There I was...when Suddenly!

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations / Flight Safety / Better Pil' started by Head in the clouds, Aug 25, 2012.

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  1. Aug 25, 2012 #1

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

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    In another thread a friend asked me to elaborate on a rather ‘interesting’ first solo that I had when learning soaring and while thinking of writing that up it occurred to me that we all have incidents from time to time and it is the lessons learned from them that make us into better and safer flyers.

    Back in the 1980’s when our club flying scene was very active we used to have a saying ‘There I was’ which preceded the telling of anything out of the ordinary that happened during the day’s fun.

    ‘There I was’ actually stood for ‘There I was at 500ft when suddenly…’ because we weren’t allowed to fly ultralights higher than that so that anything that happened, in the story it happened at ‘500ft’ regardless of whether it was 5000ft or 6000ft, if you follow me.

    Anyway, I’ve had dozens of ‘there I was’ situations, some silly, some dangerous, some stupid, some circumstantial and so on. Naturally I find some of them to be embarrassing because I was dumb while others bring me some pride because I acted well in the circumstances.

    Thinking about them, they all have a valuable lesson, just as everyone else’s also do, so I thought it would be good to share some of these valuable stories if they don’t cause too much personal discomfort.

    Interestingly, while making a few notes to see if this would be worthwhile I found that most of my ‘there I was’ situations occurred in helicopters. Maybe that’s because I have many times more rotary hours than fixed wing but I think it’s also because the kind of work I did required more pushing of the boundaries than my recreational fixed-wing flying has. So there will be more rotary-wing stories from me but I think they offer the same lessons that apply in fixed wing.

    When posting your stories please don’t forget to describe what you learned from the occurrence and thanks for telling and helping us all to be better aviators, which is why I’ve put this into the ‘better pilots’ category.

    My first contribution follows -
     
  2. Aug 25, 2012 #2

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

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    I’ll tell about my first solo in gliding because it was a big moment for me, being so inexperienced at the time. Prior to this I had about 30hrs flight time, I did a bit of hanggliding in the UK and a few hours in a trike that I built and then I designed and built my first ultralight and taught myself to fly it, based on RC model experience.

    A good friend was very concerned that my meagre knowledge of flying was so flawed that I would end up crashing and I’d already scared myself more times than enough so I enrolled at a live-in gliding school which is located on an old WW2 airbase in flat lands on the northern border of the state of Victoria in the south of Oz. It is an area of strong thermals and can be very hot and dusty with regular storms building quickly in the summer, and this was midsummer.

    My basic training was uneventful and I loved it, particularly the silent aerobatics and the privilege of a couple of long flights with the CFI who was then the world gliding champion Ingo Renner.

    My first solo was an experience - about 2pm and there wasn't much lift so I was told not to worry if I couldn't make any height gain, just hang around the circuit and make sure I didn't get too low. Anyway the tug signalled me to get off at 1500ft which was a surprise because we'd planned 3000 to give me a few more minutes in the air. I pinged off and was immediately in lift so I guessed he had spotted it and reckoned I'd be happy. Actually, as it turned out he thought I'd head straight back, and quick, but I didn't get the hint and we didn't have radios.

    I scratched around for 45 mins or so then hit big lift and thermalled for all I was worth and never seemed to have any problem 'coring it'. The vario needle seemed to be stuck vertical and all sorts of debris came in the vents and there was whistling and bumps that I'd never experienced in training. I was very proud of myself. I don't think I'd had a single glance outside... so I was a bit shocked to look out and see how high I was and everything looked very dim, I could only just see the ground.

    It took me a while to spot the airfield some way away and it was very small, I got a mite confused because the altimeter said I was at 1000ft but I couldn't be... A bit more alt study revealed 11000ft and still climbing. I headed back to the airfield as fast as I dared, still climbing and at close to Vne and looked to the runway in use, for the ops caravan and other aircraft near it. There was nothing there!

    Then I spotted the last of the gliders being hangared and realised they'd all gone home (the hangars are quite a way from the runways). Because - all the lift and swirling airborne rubbish was from a huge storm-front bringing a duststorm with it, and I was still at Vne and not descending. Being very green it took me quite a while to consider the spoilers/airbrakes and then I had to convince myself that it was 'OK' to use them other than in circuit.

    I slowed to deploy them, and climbed more while doing so. Then it took me another half an hour to get down and the visibility was almost zero when I landed. I did think to land at the hangar as other last-flighters had done during the training course. Boy did I get an earful from Bill the school owner. The only good thing he had to say was about my hangar landing decision. 1hr33 for first solo!

    My lesson learned – regardless of all else don’t forget outside awareness, I was so busy watching my airspeed and vario (rate of climb/descent) that I forgot all about outside conditions, navigation and other traffic.
     
  3. Aug 25, 2012 #3

    fly2kads

    fly2kads

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    Thanks, HITC, this could be a good topic! (Especially if we're willing to share the embarrassing stuff.)

    When trying for my Private Pilot license, my check ride was delayed by a couple of months due to an unusually wet Spring here in Texas and scheduling difficulties between me and the examiner. I wound up with a bunch of extra solo flights while staying sharp and preparing for check rides that were fated to be scrubbed. On one such solo flight, I had some concern about a strong cold front that was making its way toward the area. I checked the forecast before leaving the house, and called a briefer while at the airport. The forecast indicated, and the briefer confirmed, that the front was going to arrive several hours after I planned to be back on the ground. Satsfied, I pre-flighted and headed out.

    I made my usual trek from Addison (where touch and goes were by permission only, rarely granted) to Denton (which was still untowered and was where we frequently practiced). I did some air work on the way, and made an uneventful touch and go almost straight into the wind (runway 17, wind ~180). When I came around again, the wind had shifted to about 210. I didn't think too much about it, as we get transient shifts like that all the time. When I came around a third time, the wind had strengthened and shifted to about 230. This time, alarm bells went off in my head. That front was announcing its arrival! I departed the pattern and made a beeline back to Addison. By the time I got there (runway 15), the wind was at about 240 and was getting pretty strong. The crosswind component was a couple of knots over the "maximum demonstrated" figure in the POH, and about double anything I had handled solo prior to that. I determined that I would make one attempt to get on the ground in Addison, and if that failed, I would go to an alternate. (Where, I had no idea, as practically all the airports around here are oriented more or less North-South.) The conditions were only going to get worse, so I wanted to be on the ground ASAP. No telling what it would be like when I arrived at an alternate. To add to the pressure, the tower was urging me to expedite my clearing the runway, as there was a Cessna 421 hot on my heels and closing fast. I used a bit more runway than usual, but I managed to get the plane straightened out, on the ground, and held there. The 421 behind me had to go around, but I didn't give a s#%t. I was safe, and I figured he could deal with the wind better than I could. By the time I got home, the wind was 270 @ 30!

    My lesson learned: when the briefer talked about the arrival of the front, he was speaking of the North winds at and behind the frontal boundary. (Which arrived pretty much when he said they would. That evening, the winds were 350 @ 35, gusting to 50+.) He wasn't talking about that period of time when the winds were transitioning around almost 180 degrees!
     
  4. Aug 25, 2012 #4

    Tony

    Tony

    Tony

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    There I was at 1000' I was flying with three other friends. We were all in are own birds. Two of us had radio's the other did not. All of a sudden I lost the reduction unit and prop off my bird.

    First thing I did was radio "May Day". My friend with the radio in his bird did not see this happen, my other friend did see it happen. He followed the prop to the ground as we went on with an emergency landing.

    The man I was on the radio with had a very calm voice, as did I. He asked what is the problem and pointed out a landing spot. I would have not picked that spot. I would have glided past that spot because of the hieght I was at.

    He talked me down all the way to the ground. I landed in a corn field where the corn was just breaking the earth to grow. It might have been an inch tall in spots.

    Lesson Learned:

    Use Radio's when ever you can
    Try to pick a landing spot close to a road
    Do not over fly any place you can land in an emergency
    The sound your plane makesright before you loose a part. The Vibration sound. I never heard it before and did not know what it was.
    Stay calm

    I had about 40 hours flight time when this happened. 4 hrs on bird and engine

    Tony
     
  5. Aug 25, 2012 #5

    Topaz

    Topaz

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    There I was...

    Circling in a thermal in an SGS 2-33 (high wing sailplane). Coming around the circle, I was looking under the leading edge to keep an eye out for whatever I was turning into, alternating that with a panel scan, a horizon scan, and looking for traffic in other directions. Good thing I did! I came around only to see the nose-end of a Bonanza, about a quarter-mile away and about 100'-200' below me, bearing down on me at a very good clip. I reversed out of the turn but the long wings of the sailplane made that a leisurely maneuver, and he'd passed below me by the time I'd turned away. His course and altitude never twitched, and I honestly think he was head-down in the cockpit and never even saw me - a 50' span white sailplane with wings tilted towards him.

    I was flying in an area that is clearly marked on charts for transiting traffic to report their position and intentions, because of the skydive jump-zone and all the sailplane/hang-glider traffic in the area. This guy ignored that. Never a peep on the radio. The mountain ridge I was on is also clearly marked for glider activity. He bulled right through at what seemed to be full cruise.

    Lesson well-learned: NEVER stop looking for other traffic, even when you have no evidence that someone's around, even if they should be reporting their position. Some pilots just don't care, and rules are made for other people, not for them.
     
  6. Aug 26, 2012 #6

    rdj

    rdj

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    I know I'll probably get thrown off the board for this, but I came up with a new saying years ago: "There are old pilots, bold pilots, and Bonanza pilots, ordered by the danger to themselves and others." That Bonanza on the 130kt straight-in to the departure end of the active runway, that other Bonanza I watched blithely taxi across the active to the extreme annoyance of the tower, the Bonanza that passed about 50 ft below my Cessna 152 on downwind with no radio calls, the list goes on. Any time I see a Bonanza in the air or hear one call on the radio, I now give the same wide berth I give on the road to the contractors in their pickup trucks, rushing to the next job site with paperwork in one hand and a cellphone in the other. I apologize in advance if I have offended any Bonanza pilots out there, particularly those who know they are wonderful aviators. Yes, I know you are. You know it, I know it, that's why I get out of the way, so you can go about your business with maximum efficiency.

    Anyway, back on topic. Like fly2kads, I've also had a few memorable weather events. One I recall well was a beautiful winter day in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. It was cold but nowhere near freezing, with no wind and severe clear blue skies. As usual on such days, the central valley was socked in solid with fog, and there was hardly any dewpoint/temperature spread. But my home airport was well above the fog deck, and all I was going to do was some pattern practice. Not a problem.

    I taxied out, did my runup, and took off in the Skipper. The air was beautifully smooth and calm. Turning downwind, I could see the fog filling the central valley, and extending up to the town of Auburn, about 20 miles away. No issue whatsoever. I did my first touch-n-go and, turning downwind, noticed that the fog/cloud layer had seemed to move. Auburn to the South was no longer visible, and neither was some of the terrain I had seen on the first circuit. Strange, I thought, there's no wind. How is it moving like that? Anyway, it was still miles away, and it was still blue skies and sunshine at this airport. Another circuit. Now the cloud deck was closer still. About 5 miles away. The wind sock near the runway was totally limp. Another touch-no-go. As I turned crosswind-to-downwind, I noticed the cloud deck was now directly off my right wing, in fact, as I was proceeding downwind (which in a Skipper is never done at a rapid pace) I could see the clouds racing to the north about 200 feet below me. What??? As I turned final I found myself dodging a broken layer of cloud about 100 ft thick and moving rapidly. The next landing was full stop. The windsock was still hanging limply as I taxied back to the tiedown under overcast skies. Ten minutes later, the clouds had totally dissipated, and the sky was severe clear again.

    As I pondered what had happened on the drive home, the error on my part became obvious. It was my erronous belief that the cloud layer couldn't be moving because there was no wind, coupled with the additional 'security blanket' of never being more than a few thousand feet from a runway, that made me oblivious to the reality that the cloud layer was indeed moving rapidly North. The lack of dewpoint/temperature spread should have been a clue. As the air slowly heated and cooled, it was condensing out a cloud layer that was 'moving' at close to 40 mph. In the 10 or so minutes it takes to do a full pattern in the Skipper, I had gone from VFR to almost IFR with no front, no wind, and no bumps. Another one of many 'learning experiences'.
     
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  7. Aug 26, 2012 #7

    StarJar

    StarJar

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    OK guys, you might have to 'change pitch' for this one a bit, but I'm sure you'll find it interesting.

    Let me start it this way:
    There I was...sitting in front of my computer, wondering what ever happened to a nice old guy I met up in Reedly CA. Somehow he had really stuck in my mind.
    I had talked to him on the phone about buying a young thoroughbred horse, years before, and I was sort of enchanted by the guy from that point on. I went up to his ranch, back then, and bought the horse. Again, something about this guy was so cool, and his energy was like a sparkling stream. Really friendly, and helpful, and it just felt good to talk to him or to be around him.
    Now 15 years later, I was just wondering about him, and if he was still alive, since he was pretty 'up there' in years when I had met him. I typed his name, "Chet Strickler" into "google", and sadly I saw an obituary with his name and city. As I slowly came to to terms with that, I noticed his name appeared on another webpage, having to do with World War II, so I clicked on that.
    It was then that I found out that he had been part of a B-24 flight crew, but, as I scrolled down the names, it seemed strange that next to each picture of each crew member were the words "died on 18 March 1944".
    Then I saw his name, and noticed his year of death was 1998. Then I was shocked and amazed as I read further. He was the sole survivor when his B-24 "Old Glory" was shot down over Germany. Actually it's a pretty amazing story about how it happened. I invite you to the "Books Crew" webpage, and as you scroll down the page, stop at "Chester Strickler" and you can see how he became the sole surviver, when his plane was shot down. www.b24.net/books/crew.htm
    He looked a lot different, when I met him, with white hair, and a friendly smile. I had no idea, at that time, about his life story!
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  8. Aug 26, 2012 #8

    Tony

    Tony

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    I had just replaced my Stator on my little 447 Rotax with a brand new unit. They only make the Dual Ignition unit today so I bit the bullet and ordered one, at a cost off some 6 bills.

    When my new stator arrived I was so happy. That Puppy went right in. I tied my bird down and did about a 1 hour run up test. Shutting her down and and restarting her every now and again.

    After the 1 hr runup I untied her. I then put her through about a 30 min taxi test. Then I headed for the end of the runway. I Made sure all was clear and applied full power. Man she was running so smooth. Just as she was breaking gravity from mother earth all went quiet.

    I got out unpluged my coil from the stator and plugged it into the other side of the stator. She fired right back up. I taxied back to my hangar and parked her.

    Lesson learned:
    Just becuase its a Brand New Part does not mean it will not fail
    Always be ready for an engine out
    Make sure your engine has Dual Ignition or a Magnito ignition.

    Tony
     
  9. Aug 26, 2012 #9

    Joe Fisher

    Joe Fisher

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    I soloed in 1966 at Mountain Home Idaho. The Super Cub cost $12/hr when ever I had $3 I would go to the airport and fly 15 minutes. One time I took off and started to turn at 400' still about 1000' from the end of the runway. An F4 Phantom went between me and the ground. I was looking down in to the cockpit. I could see there helmets and they were not looking up.
     
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  10. Aug 26, 2012 #10

    Tony

    Tony

    Tony

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    I was flying along at about 800' and had a crop duster buzz under me. He must have been about 300' under me. He flies a Turbo jet crop duster. When he goes by and you hear him you think its a jet then you see this yellow crop duster. That thing cruises. I was shocked he went right under me.

    Tony
     
  11. Aug 26, 2012 #11

    Lead Brick

    Lead Brick

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    Don't forget the "lessons learned" part of this tread, gentlemen. :)
     
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  12. Aug 26, 2012 #12

    Tony

    Tony

    Tony

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    Lesson I learned

    Even if you are in the pattern above your own hangar, be ready for traffic coming from anywhere.
    Traffic can be on you and gone in a matter of seconds.

    Tony
     
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  13. Aug 27, 2012 #13

    Will Aldridge

    Will Aldridge

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    My own never again moment came shortly after getting my ticket. I took my mom flying from Salt Lake number 2 (U42) to Brigham City. I had a slight head cold but thought I'd be fine. And everything was fine until final approach back into U42. I came in high on the glide path and so I chopped the throttle and dropped. The change in altitude was severe enough to make my head spin, and for a couple of seconds I was a passenger in that plane. Fortunately my head caught up with the plane in time to add some power and make a pretty smooth touchdown with my mom being none the wiser. I hadn't had a problem landing at Brigham City because I nailed the glide slope and the descent rate wasn't great enough to mess me up but landing back at the home airport was too much. Taught me never to underestimate the effects even slightly marginal health can have.
     
  14. Aug 28, 2012 #14

    Battson

    Battson

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    There I was, flying over a large lake at 1000' with my half-brother on board. I got sudden onset carb icing and the engine starting to splutter and lose power; the airframe vibrated signicantly. I said to myself out loud something like "that's not supposed to be happening" as I pulled carb heat on.
    My half-brother hasn't ever flown with me since......


    Learning - passengers are probably less comfortable with whatever is happening than you are. Be that normal operations or otherwise.



    Not to mention the countless other passengers I have unintentionally made feel airsick, uneasy, or unsafe (notice I said "feel" unsafe please) by not briefing or communicating effectively.

    And not to mention the countless times I have had close calls (with various degrees of closeness, from the interesting to the frightening) in midair with silent fellow air users.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
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  15. Aug 28, 2012 #15

    bmcj

    bmcj

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    Well, if he was only your half brother, you could throw him out to extend your glide and only feel half bad about it. :gig:
     
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  16. Aug 29, 2012 #16

    Dana

    Dana

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    This is a tale of a very good flight instructor...

    I learned to fly at a Part 141 school (Parks College, which sadly no longer exists). The curriculum required two "phase checks" with a different instructor. Since the chief instructor was also the DPE, my final phase check before the checkride was with the assistant chief instructor, Roy Crawford (who was also an Episcopal priest, though that has nothing to do with anything).

    Anyway, I got to the airport for my flight, which was scheduled for late afternoon on a late winter or early spring day. Weather was OK but not great, a bit hazy but still VFR. Roy told me to plan a short cross country, I forget the destination, and told me to tell him if there was any reason to cancel the flight. I figured out the flight, filed the flight plan, preflighted the plane, etc., and Roy kept delaying, talking with other pilots, going to the bathroom, whatever, and more than once again told me to let him know if I wanted to cancel. As a gung-ho 17 year old who knew it all, there was no way I wanted to cancel... I wanted to finish the phase check and schedule my checkride!

    We finally got in the plane, took off, and headed out on course. Roy seemed satisfied with my flying, but the combination of haze and gathering darkness made my navigation less wonderful... in fact I was never quite sure where I was. I was well prepared for a cross country, but not for a night cross country. He asked me where I was and I told him where I thought I was, and he asked if I wanted to turn back, which of course I didn't. Finally he said, "Enough of this foolishness; let's go back." That at at least was easier; Bi-State Parks airport (as it (CPS) was then called) was well lit, and just across the river from St. Louis.

    I landed, and the tower told me to roll out to the end of the 5400' runway. Roy said, "You're not getting enough out of the airplane," pushed my hands off the controls, firewalled the throttle, and took off again. He flew the length of the runway at 10 or 20 feet, and when I thought there couldn't possibly be enough room to land again he dumped the flaps, chopped the throttle, slammed the plane down and stood on the brakes. The plane stopped with barely enough room to turn before going off the runway, he said "That's what you can do if you really know your airplane," and it was one badly shaken student pilot who taxied back through the darkness to the ramp.

    As should be obvious, he purposely delayed me to show me the effect of bad planning and decision making. I don't know if that was a standard lesson for him or if he just thought I needed it (which I did!). After putting the plane away, we talked for several hours about flying, life, and all kinds of things.

    The second try at the phase check a few days later was no problem, as was the checkride shortly after that.

    -Dana

    If the aliens landed and asked if we had space travel - we would, of course, say yes. And if they asked how we do it, we would have to answer:
    We assemble the largest collection of liquid hydrogen, oxygen, and high explosive we can find... and then we put a man on top and TORCH the son of a *****!
    And you know, they might really be impressed!
     
  17. Aug 29, 2012 #17

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

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    Some good stories and lessons have come out of this already, thanks for everyone's input. It'll be interesting to see what causes the most 'moments' - weather, navigation, terrain, mechanicals, traffic...

    Here’s one to fit the ‘embarrassing’ category because not only was it dumb but I did something very similar a few years later!

    There I was at about 30ft, because that was the usual height flown when I worked for this particular gent. Galarrwuy is his name and I was his personal helicopter pilot. He is the most influential Aboriginal elder in Australia and considered to be the unofficial King.

    The majority of the flying I did for him was for hunting, fishing, collecting crocodile eggs for the croc farm and ceremonial duties. For this I lived in a beautiful and very remote part of a region in Oz called Arnhemland, which is an Aboriginal Reserve, meaning non-Aborigines can only go there with a permit so there weren’t many of us there.

    On this fine and sunny wet season day (summer in the tropics, cyclone and monsoon season, huge tropical electrical storms can develop with astounding rapidity) we had been out to a secluded bay near the tip of the northernmost peninsular to hunt dugong (sea-cow) and collect turtle eggs. Both are protected but being ‘traditional food’ the Aborigines are permitted to have them.

    Soon after noon the hunt was over and it was deemed to be beer o’clock so I was despatched to return to base for plentiful supplies. At the base of the peninsular and about 20 mins from home I was about to cross a wide inlet (about a mile wide) and so had just left 30ft for about 500ft when a glance up the inlet revealed a sight like none I’d seen previously. The clear day was changing in an instant into violent winds and torrential rain all arriving from inland at what looked like hurricane speed, it was even preceded by dozens of small waterspouts behind which it was black as a dog’s guts.

    I needed to get across the water quick-smart so I abandoned any attempt to climb and instead dropped into ground effect and pulled full torque for the fastest possible transit at low level – dumb no.1 – being so low and because of the trees on the opposite shore I couldn’t see the storm’s approach or direction over there. The helicopter was a Kawasaki KH4 which does about 80kt flat out on a good day.

    Halfway over the water I was hit by violent squalls and instantly drenched with salt water (hit by a waterspout and no doors on) and lost some electrics including the nav and comms panel, and could see very little. The cloud ahead had now peeled over the trees, was on the deck and coming toward me rapidly, the shore wasn’t to be seen. I turned back and not being able to see the water I climbed into misty cloud and heavy rain rather than hit the water blind and headed north by compass, just maintaining control with glimpses of the surface (can’t fly a helicopter in whiteout). In a few seconds I could see a clear area of water and headed for it to the northeast and with the assistance of the push from the storm front I broke clear of the cloud but with no land in sight and heading very rapidly out to sea, I would already have been about a mile out by that time.

    It quickly became frighteningly apparent that I was going to have to choose between ditching right then or trying to outpace the storm which was visibly expanding all the time, and if that failed I would end up far out to sea. I checked the inflatable lifejacket that I always wore when flying up there, and grabbed a couple more of the pax ones from the pocket behind my seat, then tried to recall ditching procedure.

    Then I considered that I did have one chance to avoid ditching but it involved very dire risk if it didn’t work. I could try to go above the wet front which was only about 500ft high at that stage, and being followed by immense cu-nim a few miles behind, and jump over it to the north hoping to get to the very northern tip of the peninsular before the cu-nim caught me or the front covered that as well.

    Anyway I virtually crapped myself as I flew 45 degrees towards the storm, adding my speed to its speed in a desperate race and I made it at the last moment and literally dumped the skids on the beach as the storm hit. I had to keep the blades spinning for the next half hour while the worst went through or the winds would most likely have broken the blades.

    I got to home base later, just on dark and with not much more than fumes in the tanks. Sartime was way overdue and so there were lots of questions to answer… Wall.gif

    This post is quite long enough so I’ll tell part 2 another time.

    What did I learn? Well as you can imagine quite a bucketful of things and mostly not to gauge the weather from a local viewpoint, and without weather info being available, go up high for a good look around before assuming it will be clear right to the destination.

    An interesting aftermath was that day the local weather-station recorded the progress of the front at 75kts, the Aborigines mainly use C182s and C206s as air taxis in the region and more than 40 flights had to return to their point of departure, not making it back to base that night, and even the RTP ANSETT B737 made three landing attempts at Gove and then bypassed and went on to Darwin.
     
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  18. Aug 30, 2012 #18

    oriol

    oriol

    oriol

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    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain.
    Ten years back I spent a few months living in a house owned by my family in a small village in the pyrenees, by chance the village is next to one of the best sites for paragliding in Spain.


    Prior to move there I allready took a weekend parapente course. Even though my little experience I felt confident enough to buy a paraglider and join the local people and fly with them.


    It was christmas time and there were no big thermals so we did a long drive to the top of a mountain to have the longest possible glide path, to spent the most possible time in the air.
    The weather was very quiet so apparently the flight was to be the same.


    From the top of the mountaint It wasn´t possible to see in wich direction the landing camp was, it was hidden behind some mountains. I was relaxed chating and I didn´t noticed that everybody took off in front of me, soon they were all out of my view, I was the last to take off.
    One of the locals, who was to come back driving, told me to fly over some stones that would generate a minimum thermal so that I´ll be high enough to pass the river. He vaguely pointed someplace behind the mountains.


    I didn´t thought of any danger, it was just: Ok easy let´s go!
    I took off and saw no one of the others flying, after a few seconds I was totally disoriented, there was no known references at view. I started to fly at what it seemed to be the right direction.

    The slope of the mountain wasn´t steep enough compared with my gliding path, the treetops were approaching, there was no landing sites but only trees.
    I started to get a bit nervous realizing that I was depending on my luck: It was little I can do. Maybe If the slope of the mountain changed abruptly or someplace to land free of trees appeared...

    Then the slope of the mountain became a bit more steep, but enormous high tension power line cables (from the electricity dam) appeared in my trajectory there was no possible way to avoid it.

    Luckily a parapente flies at much less speed than a ULM so I could think coldly without hysterics: two options avoid the line and "land" on a tree top or keep ahead and skim the power lines by inches if possible.
    I took the second chance and passed the lines succesfully. Then the mountain steep changed abruptly and I could find a small area free of trees in front of an abandonned house.


    I was lucky to make it, very.



    When considering flying over mountains (parapente, sailplane, single engine aircraft), It´s so beautiful and so inviting to fly over them, but it so dangerous at the same time! Usually there´s little or no places at all where to land in case of emergency.


    Oriol
     
  19. Aug 30, 2012 #19

    Battson

    Battson

    Battson

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    HV lines or a tree..!! :ponder:
    Interesting dichotomy.
     
  20. Aug 31, 2012 #20

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

    Head in the clouds

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    Good story Oriol, thanks for sharing.

    Some good stuff coming out of this again - by revisiting my notes of my scary events I've now realised something I hadn't before, and it's true (for me) of difficult decisions other than flying related ones.

    I used to make a bit of extra pocket money playing in a small way with the share market, trading rather than investing. I enjoyed the 'thrust and parry', just as a game. I used to take half my profits and splash out on a family dinner for example, and then add the other half to my ante in the game.

    Along came the approach to the GFC and my portfolio (glad it was just a small amount) started to erode away. Then came decision time, sell - or hope for an upturn. The problem was that if you sold, then the loss was certain, but if you hung on then the loss might be reduced or alternatively it might become worse.

    Similarly in my scare with the storm described previously - and perhaps for Oriol and his powerlines also - if I ditched the helicopter would certainly be lost, I would be shown to be an idiot and I would be drifting at sea in a remote area too far from any hope whatsoever of rescue so I would have to save myself. The sharks were a consideration but not bad in that area except near Capes and I had a boat and fished the area so I knew the tidal and coastal currents, I would have washed up ashore about 5-10 miles north but before the Cape.

    Instead I chose (or perhaps didn't make a decision at all, except to keep fighting on) the option which offered either salvation or almost certain disaster (ditching/crashing beyond the Cape in a very wild part of the ocean where I would wash up 50 or 200 miles away - or chewed bits of me would). Interestingly I can't imagine that I would have deliberately ditched in the safer area even though I considered it, just as Oriol probably wouldn't have chosen the treetops...

    I'll tell the second half of the dumb! story after I spend some time on AussieMozzie.

    All these stories are open for comments and discussion folks...
     

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