FAA has found pilot involved in Gila River crash to be 'reckless' in past

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PHOENIX – New details are emerging about a pilot pulled from the wreckage of an experimental plane.

It turns out this was not his first crash and past Federal Aviation Administration investigations found him to be reckless.

The pilot is reportedly in critical condition at the Maricopa Medical Center. The hospital is no longer releasing information to the media about Charles Blanchette's condition.

This scene over the southwest Valley on Wednesday was not the first time Blanchette has been in the spotlight.

One witness describes a crash that happened in 2003 when Blanchette was manning a different experimental plane. He went down about a quarter mile from the Glendale airport after he radioed that his aircraft was not going to make it. The plane flipped over and Blanchette was pinned inside for 20 minutes and eventually rescued.

There was also another incident in 2006. That time the FAA determined Blanchette "lost a propeller blade during the take-off" at Glendale airport. It happened for "undetermined reasons". Blanchette managed to return to the airport safely.

In each case, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that Blanchette carelessly and recklessly operated the aircraft.

And then there is Wednesday's crash, which was Blanchette's third major incident in a decade.

Aviation expert Jim Tilmon tells 3TV, “It's one thing to have good luck but to have good luck three times in a row, kinda stretching it a little bit.”

Tilmon says pilots, whether of certified or experimental aircraft, still need to follow proper procedures. He explains, “Some of the rules are very strict, rules like getting a medical exam and making sure his current, making sure maintenance has been performed on the aircraft properly, and at a reasonable length of time.”

These are rules that, according to investigators, Blanchette has already broken. Officials say Blanchette's license was revoked after each of the incidents but he did have it at the time of the crash.

He does not have a medical certificate where a doctor signs off that he is healthy enough to fly. That is a requirement under FAA rules.