By AuxBeacon News Staff
[Editors Note: One of our readers wanted Congress and the Civil Air Patrol membership to see this whitewash. CAP Col Richard Greenwood awarded Joel Seidband as the 2015 GAWG Pilot of the Year AFTER the accident. Greenwood was later promoted as the Southeast Region Vice Commander and he received a Distinguished Service Medal from CAP Maj Gen Vazquez.]
CAP Lt Col Joel Seidband of Peachtree City-Falcon Field Composite Squadron, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and CAP pilot was pilot in command of the Cessna 172 tow plane at the time of the 2014 Baron crash at Lagrange Callaway Airport. Seidband is currently the Aviation Safety Inspector (Simulation Specialist) at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to the lawsuit, the CAP pilots [Joel Seidband & Pete Schulz], failed to yield the right-of-way to the Baron, as required by 14 C.F.R. § 91.113(g). And as previously discussed, see supra Part I.H., the CAP pilots apparently did not announce their flight plans over the CTAF, and they either did not hear or failed to appreciate the Baron’s announcement over the CTAF that it was preparing to land. In these ways CAP breached the duty of all pilots to generally act with reasonable care, and specifically to cede the right-of-way to landing aircraft… CAP’s breach of duty caused the Baron crash.
On Aug. 3, Batten awarded $11.9 million to Karen J. Curtis, the widow of Peachtree City physician Jeffrey Van Curtis, and to her late husband’s estate.
In a 41-page order, Batten held members of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol solely responsible for the crash that killed the Beechcraft Baron’s occupants, including Curtis—a pilot and a co-owner of the aircraft who was sitting in the rear passenger seat when it crashed. Batten determined that the Baron’s pilot, Michael Rossetti, crashed while trying to abort a landing to avoid a Civil Air Patrol aircraft taking off—with a glider in tow—on an intersecting runway. Rossetti and another passenger, Willy Lutz, were both killed instantly. Pulled from the burning wreckage, Curtis died at the hospital several hours later.
In his order, Batten said he laid responsibility for the crash squarely on Air Patrol pilots who the judge said disregarded federal aviation regulations assigning the right-of-way to aircraft approaching or executing a landing. The judge also said Air Patrol pilots, all of them experienced, ignored long-standing local rules governing glider operations at the Lagrange-Callaway airport where the crash occurred.
“What makes this case so tragic is that it was such a needless accident. It was really a case of clear negligence by the government pilots,” Partin said. “Had they just followed the rules at the local airport this accident would never have happened. Had they just had a spotter as required by local airport rules to inform them of incoming air traffic, there never would never have been an imminent collision.
“What was more frustrating was that the Civil Air Patrol pilots knew about rules, discussed whether they should abide by rules, and decided the rules didn’t apply to them.“
• District Court Rules Civil Air Patrol Negligent in 2014 LaGrange Airport Crash
• Fatal Accident Occurred February 22, 2014 at LaGrange Callaway Airport
• Georgia Plane Crash Kills 3 Peachtree City Men
• In Reprisal Georgia Wing Commander Closes Rome Squadron
• Judge Awards $11.9 Million in Suit Against Civil Air Patrol
• Three Killed in Georgia Plane Crash as Aircraft ‘Tried to Avoid Hitting a Glider’