Pilot Shoots Self in Flight

A 44-year-old pilot crashed his Van's RV-4 kitplane at Laughlin Bullhead International Airport in Arizona on Saturday, and the subsequent autopsy revealed he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The airplane crashed near the runway, and a 9-mm pistol was found in the wreckage along with the pilot's body.

The incident occurred sometime between 6 and 7 a.m., before the airport's control tower opened. There were no witnesses. The pilot was identified as Thomas Joseph. NTSB investigator Patrick Jones told a local newspaper that he could not recall any other incidents involving in-flight suicide by gunshot.

In a separate incident earlier this month, a Cirrus SR22 owner-pilot admitted to attempting suicide by taking sleeping pills after takeoff from Las Vegas. He became incapacitated and his airplane crashed in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The pilot was seriously injured in the crash, and was found by local law enforcement officers unconscious in the cockpit.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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