was too shallow near the beach.”
The plane leveled off and turned back to another beach before landing again. The pilot, who no longer works for MarkAir, jumped out of the airplane and asked Christopher why he didn’t let go.
“Why didn’t you stop?” Chistopher asked.
The pilot then flew Griffin back to his truck–this time inside the plane. The pilot asked him to keep it between the two of them.
FAA spokeswoman Joette Storm said she wasn’t sure what regulation the pilot may have violated. “There’s no safety provisions for a human on the outside of an aircraft. I don’t think it would fall under our regulations.”
The CEO of MarkAir Express, Neil Bergt, tried to play down the hype. “I don’t think it was that much of an incident. No one was hurt and the airplane wasn’t damaged.” Bergt said.
I wonder how many frequent flyer miles would be appropriate for Christopher Griffin when he submited his letter complaining about his treatment. Or did MarkAir Express insist on charging him for the round trip flight?