The 12th of January was almost an ordinary Saturday at the Pattaya Airpark. Airplanes are starting and airplanes are landing. Pilots who have parked their airplanes here in the “Hangars” are flying to other airfields to visit their friends or just for flying over Pattaya or Jomtien Beach to show visitors how the world looks from above. Or a plane is bringing a group of skydivers up in the air so they can slowly slide back to earth. This pleasure causes a queasy feeling and lets the adrenaline increase. The visitors are taking photos and watching the happenings with tension. There was just one thing which made this day different from all the other days: It was Children’s Day. Many children came with their families to watch the aviation with big eyes. The wife of the owner of the Pattaya Airpark, Navaporn “Neil” Sawetawong, was also sitting between the visitors to watch the show.
And then it happened: Neil rolled with a little biplane to the end of the runway and started the machine at 4.42 pm. The engine howled and rolled with rising speed over the runway. But then the engine speed relapsed back in the idle. The plane lifted up for a short time but touched down again. It was already too late to quit the takeoff. Neil was able to raise the speed and to get more highness. He flew a right-hand bend at the side of the runway to probably end up at the start of the runway. But suddenly the engine speed fell back and the so-called “Stable” happened which is a greatly feared situation for pilots. From a highness of 40 meters the plane crashed steep into the ground. Paramedics ran to the accident scene and salvaged Neil unconscious and badly injured out of the wreck. He was brought as fast as possible to the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya but his injuries were too severe and he died at the hospital.
Neil, a visionary, had made his hobby, the flying, to his job and founded the Pattaya Airpark years ago. His dream was to build an airpark in Pattaya like the ones in other countries. He wanted to troop together a group of like-minded people to give them the chance to build a house on the compound of the Pattaya Airpark or to rent a Condominium and to park the plane right next to your house so you can use it as a car. This dream he realized step by step. More and more interested people or pilots joined his dream and came to the PAP. With this tragic accident the dream is over.
Neil, an experienced pilot with thousands of flight hours and decades of practice was only 56 years old. He left behind his wife, who had helped him by setting up the PAP and a grown up daughter.
All members, colleagues and friends are deeply shocked, stunned and speechless about this accident and that he was ripped out of this set. Everyone will always remember him with reverence.