Florida homeowner frustrated with FAA after plane’s windshield lands in his yard

FAA investigating falling plane debris

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – People who live near the Ormond Beach Airport say they are used to noise, but after an airplane’s falling debris crashed onto their property, they are now demanding answers.

When Bob Blankenship realized the pieces of metal and fiberglass were an airplane windshield that fell from a plane and landed on his property, he says he was floored.

“I couldn’t believe it to be honest with you. It was like you got to be kidding me,” Blankenship told News 6,

He found multiple pieces on his property and pieced the puzzle together.

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Then he realized his doorbell camera was pointed in the direction where he found one of the largest pieces.

When you look at the video you can hear the plane flying overhead.

Then you hear the fiberglass crash into the tree and finally hit the ground.

“It could fall on anybody out here,” Blankenship said. “Just think if it fell from 300 feet. What’s the impact going to be? Probably cut you in two,” he said.

Using FlightAware, Blankenship found the plane and saw that it took off from the Ormond Beach Airport and landed in DeLand.

He says neither airport knew anything.

“So, it hadn’t been reported,” Blankenship said.

He left his contact information and said he got this message from the plane’s pilot.

“Hey this is Douglas and I’m over in DeLand and I lost a piece of my airplane yesterday,” the caller said. “Somebody said that you found it in your yard and I’m wondering if I can connect with you and come and get it.”

Blankenship refused.

He reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration and kept the parts as evidence, but he believes the FAA is dragging its feet.

The incident happened in May, and he says no one has come to his home to inspect the debris.

“I’m concerned that nobody is concerned about the people on the ground,” Blankenship said.

News 6 contacted the FAA and their Office of Communication confirmed they did “receive a report about this incident and we are investigating,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

In a letter to Blankenship, a local FAA safety inspector wrote, “The falling aircraft part situation is being taken seriously by our organization.”

Using the plane’s tail number Blankenship also learned the plane was an experimental aircraft, according to FAA registration records.

“Then we started having a concern, a deep concern over the fact that we’ve got experimental planes taking off here,” Blankenship said.

Dick Knapinski is the spokesperson for the Experimental Aircraft Association and says the planes have to be inspected every year or every 100 hours of flight.

“A lot of them are built from very standardized kits that may take 1,000 to 3,000 hours to build,” Knapinski said. “This is certainly not common. In fact, I don’t know of another case where a windshield has popped out,” he said.

Blankenship says if the situation is not thoroughly investigated, it could happen again.

“The next time it could be somebody’s life,” he said.

News 6 pressed the FAA for answers, but we were told the FAA does not comment on ongoing investigations.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.