One of the cons to flying at Shell Creek is that the vegetation on either side of the runway can make a wind shadow. I had motored out to the LZ leaving my wind sock 100 yards away attached to the truck where it showed very light and variable air. There could well have been a nice northern breeze just over my head and I didn’t catch it. The airflow at the Parking area has it’s own issues, between buildings etc.
No matter how I analyze it ….pilot error.
There are no pictures because I wasn’t of a mind to document a perfect wing slashed to ribbons.
Excellent weather, dead calm, clear skies. 76* 99% humidity high density of altitude.
It sure lit up the big list. Over 70 messages in less than two days.
Sure enough it was taken down by Dell who claimed copyright infringement. Go figure ? He is claiming rights to the video which will convict him. An admission of guilt? His aide says no, he filed the copyright infringement in the hope the true author will come forward to protest him pulling the video.
I will defer to Jeff Goin who spoke to the media. His blog post summarizes the case well including in interview on Salt Lake TV.
Here are links to Jeff’s articles about Dell.
|Michelle Danielle…Joe Onofrio…Jorden Danielle
BOB ARMOND in SPIRIT
|Rich Kennedy “The Lost Pilot”|
|Jeff Goin…Joe Onofrio…Chad Bastian…Mo Shelton|
|John Fetz John Sieb Dawn McLane|
The second flight was almost a disaster. Once again I didn’t notice when the trim cam was below the hang point loop. The wing pulled hard to the left as soon as I started the runout and I almost crashed into a picnic bench before I slowed down. In fact I popped up for a second to clear the seat of the bench and the rear wheel struck the seat. I pitched forward and swung back just in time to land. My Lucky Day…. no damage except for cracked fiberglass strut.
When I kited the PP 250 it came up clean and stable so I built a wall and set-up for launch. The take off was normal, but as soon as I was in the air, I realized that it was going to be bumpy. Almost immediately the wing was swung hard to the left and I was in a huge pocket of lift. I climbed out over the neighborhood and found the air was now moving from the southwest… 180 degrees away from where it was on the surface. When I got over the field east of the LZ the air smoothed out but the winds were still strong. I continued around and was soon back into the bumps over launch area. This time I turned to the left and found myself in some incredible sink. I was at full power and descending at over 100 feet / minute. South of the horse ranch I hit the lift and was climbing 300ft/min at idle. Now I was too high to set up a landing without hard maneuvers, so I decided to turn east and make a slow descending circle but the wind picked up and I found myself parked just south of the LZ. At this point there must have been a hard wind shift because the wing folded on the left side. It was at least a 1/3 collapse but it popped right out and I was still pointing toward my selected landing spot. My decent was vertical and fast, I flared at the last second and touched down. It wasn’t a hard landing but the wing pulled back and to the left, rolling me to the side and dragging the trike a few feet, which bent the foot peg that was damaged at Bubba’s last year. On the ground I looked over the trike and found no other damage. Dawn saw the collapse but did not see the landing or roll over because I was out of sight on the other side of the Rush Building. …. That was a good thing.
Looking back … Perhaps this could have been avoided … A test balloon might have shown the twitchy air. I knew there was high wind aloft by the blown out edges on the clouds and… I should have been alerted when I saw the dramatic wind shifts. BUT … It looked so good…. the next time I’m faced with similar weather signals I will try to be more patient and if the wind is shifting wait to see if it is a pattern.
It was a short hairy ride … the good thing was … I didn’t freak out and kept flying the aircraft until I was able to get down without real damage to man or machine.
I will let the experts analyze this incident. I was disapointed and revolted by the bashing from all quarters of the paraflying community. I will say this…. I knew the pilot and flew with him and his son at the “Gathering”. He was a healthy and mature pilot with a good conservative attitude toward flying. While at first blush it is easy to assume the accident was the cause of careless or reckless flying, I prefer to believe that it was “just one of those things that could have happened to any one of us. Of course mistakes were made but flying with other craft in the air adds risk. If the pilot had more hours it might not have happened but all of us have been in situations that could have ….. should have bit us in the ass.
Thank God no one was killed
I’ve been home from Bubba’s Event for almost a month but for a number of personal reasons I haven’t posted my report. In a nutshell I had two good flights and one spectacular crash with minor equipment damage and no injuries. For a complete report on the Fly-In, see Mike Bennetts Blog. He picked up the ball and has written a very comprehensive post. http://mbppg.com/info/bubba.html
As with most incidents there were several things that contributed to the mishap. Here is the way I remember it. The first two launches with Mike’s 30 meter Eden III were fast. In both cases I took off and touched down again before getting off. In both cases I floated for a couple hundred yards before starting to climb. Once up, the flight and landing was pretty standard. Flight speed was around 32mph and my climb was about 125 feet/min.
On my last launch I touched twice and on the second touch I came down crooked with the trike contacting the ground with the front and right rear wheel. The trike flipped and rolled once landing on the wheels, I was then ejected to the right in the opposite direction of the roll. I immediately turned off the motor but not before it damaged the wing. Here are some of the things I did wrong:
1) I did not fasten the seat belt. This is not a common mistake for me but I have done it twice… both times with witnesses. It was fortunate that I was able to stay with the machine during the roll… One effect of not being belted in was that when I hit a bump and got bounced, I lost contact with the right steering peg. It could have caused the cart to turn so that when I did get lifted the thrust was out of alignment with the wing.
2) Once the wing came up and stabilized I didn’t check it again. After the first touch the wing started an oscillation, which unknown to me, got progressively worse as I accelerated. I lost situational awareness as to what my wing was doing relative to the trike. HUGE MISTAKE !
3) I did not abort or reduce throttle after the first touch. Despite the fact that the launch was obviously going bad I stayed on the throttle when I should have aborted or reduced power and stabilized. The first thing Bubba asked me was … “Did your throttle get stuck. It is very telling that I thought I could salvage the launch right up until the trike started to roll. Looking back I my head wasn’t in it. The weather wasn’t expected to be flyable and going out to the field was a last minute decision. I rushed to get ready and like my last post “Rush and Pay the Piper”, BOY DID I !
4) The front wheel on the Falcon was bent and not appropriate for the terrain and speed required for lift-off. The guys pointed out my bent front wheel when I first arrived. It must have suffered from some of my lurching launches at Simms when the trike is rolling full speed over a bumpy surface. This might have also contributed to the reason I didn’t abort. The Falcon does not handle high speed taxiing as well as the Trike Buggy did … it was a little like trying to foot launch in no wind or down wind … It felt too fast to abort, and if that were the case I shouldn’t have tried to launch..
Looking back … I was an accident looking for a place to happen. I was rushing to get up and in the wrong frame of mind to be flying. My previous two flights were successful but my head was not in the game and it was dumb luck that prevented serious injury.
Time to take a break from flying.
Here are a series of pictures that Shelia Boulten took … See if you can follow the sequence.