Race Pilot Survives Harrowing Canopy Incident

Creighton King, the owner of Cassutt Aircraft, survived a traumatic incident on his way to AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. King had completed the AirVenture Cup race, a cross-country race of about 450 nm from Mitchell, South Dakota, to Wausau, Wisconsin, via Mankato, Minnesota, in his single-seat Cassutt and was on his way from Wausau to Oshkosh when the canopy departed the airplane.

The canopy hit King's face before flying off, striking the left aileron, which flipped the Cassutt inverted. King found himself close to the ground, upside down with blood gushing from his eyebrow. He managed to push the stick and roll back upright, just as the engine began to sputter. The Cassutt does not have an inverted fuel system.

After regaining control, King said he kept hearing his instructor in his head yelling: "Fly the airplane, fly the airplane!" With no canopy, the wind was making it difficult for King to see and he was afraid that his contacts would fly out, making the situation even worse. Adding insult to injury, the radio and King's headsets were ripped out of the airplane when the canopy departed.

King said he considered flying back to Wausau airport as he had friends there who would have been able to help him fix his airplane. But instead of flying all the way back to Wausau, King made the right decision and landed at the nearest airport, Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee, Wisconsin.

The Cassutt is a single-seat amateur built kit airplane, which is a common airplane in the Formula One class at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Former astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson has said his favorite airplane is the Cassutt. In this video, Gibson talks about how he survived a midair collision while racing his Cassutt in Reno.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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