Being a resident of rural Alaska where there are few roads, single engine air travel is the norm. The story that follows is entirely true. Abbreviations are as follows. DLG-Dillingham, Alaska my hometown, KEK-Ekwok, Alaska a small village about 66 miles from DLG population 300.
So I had to travel to KEK for work, I would be going with two co-workers for this trip. We were scheduled to leave in the morning on Monday, arriving at the landing strip at about 930am. There were two other people flying with us going to another village, but we were the first stop. Our plane was a Cessna 206, similar to this one
There was quite a bit of gear to be loaded into the back, so I was giving the pilot a hand loading gear in, and then he had the back four seats loaded with people. Just after he shut the back door, I looked over and watched the tail land right on the ground. It smacked hard! Apparently the plane was loaded a bit tail heavy!
I was a bit stunned. I have flown quite a bit but this was a first time for that sort of thing to happen to me. I was standing there slack-jawed gawking at the plane sitting on its tail and its nose wheel 4 feet off the ground. The pilot didnt think it was a big deal and told me to jump in the front seat.
I shook it off and climbed into the co-pilot seat. It was a stretch to get in there because of the angle the plane was sitting.
Once I got in I closed the door and asked the gal behind me to reach forward to flip the latch locking the door. I put my belt on and the pilot climbed in and said the nose would drop once we started the engine. So after giving a bit of throttle the nose came down and we taxied to the end of the runway.
We quickly started out take off roll. The pilot and I are both large guys, so when he reached down for the throttle between us I leaned over against the door to give him some extra room.
With the confusion surrounding the tail sitting on the ground and the weird angle and pitch of the aircraft while standing, the door did not get latched properly. This was simple human error.
So the door came open!!!
Here I find myself, the only thing holding me inside of an aircraft is a lap belt and shoulder strap, looking at the ground seeing the wheel rolling. I have had a few other slightly uncomfortable incidents flying in single engine airplanes, but this by far was the worst.
The pilot, noticing what happened, throttled down and grabbed me pulling me further into the cockpit, aborting the take off. I could tell he was more than a bit flustered about what just happened.
My co-workers in the back screamed when the door popped open as well, it made for a very stressful minute or so. Once the plane came to a stop due to the aborted take off, he checked to make sure the door was latched properly, and we turned around to taxi back to the end of the runway for another take off roll.
This time it was much less eventful, we managed to climb out and head toward our destination of KEK. We flew over the Wood River, at 200feet and 130kts. It was about 30minutes until we were banking to land on the short gravel runway in KEK. Marking the end of what to this point in my life has been the scariest aviation moment for me.