Pilot Speaks about Freak Accident at Lakeland Airport

1 Aug

Teen Pilot Danny Onofryton and His Broken Arm

Teen Pilot Danny Onofryton and HIs Broken Arm


Teen pilot Danny Onofryton looked back one last time at the closed hanger as he headed to the golf cart transport waiting for him on the tarmac at Lakeland Airport.  It was late afternoon, mid-July, and he was minutes away from finishing his shift as a summer line boy at the airport, a catchall job involving cleaning, fueling and moving aircraft, renting cars, painting, weed whacking, and pretty much anything to promote smooth travel to this small airport in North-Central Wisconsin.  Danny was eager to get home to a family barbecue and took great relief making sure the hanger was safe and secure, as it should be according to standard operating procedure.

Stomach rumbling in anticipation of a succulent tenderloin, Danny climbed into the back of the  golf cart to join his two crew mates for the ride to the aviation offices.  The golf card had been outfitted for baggage loading capabilities with slick diamond plating providing a side-less flat platform on which Danny boarded.  As he reached for a grip to stabilize his position, the golf cart roared forward, accelerating around a curve.  The pilot’s left hand clamped down on a pole on the side of the cart as the rest of his body took a different route, flinging wildly out of the vehicle so that his person was almost exactly parallel with the tarmac.  Almost immediately, the tremendous G-force became too much and he released his grip.  The kid was ejected off of the back of the golf cart and hurled onto the tarmac where he landed on his left elbow, rolling a few times before finally coming to an upright and stationary position.

Fortunately, Danny remained conscious and scrambled to his feet, slightly disoriented.  He caught a glimpse of his arm, a mangled, gritty, bloody mess, and calmly instructed the apologetic cart driver to take him to the “garden hose.”  The driver drove slowly and soon Danny was bathing his arm under the shower setting of the hose.  Grime washed away but the arm remained badly battered.  The supervisor was notified and the pilot was instructed to “sleep it off.”  As his shift was now officially over, Danny drove himself, with one arm, to his house where preparations for that evening’s cookout were well underway.

The pilot, negotiating the ever-increasing pain radiating from his arm, notified his mother who agreed to take him to the emergency room.  At the ER, the pilot was tended to almost immediately. The medical team took some x-rays and conducted a battery of range of motion tests and in good order it was determined that the pilot had fractured his elbow.  A plaster cast then followed and a suspension was imposed of the pilot’s in-air activities in his Cessna 172 Skyhawk.  As Danny explains, “you need two working hands and two working feet to fly an airplane.”  However, in true fighting spirit, Danny returned to his regular line boy duties at Lakeland Aviation the next day.

As of this article’s publication date, Danny’s cast has been removed and he is looking forward to receiving his pilot’s license on his seventeenth birthday next week.  The NTSB is not expected to investigate this freak accident.

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2 Responses to “Pilot Speaks about Freak Accident at Lakeland Airport”

  1. JoAnn August 1, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    That man should be fired, this poor boy could have been hurt even worse! Danny is in our thoughts and prayers.

  2. geetar mama August 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    What a guy!

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