Friday, December 28, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What part of hold-short don't you...

Yikes! This could've gone badly...

It's a good reminder not to fixate on your landing point when landing an airplane. Keep scanning, not only for other traffic in the air, but also for the situation on the ground.

Similar to an intersection, I don't trust drivers until I see their wheels stop. I assume everyone is going to blow through the intersection.

Good job by this pilot to avoid disaster, though.

Here's the (almost) accident report.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The cover boy

OK, I'm not really the cover boy. I'm the "Page 102 boy" in the January 2013 edition of Sport Aviation Magazine from the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The quotes aren't exactly the way I said them and one that's wrong slipped through. I didn't say I never missed kids games or events. I missed a lot of them, partly because of the paper route. I regret that immensely.

And the plane that's shown on the third page isn't my plane. I don't know whose plane it is, but thanks for letting us use your picture because it's nicer than mine is. It looks like an RV-10 to me, so I presume it belongs to Gary Speketer, who stopped by to help me hang the engine, and whom I wrote about here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How plane crashes happen

(Reposted from the day job)

It's not often we hear firsthand the stories of how plane crashes occur, especially the one in Rochester, Minn., last week in which four people on their way home from the Packers-Vikings game in Green Bay, ended up upside down in a crashed plane.

The cemeteries are full of pilots and passengers who tried to land an airplane in bad weather.

But pilot Scott Lebovitz, 23, of Owatonna, and three passengers Daniel Cronk, 36; Alan De Keyrel, 38; and a 9-year-old boy, all from Byron -- suffered only bumps and bruises.

Mr. De Keyrel has written a compelling account of the incident (and provided very interesting pictures) on his company's website:

We descended into the clouds. From that point on, I never saw runway lights or anything on the ground. I recall looking at the altimeter briefly and noticing our slow decent towards the ground. From the time that I actually saw the ground to impact, there was no time to react, grab for the controls or even say anything. I saw the ground for a split second and then “BAM!”, we were hanging upside down.

“Oh my God! Get out of the plane before it explodes!” Scott shouted.

“Cronk, Colin,” I yelled, “are you okay?”

Both responded and I felt a huge sigh of relief. We were all alive! I reached for my seatbelt and quickly unlatched it, crashing to the roof of the plane. It was pitch black. I couldn’t find the door handle. A window popped open during the crash so I crawled through the small opening. Once outside, I realized that I was standing on the wing. I heard Colin say, “How do I get out?” in a scared voice. I leaned through the window opening and said, “Colin, crawl over here!” A few seconds later I saw his legs appear and I pulled him from the wreckage.

Understandably, the writer cautions people not to judge the action of the pilots. In aviation circles, that's an impossible request; it's how other pilots learn. It was a mistake -- a very bad mistake -- to attempt to land in the conditions. As pilots, we always grapple with "Get Home-itis," the tendency to make bad decisions because we just have to get home. We fly in weather in which we shouldn't fly and sometimes things don't turn out as well as they turned out in Rochester, as this tragedy from last year reminds us. Our mistake as pilots when reading stories like this, is thinking that we wouldn't or couldn't make the same mistake; it's an unimaginably easy one to make and quite often we don't realize it until after we've made it and lived.

Hopefully, we only make these sorts of mistakes once. And if we're lucky -- very, very lucky -- we get the opportunity not to make it again.

(h/t: Sasha Aslanian)

Seed catalogs? Who needs 'em to get through winter?

There's a foot of snow on the ground in December in Minnesota, and that has always meant one thing: it's time to think about Oshkosh.

And this new video from the people at St. Cloud State University -- who give you EAA Radio every year -- should help...

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