After we landed in Steamboat, CO, Brett got a call from his Dad, that had just flown Mingus, AZ on Saturday 8/30. There was a problem, the last pilot had just launched without hooking into his glider and everyone was scrambling to get someone to him and the wreckage.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kunio on 2 different occasions when I flew in Arizona. He was one of us. The last I saw him, he’d hopped in his 4 door jeep to chase Dustin Martin on an XC. He later emailed me links so I could get the materials I needed to imitate the best rack padding ever. The accident report can be read here. The 3rd post is a first hand account that left my wife and I sobbing on the couch last night. We had to walk away after finding the youtube video of the lively little daughter singing a song.
His videos are on youtube here;
Having been impressed by him in the past makes this a sad loss, but the fact that his youtube video’s show 2 young daughters and a beautiful wife make this an unbearable tragedy that hits too close to home.
A bird just cruised over my house, on early morning lift, and my 2 daughters have been jumping on the bed all morning asking for daddy to play with them. The forecast looks great for flying tomorrow and working on more aerobatic stuff.
I’ll never try to fly without hooking in. Right? I don’t know that I can say that, but I have to be that sure, because if not, I’m done flying. I can’t leave the girls dad-less, and mom, widowed. I’m going to change some things and re-instate preflight check’s to the next level. Even then, am I sure? I don’t know yet. But if I get lax on preflights again, I need to realize that I’m going to have to sell my wings. It’s not like forgetting to close the gas cap on a car.
I’m not going to add any new equipment for a while either. I’ve got 2 new gliders, and a new harness all in the past year and I’ve been lucky to push it that hard. Time to let this equipment and the set up procedures get burned in for a while. I wish there was something I could do for Kunio’s family, but nothing will bring dad back. The thought of his 3 girls crying on launch is forever etched in my soul.
Flight is freedom in its purest form,
To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;
To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,
To feel the joy that swells within;
To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,
And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;
Then back to earth at the end of a day,
Released from the tensions which melted away.
Should my end come while I am in flight,
Whether brightest day or darkest night;
Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain,
Secure in the knowledge that I’d do it again;
For each of us is created to die,
And within me I know,
I was born to fly.
— Gary Claud Stokor
Please be with them.