Tropic Air

Posted By: Richard Chambers

Tropic Air - 12/30/02 05:07 PM

Article about last fridays Tropic Air crash with a Houston family aboard. Looks like it may be a good argument for the boat ride to the island!
"Houston family ok after plane crash into the sea" eek

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 05:17 PM

eek WOW
so very glad that everyone is ok
Posted By: deano

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 05:28 PM

Only a matter of time I think. The planes are often overloaded and flown in instrument conditions without proper navagation gear. (Both on the ground and in the plane) The pilots do a great job with what they have,but some times stretch the boundrys of what is safe. Glad that everyone made it out OK. The Caravan is a tough bird. Count me as a fair weather flier.
Posted By: Chloe

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 07:16 PM

Any landing you can swim away from or walk away, is a good landing. Sorry it happened, but thank God they were ok.

Boats are good, but probably have as many accidents as planes.

All of us that travel to Belize, know we are taking a risk, maybe that is part of the thrill.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 07:57 PM

personally, i have been flying in small planes my whole life, and much prefer them to the big ones. Much safer IMHO.

Capt. Bradley did a heck of a job getting everyone out OK, and thank god no one was hurt.

From a friend...
Well, I'd suspect that Tropic and Maya Air's pilots are better than most.
Tropic probably does more than a hundred takeoffs and landings a
day, mostly on short, narrow runways with heavily loaded aircraft and
often with very strong crosswinds. How many auto-land 767 jockeys
have that kind of seat of the pants experience?
From Amandala

Thirteen tourist passengers and a Belizean pilot
aboard a Tropic Air Cessna Caravan from Philip Goldson
International Airport were rescued at sea late
yesterday evening, Friday, after the plane crash
landed into the Caribbean Sea two miles from San Pedro
Ambergris Caye.
The wreckage was seen about two miles from the town.
The plane was partially submerged in about five feet
of water, and was completely destroyed.

The flight left Philip Goldson International Airport
around 5:40 that evening. It was due at San Pedro
Municipal Airstrip twenty minutes later, at 6:00 p.m.
The pilot was a Belizean, Roy Bradley. With him were
13 passengers - two couples, a family of five and a
family of four. In the crowd there were eleven
Americans and two French citizens.

According to Johnny Greif, president of Tropic Air,
when the pilot tried to land at the airstrip there was
an airplane already on the runway. As he circled the
island to give the plane time to get off the runway,
another Caravan landed on the runway, so he had to
climb back up again, and circle around for a while.

The third time he tried to land, a sudden gust of wind
affected the plane. Greif said that Bradley tried to
fight the gust by climbing back up, but the weather
was too bad. The Weather Bureau at the time recorded
heavy rain, and winds of between five to ten knots per
hour between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.

The last time the Civil Aviation Department had made
contact with Bradley was at 5:45 p.m. when the small
craft was about ten miles out of Belize City. Bradley
was supposed to make contact with Tropic Air
headquarters in San Pedro just before he landed. He
did not radio in or touch down at 6:00, however, so
authorities at Tropic Air sent out another Caravan to
look for Bradley. They located him about 6:15.

Tropic Air in San Pedro, when they were informed of
the accident, sent out a boat from Thunderbolt
Travels. The boat arrived at the spot at about 6:30
p.m. The plane was found partially submerged in about
five feet of water, about two miles south of the

The distraught and terrified passengers had to climb
out and get on top of the wings of the Caravan so that
the current wouldn't carry them away. The area was
already dark, and the passengers, according to Greif,
had been exposed to the elements for at least fifteen
to twenty minutes before the rescue boat arrived.

There were no fatalities or serious injuries, but the
passengers were taken to the San Pedro Clinic and
treated for minor lacerations and contusions. They
were released sometime around 8:00 that same night.
According to authorities at Tropic, most of the
passengers' luggage were damaged by water or lost to
the current.

Bradley reported that he got caught in a "micro
burst," which is a sudden gust of wind blowing at 25
to 35 miles per hour. Such winds usually accompany a
thunderstorm. Bradley, Greif said, tried to fly west,
against the condition, but the wind carried the
Caravan down into the water.

Luckily, the plane landed on its belly, but the
Caravan's seats were ripped out of place. The pilot's
side of the plane took the brunt of the crash, and
authorities say that he received minor cuts and
bruises and is still shaken up.

John Greif told Amandala that the anemometer at Tropic
Air headquarters showed that the wind was blowing up
to twenty-three knots at 6:02 that evening. He said
that Bradley did his best to get away from the gust,
but the wind was too strong.

The Tropic Caravan, which was a fourteen-seater, was
worth US$1.5 million. The damage caused is
irreparable, say Tropic Air officials.

Amandala has been informed that the Civil Aviation
Department will salvage the plane and conduct their
own investigation to confirm whether or not the
accident was due to bad weather or the pilot's error.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 10:00 PM

here's the story referred to above in the Houston paper....

Local family fine after plane crash
Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle
Eight Houston-area residents survived a plane crash Friday evening in Belize, clinging for 90 minutes in a driving rainstorm to the fuselage that became submerged in shallow water before they were rescued.

Everyone aboard the 14-seat Cessna Caravan survived the impact with only minor injuries. The Tropic Air flight from Belize City to San Pedro went down 2 1/2 miles south of Ambergris Caye, a resort island in the Caribbean Sea popular with American vacationers.

Lance Dreyer, 62, and wife, Sharon, 56, of Houston were aboard the plane with two of their children, Chase, 25, and Chelsea, 22. The family said couples from Sugar Land and The Woodlands were also on the flight, but their names were not available Sunday evening.

The Dreyers were en route Friday to San Pedro for a five-day New Year's vacation, returning to the island for the sixth time in seven years to "just lay out on the beach, go fishing and snorkeling or scuba diving."

They have flown Tropic Air, a Belizean airline founded in 1979 by a Texas A&M graduate, each time for the 15-minute hop from Belize City. All prior flights were uneventful, they said.

The flight they were booked on Friday was full, however, so they were given boarding passes for the next departure. It was dark and raining as the plane took off for San Pedro. Lance Dreyer, a former pilot, said he became worried when the plane started weaving about 10 minutes out.

"I became concerned because the pilot is looking out the window," he said. "At night in a rainstorm, you watch your instruments, you don't look out the window.

"He started wiggling around. He was looking out the window and then with no warning -- he didn't cut back on the power or anything -- he hit (the water)."

There was confusion at first as passengers recovered from the impact and tried to discern their surroundings.

"When the plane landed on the water, we didn't know. I thought we had landed at San Pedro and he skidded off the runway," Lance Dreyer said. "A lot of people didn't understand. It happened so quickly."

His wife described the impact "like being in a car going 100 miles (per hour) plus and hitting a concrete wall."

As dust and smoke filled the cabin, Lance Dreyer opened the rear door.

"Water just went whoosh into the plane," he said. "Everybody was screaming. I got out of the plane and started pushing everyone up on top."

The Dreyers said they counted 13 people on the plane, including the pilot, with one empty seat. Belize police, however, said their report indicates the plane was full.

Once on top of the fuselage, the passengers could see the lights of San Pedro in the distance, so they knew land wasn't too far off.

"My concern was that the plane was totally going to sink," Lance Dreyer said. "I didn't know how deep it was."

So after ensuring everyone was out of the plane, he dove down and quickly reached the bottom. He could see the aircraft lodged in the sand, then surfaced to report the good news. It brought relief to anxious passengers.

"We kind of all laughed about it," he said. "At that point we knew: a) we survived the crash, b) the plane ain't going to sink any further, and c) the worst thing that's going to happen to us is we'll sit here all night but at least we're going to live."

Then several yellow life jackets floated out of the plane along with a few passengers' carry-on bags. One man from The Woodlands happened to have a VHF radio and global-positioning system in his bag. He radioed for help, reaching someone at the San Pedro airport, and relayed their coordinates. Rescue boats arrived about 30 minutes later and took everyone to San Pedro.

The Dreyers were driven to their hotel to warm up and eat. They lost most of their money and other carry-on items but would later discover a lucky break: Their luggage failed to make the flight and was still in Belize City.

They spent Friday night in San Pedro, then decided to scrub their vacation and return home. This time they took a water taxi to Belize City, where they had to visit the U.S. Embassy to obtain temporary travel documents before flying home Saturday evening.

G. Michael Reid, Belize Police Department spokesman, said his country's Transportation Ministry is investigating the incident, which he described as "an emergency landing."
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 10:19 PM

Personally speaking, people die of respiratory illness frequently, but I don't plan on stopping my breathing. No offense to Jet, but I have to have my first Belikin as quick as possible, and out of a real bottle. The difference between the ferry and the plane is a calculated risk I am willing to take. Just my opinion.
Posted By: susangg

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 10:22 PM

I sure would like to see the results of the investigation.

From the limited facts provided, it looks like the pilot did a hell of a job getting the plane down safely. Not too many crash landings where everybody walks away and nobody even has to be hospitalized.

But: It also appears that there may be problems with airline policies.

For one, communication. Was ground control notifying pilots of what previous flights had experienced? If so, who made the decision to keep flying instead of waiting til the storm abated and conditions improved (even if it meant putting the passengers up in a hotel for the night and flying them in the next morning?) Bad weather is common, as we all know, and there should be clear policies on how to respond to it.

Equipment: Why did it take a passenger with a mobile radio to get help? Weren't the airplane's communications system working? Was the pilot able to radio control that he was going down? If not, why not? Was all instrumentation working? When was the last time it was tested?

Safety policy: Is there a policy of giving passengers safety info (where are the life jackets, etc.) routinely as major airlines do? I have to admit that I don't recall this happening on my many flights. If the pilot did not do this, I would focus on management rather than the pilot because its almost certain that the airline is not directing this to be done.

A full investigation and public release of all results is very important. I hope its done quickly and thoroughly. I have always told my guests that the airlines have an excellent safety record and I'd like to be able to keep saying that.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 10:54 PM

The summary that Marty entered (above) does not jibe with the entire text of the Houston Chronicle. The Dreyer familey stated Tropic gave no saftey briefing (fasten seat belts, life vests, etc)and that the pilot did nothing to help pull the passengers to safety.

Marty seems to think that Capt.Bradley "did a good job"

I belive if you reprint an article, print it in its entirety or it could leave out important information.
Posted By: Chloe

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 11:12 PM

Investigation will take along time, months.

My guess it will read......pilot error.

One pilot is most dispensable.

I for one would want this PILOT on my next flights, he has shown his abilities, set that baby down, and NO one injured.

The ground crew on San Pedro, had to know the flight was in trouble and overdue, and I am sure they had put the emergency people in gear, before the call came from the passenger.

Pondering today, if that had happened to me and my family last year during this time, would we have stayed for our vacation, or rushed out of there.

My best guess, since we all have true grit in this family, we would have stayed, relaxed, counted our blessings on Ambergris, But who really knows what they would have really done given that scare.

It is so wonderful that God watched over all of them.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 11:31 PM

Chloe, I don't think you want that PILOT for your next trip. I am (was) a pilot..... Why was he looking out the window instead of watching the instrument panel for heading, altitude, time aloft, artificial horizon indicator. You cannot see anything at night in a rain storm, over water. There is no horizon to reference. Where was the pilot when Mr Dreyer was pushing people out of the cabin and onto the roof? Where was the pilots radio? Lastley, he did not land the aircraft, he reportedly had full power applied and simpley flew it INTO THE SEA. That doesn't require flying skills. There is no tower in S.P so the only communication is with other aircraft. We do not know what time this occured except it was dark and bad weather. Does that mean other flights were through fot the day (night) or had better sence than to go up in that weather? I could go on but will let it stop here.
Posted By: Di from Colorado..

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 11:33 PM

I just found out about the Tropic Air flight.Yikes,
to think about the many times I have made that flight, often sitting right next to the pilot. Hopefully it is a rare occurance and will not be repeated any time soon. There are 20 of us planning to go back in September. Thank God no one was seriousely injured. Di (dot)
Posted By: KBG

Re: Tropic Air - 12/30/02 11:47 PM

On the way to Atlanta International just after this message to fly to Belize City then take the hop to San Pedro. I am much more concerned about my safety flying a large commercial air liner to Belize than with the highly skilled pilots who fly for both Tropic and Maya.
Looking foward to my few days away at SP.
KBG :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
Posted By: Grace

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 12:40 AM

Yikes! A little scary, but for me the worst part was thinking about having to hang out in the water at night with all those fishy's and no light! AAAAAAACCCCCCCHHHHHHH.
Thank goodness the pilot landed flat.
I much prefer small aircraft...and it's not for us to judge what kind of job the pilot did....we weren't there. And everyone was ok. So,let's just pray that it doesn't happen again any time soon.
Posted By: susangg

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 01:50 AM

Nope, Grace..I disagree. It is not about "praying" that it does not happen again. It is about thoroughly investigating WHY it happened, what (if anything) might have been done to PREVENT it from happening, and what policy changes need to be made to MAKE SURE it does not happen again. Air safety ought not be left to prayer. Sure, there are things that are unforeseeable (lightning strikes, etc.)but most air disasters are not acts of God but rather, of humans, whether in the air or on the ground.
Posted By: Chloe

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 02:54 AM

Let's pray it does not happen again, can't hurt anything, while they are doing the lengthy investigation. Pray is all we have, until the investigation is completed.

Key to the investigation is the Pilot's accounting of the situation.
Posted By: toad

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 03:15 AM

someone here should have been a math know, nice neat answers for every problem
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 03:59 AM

Get lost, Toad
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 04:39 AM

I'm with Marty. I feel more comfortable in a small plane, rather than a jet. In the grand scheme of things, though, a lot more smaller planes crash than do large jetliners. If it was a big jet, the chances of survival would have been slim to none. Just last month, I took the last Tropic air flight from BC to AC. It was dark and raining when we landed in San Pedro too.

Thanks to God that everyone survived.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 05:17 AM

i'm with toad.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 05:24 AM

immissing- you seem to think the pilot was out having lunch or something while Mr. Dreyer got people out. Just because an article doesn't mention what the pilot was doing doesn't make him derelict does it? you seem to assume the worst of the pilot. i have flown planes. big F*in deal. that doesn't make me an expert or a viable critic of any incident from afar.

maybe he had trouble with the automatic navigation systems. maybe he was working the radio and the article doesn't mention it. maybe the radio went out. I wouldn't be so judgmental until you have command of more facts.

i'll take that pilot any day.
Posted By: Grace

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 05:27 AM

Susangg- boy I've been waiting for something to talk with you about.....either way...this is something that hasn't happened in a long time and won't happen again in a long time,investigation or not. sometimes S--t happens and as I said previously, at least the pilot landed the plane...and all the rest. Let's not dwell on the worst..We're all lucky to have good memories of ourr tiime on least I do....
Posted By: tincup

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 06:24 AM

Amandala Online Dec 30th edition has an article with some additional information. Seems it was a weather related problem.
Posted By: Chloe

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 07:17 AM

Yeah Marty.

Here we are sticking up for the Pilot as we should, but Immissing is a pilot and he is against the pilot, I don't get his thinking here.
Posted By: Mexicana

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 07:39 AM

This was a funny thread to read after all the excitment died did die down didn't it?? HAHA!! I have taken a few flying lessons and know that what Marty said is right! Besides has anyone ever played with the radio dial while driving a car??? Just wondering... wink
Posted By: susangg

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 08:13 AM

Here's the Channel 5 News interview on the crash:
[Linked Image]
Tropic Caravan makes wet landing with 13 onboard
Tragedy in the air was narrowly avoided late Friday evening after a Tropic Caravan was forced to make a wet landing just shy of the island's airstrip. News 5's Jacqueline Woods has the details.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
It had been raining all day when Gulf Hotel, a Cessna Caravan 208, owned by Tropic Air departed the Phillip Goldson International Airport for San Pedro Ambergris Caye. Pilot Roy Bradley had thirteen passengers onboard...two French nationals and twelve Americans. It should have been a routine thirteen minute flight, but two miles short of the runway, Captain Bradley was forced to make an emergency landing. According to Tropic, a bout of bad weather on his final approach to the island's airstrip forced the wet landing.

Johnny Greif, President, Tropic Air, Via Phone
"The pilot upon approaching San Pedro, heard a whole lot of traffic trying to land, and the weather was getting bad, so he decided to divert to the west, or to the left as he was coming to San Pedro and wait for the traffic to clear. When he heard on the radio that there was a space for him to land, he made a beeline from his position to the west to the end of the runway, and sometime before he landed, he encountered a severe thunderstorm, and within that thunderstorm, a microburst, which is a strong directly downward draft, the plane started to sink very quickly. He applied full power to fly out of it, and tried to make the plane go up in the air by pulling back on the stick, but it was all too late."

Tropic says as the tremendous wind pushed against his aircraft, Bradley had to try to land the plane and save his passengers' lives.

Efrain Gomez, Chief Civil Aviation Officer
"The pilot maintained control of the aircraft until hitting the water, because it didn't disintegrate on landing. The passengers all exited and they were saved, so that's a good sign that the aircraft apparently did a "Benny landing". And then it didn't flip over or anything, so looked like the pilot was well aware that he couldn't do anything else but to go down, and then he just hit the water."

Captain Roy Bradley, with several hundred flying hours with the Caravan under his belt, safely brought down the aircraft in shallow waters. According to Chief Meteorologist, Carlos Fuller whenever an aircraft encounters such a weather condition, there is not much a pilot can do.

Carlos Fuller, Chief Meteorologist
"What a pilot experiences first of all, is that as he is approaching to land, he always lands into the wind, against a headwind. Now if you have a microburst or a downdraft, the wind suddenly changes direction and comes down. So instead of feeling a wind, let's say ten miles per hour in front of him, you suddenly get a gust of twenty-five or thirty miles from the back of the plane, or from the side of the plane pushing it downward. So he already has his machine headed downward trying to land and suddenly a wind comes accelerating him towards the surface; so he has very little time in which react."

None of the passengers onboard were hurt. The incident is being investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority. According to chief civil aviation officer, Efrain Gomez, their initial work has revealed that it was largely due to weather conditions that the plane was forced to land, but did admit that if there was enough time, the pilot could have made the decision to fly back to the international airport, but there were other planes landing in San Pedro an that is why Bradley decided to continue with the flight.

Efrian Gomez
"In encountering bad weather you can decide right away, you have a full aircraft and if you know you're gonna have problems, you come back to a safe airport. And this is the safest airport, the international airport."

Due to inclement weather, efforts to remove the plane from the salty water have been difficult. The plane suffered major damage to its propellers and is considered a total loss. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

News 5 understands that while at least five of the tourists who were onboard the caravan did decide to cut their trip short and return home, the others have remained in San Pedro.
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 04:23 PM

I've been a tropic air passenger many many times and had a good safe ride each time. I don't claim to have first hand knowledge of this crash, but I do have opinions I've formed based on the statements the passengers have made, and the obvious facts of the matter such as the weather, time of day, outcome, etc. Like most small plane mishaps, its probably a combination of severe weather plus human error. Apparently the radio was working if the pilot heard of lots of traffic at the air strip (i can't imagine lots of traffic, but perhaps there was). There are many questions to be answered upon completion of the investigation. Although I generally prefer the small prop planes to jets just because the ride seems to be more leisurely, they are subject to weather as they do not fly above it, and the pilots should be able to fly on instruments if necessary. Every second counts when it comes to pilot response/recovery.
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 05:00 PM

Every person on that plane got there safe !

Wet, but alive and well.
What an experience to be able to tell your friends and family for years to come.

Just like all of us, they will tell their story and have others hear it, then the others will tell it as they heard it, or thought they did....

Life goes on.
Posted By: Denny Shane

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 05:44 PM

After reading this thread, it is obvious that everyone has an opinion as to what happened on that Tropic flight despite the fact that NONE of us were on it. So far the only people I have heard was one of the families onboard. They were on Good Morning America this morning telling their side of the story. The Houston Chronicle printed their side of the story. Now don't get me wrong... I am not disputing what this family has said about the incident.

I truly believe in hearing ALL sides of a story first. We have not heard from the pilot, nor the other passengers. Dollars to doughnuts, they all have a slightly different version as to what took place.

Whether or not we have flight experience as a pilot, passenger, whatever, all of our experiences are different. I've probably flown to San Pedro just as many times as anyone else on this board and I can honestly say that not one single flight was the same as any other flight.

Even just days after the incident I can almost smell "law suit" in the air. Even though I do have my own opinions as to what happened and why... I cannot in all honesty put it out for consumption simply because I do not know what happened because all of the stories have not been published yet.

Let's wait a few more days huh folks?
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 05:58 PM

I don't smell a lawsuit, and I sure hope that's not in the picture, it would be devastating on many levels. Conjecture is natural in the wake of an event like this, big deal, people do that. The general chat area is an appropriate place for opinions of this nature.
Posted By: rickcheri

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 06:17 PM

Call me crazy-but i believe Divine Power is alive and well in the Universe. Everytime Rick in I get in a boat, plane, car etc....I say a prayer where I ask for four Arch Angels to "surround our aircraft etc...and guide us safely and without incidence to our destination". One time I forgot to say "without incidence" and we capsized a boat we were in on the other side of the reef!! LOL..I don't forget "without incidence" anymore!! And I don't blame the guy driving the boat either. But hey-we got to where we were going safe!!! C
Posted By: toad

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 06:48 PM

susangg's eyes are rolling like a one armed bandit....
Posted By: Abelizer

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 06:55 PM

I'm curious if where they landed was where I went to feed the crocs every afternoon. If so, after I knew I was alive from the crash, I would be VERY concerned that the 14 footer was not lurking around. Being 20' away from that big boy gave me the creeps not to mention being stranded in the water. YIKES!
Posted By: Miss Anthropy

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 07:11 PM

Please don't feed the crocs.
Posted By: Abelizer

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 07:26 PM

Believe me, I wouldn't. I let the locals do that. I just watched. I'm not that crazy.
Posted By: Richard Chambers

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 09:00 PM

Boy, did this topic ever wake the quiet crowd up or what!
Everyone have a safe and happy new year.......
Posted By: toad

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 09:33 PM

yeah, don't feed 'em, its funner to watch 'em catch strays
Posted By: StrayCat

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 09:47 PM

ACK!!! Careful there toad!! eek
Posted By: rickcheri

Re: Tropic Air - 12/31/02 10:05 PM

LOL Toad-I'm sure they are!!!! I don't think, atleast it doesn't sound like, they landed in the "lagoon" where "Satan" lives!!! C...P.S. Yes, He is a BIG CROC!!
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Tropic Air - 01/01/03 05:05 AM

I thought of the croc's too, first thing !
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