Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2021 Darwin Awards

Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Pretty Fly For A Dead Guy
2021 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

beautiful small Piper aircraft painted orange and white, flying in a blue sky
with clouds.

(8 December 2021, Houston Texas) A West Houston student pilot named Solomon was allowed to solo in a Cessna 172 a few weeks before the incident described below. After the solo flight, the exhilarated 23-year-old decided to buy a different plane type, one that he had no training in: a Piper PA-28-140.

For the majority of readers who are not pilots, here are some student flyer license restrictions:

  1. A student may not fly solo with a passenger in the aircraft. That is actually written on the license.
  2. A student pilot may not fly at night without specific endorsement by the instructor.
  3. A student pilot must fly under 'visual flight rules' meaning only during daylight hours and keeping distance from clouds.
  4. A student pilot may not fly on a hazy or foggy day. There must be at least 3 miles of visibility, and some instructors place a more stringent requirement of +6 vis. on student licenses.
  5. A student may only fly solo with an instructor's endorsement for that specific make and model of aircraft.

His West Houston flight instructor pointedly told this 23-year-old: "DO NOT FLY that new aircraft until you are given some training in it." But that did not deter Solomon from taking his new toy out for exercise on a winter night.

He had to fly a plane he had not been trained in. He had to fly at night. And he had to fly with an overcast ceiling of 900 feet. Three strikes...

The flight began at 7:30 pm and lasted maybe 4 minutes.

The private plane's transponder was not functioning, so the West Houston Airport was not aware the plane was missing until a friend looking for Solomon wandered into the airport the next day.

One Darwin Winner with a side dish of One Honorable Mention -- an unfortunate passenger who thought it was a good idea to fly at night with this student.

The wreckage of the Piper plane was identified deep in a heavily wooded area. And unfortunately there was a fourth strike against Solomon. Two bodies were found in the wreck. The foolish young man earns a Darwin Award for breaking four rules of flight. And the foolish young friend earns an Honorable Mention for choosing to participate in the dangerous situation, too.

Submitted by: Anonymoose
Reference: Two Killed Private Plane Crash West Houston

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