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Recently, a plane left Orlando and headed for Virginia. But it wouldn’t make its destination. The plane, a four-seater with a turbine engine is the kind that can be built from a kit but can fly up to 370 miles per hour. The airplane, an Experimental Lancair IV-P with a pressurized cabin, was trying to get to Hilton Head Airport in South Carolina. Instead, the plane lost its propeller and its windshield was splattered with engine oil, making that impossible to make that flight plan. The plane’s pilot, Edward Smith of Chesapeake, Virginia, felt he had no other choice and decided to attempt an emergency landing on the beach.

Just after 6 PM, just as the plane was beginning its descent, a 38-year old pharmaceutical salesman from Woodstock, Georgia, was running along the beach. The pharmaceutical salesman was supposed to return home Wednesday to celebrate one of his daughter’s birthdays – her third. Tragically, though, the emergency landing attempted by Smith struck the jogger and tragically took his life. As the plane landed on the beach, it approached the jogger who could not have heard the incredibly quiet plane as he ran with earphones on. Smith and an unidentified passenger were unharmed, but Smith was obviously stunned by what transpired. He had little to say in the face of the victim’s death, which left behind a loving wife, a 5 year old son, and an almost 3 year old daughter.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, there are more questions than answers. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating this incident. There is no word yet about whether Laird should be able to make planes that are so quiet, and possibly so dangerous, but the matter is being looked into by the authorities.

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