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Thread: Mistakes We LIVING Pilots have made and learned from....

  1. #1
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Default Mistakes We LIVING Pilots have made and learned from....

    OK, it is raining and foggy here......SO instead of guessing and BSing about what may have happened in fatal accidents which are still under investigation....

    .....How about we discuss situations that we living pilots have gone through, so the newbies and wannabes might learn something.


    One goof or experience per post and possible solution if known.



    Here goes one:
    My first hunting circling cross controlled stall. Aka Moose Stall..

    Back in 1980s,when we both had hair I was flying a flap-less, small tail, PA-12 and my brother was in the back spotting game. We spotting a rather large and single caribou on a tall ridge top with a a valley on both sides.

    Instead of flying the plane, I kept trying to skid the plane around so we could get a photo of this huge racked caribou.
    My turns became tighter and tighter and when I kicked the rudders one more time...

    Suddenly the tail dropped and then the left wing. For some reason she started to roll over on her back as she started a spin rotation. Fortunately I managed to get the nose down with back stick... and sorta half looped down the hill side... I recovered down in the canyon next to the ridge top. Had it been level ground I would have lawn-darted.

    Reasons for my screw-up:
    1. I over-loaded the cargo bay and had an aft CG. This makes it very hard to recover from a stall. It probably helped the tail drop out as well.
    My screw up.

    2. I stopped flying the plane and tried to make the spotter happy. So I skidded the plane which induces drag, and killed air-speed and lift over the wings.
    Big time my screw up...

    3. I made tighter turns every time the caribou ran under me...
    Thus the outer wing had some lift while the inner wing had none and stalled.. Classic spin entry stuff.
    Yeap I knew better...

    4. I was pretty much one wing straight up and one wing straight down and pulling Gs when the tail dropped. There was no reason to be in that position other than having my head up my butt.

    5. I had large tundra tires on that plane and always wondered what the extra drag and air blocking did for her acrobatic capabilities.

    Caribou-1 pilot-0
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  2. #2

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    Very informative story. Thanks, Floatpilot!

  3. #3
    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    hurrying, over tired, flying too much landed in a 301R and never cleaned up the flaps or reset the trim, loaded and blasted off a short field with a river dike at the end. Real quick found myself headed at an embankment 10' in the air,can't accelerate or climb and the yoke is trying to go full aft. The too tired part caused a mon. to realize what was happening. Brain freeze tried to set in, as it always does, had to force it to work, got the gear coming up and flaps slowly moving up and got out by the skin of my teeth.
    The moral is never let a job, boss or situation hurry you,, never be too tired to walk around and really look at what your flying, a quick glance at the critial checklist items also. make a flow that hits your critial stuff and do it the same way every T/O. Whats that old saying, better to wish you were up there than up there wishing you were down here. Scared me enough I remember it now twenty five years+later.

  4. #4

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    Don't tackle a short grass strip takeoff in the summer near gross with a low compression cylinder Not if you want to stay friends with your best friend in the other seat. Fortunately it only cost me my pride and a decent amount of cash, not my friendship (or my life.)

  5. #5

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    Just because you take 100lbs of stuff out of the plane and are way under gross weight dont assume the aircraft can make it out of the same strip that it has before with 5 kts more headwind.

  6. #6
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I have posted this before, but this incident made me a much better pilot. Being able to keep my head and regain control reinforced my confidence knowing I could continue to try to fly the plane. As long as I had altitude and airspeed, I had options.

    During my training after I had a WHOPPING 15 hours or so, my instructor told me to go out and do some solo stuff. I was working on slow flight, high power steep angle stalls and approach to landing stalls.

    This airplane was a 152 and had been pushed back by the hanger to be refueled after I had preflighted. After it was moved back to the line, I did a walk around and taxied out.

    I had failed to notice that when the fueler pushed it back he had pushed the rudder into the fence bending the rudder trim.

    So as I slowed to approach speed and started pulling back on the yoke as soon as the buffet started the left wing dropped and before I knew what happened I was in a tight death spiral to the left.

    I can honestly say that in those terrifying moments I knew that I was spinning to my death. Time seem to slow, the spin was so tight that my head was being forced to the side and was resting on the door glass. After a few seconds of sheer terror, my training came into focus, I took a deep breath and released the yoke, I could see that I was rotating to the left, I slammed the right rudder against the floor pan with all my might.

    To my utter disbelief that little Cessna snapped out the spin immediately. However, I was still in an also vertical dive. I slammed the throttle to the firewall and began to slowly try to pull her out of the dive. I guess while I was preforming my unintentional acrobatics I had tumbled the float in the carb, because she just would not start.

    So I frantically start to go through the engine failure checklist, but after getting into a more level position she fired back up.

    I returned to the airfield and landed without further incident.

    I learned to always recheck everything if the aircraft is out of my sight after I preflight, I also run my hand over all the control surfaces as I do my final walk around to feel as well as look.

    Been sad times lately for sure.

    God's speed to those missing from King Salmon....

    Steve

  7. #7

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    Only time I was certain I was going to die in a plane was as a 15 hr student out of MRI on my short X country. First stop Birchwood, T&G's on 1 left. Fine till I was 5 foot high then the turbulence just got insane, scared the pee out of me so I put it done[HARD]. Taxied to end of runway and turned off at the end. I figure lets get out of here and taxied back to the active. I ck'd NOTHING. Took off on 1[this is a extended fuel 152 with loaded tanks]. I had taken off with 30 flaps and carb heat on. I really thought I had left some sort of anchor out. Pushing as hard as I could on the yoke to at lest keep the plane level, the trees at the end of 1 looked as tall as redwoods. Any time now I put it down now, even for 5 minutes, it gets a brief pre flight before I start the motor.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I have posted this before, but this incident made me a much better pilot. Being able to keep my head and regain control reinforced my confidence knowing I could continue to try to fly the plane. As long as I had altitude and airspeed, I had options.

    During my training after I had a WHOPPING 15 hours or so, my instructor told me to go out and do some solo stuff. I was working on slow flight, high power steep angle stalls and approach to landing stalls.

    This airplane was a 152 and had been pushed back by the hanger to be refueled after I had preflighted. After it was moved back to the line, I did a walk around and taxied out.

    I had failed to notice that when the fueler pushed it back he had pushed the rudder into the fence bending the rudder trim.

    So as I slowed to approach speed and started pulling back on the yoke as soon as the buffet started the left wing dropped and before I knew what happened I was in a tight death spiral to the left.

    I can honestly say that in those terrifying moments I knew that I was spinning to my death. Time seem to slow, the spin was so tight that my head was being forced to the side and was resting on the door glass. After a few seconds of sheer terror, my training came into focus, I took a deep breath and released the yoke, I could see that I was rotating to the left, I slammed the right rudder against the floor pan with all my might.

    To my utter disbelief that little Cessna snapped out the spin immediately. However, I was still in an also vertical dive. I slammed the throttle to the firewall and began to slowly try to pull her out of the dive. I guess while I was preforming my unintentional acrobatics I had tumbled the float in the carb, because she just would not start.

    So I frantically start to go through the engine failure checklist, but after getting into a more level position she fired back up.

    I returned to the airfield and landed without further incident.

    I learned to always recheck everything if the aircraft is out of my sight after I preflight, I also run my hand over all the control surfaces as I do my final walk around to feel as well as look.

    Been sad times lately for sure.

    God's speed to those missing from King Salmon....

    Steve
    Your dive was probably something like 30-degrees out of plumb, really, rather than "straight down." Still, you should be glad that the engine didn't start at that time. Once you had stopped the rotation, you would quickly have reached redline airspeed even without the help of the engine and prop.

    Glad it worked out for you!!!

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    I really appreciate this thread. I'm a student with 20 hrs and am learning sooo much from all of you. Thankfully, so far the only thing I've forgotten ( or REALIZE that I've forgotten ) was to do a MALT check before takeoff and my flight was without lights and transponder off. Reading the stories of the others when they were 15 hour students makes me a bit scared, but also makes me realize that training does kick in. Thaks yall

  10. #10
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Stupid thing I did #2.

    Setting: Anderson Lake Strip between Wasilla and Palmer.
    Weather: Hot sunny mid summer day. Maybe 85 degrees or more.
    Distraction: Attractive females in shorts and tanks tops near lake edge and around fueling area. We life long Alaskans from coastal areas are not used to seeing very much skin..

    I landed and bought fuel. It was also my home base. The old Super Cub I had used to leak via the carb sometimes so I turned off the fuel selector before fueling.

    After paying I walked out and saw three-four gals waiting to fuel their plane. So I just jumped in mine and fired her up... Then I blasted straight out onto the gravel runway and did a max performance take-off.

    So there I was at Vx, about 80 feet in the air when the engine quit. ..... I had not turned on the fuel.

    I nosed her down and flipped the fuel lever to BOTH. The engine caught again just as I bounced off the runway. I just missed the trees on my second departure.
    The assorted gals around the fuel pump were rolling with laughter.

    Lessons learned:

    1. Showing off will get you killed.
    2. Skipping a pre-flight will get you killed.
    3. Your ego (not stopping after slamming into the runway) will beat you to the scene of the crash every time.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  11. #11

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    Thanks FloatPilot, and others.. this is exactly what us newbies and wannabee's are here for..!

  12. #12

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    I decided one day to land on a sandbar in a dynamic glacial river that changes almost weekly. So, after a very rough landing on some bumps that I couldn't see from the air, I put on the parking brake and got out settle my nerves and to do a good recon of my runway. When I decided to strap in and takeoff I forgot one important detail... the parking brake. It was only partially engaged so I was able to taxi and begin my takeoff roll. I was past the point of no return when I realized that I wasn't accelerating the way I should. Luckily, the bumps on the bar bounced me into the air just enough to get some acceleration and after 3 bounces on my 31s, I had enough speed to get in the air. I was really grateful to not be upside down in that water.

    2 big lessons from this... 1) Don't be in a hurry to land somewhere new. Do lots of approaches and drag the tires a few times before you commit. 2) Before takeoff checks... don't get complacent during the most critical portion of a flight. Take your time and do it right every time.

  13. #13
    Member akmac's Avatar
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    My mechanic had just put new skis on my Champ and I took off from Soldotna Airport on an afternoon without the slightest hint of a breeze. As I was crossing over Kenai I was experiencing a few bumps and burbles. As I was begining to lower altitude to land on my lake in Nikiski the bumps and burbles became violent turbulance. My head was smacking on skylight until I cinched down my seatbelt. After a go round I finally put it down safely. Once on the lake the wind was so strong I was unable to turn the plane until I go up close to the lee side of the trees. Things I should have done differently...call my wife before departing Soldotna to check weather. I should have returned to Soldotna when the turbulance got bad and waited it out for another day. I learned that weather can be very different only a few miles away.

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    Member mit's Avatar
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    I have screwed up so many times I can't remember which one to tell about!

    Look at my Avatar
    Tim

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    That is an interesting method to inspect your floats there Mit!!

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    A few years ago, I asked my mechanic to take my Super Cub off its winter skis and put 'er back on the ol' 25x11x4s. He did that, and off I went to set up a bear camp for a contracted spring hunt. My landing area was a 200' lava chip spot on the west side of the Alaska Range. Upon landing, the rollout was only about 40-feet, and the starboard wing was a bit low. Looking out the right window I saw that the right tundra tire was flat. Reason? The mechanic had forgotton the stainless fine-thread, pointed screws that are usually installed to anchor the tires' beads to the plastic spacers normally by the Cub's 4-inch hubs. AND I HADN'T BOTHERED TO CHECK HIS WORK!!! Upon landing, inertia caught up with me, and the valve stem on the starboard wheel went west. Try filling one of those tundra tires with no tube and no filler valve!

    Now, I check ALL the mechanic's work!

  17. #17

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    If you just tap the brakes a bit as you begin to taxi, you have only proved you have barely any brakes. Quick idle cut off saved me from chewing through an EVER so slow new automatic gate at MRI. After letting ground know we would return to parking, a slow gentle 180 quickly turned into a 270 proving the right brake was worse then the left.... another quick idle cut off... then out to push the plan between the taxi lights to allow another plane to pass...... lastly.. back through the gate.. running on a single mag to go as slow as possible back to tie down. Very embarrassing, very cheep but well learned valuable lesson

  18. #18
    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    here's a little rule I found: Basic Flying Rules:
    1. Try to stay in the middle of the air.
    2. Do not go near the edges of it.
    3. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and outerspace


    4. it is easier to fly in the middle.

  19. #19

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    A few years ago about two months after Mr. Buckland graciously minted my private pilot's license, I decided to take the rental 152 out to Wassilla, pick up a buddy who wanted to fly over his property on the Deshka. Weather was pretty snotty for December with Airmets for moderate turbulence and gusty winds. When I got to Wassilla the current weather was gusty winds, straight down the runway. A clue should have been the Stintson that I watched land with almost no rollout. It was super rough coming in and I was getting bounced and smacked around something fierce. After I got down and turned off on the crosswind taxi, there were some patches of ice and the wind started blowing me sideways. I was SURE there would be a strategically placed pavement patch that the nose and one of the mains would catch and she would go over. I picked up my buddy (yes, decided to taxi back across the ice patches) and we took off. I got off real quick but then there was some really bad wind shear/turbulence and I couldn't gain much altitude. When I did gain some, I would lose it again. It seemed we were below 500 feet for several miles before I was able to get out of it and climb above the really rough stuff. By the time we got back it was much calmer.

    I learned some very valuable respect for weather, especially winds and turbulence that day. I am sure sliding on the ice is pretty common for guys that do this all the time, but for a newbie it scared me really good. I never should have been out there in the first place (weather reports indicated pretty marginal conditions for a new pilot) and I sure as heck should have stayed put after I got down without bending or breaking anything. On the bright side, I managed to fly the plane and stay calm even though my nuckles were white and the seat cushion was giving me cotton mouth. A couple weeks later I was talking to my buddy and he said he thought it was pretty rough and that we were having a rough time gaining altitude but that I seemed fine with it so he wasn't concerned. I shrugged it off but if only he knew....

    BTW, this is a FANTASTIC thread! I haven't flown in several years but I am going to start again here soon and my wife thinks we need to buy a plane (I can't disagree with her on this one, just gotta find that money tree!)

  20. #20
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    One day last year a fellow pilot friend and I decided to fly to Skwentna. The area around ANC was clear but as we approached Skwentna a low layer of clouds tops about 3500 and bottoms about 600. I, being an instrument rated pilot, decided to decend through the layer because "I knew" the bottom of the couds was a few hundred feet above tree level. About half way through the clouds I's concience got the best of him and I decided that this was a bad idea. I decided to pull up and turn around. For some reason, even though every instrument was telling me I was in a right hand turn, I thought I had a vacuum pump failure so I pushed the throttle to the firewall and pulled back. Can anyone say graveyard spiral? Once I came to my senses I leveled off and pulled up ina level attitude until out of the clouds. For whatever reason I decided to go against all of my training, the rules, and my nature. Fortunately I did not become a statistic. I vowed to myself to never do that again. I got refresher training and have moved on.

    For what it's worth, the pilot in the other seat; although not instrument rated, had no idea there was a problem. I managed to enter the turn and except for when I pulled back on the yoke we didn't feel any different in the seats of our pants. There are several lessons to gleen from this, disorientation in the clouds is a real thing, TRUST your instruments, DON'T enter a cloud bank uless you are on an IFR flight plan and are current and proficient. The rules are there for a reason. Follow them.

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