Better to be Lucky than Good

Plane stopped on edge of 1,500-foot drop off.


On April 19, Soplanda attempted to land near 6,000 feet on an unnamed peak east of Bald Mountain in the Talkeetnas to explore ski and snowboarding opportunities on some adjacent slopes. Unfortunately, the snow atop the peak where he touched down was crustier than the young pilot expected.

So he kept sliding until….

The skis on the airplane, instead of grabbing soft snow, went sliding across hard snow. With cliffs ahead, Soplanda tried to steer the aircraft to the left to stay on top of the peak.

It almost worked.

21-year-old Matthew “Jake” Soplanda of Anchor Point and a skiing buddy managed to climb away from Soplanda’s dated, single-engine Taylorcraft as it hung perched over a 1,500-foot drop.

I suppose he could have given it more power and used remaining altitude to give it another go after pitching down the drop off. Less risky than egress out of a plane on a cliffs edge. Much better story though. Now he’s famous.



7 responses to “Better to be Lucky than Good

  1. INfamous, perhaps….

  2. virgil xenophon

    A sad ending for Lawn-Chair Larry, but IIRC wasn’t there a more recent attempt at much the same thing by some guy in western Washington, drifting across into Idaho a few years back?

    BTW, if you want another good book that may be out of print, go for “The Big Show” by Pierre Cloistermann–a Belgique WWII double Ace who flew Typhoons and Temptests for the RAF. Another REALLY good read. I have the original paperback that came out in the late 50s. Cost me only 35 cents then LOL!!!

    You REALLY ought to Google him as well, his biography is a fascinating read. It’s best done by Googling “The Big Show” and it will re-direct you to his page–easiest way to do it, as a name search for some reason doesn’t pop up on Google. (Google and some others for some reason drops the “i” in his name, although that’s the way it’s spelled on his book.)

    • Don’t know about western Washington, but there was a priest that took off from Brazil using 1,000 balloons. He didn’t plan on the winds carrying him out to sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over land, but chose not to. Later he phoned for help on his Sat phone, but rescuers were unable to determine his location, since he did not know how to use the GPS he brought with him. Some people seem to suspend all reason and logic.
      Thanks for the book suggestions. I also received the “Wind, Sand and Stars” which is excellent.

  3. virgil xenophon

    PS: I see Sardaukar is ANOTHER guy ALMOST as good looking as I am!

    • Blue looks good on you.
      If I can find “The Big Show” I’ll get it in English. I had enough trouble with Vol de Nuit years ago and my french hasn’t improved.

  4. virgil xenophon

    “Blue looks Good on you.”

    Why do you think I joined the AF! (heh)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s