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Thread: Let us discuss bush aircraft crashes.

  1. #1
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Default Let us discuss bush aircraft crashes.

    This subject is something of a scared cow... Since fatalities occur in many of the wrecks, we all want to turn a blind eye from some obvious pilot screw ups. Or.. the surviving pilot is our buddy so we only talk about what a great pilot we think they might be...

    While there are a few incidences of true mechanical failure, most of these pile-ups can be traced to pilot goofs. Sometimes not just one goof, but a series of mistakes that lead to the eventual accident.

    I see a couple things which always play a key role.

    1. WEATHER.... The weather does not go out looking for you... YOU decide to fly in the weather which is prevalent in the area being flown. Many of these wrecks occur because pilots insist in flying in bad winds , rain, fog, snow or icing conditions. Some 135 pilots do it so they won't loose their jobs. Other do it because they are low time pilots and fairly clueless. Many do it because their EGO won't let them stay on the ground.


    2. Exceeding the skill and experience level of the pilot.
    a. This occurs when a pilot has been flying a lightweight plane with just themselves and some gear for the last few years.
    Suddenly they decide to haul all their buddies and a bunch of gear out hunting. The pilot lets buddies Billy-Bob and Clitus convince them that as long as the plane has room inside, it should be able to take the weight.
    And once again the pilot's EGO raises its head and says " What the heck, lets go....we certainly cannot admit that this might be making us a little uncomfortable.."

    b. This also occurs when a pilot thinks that making short landings and take-offs at sea-level ( Lake Hood Strip) should count as experience for landing at a 3,500 feet high dirt and rock, sloping runway up in the hills...

    c. In some cases it is because the pilot has never expanded the training/experience they receive. Having 2,000 hours does not mean squat if it is the SAME 2,000 hours over and over. These folks have log books full of pencil whipped BFRs and hundreds of flights along the highway using a GPS.


    I will get off my soap box and let somebody else add to the list...
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  2. #2
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    As a new pilot with a little over 40 hours I will just keep my mouth shut and learn something! I hope I can keep my ego in check and let the weather win a few. I don't mind being called a chicken pilot cuz I hate pain!

  3. #3
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    When in doubt,,, chicken out....
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    How about the much printed, yet misunderstood, MOOSE HUNTERS STALL....
    This may be responsible for a couple recent fatalities and I know for a fact it killed one of my old friends in a PA-12 when he was dropping food to some hikers. I have lived through two of these... Both many moons ago.. One was in a PA-12 and the tail stalled out and dropped out from under me... The other was in a PA-18 and I made half a spin rotation down the side of a cliff (sheep spotting) before a recovery that was way too low.

    Basically the pilot enters a series of tight turns because his passenger has seen a moose (caribou) and now they are circling around in an effort to see if the antlers are legal.

    * NOTE: This is also a real danger on Civil Air Patrol missions when looking for lost hikers or aircraft wreckage.

    Because of the fear of loosing sight of the ground target, the pilot often pulls the plane around into a high G turn while directly over the critter. The passenger or co-pilot is yelling " There he is, there he is ! Stay on him! " And of course the pilot lets his ego and adrenaline go nuts while he or she yanks and banks.

    Often the moose or caribou knows exactly what is going on above them and they make a break for the tall brush.
    NOW, the pilot is no longer in a circular turn, but instead a series of uncoordinated cork-screw maneuvers while pulling high-G.

    And of course since the crew are trying to gauge antler size, ( or if a bunch of old metal is a plane wreck) the aircraft has been loosing whatever altitude it had during cruise ( search ).

    Now the plane is low, slow and at a high bank angle. What used to be a 42 mile per hour stall speed is now closer to 60 mph...
    The bottom ( inside ) wing no longer has enough airflow for lift and stalls......

    The low wing drops along with the nose.... With one or more crew members still looking at the darn moose.
    The pilot may attempt to raise the stalled wing via the ailerons (cross controlling) and now the plane snaps into a low level spin entry.
    At low level spin entry only has one outcome.

    HOW TO AVOID:
    1. Remember that you cannot legally hunt the same day you are airborne. That includes radioing your buddies on the ground. So do not get all excited about the worlds biggest moose. He won't be there tomorrow.
    If you are one of the yahoos who break the rules and poach moose the same day... well you deserve to crash..

    2. Make a rectangular pattern at a further distance with less bank angle.
    You will have longer to look at the ground target and will have more control.

    3. Remember that there are probably people ( hunters) on the ground watching you circle. All you are doing is telling THEM where the big moose is located. So they will probably harvest it long before you hike over the next day.

    4. Practice righting the plane with your rudders.

    5. Fly the flipping plane while somebody else does the looking...
    The moose are being over-hunted anyway, it is not worth piling up a $100,000 plane..

    6. If you can't keep the ball centered while making turns... ( without staring at the ball) get somebody to help you...
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  5. #5

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    I set myself a rule early on that I have abided by. When we see an animal, I fly on past and away from it, do a 180, and come back for a look. Sometimes we can't find it again. Oh well. If we see an animal farther away, we make the wider turns you suggest. But usually, I spot the animal and the passenger can't see it because they aren't as good at spotting animals and/or it is right underneath my window. Especially if it is right beneath my side, a very tight turn would be needed to tip us over far enough for them to get a look. A flight away from the critter, turn, and come back gets them a view about 6 times out of 10. The other times weren't that critical anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    When in doubt,,, chicken out....
    Yes Sir Mr. Float Pilot, this will be my Motto!

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    If you aren't carrying a passenger to do the looking and judging, you have no business "trying to get a closer look" at any rate! The rule will ALWAYS be: "FLY THE AIRPLANE".

  8. #8
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    SET A NO-GO or ABORT spot and stick to it...

    Trying to save a bad take-off or landing can be deadly. If you pass your abort spot, shut her down and try something else.
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  9. #9
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    There is no shame in making a couple trips or shuttling part of the load to a longer lake or gravel bar.

    One C-170 wreck comes to mind, where the flight was from the Kenai area across the inlet to the Kuskatan.
    The pilot, who usually flew light, took a full load of passengers along with a big pile of camping gear.
    He was a little too hot the first go at the strip and did a go around. Then he stalled and dumped her into the ground while trying to make a steep turn (base to final) on his second try. Right in front of all sorts of witnesses.
    Killing all on board...
    Two trips would have worked out just fine...
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  10. #10

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    Pilot's pride, proficiency, and ego contributes to accidents. Even old pro's get bit and makes you wonder how and the hell did that happen to them.

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    I ve heard this saying and it sure makes sense.. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots but there are no old bold pilots...

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    NEVER believe a non-pilot when they tell you about some mining camp or ridgeline hunting strip that they claim to have seen C-185s operating from " All the time"...

    Twice I have almost bought the farm after listening to non-pilots tell me all about a hidden , yet wonderful, dirt strip.

    One was north of the Elliot hwy....( turns out my buddy had seen a C-185 on SKIS during the winter... and had never really been there during hunting season.)

    And one was at a mining claim north-west of the road to Glennallen.

    The miner in question failed to tell me that the last time a plane had been on that strip was 40 years ago.... and further that he had driven his D-6 cat all over the old path and it now had 10 to 12 inch deep ruts which were full of rain water. Oh yeah, it was also strewn with assorted rocks which ranged in size from a grapefruit to watermelon..

    Fortunately the berry bog next to the old runway had a nice thick bed of moss underneath. So when I ran out into the berries, nothing was damaged when I put the Super Cub up on its nose-bowl.
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  13. #13

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    Lots of good advice!! One thing to DRIVE INTO YOUR BRAIN is you can always get another plane!!! On my first plane (pacer) I did not carry insurance just figured if I bent it I could get another one for less than a new cheap car. With the cub it will be more like buying a good BMW (wife's car) so got insurance but still will not hesitate to bend every part of it to stay alive. I did try to kill myself and buddy in the pacer a few years back. Did at least 3 things wrong on takeoff the only thing that saved me was thinking of how many times the old guys said to fly it to the crash site. I pushed the nose down and had wingtip in the grass but made it without a scratch. I can tell you it is VERY HARD to push the nose down when all is going bad but it works.
    DENNY

  14. #14

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    I would also have to add on chicken out point. I have done it for several reasons. One time I was in heading toward rainy pass in feb with what some low clouds and snow it wasn't till I turned around that I realized how bad it really was. It is not a bad plan to do a 360 every now and than just to see what is behind you if you need to turn back. Smoke can get thick fast, another good reason to go back to fairbanks and Pikes for stake!!! If you really have to get somewhere go buy a ticket. If you want to fly out and see what it looks like set you limits and stick to them.
    DENNY

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    A short strip ( or lake ) does not mean you need a shorter pattern.

    On certain beaches and on certain lakes, I have seen folks make the pattern super short with very steep turns. If they do a go around it seems to be even worse for some reason.

    Every bush strip and remote lake should be inspected before landing... Then make the same pattern as you would of a larger runway...

    A 500 ft gravel bar does not mean you should make a 600 foot down-wind or a 100 foot final. A good pattern makes a good landing and gives you time to think...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    A short strip ( or lake ) does not mean you need a shorter pattern.

    On certain beaches and on certain lakes, I have seen folks make the pattern super short with very steep turns. If they do a go around it seems to be even worse for some reason.

    Every bush strip and remote lake should be inspected before landing... Then make the same pattern as you would of a larger runway...

    A 500 ft gravel bar does not mean you should make a 600 foot down-wind or a 100 foot final. A good pattern makes a good landing and gives you time to think...
    I certainly agree, though at one of my guiding cabins in the Talkeetna Mountains a first glimpse of the lake was only 6- to 10-seconds before touchdown. No steep turns were required, and an easy go-around or abort was possible, since everything was above timberline. Still, I'm not recommending that sort of approach . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    A short strip ( or lake ) does not mean you need a shorter pattern.

    On certain beaches and on certain lakes, I have seen folks make the pattern super short with very steep turns. If they do a go around it seems to be even worse for some reason.

    Every bush strip and remote lake should be inspected before landing... Then make the same pattern as you would of a larger runway...

    A 500 ft gravel bar does not mean you should make a 600 foot down-wind or a 100 foot final. A good pattern makes a good landing and gives you time to think...
    Good advice! Living remote and on a river I have noticed this behavior on water and land. I will have to start asking some of the pilots why they do that?

  18. #18
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    Accepting outside pressure to fly when you are concerned about the weather, time or whatever.
    ...

    It is no secret that at one time, many years ago, I was married to the wrong person. ( insert various names for demons here)

    While on a long cross country trip coming back from north-west of Farwell, a friend and I put our two planes down on a gravel bar because it was hailing like crazy...

    We had both made the huge mistake of promising our spouses (at the time) that we would be back in time to take them to the A.K. State Fair in Palmer to see some big star singer.

    My buddy had a SAT phone or radio relay phone or some sort of deal that allowed us to call home. So we called to explain our problem.. ANOTHER BIG MISTAKE !

    Both our non-flying trophy spouses went nuts and screamed at us during our $20 a minute call.
    So we both took of again and flew through super crappy weather, only to be late anyway....
    Oh yeah, the offending spouses ha long since gone to the fair anyway..

    We should have not called, since we both knew we were married to whack jobs and nothing would have been good enough.
    The extra stress from their screaming and threats ( we both had kids at home) was the extra push that almost sent us to an early grave.

    I have seen some of my clients leave here in their own planes in very foul weather, just so they would not have to use a day of leave from their jobs, or just so they would not miss a day of college.

    These days if the weather is slightly bad, my current bride simply tells me to camp out until it gets better.
    On more than one occasion she has driven to Anchorage to pick me up because the weather is too bad to fly...
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    There is a saying I learned long ago. If you have time to spare go by air

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    A short strip ( or lake ) does not mean you need a shorter pattern.

    On certain beaches and on certain lakes, I have seen folks make the pattern super short with very steep turns. If they do a go around it seems to be even worse for some reason.

    Every bush strip and remote lake should be inspected before landing... Then make the same pattern as you would of a larger runway...

    A 500 ft gravel bar does not mean you should make a 600 foot down-wind or a 100 foot final. A good pattern makes a good landing and gives you time to think...
    A gigantic pattern with a 20 mile final, if need be, is always a better option than doing low 60 degree banks. I've seen more than one pilot skid a base to final turn to try to get it around quicker. Give yourself the time to set up, get your airspeed under control and do it right.

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