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Flying essentials


Tomo

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All the latest accidents have been making me think a fair bit on how we could eliminate such awful outcomes. So without incorporating any particular accident, I'd just like to look at the actual essentials that are needed for an aircraft to fly... might sound simple, but it seems to be the biggest contributor of all fatal crashes.

 

And that is believe it or not, airspeed! If it isn't a mid air, or structural failure, or control surface malfunction, there's a pretty good chance of surviving if the aircraft is flown, a stalled wing is not flying.

 

I don't want to come across as a know it all, as I really don't, hence this discussion, but from what I've seen, experienced, and learned so far, flying the plane correctly is really the only way.

 

If the engine stops, well, depending on the area, you may either end up with a really bent aircraft, even broken bones or burns, but it's a known fact I believe, that a controlled crash is much more survivable than a non controlled crash.

 

I've never had a real engine failure en-route to somewhere, but I have had a real engine failure on take off. And I also fly gliders from time to time. In effect a glider is just a plane with an engine failure... sure they glide much better!! But you get the idea.

 

So I guess the question or topic I'd like to see is, do you really know your gliding ability of your aircraft? do you really know the stall speed/attitude? (or stall stick position). Not just in straight and level, but a banked turn. Do you know how to make a controlled crash? Have you ever noticed your seat belts hold you in position for a forward facing crash, not a cartwheel style... such as a stall/spin crash (i.e. uncontrolled!)

 

These are the type of questions I quite regularly ask myself, maybe I'm to pedantic, but I don't want to be a statistic of just another uncontrolled crash.

 

At the end of the day, it's your/my choice to ask questions of yourself and others so we can all enjoy our experiences. We are human and all make mistakes, and when we get a shock a lot of good thinking we once had goes out the window, if you've ever been at an accident site those in shock often do things without thinking. So with that in mind, do we know how to keep control under such a circumstance?

 

 

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Guest SAJabiruflyer

Good post Tomo. It seems you're as pedantic as me (I get called anal regularly). But I like to be safe!! I've often sat down with pen and paper and gave myself questions such as "You're at 4000ft, 5miles from the airfield, and your engine fails. Can you make it? Should you try? Should you find a paddock?" and the like. The descent rate at best glide speed in the aircraft I mainly fly is about 500ft/minute - IF you keep the aircraft balanced and trimmed to produce the most stable flight possible. It's all very good on paper, not sure how it would translate to reality. I would imagine such factors as the reaction time, sphincter pucker factor, stress etc, would all have an affect. Not having experienced a real engine failure I just cant tell until the day it happens.

 

I remember an instructor pulling a simulated EFATO on me - but when he did that we had just done a missed approach, we were over RWY09, and at about 900ft.I immediately lowered the nose to maintain 70kts, did my radio calls, and performed a glide approach on RWY19 (the active rwy on the day). In the debrief we discussed what I did and realised I had reacted to the situation as I saw it - not as it was simulated.

 

Without exception, ALL my instructors (those that survived my flying with mental state intact) drummed into me..... "got a problem? FLY THE AIRCRAFT". Everything else is secondary.

 

 

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Gliding is the ordinary and natural state of flight. Adding propulsion is extraordinary. Soaring breeds a different mindset. Gliding experience is priceless no matter what aircraft you fly.

 

Most important thing to remember when gliding (which includes engine failure), as in any approach: if it moves down in your field of view, head for it, if it moves up, forget it. If it stays in the same spot best glide is preferred, until you are sure.

 

If every suitable landing is moving up, pick the best staying still or going down and COMMIT to it, you can't change the inevitable. Airspeed! FWIW.

 

 

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20 years of flying hang gliders taught me a lot about forced landings as most of them were just that. Whenever I am flying anywhere I constantly look for possible landing areas, and check the wind direction at ground level as best I can (smoke, wind lanes on water, vegetation). Cloud shadow direction is also useful but may be entirely wrong at ground level. I have been amazed at the number of farm strips I have seen on cross country trips. Very handy if everything goes quiet.

 

We have probably all been taught the same or a similar routine for a FLWOP but most of us won't even manage half of the procedures if it happens for real so flying the (now) glider is the one thing that must be done above all others. Knowing your best glide and stall speed is absolutely essential knowledge before you get into the LH seat of any aircraft. A mayday call with your problem, ID, POB and location may be the best you can do and 2 or 3 of these things may be forgotten.

 

If you have found a place to land don't change your mind unless your choice turns out to be major hazard & then only if the alternative is closer. Height and airspeed are your best friends. It's easy to wash off that altitude if necessary. You can't get it back (unless you find a thermal - ex glider pilots only).

 

A controlled crash is always preferable to an uncontrolled one and you may even pull of a great landing.

 

 

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Guest Maj Millard

A good post Tomo. Simply put, the difference between a controlled arrival and an uncontrolled one, is really the difference between walking away happy, or not ever walking again. As I've said often... " Flying is always the best way to fly !!"..........................................................Maj...024_cool.gif.7a88a3168ebd868f5549631161e2b369.gif (Also now a fully qualified combat-tested submarine commander !)

 

 

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All well and good for those accidents where control is lost due to airspeed, but after reading all I can on accidents over many years it appears that most accidents are caused by bad decision making, such as low flying or flying into IFR conditions without the necessary skills.

 

I reckon think before you act and then act correctly. The best pilots are those that never get noticed, they may not appear so dashing but they will live longer. A couple of times I have made stupid decisions and come to see the error of my ways, luckily without any injuries or damage.

 

 

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Hi Tomo,

 

Good post! Reminds me not only to think about such scenarios regularly, but also to practice forced landings on a regular basis too.....

 

I also recall a link on one of the threads on this site a while back that showed an FAA guy doing a talk on surviving forced landings, and he said that you could "land" in a VERY short distance under control - the aircraft would be bent, and you would likely be bruised, but the seat belts are designed to absorb very high G forces, so effectively you should fly the plane into the ground, avoiding low level turns if at all possible, and just above stall speed. He also gave some maths for calculating "real" stall speed, as the one quoted in the POH is always at MTOW, and if there's just one person, with less than full fuel, then it would be lower than the book figure....

 

Cheers

 

Neil

 

 

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Guest davidh10
Just a short word on glide speed, be accurate! Too slow and too fast can seriously degrade your performance.

Just another tip given to me by a CFI... Don't just believe the book. Your GPS probably reads glide ratio (mine does, but no on the main screens), so drop the engine to idle and play with airspeed till you confirm the best rate of glide. Mine turned out to be as per the book one up, but remember that it will change with wing loading, so if you have a PAX and full tank(s) it will be a little different.

 

 

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Yes, well best glide ratio (L/D) is about covering the most ground, but descent rate is important to be aware of, because with a higher wing loading, you will have higher airspeed and RoD for your best L/D... ergo less time. Min sink speed = more time to contemplate your predicament 033_scratching_head.gif.b541836ec2811b6655a8e435f4c1b53a.gif

 

 

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Guest davidh10

I guess it is appropriate to again provide a link to JB's Tutorial titled "Don't stall and spin in from a turn". It's good stuff, and it doesn't hurt to re-read it occasionally.

 

You may not always want to glide as far as you can, or in the same direction as you were flying. {The aircraft in the most recent accident is reported to have executed a 180 degree turn before nose diving.} There's lots of documented accidents where a low level turn has resulted in a fatal stall and resultant spin. Stall speed increases with wing loading increase. eg. such as when banking (in a level 60 degree bank, it will be 1.4 times the straight and level figure).

 

Don't think you will be turning steeply? How about you want to land quite close by and you don't want to go too far away in case you cannot make it back (wind, sink, misjudgement), so you end up approaching the target landing point too high. You can side slip (unless you are in a trike) or do "steep S Turns" to lose some altitude quite quickly. Both manoeuvres have their attendant risks, particularly when performed at low level. I imagine everyone does this as part of their training, but like everything else it requires practice to maintain the skill level.

 

Feeling rusty... invite an instructor to come for a ride while you do some practise.

 

 

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