Jumping the Gun...
Near Rubidoux, California
April 26, 1987
A License to Learn…
Cline Hogg was born in 1929 in Kinchafoonee, Georiga. Part of a large family, he himself beget a large family, fathering five children, and was a step-father to three more.
In the late 1960s, and after the birth of his last child, Hogg decided to begin to save some money, and buy a helicopter. The final fiscal touch came after Hogg received some settlement money from a work related accident
In 1987 – twenty years after the start of his dream – Hogg purchased his dream helicopter, a Hughes 269B, for $26,000. Registered as N101DN, and powered by a 190 horsepower Lycoming HIO-360-A1A engine, the helicopter featured a three seat cockpit and flight controls that are directly linked to the control surfaces, eliminating any need for hydraulics.
Hogg had earned his private pilot’s certificate for fixed-wing aircraft, and had flown over 500 hours. The addition of a rotorcraft rating seemed to be a simple, yet challenging, proposition to the 58-year-old.
Kickoff of a Dream…
On the morning of April 26th, 1987, Hogg was waiting for his instructor on the runway at Flabob Airport (KRIR), near Riverside, until about 11:30 AM, when he apparently decided to activate some of the controls of the chopper, despite being told by his instructor to wait for him and not to touch anything.
Hogg, eager to begin, started the aircraft, ran the engine up to full RPM, and then began to increase the collective pitch control. He claimed he never intended to leave the ground, but slowly, the helicopter climbed vertically to a high hover, fluttering up to around 75 feet.
But, he had not released the cyclic friction before becoming airborne. With no warning, Hogg lost control, and the helo plummeted back to the tarmac below.
"When it flipped over, one rotor hit the roadway and threw it all out of control," Hogg said to reporters after the crash. "I tried to straighten it out but it bounced all over and disintegrated."
And the entire catastrophe was caught on video by a friend of Hogg's, hoping to capture what was expected to be Hogg's first copter flight.
Surprisingly, according to Riverside County Sheriff's Sergeant Chris Coplen, Hogg was uninjured by the mishap. But Hogg claimed to have sustained a deeper wound - "The only thing broken on me was my heart," said Hogg. He had saved 20 years for the $26,000 helicopter, but did not have it insured, and the wreck was a total loss.
According to John Baginski of Moreno Valley, who witnessed the accident, "The guy is a miracle survivor."
"The old man upstairs decides when it's your time to go," Hogg said. "Any landing that you walk away from is a good landing."
Flag on the Play…
In April of 1989, the National Transportation Safety Board released their conclusion as to the probable cause of the crash. The Board determined the probable cause was that directional control was not maintained, and poor judgment was exhibited, by the student, in connection with an uncontrolled vertical takeoff – all of which was caused by the student’s disregard to his instructor’s instructions.
Cline Hogg continued to reside in Fontana until 2002 with his wife, Zee. He passed away in Geneva, Ohio, on November 19th, 2006.