Pilot spoke of crash danger

DONNA CASEY -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:44 PM ET

It was a short breezy piece on a TV morning show, an interview with the pilot of the world's smallest jet.

Wearing aviator shades and a warm smile, Scott Manning was showing off his baby, the BD5-J plane he would have taken to the skies this weekend for Air Show Ottawa.

But shortly before cameras started rolling for the 8 a.m. live hit at the Carp Airport, the 48-year-old pilot offered a chilling appraisal of cutting through the air in a tiny metal box.

Standing by the micro-jet with Manning and A-Channel Morning co-host Lianne Laing, videographer Ryan Lee asked the Toronto man about the dangers of crashing the plane.

RUEFUL SHAKE

"Ryan said: 'You can't really survive a crash in one of these,' " Laing recalled yesterday afternoon, just a few hours after the interview.

Laing said Manning laughed, giving a rueful shake of his head.

"He said: 'Absolutely not. You don't make it out of this,' " said Laing.

That exchange came back to haunt them when Laing and Lee learned minutes after wrapping up A-Channel's noon show that Manning's plane had crashed and burned during a practice flight.

News of the tragedy set Laing's mind racing. Other than Manning, she had been the last person to sit in the Stinger.

"I went through a panic. I thought: 'Did I touch something in the plane?' Of course I know I didn't and I know pilots check tenfold every time they head up in the air," Laing said.

"I know Ryan was freaking out, thinking that he jinxed him, that he cursed him by saying this," she added.

Manning told Laing that landing the jet was akin to driving a go-kart, with his body mere inches from the ground.

WASN'T WORRIED

"We chatted a lot afterwards off-camera, which is why I'm probably a little freaked out," said the 30-year-old sports anchor, who's worked at A-Channel for nine years.

Laing asked Manning about the fear of flying such a small plane.

Manning told her that two other pilots had run into trouble and had to parachute out of the plane, but said he wasn't worried.

"It had never happened to him, so he was talking about how safe he felt and it was likely not going to happen. He had listened to stories about how to actually get out the plane and parachute out," said Laing.

"It was all very light-hearted," said Laing, adding she also met Manning's wife, Nancy, who asked Laing if she could get a copy of the video clip.

donna.casey@ott.sunpub.com


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