Frank Laudo was driving a black SUV on a private road which runs alongside a small private airport just outside Dallas,Texas, as the pilot of a small Cessna aircraft was approaching the airport to make a landing. The private road has the word “STOP” painted clearly on its surface and drivers are supposed to stop and watch for small planes before continuing, however Laudo said he did not see the airplane, and he failed to stop. Seconds after crossing the “STOP” sign, Laudo’s vehicle was struck by the Cessna. His vehicle was heavily damaged as was the Cessna. Laudo suffered minor injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital. A passenger in Laudo’s vehicle, Heather Laudo, was not injured, and the pilot of the Cessna was able to make a safe landing on the belly of the plane after losing his landing gear in the crash.
The owner of the airport property does not own any of the property surrounding the airport including the private road. He told local reporters he has tried unsuccessfully to buy the private road so he could better enforce traffic rules requiring vehicles to stop. According to him, Laudo was not the first driver to ignore (or fail to notice) the “STOP” painted clearly on the roadway.
Defensive drivers everywhere know the importance of observing and following all street signs-whether they are on poles, walls, bridges, or the pavement right in front of them. It only takes one small mistake to create conditions perfect for an accident. In this case nobody was hurt, but if the vehicle had been traveling just a bit faster, or the plane had been just a few inches lower, someone might have been.
This is hardly the first airplane vs car vehicle accident, and likely it won’t be the last. So stay alert, be aware because airplanes are everywhere!