Below is a sample of some e-mail messages posted to the FLY-UL mailing list in 1998. These messages are related to former listmember Charlie Phillips.
Charlie joined the list in early 1998. Apparently, he was a newcomer to the sport, and joined the list to learn, and be around other ultralight enthusiasts. It was easy to tell that Charlie loved flying, and was very eager to get into this sport. We knew that he would soon own his own ultralight.
Charlie used to end each of his posts with the letters "HFFS". People wondered what those letters stood for. Finally, someone asked him. His response: "Have Fun, Fly Safe".
Charlie died in an ultralight crash in May 1998. Charlie, relying on his "years of experience" in the general aviation world, thought it was safe to fly his newly purchased ultralight, with little additional instruction. Charlie crashed and died just days after purchasing his new ultralight.
Unfortunately, when I created this web page, I could no longer locate some of the original messages people posted to Charlie, strongly urging him to seek instruction in this type of plane.
The lesson to be learned here is that no matter how experienced or smart you may think you are, getting adequate instruction in the aircraft you intend to fly is valuable, and may save your life. I'm not saying that the lack of instruction was the only cause of Charlie's accident, but additional instruction certainly would have helped.
After Charlie's death, his family remained on the list for quite some time (even though they weren't involved with ultralights), before finally unsubscribing.
The e-mail messages below, start with a post from Pinesay on April 21, 1998, talking about another unrelated crash that many listmembers (including Charlie) witnessed while at Sun-N-Fun. Just 11 days later, the announcement of Charlie's death is reported.
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 22:30:52 EDT From: Pinesay <Pinesay@aol.com> Subject: UL: Fatal Crash at SnF Paradise Park Dear list, I am sorry to report that this morning, near 11am, a Wrap 1A single seater fat UL crashed during climb out and killed the pilot. Listmember Planedancr witnessed the accident and said the engine wasn't giving out full power, and the pilot forced the plane in the air after a long take off run. It was this pilot's first experience on grass in this model. The plane climbed sluggishly, the right wing dropped and the plane continued rolling to the right until it was nearly inverted and dropping before impact. The pilot had just recently married a short time before. Everyone was saddened by this tragic accident, but the airshow, after stopping for an hour or so, resumed. What else could they do? Listmembers that were there today are Planedancr, Flightdawg, Bob Moore, Sam Cox, Mike Peters, Charlie Phillips, Moody, Jim S, Dan Grouloh, Gil Leiter, Don Zank, Chuck S, Jerry Rooks, Don Ramsey and Jim Campbell. I'm sure there were others, too weary to search my memory banks, will hunt for more Thursday. Pinesay
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 23:12:15 -0400 From: charles w phillips <flyboy1@InfoAve.Net> Subject: UL: Sun N Fun/ Challenger II We have been off line for the past week due to puter problems...We flew down to Sun N Fun from Georgia in the Skyhawk on tuesday..Was nice to meet some of the members such as Bob Moore, Melanie, Flightdawg and others...Poised for pics with group...saw a lots of ul both static and flying...returned to Georgia and promptly purchased a Challenger II...Have only flown it one time...flys like a dream...we have adverse wx here now but hope to take delivery of the challenger soon...hffs..Charlie Phillips
Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 22:34:13 +0100 From: Michael E Moody <HOODY@clds.net> Subject: Re: UL: Sun N Fun/ Challenger II Charlie, Congratulations on your Challenger II purchase. The way you aced your first landing on that narrow 800' strip was remarkable.I guess 40 years of GA flying has its benefits even in the world of UL's. I hope we can finish the hanger soon so you can bring it home and enjoy it. Later, Hoody charles w phillips wrote: > We have been off line for the past week due to puter problems...We flew > down to Sun N Fun from Georgia in the Skyhawk on tuesday..Was nice to > meet some of the members such as Bob Moore, Melanie, Flightdawg and > others...Poised for pics with group...saw a lots of ul both static and > flying...returned to Georgia and promptly purchased a Challenger > II...Have only flown it one time...flys like a dream...we have adverse > wx here now but hope to take delivery of the challenger > soon...hffs..Charlie Phillips
Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 21:15:56 EDT From: Planedancr <Planedancr@aol.com> Subject: Re: UL: Sun N Fun/ Challenger II In a message dated 98-05-01 01:53:39 EDT, you write: << returned to Georgia and promptly purchased a Challenger II...Have only flown it one time...flys like a dream...we have adverse wx here now but hope to take delivery of the challenger soon...hffs..Charlie Phillips >> Congrats!! Many happy flying hours to you! Good choice. Planedancr (not biased)
Date: Sat, 02 May 1998 00:02:54 -0400 From: charles w phillips <flyboy1@InfoAve.Net> Subject: UL: pods/windshield...floats I find it hard to believe that a pod of any design will give a quick 15 to 20 mph addional speed...I have to see it.......maybe 5 or 6...also, why are the floats that I saw at sun n fun designed so bulky and heavy...what happened to the little thin ones that I saw in Oshkosh 8 or 10 years ago?? I might just get my cad going....Charlie Phillips
Date: Sat, 02 May 1998 11:07:48 -0400 From: charles w phillips <flyboy1@InfoAve.Net> Subject: Re: UL: Challenger landings Tim Adams wrote: > > > >I'm also 6'2" and 215, and I don't think I'd try to fly into a 400 yard > > >field solo with my Challenger, much less with a passenger. Have him > meet > > >you at a longer field or an airport. You'll like it. > > > > >J.D. (Challenger II for Sale) Stewart > > I regularly got in to my 800' strip (later legthened to 1200') with my C2, > with 500' to spare. Often, I think I used around 200' of runway to > land---and about 100-150' for solo takeoff. > > Tim Adams Tim, I recently bought a Challenger II...You are right on target...we rotate at about 150' and landing roll is about 200' to 250' with 2 people...It's just like any other aircraft, it varies with the pilots ability....Charlie Phillips
Date: Sat, 02 May 1998 12:02:54 -0400 From: charles w phillips <flyboy1@InfoAve.Net> Subject: UL: lotus floats on challenger II Pinesay, I think you are the man with a plan as far as floats go in our neck of the woods..I think now that the Lotus floats is the way to go as you can land if necessary on wet grass etc....can you attach and detach them in a hurry???also, is their a way to leave your wheels on and use them at the same time...Another thing, do the same regs apply to ultralites or experimentals as reg aircraft as to clearance to land and takeoff on water..to my knowledge, there is not a site in georgia that you can land or take off in a reg airplane legally unless it is salt water and I am not sure about that..Georgia was different from Florida in that respect at one time..I don't know whether they ever relaxed that or not..Thanx for any info....hffs ...Charlie Phillips
Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 22:41:06 +0100 From: Michael E Moody <HOODY@clds.net> Subject: UL: Charlie crashed It's hard to say this but last evening Charlie Phillips crashed his Challenger II and was killed instantly. He had only one dual session with the seller last week, he went yesterday to take another flight with the seller before bringing it to our hanger. The seller was late getting there so Charlie got impatient and took his 40 years of GA experience for its last flight. It seemed that he was trying to land on an access road in a hunting reserve when the wing hit the top of a tree and sent the plane sideways into a pile of stumps and debris from previous logging in the area. A kid that watched him take off said that Charlie came back towards the runway like he was going to land but pulled up at the last minute and clipped an oak tree next to the runnway. He then began to climb and flew out of sight. He would not have been able to land past the runway as it boarders a mobile home park. The wreckage with Charlie still inside was located around 10:45 am this morning. Hoody
Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 22:01:11 -0600 From: George Robertson <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: UL: Charlie crashed Michael E Moody wrote: > It's hard to say this but last evening Charlie Phillips crashed his > Challenger II and was killed instantly. I almost got physically ill reading this post. This is happening way too often. I can't begin to express my sadness at this news and my heart breaks for his family and loved ones. Like a recent poster said (sorry, emptied recycle folder, don't have name of poster) . . . it takes only one bad judgment call and it can all be over. Looks like Charlie did his best but he was one of the unlucky few who didn't get away with a mistake. Deeply saddened. George Robertson
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 07:24:01 -0600 From: "Tim Adams" <email@example.com> Subject: UL: Re: Charlie crashed This is hard to believe. As soon as I read this, his signature "hffs" passed before me. And, his recent posts about his new Challenger II. Also I'm reminded of the quote another listmember said about Charle's first landing in the C2 at S&F being a very good one...he was obviously a good/experienced pilot. All this reafirms, at least in my mind, that I had no business teaching myself to fly my C2. If Charles, with all his experience and 2 eyes-2 legs-2 good arms, was in danger, I surely must have cheated death myself. Especially given the 2 extreme situations I experienced in my C2. I'm not blaming the Challengers, not at all. But the guy who tells himself he needs no dual to learn to fly one, has a fool for an advisor. Have fun and fly safe with your new wings Charles.
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 08:55:14 EDT From: Orion4141 <Orion4141@aol.com> Subject: Re: UL: Charlie crashed In a message dated 98-05-04 05:48:33 EDT, you write: I too offer my deepest sympathy to Charlie's family and friends. Having recently lost a friend in an UL crash, I can imagine the painful grief they are experiencing. I only knew him through his posts, but he seemed like a truly nice man. I pray that we've had the last "a member died yesterday in an ultralight crash" post for a very long while. Fly safe. Dave Stephens
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 09:01:07 EDT From: Planedancr <Planedancr@aol.com> Subject: Re: UL: Charlie crashed Mike, this is so sad. But, for all the lurkers out there who think GA experience is all you need to fly ultralights, this is good warning. Ultralights, like any other aircraft, REQUIRE TRAINING !!!!! I can't emphasize this enough. Planedancr
Date: Mon, 04 May 1998 12:18:38 -0700 From: Chan Shippy <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: UL: Charlie crashed Michael E Moody wrote: > > It's hard to say this but last evening Charlie Phillips crashed his > Challenger II and was killed instantly. George expressed it best as to how I felt when I read this post, he said, "I almost got physically sick". I sympathize with and am saddened for his family and friends. This post is directed specifically toward any of you GA types reading this post and thinking of getting into ultralights. It appears to me that Charlie's ATTITUDE is what killed him, "I've got 40 years of experience in many different aircraft, I don't need any stinking 100 hour ultralight pilot telling me how to fly!". I thought to myself, "But for the grace of God there go I". When I purchased an MX I seriously considered flying it without any dual as I had to drive 200 miles to find a ultralight instructor. Fortunately, my lack of recent flying experience caused me to have a lack of confidence in myself and I did get some. I often read the admonition "Get some dual before flying an ultralight." However, there is usually no follow-up as to why not. It is far to easy to think to yourself "I know how to fly, an ultralight flies slow and everyone say's they are easy to fly. Heck, you don't even need a license to fly one. I can fly the damn thing!" A couple of things stand out in my mind as being quite different. The light weight (little retained energy) and the high thrust line. Let me point out a couple of reasons your GA training can get you into trouble. On my first engine out simulation, as a student in a Cessna 172 I trimmed for the proper glide speed, turned into the wind, open wheat fields ahead, all was great except for *that fence* that appeared to be just beyond the apparent touchdown point. The instructor say's "no problem, just watch". As we neared the ground he pulls slightly on the yoke and pops up and over the fence. Try this with an MX (little to no retained energy) especially if your airspeed is a little slow and you as well as your ultralight would be in the fence. Or, you are landing, just ready to flare and something appears on the runway just ahead of you. You quickly hit the power for a go-around and the high thrust line pushes your nose into the ground. Think of it not as ultralight training, but as training for a different type of aircraft. Chan
Date: Mon, 04 May 1998 22:55:43 -0400 From: Geoffrey Taber <email@example.com> Subject: UL: Charlie HFFS A lot of us are thinking of Charlie I am sure. Here are some quotes from fly-ul posts from the man himself regarding accidents, flight safety, and ultralight flying. It seems to me that reviewing his perspective could help us individualy to establish or modify our own viewpoints of these subjects and his death. "i am sure the people involved used their best judgement in the situation at the time...just a very unfortunate situation..i feel for all the families......charlie phillips" "flying is risky...that is the reason we stick together as we do..we hope to learn from each others mistakes or the aircraft malfuntion...everytime you leave thew ground in any aircraft, there is risk but don't we enjoy it...some take more cham nces than others and even enjoy it more as in aerobatics...but when you look at it closely, anything can be risky...fly safe as you can and enjoy it..wwe are a special breed.......we gone...charlie phillips" "dont scare me now, i was 65 last week and plan to be around flying something for a long time hahahah....charlie phillips" "I appreciate all the good advice I have received from most of you... now I will take the ball and run with it and combine it with my other experience and I think I will be AOK" Geoff
Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 22:20:17 -0400 From: charles w phillips <flyboy1@InfoAve.Net> Subject: UL: Re: HOODY/ Charlie P I just read your email on Charlie's computer. He is to be buried tomorrow (Wed.) at 4:00. At the present time, we do not know the exact cause of death. The coroner said that he died instantly. An autopsy was done in Savannah, but we haven't received the results. When we do, I will be glad to let you know if he suffered head injuries. I don't know how long I will be here, but I have a computer at home and will be glad to let you know what the autopsy showed whenever I find out. If I don't answer an email sent here to Charlie's email address, please send me an email at my address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know to whom I should send the information. You are right--I think he would be quite pleased to know that perhaps some of his buddies learned something from his death. Charlie's sister, Ann.
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 04:46:32 -0500 (CDT) From: Dennis Frey <email@example.com> Subject: Re: UL: Charlie crashed My deepest sympathies go to Charlie's family and friends. I didn't know him, except by his posts, but enjoyed reading his posts very much. I'm sure he will be severly missed by his family and friends. Dennis Frey RWS # 302
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 07:49:16 -0600 From: "Kurtis Brown" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: UL: Re: Re: Charlie crashed >I'm not blaming the Challengers, not at all. But the guy who tells himself >he needs no dual to learn to fly one, has a fool for an advisor. > >Have fun and fly safe with your new wings Charles. Well said Tim! I second all! I am guilty of the same self teaching method. God Bless, Kurtis
Date: Wed, 06 May 1998 12:50:07 +0400 From: Stu C <email@example.com> Subject: UL: Arabian Brits (whut?) May I just say that I believe that This List has seen some very special words contributed by the members on the saddest of events that befell Charlie Phillips. I will add no more other than to say that your words are being read by those of his family that Charlie left behind so suddenly and it is only This List that could have brought such a thing to them, with whom we share our sadness. Stu
Date: Mon, 04 May 1998 14:57:39 PDT From: "Paul Brudi" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: UL: Charlie crashed Condoles to his family. Mein herzlichstes Beileid. Paul Brudi
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