Q&A: Buck Roetman on the aftermath of his plane crash
In over 35 years of flying, pilot Buck Roetman had never put so much as a scratch on a plane -- until recently. While flying at an air-show preview in Idaho a few weeks ago, Roetman's plane suffered a system failure and crashed, wrecking the aircraft but leaving the pilot with only minor injuries. Roetman was scheduled to fly in the Highest Air Shows in Breckenridge and Dillon tomorrow, but due to that crash he'll be on the ground instead, helping air boss the event as flying partner Gary Rower attempts a world record.
We caught up with Roetman to talk about the accident, watching a YouTube video of the crash in the emergency room, and getting up in the air again.
Westword: How are you feeling?
Buck Roetman: Good! The ankle's still a little bit sore but I'm gonna go fly here in about an hour.
What happened, exactly? Why did the plane crash?
We don't know completely. It was a combination of things like there always is, but there was a loss of thrust for some reason and then I was just too low to recover.
What does that feel like when you're flying?
Jeez, I don't know. You're too busy flying the airplane trying to get it back right-side-up to really think too much about it. You know, a lot of folks have asked if I was scared and I really didn't have time. I was too busy trying to fly the airplane, because I knew if I quit flying it that it was really gonna be ugly.
How were you able to maneuver the plane so that you didn't get hurt?
Honestly, the grace of God. [Laughs]. The important thing is I've been through a lot of training and a lot of working with a lot of other folks. You can't stop flying the airplane. If you stall the airplane or hit upside down, you're gonna die and the airplane had been modified for airshow work to the point where it was very, very maneuverable so it would actually get itself back right-side-up and it hit in a controlled, upright attitude, and that was huge.
Have you been flying since the crash or is this the first time?
No, I haven't been. The ankle hasn't been up to snuff yet to really feel safe about going flying. But this airplane's pretty easy with the rudder work, which is what you steer it with, so it should be fine. I'm about to drive myself nuts. I need to go fly.
Do you have any fear about getting up in the air again?
Click to the next page for a video of the crash.