My crash

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Dana, Sep 16, 2017.

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  1. Sep 16, 2017 #1

    Dana

    Dana

    Dana

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    Yesterday I crashed my Starduster.

    I was making a short cross country (100 miles) from my home in CT to near where we have a cabin in upstate NY. I had just crossed over the mountains where the cabin is and was about 5 minutes from my destination airport where my wife was waiting to pick me up when I smelled oil and suddenly lots of smoke came from the engine. I'd had an oil leak issue before during the trip home from Memphis where I bought the plane, but nothing like this and there was no smoke then. The engine was still running, but my feet felt warm and I was worried about fire, I decided it was time to get down FAST. In retrospect my feet were probably no warmer than usual as it's always warm down there, given the proximity of the exhaust to the firewall. Anyway, right under me was a huge field, 3/4 mile long , between the NY Thruway and Rt. 17. I briefly considered landing on the highway, but the field looked like the better choice and I didn't have much time to think about it. I chopped the power but didn't shut the engine down right away, made a normal approach. On short final I saw a stream across the field and added a bit of power to go over it, field was starting to look not so good but I wasn't going to risk going around. Pulled the mixture to kill the engine and shut the master switch before touchdown, didn't seem so bad, and... WHAM! Turned out the grass was about 5 feet high and the ground was muddy under it. Wheels caught, plane nosed over, and (this part is fuzzy) the plane cartwheeled, before ending up more or less upright.

    I was completely unhurt, that was a stout little plane. Only my ankles are chewed up from walking back and forth through the sticker bushes dotting the field.

    Naturally I was mobbed by police, emergency crews, and newscritters. One of the police, a forest ranger actually (the landing was in a state park), is my next door neighbor at the cabin so that probably smoothed things a bit. Getting it out of the field was an ordeal as it was several hundred yards from the road across the swampy ground, and the park wanted it removed immediately once the FAA said they weren't going to investigate. One of the cops called a wrecker that has some experience with moving airplanes (and is one of only two allowed to operate in the park). They showed up an hour or so later with a backhoe and a Bobcat set up as a forklift. Had to clear some trees along the road to get into the field, then they lifted the plane with the forks under the upper wing center section, carried it back to the road, and set it on a flatbed. Amazingly, no further damage was done. They wouldn't let me leave it on the roadside long enough to take the wings off and wanted to cut the wings off, but my daughter made a phone call and got permission to leave it in the parking lot of a junk shop about a mile down the road. Fortunately, NY17 is a wide four lane undivided highway, so with police escort they took it to the junk shop and left it there. Cost for all that, $2700, yikes. I'm hoping maybe my liability insurance might cover that since the park required me to remove it immediately as opposed to disassembling it on site and carrying it out in a less expensive manner.

    I'll leave shortly to start taking the fairings and such off in preparation to pull the wings. Not yet sure what next, I'll probably bring it to my cabin (about 5 miles away) until I can make arrangements to bring it back to Connecticut.

    Of course I'm second guessing what I could have done differently, but there weren't many good options. The highway might have been better, but landing on a busy road is a risk, too.

    The damage appears limited to the upper right wingtip and fin/rudder, and of course my brand new landing gear is trashed. The prop must have stopped turning before it hit as it looks undamaged. Still, the entire plane will have to be stripped to know for sure... but that will be a job for somebody else, I don't have the time, space, or heart to do it. So there will be a project plane for sale, contact me if interested.

    Aftermath.
    IMG_20170915_164642277.jpg

    Dana
     

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    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  2. Sep 16, 2017 #2

    Monty

    Monty

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    So sorry about the plane Dana. I don't know what it is about state park people....they seem to universally be humorless, goose-stepping, authoritarian types.

    I'm very glad I went to the trouble of installing restrictor fittings and new lines for my fuel and oil pressure gauges. Having seen what was lurking under the cowl on my airplane, this could have easily been me.

    So glad you walked away though. I wouldn't second guess things too much if I were you. You made the best out of a bad situation. Highways are always a crap shoot. If the cars don't get you, the power lines will.
     
  3. Sep 16, 2017 #3

    don january

    don january

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    Thank goodness your alright Dana and I'm sorry for your loss of the plane. I'll say it for you "Damit"
     
    delta likes this.
  4. Sep 16, 2017 #4

    blane.c

    blane.c

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    Good decision. My second flight instructor who also became my friend died trying to take a smoking and oiling plane a little farther to save the plane, it just couldn't make it and he ended up stalling short into some trees.
     
  5. Sep 16, 2017 #5

    TFF

    TFF

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    I am glad you are alright. Not glad you had the trouble. It is better for this outcome than pushing on and the problem getting worse with no time to get down. There is a law that says no aircraft can land at national parks. Even a presidential party has to get permission. Government employees will not be flexible; that is why they pick the people they do for the jobs.
     
  6. Sep 16, 2017 #6

    BBerson

    BBerson

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    I don't see any other landing fields in the photo. Good choice.
    The Lympne trials rules required the entrants to demonstrate the plane could be dismantled and hand pushed through a farmers gate after an emergency landing.
     
  7. Sep 16, 2017 #7

    stuart fields

    stuart fields

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    I'll add one. I got news of a reduced price on 100LL. I got my Safari helicopter started up and took off for the airport. 40'agl and 40mph, the ship got a violent vibration. Couldn't read any instruments. Ship yawed to the left and I couldn't stop it. Then rolled left and dove into the ground in a rolled left position. Blades hit the ground and threw the ship up and over to its right side. Fearing fire I tripped the seat belt and fell out thru where the bubble use to be. Heard the engine still running so I reached in and switched it off. Still fearing fire I got up and started to get away and the mike cord to my helmet stopped me. It was then that I realized that in my right hand was the joystick grip with broken wires out of the bottom. It had torn out of the cyclic tube. I guess I flew as far into the crash as I could. I ran a short distance and was interrupted by a neighbor. I said my back felt funny and he told me to lay down. He accidentally kicked my left foot and I then found out I had a broken left ankle. There happened to be a news crew nearby and were at the crash site before the ambulance got there. One of the reporters asked me: "How high were you when you crashed"? I still assume that wasn't a drug related question. Later NTSB called me while I was still waiting for a pain shot and asked for my pilot's license #. I had it memorized from previous flying jumpers and signing their logs. Two days later NTSB informed me that there were three names associated with that number and none of the names were mine....Found the cause of the crash. Pitch arm on one blade was a friction type attachment and the clamp bolt was improperly torqued. It allowed the trailing edge heavy blade to pitch up causing the rotors to quickly slow with the resulting loss of control. I had transitioned from pilot to concerned observer in a second. Subsequent design improvement had a much better pitch link interface to the blade grip. I also developed a low/high rotor alarm that would sound off in my headset. Re built the ship and flew 100+ hrs before I sold it for my next project.
     
  8. Sep 16, 2017 #8

    cheapracer

    cheapracer

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    Sorry to hear Dana, of course delighted you are ok.

    Best wishes for your choices from here.
     
  9. Sep 16, 2017 #9

    WBNH

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    Sympathies on the loss of the plane. Glad for no injuries. Sounds like there was some sound decision-making. Hope the initial issue gets diagnosed in the postmortem.

    It's really soon, but I hope you share your next project and flying adventures with us, as I suspect you won't be kept out of the saddle long.
     
    poormansairforce likes this.
  10. Sep 16, 2017 #10

    Twodeaddogs

    Twodeaddogs

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    Sorry to read about your prang, Dana. Glad you made it out in one piece......sit back and drink a beer and dwell on it later.
     
  11. Sep 16, 2017 #11

    proppastie

    proppastie

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    I am so impressed with those that can fly the hot tail-dragger Pitts/Sky Bolt congrats on a your safe landing our health is the most important. Could have been much worse.
     
  12. Sep 16, 2017 #12

    Vision_2012

    Vision_2012

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    Dana, I'm glad you're okay. Live to fly again!
     
  13. Sep 16, 2017 #13

    choppergirl

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    The most disturbing thing I found about this whole related event is how much the local self appointed authorities showed up and instantly became total douchebags. Seriously. Makes me never want to visit a state park again. I probably won't. They are the same way if your car dies on the side of the road and you have to pull over onto a shoulder. Not public servants, more like hyenas attacking a wounded animal.

    If someone crashed in my field, I'd let them take as long as they needed, tell them to leave it there as long as they needed, and help them with some advice about best way to get things out with the least bit of additional damage. Have a drink out of my fridge, borrow my phone if you need to. I stop to help pull people out of ditches or change tires, before the cops show up, because I know what's going to go down if they do. Big absolute nonsense production with flashing lights like a christmas parade and tickets and tow trucks. They are all buddies in cohoots, to scratch each other's back for an easy grifter buck. Know what I mean? It costs a flatbed truck and a backhoe all of $30 in gas to lift the plane up and take it somewhere else.

    I just got back from the local free airshow here; I talked to all of one person... :-/
     
  14. Sep 16, 2017 #14

    fly2kads

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    Glad you're okay!

    I wouldn't spend much time second guessing. It looks like you picked the least bad option for getting it down, and walked away from it, so you did well.

    Sorry about the plane, though. That stinks.
     
  15. Sep 16, 2017 #15

    Joe Fisher

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    Sorry Dana.
     
  16. Sep 16, 2017 #16

    clanon

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    GLAD yo're OK .

    "Live and Learn"
     
  17. Sep 16, 2017 #17

    DangerZone

    DangerZone

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    Glad to read you're ok, sorry about the aircraft. Did you build it yourself or bought it from someone else?
     
  18. Sep 16, 2017 #18

    TerryM76

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    Sounds like you made the best decision you could given what you knew at the time. Glad you are OK and have a project that someone will be able to restore......selling it will help to offset recovery cost. Would be interesting to know more about the source of engine failure.

    Better days ahead Dana.
     
  19. Sep 16, 2017 #19

    Swampyankee

    Swampyankee

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    Sorry for the loss of your plane, but I'm very glad that you're all right.
     
  20. Sep 16, 2017 #20

    Dana

    Dana

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    No, I bought it 6 months ago.

    The engine never actually quit, just the smoke scared me into landing NOW. It was leaking from a loose fitting on the hose going to the oil cooler,and dropping on the exhaust, hence the smoke... and my fear of fire.

    Dana
     

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