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fly-in, aerobatics show, & witness to crash...

Discussion in 'AviatorChat.com' started by rob lay, May 23, 2009.

  1. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    #1 rob lay, May 23, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Jennie, Mia, and I took a Skyhawk 90 nm West to Ranger, TX for their fly-in and aerobatics show. I went last year and had a great time. Ranger is a very small town and this is just a little grass strip, an acquaintance through another forum (22 years old) started this fly-in last year to support the town and airport. It is a great event with lunch provided and some great aerobatics, this year headliner was national champion David Martin in a new Extra 330 SC. Also 5 T-34's in formation, Red Bull Races announcer Mike Gallaway in a Pitts, and Jason Newburg in a Viper Pitts. David Martin also did aerobatics in a 1936 Bucker Jungmeister.

    There was weather coming in, so after the aerobatics everyone was in a hurry to get out of there. 20-30 planes lined up for departure. A 2 seat Starduster and 1 seat Starduster were departing ahead of me. They rolled off and I taxied into position and hold, I looked up to see the 1 seat Starduster midway down the runway 10-20 feet in the air 90 degrees to the runway soon hitting the trees along the runway and flipping tail over end. It wasn't a little ground loop or slow speed, it was high speed, a ways in the air, and then flipped end over end into the trees. I got off the runway as quick as I could so his buddy in the 2 seat Starduster could come back around and land. We knew it would be awhile, so everyone on the line just shut down. They already had fire and rescue at the airport, so they got there quickly. Amazingly after a few minutes someone said the pilot was walking away. We were shut down about 5-10 minutes and then we started taking off again. I haven't heard anything since. Not sure how many witnesses were there because planes on the line were facing other way and this was down quite a bit from where the spectators were. Jennie and I might have been one of the few to witness it, I have informed the organizer in case they need a report.

    The videos...

    Pitts (11 Mb.): http://www.ferrarichat.com/images/flying/2...ger/Piits_A.MPG

    Viper Pitts (6.6 Mb): http://www.ferrarichat.com/images/flying/2...iperPitts_A.MPG

    Extra 330 #1 (6 Mb): http://www.ferrarichat.com/images/flying/2.../Extra330_A.MPG

    Extra 330 #2 (9 Mb): http://www.ferrarichat.com/images/flying/2...Extra330_A2.MPG
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  3. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    Turns out the Starduster pilot is from our DFW pilots club. A 30,000 hour pilot with 15 years experience in this Starduster. From just watching the crash you would assume inexperience loosing control in a tailwheel and crosswind, but turns out a VERY experienced pilot, so mechanical?

     
  4. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    Man, that is bizarre. A guy with that much experience and many hours in his Starduster, a very good little airplane, to have something yank it around is simply astonishing to me. The only thing that comes to mind is a sneaky X-wind burst out of the nearby weather. Close as I have come to something like that was getting caught in the wake of the Boeing 247 taking off ahead of me at Abottsford when I was signaled too early to start my take off. No amount of control input has any affect when you're in the grip of the prop blast of a bigger airplane or a strenuous compact burst of wind. Glad the guy is okay. Weird incident.
    Glad it wasn't you, Rob, with your family aboard.
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  5. zygomatic

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    #4 zygomatic, May 24, 2009
    Last edited: May 24, 2009
    What an awful end to an otherwise nice day. I was at NAS Willow Grove a few years ago (2000) when the airshow ended on a similar sour note: an F-14, low and slow, departed controlled flight.

    It was a powerful reminder of the fact that aviation treats us all the same: high-time, high-powered aircraft and newly minted 'junior birdmen' alike must (as Yeager put it) stay "respectful of [the] machine and always alert in [the] cockpit."
     
  6. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    How did Jennie react to this?
     
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  8. donv

    donv Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Tragic. I wonder if he got into the propwash of the Starduster in front of him?
     
  9. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    she didn't say anything, I first said did you just see that? she responded yes and then was pretty quiet as I was on the radio and getting the plane out of the way.
     
  10. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    My wife did that with me a couple of times. We didn't have a little one with us since we were past that time in our lives but it does promote lengthy thought in the ladies.
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  11. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra F1 Rookie
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    Did they manage to punch out?
     
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  13. zygomatic

    zygomatic F1 Rookie
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    Unfortunately, no.

    The pilot and RIO did, however, manage to turn the aircraft away from the housing developments around the base.
     
  14. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra F1 Rookie
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    Oh man, that sucks. Must have been very difficult to watch. At least they went out acting in the best interests of others, though.
     
  15. zygomatic

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    #12 zygomatic, May 25, 2009
    Last edited: May 25, 2009

    No better summary of the day's meaning.


    And, sadly, no better example of the price paid by so many good men and women.
     
  16. future328driver

    future328driver Formula 3

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    The most humbling thing to for any pilot is to watch a fellow pilot crash.
     
  17. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
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    exactly, at 250 hrs I was maybe starting to think I was getting this down, then a 30,000 hour pilot does this. never ever get complacent.
     
  18. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

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    well said
     
  19. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

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    Rob, my next door neighbor from Okla. City area had a fatal stall-spin in one of those single seat Stardusters, way back in IIRC the late 80s. The Starduster people we were able to find when he and I were restoring it said at the time that they thought there were only a handful of them around even at that time - compared to the much more common tandem two seaters.

    It was wrecked too badly to verify much mechanically, but many of us suspected the rudder cables.

    Somehow, this story does not much sound like a simple case of crosswind issues.
     
  20. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
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    James, are you implying that the rudder cables failed ? Or got entangled in something? This seems rather bizarre to me but from Rob's description it appears like that is what could have happened . The pilot said that he did everything to straighten out but nothing affected the departure from the take off. Perplexing.
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  21. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

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    Switches, it would be of course improper to imply that without evidence. However, my reasoning is that in a bad crosswind takeoff, where your engine is acting as a front of CG pulling force, a bad crosswind would probably lift the upwind wing a lot - which Rob did not describe...if I read him right. But I don't see it sending you flat sideways that easily, like when you are decelerating on landing. So SOMETHING about rudder displacement had to go wrong very badly and very quickly. Maybe like it couldn't take a single sharp input for wind correction and was left just flopping around in the breeze? This plane is like a heavy fat version of a single seat Pitts and is about as short-coupled in proportion, unlike the two seaters.

    What I have long suspected about my friend Dave Howard's accident was that he was attempting snap rolls, got into a spin, and somehow displaced one at least if not detaching it from the rudder in trying to recover. One of the cables was broken loose from the rudder in this crash, but nobody could rule it pre-crash or post-crash. It did not burn but was really broken up. Sad to say, Dave would probably have lived if he had not unstrapped and was about half out of the seat to bail when it went in flat/slightly nose down.

    As it was, he lived about a week on life support terribly injured and we all were relieved that he passed on without regaining consciousness.

    As the plane and pilot survived in this case, I guess the truth will be found out soon enough.
     

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