Former Major League Pitcher Roy Halladay Had Three Drugs In His System When His Icon A5 Crashed
Opinion Editorial by Jason J. Baker — Intoxicating levels of the sedative Zolpidem, also known as Ambien, together with traces of morphine and amphetamines where found in Halladays bloodstream, according to an autopsy report, which was somehow played into the hands of TMZ – but not into the hands of aviation related news media. Halladay had crashed in November of 2017 following erratic flying, performing dives, climbs and doing low-level steep turns over the Gulf of Mexico, at times getting much to close to houses and people on the beach.
But, innuendo and speculation about the aircraft’s safety, engineering and production had run rampant in the immediate aftermath and tabloid frenzy, which caused some of aviation’s self declared experts to come out swinging against a company, aircraft and concept, which seems entirely foreign to them.
Flying, while fun and exciting, is a precise, demanding, and unforgiving endeavor. Any factor that impairs the pilot’s ability to perform the required tasks during the operation of an aircraft is an invitation for disaster. Even the regulations are crystal clear on this topic, as communicated in no ambiguous terms in 14 CFR 91.17. These regulations are freely accessible to everyone, pilot or not. All these endless possibilities as for what may have caused the accident, and some had nothing better to do than spread their idiotic sensationalism around like manure into a freshly plowed field.
“They don’t want me anywhere near the aircraft, because I am the one guy with the big mouth, who will tell people what I really think“, Campbell had said; and he also stated that “the companies credibility was in doubt…” together with countless statements by alleged expert pilots and professionals which seriously harmed the flow of factual information and left many (without any affection for manned flight, seaplanes or water flying) in deep doubt and confused about what we do.
By the way, Seaplanemagazine.com has had a standing invite from ICON to extensively test and fly this plane, along with quite a few other invites from other manufacturers. At no point has ICON ever once told us to pound sand and at no point did I receive money for writing positively about ICON or to conceal “the truth” about them. None of the articles shown on other news sites ever departed from pragmatic and rather cerebral reporting. Of course – I am not 19.000 hour , top gun test pilot, astronaut or medical professional, hence I am obviously not properly qualified… but nevertheless. Those of you remembering Richard McSpadden’s guest editorial on the ICON crash, may also remember that the expert mentioned above immediately and fiercely attacked AOPA of playing the “ICON apologists”. What a joke!
More than 50 nanograms per milliliter of zolpidem is considered by the FDA to be “capable of impairing driving to a degree that increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident” and Halladay’s level was 72 nanograms. Cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma and subsequent drowning. Mix the use of drugs with limited experience in type, erratic flying and a few other mistakes, and there is the accident that leaves us with damage on an advocacy front that is already in shreds and – last but not least – in turmoil about the senseless loss of one of our own.
None of us has won a single new trophy through the crash of Roy Halladay, who was in possession of a medical certificate, had learned about and been tested on his knowledge of the regulations and was taught to pass a written, oral and practical tests, each to their respective test standards. All we’ve got is that we lost a fellow aviator and we learned that things weren’t as they seemed. A whole bunch of self declared “big mouth experts” owe a sincere and loud apology to ICON and our seaplane industry in general. One very particular scribbler should have started typing his letters of apology last night! We’ve got a lot to learn and our homework cut out, if we truly want to change our ways and get more people involved in aviation and seaplane flying in particular. The way it was done with Halladay’s crash, isn’t going to get that mission accomplished!
Jason Baker works as a marketing & advertising consultant, translator and freelance writer with a focus on aviation-, automotive- and heavy trucking industry. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (SEL/SES/MEL), instrument rating as well as advanced & instrument ground instructor certificates. Jason has owned and operated Seaplaneforum.com for 8 years and is the owner & publisher of Seaplanemagazine.com. For more information about services offered, visit Baker Aviation Consulting & Services via: jasonjamesbaker.com