Rock Springs Roll – Do You *Really* Know Your Mechanic?

Guardian Flight crash.JPGThe thing that caught my eye about this NTSB preliminary accident report on a Guardian Flight Bell 407 prang in Rock Springs, Wyoming on 13 December, was the following line:

“The passengers reported that the pilot, who was an employee of Guardian Flight, immediately departed the scene”.

The reasons for that departure became clear after a little research, and the somewhat disturbing realization of how little an emergency services provider like Guardian, the largest air medevac provider in Alaska and nascent provider in Rock Springs, might really know about its employees.

Though the helicopter’s landing gear skids and lower cabin structure were deformed, and the tail boom severed, in the hard landing, neither the pilot nor any of his four passengers were harmed, at least in the physical sense.

Mentally, they may have been harmed when they found out via the NTSB that the pilot, hired as a helicopter mechanic by Guardian Flight, was not authorized to fly the helicopter by his employer, quite possibly because he didn’t have a pilot’s license. The FAA said he was issued a student pilot certificate in 1988, but that was it. He was, however, a properly certified airframe and powerplant mechanic, however.

“An acquaintance of the accident pilot reported that he observed the pilot flying N8067Z on serveral previous occasions for personal reasons,” the NTSB states. “Passengers were carried during these ‘joy rides’”.

More of Calvin Franklin Connor Jr’s dark secrets began to emerge soon after he was apprehended in another state.

According to a complaint filed by the government in US District Court, Connor was in possession of firearms from outside the state despite having earlier in his life been convicted of a crime carrying jail time of more than a year, a federal offense. In 1992, he was sentenced in Georgia to 15 years in jail for two counts of forgery. A year later he received a three-year sentence, also in Georgia, for ”theft by taking”. The document doesn’t mention actual time served.

Then there’s the firearms…

Guns in Connor’s possession and guns his co-workers had either seen him with or fired with him run the gamut, according to the complaint… Pictured below are examples of the guns listed (not the actual guns he owned or was seen with).

Guardian Flight crash GUNS.JPG

One co-worker interview by the ATF special agent worker on the case, said he had met Cannon several years ago when they both worked for EMS operator Hawaii Life Flight, where he had observed Cannon’s “all decked out” AR-15 assault rifle. Another co-worker had said Cannon had carried a 0.40 or 0.45 caliber handgun on his side while he worked at Guardian Flight.

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