Monday, December 26, 2011

Don't turn back



This article
from AOPA last summer really caused a lot of furor in the piloting community, and it's probably what's led a few pilots to get it into their head that it's advisable to turn back to the airport when there's an engine failure on takeoff.

I'm a big fan of Internet builder and pilot forums. You can find a lot of great information there. I also think they can kill people, and I think Doug Rozendaal thinks so too.

Rozendaal is one of the best pilots in the country. He flies his Rocket up from Iowa to fly the CAF's P-51 Red Tail and the B-25 out of KSGS. He does spin training and upset maneuver training, as I recall.

So I tend to listen to what he says. This week, he penned a response to another discussion, this time on Van's Air Force, about the possibility and practicing of returning to the airport when there's a failure on takeoff.

I was leisurely digesting my Christmas Dinner, surfing VAF, and "what to my wondering eyes should appear......" Another Turnback thread.... OMG

Those who know me can imagine my indigestion...

Nothing seems to change.... Every few months I read about another SSCBD accident after a turn-back after take-off...

The AOPA did a terrible disservice to General Aviation with their articles this summer... I know for a fact that there was disagreement internally about the things they have published on the subject this summer...

I also realize this thread was started to gather data, but for what purpose.... If you believe you have the skills to consider a turnback when the unthinkable happens to you, the you have the skill set to collect your own data on your own airplane. If that is beyond your skill set, then a turnback from an EFATO should not be in your toolkit...

The most recent post that says pulling the mixture at altitude is going too far??? If pulling the mixture 4000 ft above a 4000 ft runway increases your heart rate even 1 bpm, then the turnback from an EFATO is not for you....

Long term readers of this forum know that I have never said it is impossible. What I have said, and continue to repeat, is this..

When it happens for real, there are so many variables that must be considered that make it impossible to have a cookbook go-no/go decision. That combined with the shot of adrenaline that comes with the emergency turns the brain to mush.... The statistics bear this out...

The default response to an EFATO needs to be, "lower the nose and pick a point ahead of the wings, into the wind, and land at the slowest possible airspeed." Airplanes that arrive at the earth, wings level, under control, at minimum airspeed, have survivors onboard...

There is an attorney in Des Moines IA, Tom Drew, who coined a phrase that I call "Drew's Law" Tom says that "80% of the pilots believe they are in the top 20%..."

To that I add a corollary, "The reality is that half of us are below average." (the median actually for the statisticians, but that's a detail)

Pulling off a turnback from an EFATO is a maneuver that requires the skills found a group much smaller than the top 20%.

Trying would be fine if failure did not result in almost certain death for all aboard....

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas, and I will go find a roll of Tums....

Over the years, I've covered a fair amount of accidents involving people who tried to turn back to the airport. They usually end up looking a lot like this.


Here's an article Doug wrote a few years ago which might help explain why you shouldn't turn back.

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