Friday, November 25, 2005

Accident of the Week

Tonight's Accident of the Week involves the lucky pilot of a Piper Arrow that surrived a crash into some trees following a loss of engine power. Reminds the IFR Pilot of his troubles during the Great Alaska Flying Adventure (tm)...
NTSB Identification: MIA06LA019
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 15, 2005 in Heathrow, FL
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-180, registration: N7453J
Injuries: 2 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 15, 2005, about 2053 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28R-180, N7453J, registered to Magic Interiors, collided with trees, the roof of a house, then the ground during a forced landing in a residential area near Heathrow, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal, local flight from Orlando Sanford International Airport (KSFB). The airplane was substantially damaged and the commercial-rated pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight originated about 1923, from Orlando Sanford International Airport.

The pilot stated that during his preflight inspection of the airplane he noted the fuel level in the left and right fuel tanks were nearly full, and slightly above the tab, respectively. No contaminants were noted when examining each fuel tank and the fuel strainer. The engine was started with the fuel selector positioned to the right tank, and after engine start, he contacted air traffic control (ATC) and was cleared to taxi to runway 9R. He repositioned the fuel selector to the left tank and performed an engine run-up with no discrepancies reported. He was cleared for takeoff and remained in the traffic pattern for runway 9R where he performed 3 or 4 touch-and-go landings. After the last landing he exited the traffic pattern to the west and proceeded to Leesburg Regional Airport where he performed a full-stop landing on runway 31. He taxied back to runway 31, departed, and climbed to 1,000 feet. He exited the traffic pattern to the east and climbed to 2,000 feet where he reduced the throttle control to 23 inches manifold pressure and the propeller to 2,400 rpm. He also leaned the fuel/air ratio, and proceeded towards KSFB. When the flight was 9.8 miles from KSFB and near Orlando Class B airspace, he established contact with KSFB ATCT. The controller advised him to contact them when the flight was 3 miles away but the controller contacted him before then and advised of nearby traffic. He descended to 1,500 feet and approximately 1 minute later, the engine went to idle and was operating rough but did not quit. He immediately looked at the oil pressure and temperature gauges and noted both indications were in the green arc. He did not recall looking at the tachometer or the fuel flow gauge at the time of the loss of engine power.

The pilot further stated he could not recall the sequence but he "worked" the throttle control which only momentarily corrected the loss of engine power. The engine did hesitate/sputter each time he increased the throttle control. He placed the mixture control to full rich, and verified the auxiliary fuel pump was in the "on" position, and the fuel selector was on the left tank position. The fuel pump and fuel selector had been unchanged from the moment of takeoff at KSFB. He repositioned the fuel selector to the right tank which had no affect, and verified the ignition switch was in the "both" position; he did not check the magnetos. He trimmed the airplane to maintain 80 mph, and looked for a place to land. He saw I-4, but knew because of his altitude that was not an option. At 500 feet he observed lights and saw a small road in a community that was located to his left. He reported that the landing gear extended automatically which occurred because of a decrease in engine rpm, and headed towards the road. He was committed to a landing on the road and began a turn to line up parallel. Looking to the side of the airplane as he turned, he saw a tree dead ahead covered by the darkness. He banked to avoid the tree, but knew impact with the tree would occur. The airplane impacted trees, he closed his eyes, and could not recall the ground impact. He and the passenger unbelted their seatbelts, and exited the airplane; he experienced no difficulty exiting the airplane.

Preliminary examination of the accident site by an FAA airworthiness inspector revealed both wings were separated at the wing root; the right wing remained suspended in a tree. Fuel leakage was noted from the left fuel tank which was on the ground. The airplane was recovered for further examination.
It will be interesting to see what the NTSB's determination of the probable cause of this accident is. From the report, it sounds like the pilot did all that he should have, including switching from the left tank to the right tank, with no change in engine performance. We'll keep an eye out for the probable cause determination.

The local paper's article on the accident provides some additional details about the crash.

No Joy

Restored to flight status, the IFR Pilot decided to go fly 78S today, in preparation for Monday's Angel Flight. JP agreed to co-pilot so that some instrument flying could be done.

Mother Nature crushed that dream, thankyouverymuch. The runway at 15G was pretty well iced over, and the Weather Briefer advised that the latest report of braking action was "nil." There goes that plan. Well, at least the GPS chip got updated, and the LP tank was refilled.

On arriving home, the IFR Pilot received a voice mail message that Monday's flight was cancelled. Seems the patient's insurer didn't way to pay for treatment in Chicago...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Back In Business, Baby!!!

Best flying-related news the IFR Pilot has received in the last two months: Having an ulcer is not a condition that must be immediately reported to the FAA. As long as the Gastro Doc has cleared a return to normal activity levels (which he has as to the IFR Pilot), a pilot can resume flying. The paperwork drill about endoscopic evidence of healing only comes into play when it's time to renew a medical. Since the IFR Pilot doesn't have to do that for another 2 years, it's back to normal flight ops.

To celebrate, and assuming Mother Nature gets on board, it's an Angel Flight from MDW to CAK on Monday. JP's coming along, just in case. The IFR Pilot's mixed it up with the Big Iron at MDW before, so it should be no problem. But, some practice flights between now and then might be in order. Which explains why we're expecting 12" of snow between now and Friday morning...

But John, we're still going flying in March when I come to SFO.

Here She Is

As promised, a photo of the IFR Pilot and his paramour:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Endoscope Done

Today, the IFR Pilot willingly allowed the doctor to shove a camera down his throat into his stomach to take pictures. That's right, boys and girls, the follow-up endoscope was done. Please note that the doctor previously told the IFR Pilot he was healed and didn't need this procedure. But, per the FAA's Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners, the IFR Pilot needs "Radiographic or endoscopic evidence that the ulcer is healed" in order to reclaim his medical.

The only question now is whether the IFR Pilot will be required to finish out the six-month period of stability normally required after an ulcer with a history of bleeding. Mine are fully healed and I've finished the required regimen of medication. So, let's hope that's enough to get back to PIC status. I'll be calling AOPA tomorrow for some help.

In the meantime, JP and I are going flying on Friday in 78S if Momma Nature cooperates. Will be nice to get back to flying her, that's fo' shizzle, my nizzle.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My Paramour

On Saturday, the IFR Pilot broke the vow of monogamy to 78S. A client, TC, owns a certified Lancair Columbia 300, N269GB. He's been itching to take the IFR Pilot flying in it since March.

The sun, moons, stars, and the rest of the universe finally aligned, and we met to go flying on an unbelievably beautiful mid-November day in our neck of the woods. The IFR Pilot dragged along one of 78S's co-owners, MS.

We launched out of 1G5, bound for the ever-popular Flying Turtle Cafe at MFD. The IFR Pilot had the right seat, and did the flying, with TC handling throttle, prop, and communications, and adding a little help for the touchdown.

9GB has a side-stick, and this was the IFR Pilot's first experience with one. It seemed fairly natural, and was certainly wonderful to have the panel in front of you clear of a yoke. Having done some flight simming with a joystick helped, although the physical force required to manipulate the stick reminded you that this wasn't just a simluation.

Final approach speed was 90 knots, and unlike in a Cessna, you drive the Lancair all the way to the ground, with a last minute flare. After 500+ landings in the child of Clyde Cessna (and a half dozen in an Arrow), the speed and sight picture were dramatically different.

Speaking of sight pictures, 9GB is equipped with an Apollo GPS driving two MX 20 MFDs. The upper MFD displays VFR Sectionals, while the lower MFD displays IFR en-route charts and Jeppesen approach plates. MS flew the GPS 27 on our return, and it was pretty slick to see the approach being displayed on the MFD as we flew it.

All in all, anytime that TC wants a co-pilot, the IFR Pilot's there. He says he may be selling her in a couple of years, as he's looking to step up to a D-Jet. The IFR Pilot has decided to start saving his pennies. If you want to donate some, I'll take 'em.

MS snapped a couple of photos when we were done, which I hope to post once I hound him to send them!!!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Comment Spam

Well, I hated to do it, but the IFR Pilot has succumbed to all of the comment spam and has turned on Blogger's word verification feature. Someday, the Internet really will be free of spam...

Accident of the Week

Continuing the theme of other-than-powered aircraft that the IFR Pilot has recently been using for Accident of the Week, this week's report involves a gyrocopter.

Confession: The IFR Pilot thinks gyrocopters are pretty rad. Saw some at Oshkosh this year and was very intrigued with them. I'd consider building one, but my mechanical skills are probably a bit lacking. Though I did take a class with the IFR Pilot's Dad last year about building an RV. Maybe someday...

NTSB Identification: DFW06LA028
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 11, 2005 in New Braunfels, TX
Aircraft: Rehler Gyrocopter, registration: N100KR
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 11, 2005, at 1705 central standard time, an experimental Rehler gyrocopter, N100KR, was substantially damaged following a loss of control while on approach to Runway 13 at the New Braunfels Municipal Airport, near New Braunfels, Texas. The private pilot/builder/owner was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Several witnesses observed the gyrocopter as it descended toward the runway. When the gyrocopter was about 30 feet above the runway, a gust of wind turned it sideways, and the gyrocopter flipped inverted and impacted the runway. Some of the witnesses reported hearing the engine make a power change before the impact.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the wreckage. The inspector established flight control and engine continuity and found fuel in the fuel tanks. No mechanical deficiencies were noted.

Weather reported at the airport at 1751 was wind from 150 degrees at 12 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken clouds at 6,000 feet, overcast clouds at 7,000 feet, temperature 81 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 62 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.97 inches of Mercury.

Here's a picture of this beautiful machine:

The builder of this particular gyrocopter apparently had won numerous awards for this bird. You can read about it here.

From the report, it sounds like this was nothing more than a rouge gust of wind that wreaked havoc on the gyrocopter. Perhaps greybeard can enlighten us as to whether it's possible to recover from an inverted attitude in a rotorcraft...

My condolences to the pilot and his family. Remember to fly your aircraft all the way to the ground.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Never Stop Whining

Let's see how the Fire Chief deals with the IFR Pilot's whining, complaining, and offer to settle...

November 15, 2005

Darryl Beaton, Fire Chief
County of Lethbridge No. 26
#100, 905 – 4 Ave. South
Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4E4

Re: Invoice #20163

Dear Chief Beaton:

Thank you very much for your October 18, 2005 letter concerning the referenced invoice. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

I sincerely appreciate the additional explanation that you provided to me. I did note Subsection 10 of Section B of Schedule A of County of Lethbridge By-Law No. 1267; however, given that the By-Laws have a specific section dedicated to fees charged in respect of airport operations, I did not assume that the more general charge for dispatch of the Fire Department was also applicable. Additionally, nowhere does the fee schedule indicate that this charge is levied in a minimum increment of one hour.

I am not aware that the additional emergency vehicles from Coaldale & District Emergency Services were also dispatched on the day we had engine trouble with our plane. In fact, I distinctly remember that when we landed and taxied to parking, there were only a limited number of emergency vehicles, perhaps two total, at the airport. You may recall that there was a fatal accident at Lethbridge Airport later in the afternoon of July 20, 2005. Perhaps Coaldale & District Emergency Services responded to that incident, and had it confused with my incident.

In any event, I am again requesting that the County waive the $500 assessment pursuant to that provision of the By-Laws that authorizes waiver for charges associated with emergency or humanitarian matters. If the County is not inclined to show favorable consideration to a visiting aviator who bought significant quantities of aviation fuel while in Lethbridge, spent money on local hotels, restaurants, stores, and taxicabs during several nights spent in the area, and patronized the airplane repair mechanics at the Lethbridge Airport, then I am willing to pay $100, which I calculate at two-tenths of an hour (i.e., 11 minutes) at $500 an hour, to resolve this matter.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


The IFR Pilot

Friday, November 11, 2005

Accident of the Week

Sorry I skipped last week. I've suitably chastised myself and promised that it won't happen again.

This week's accident report involves a glider that suffered an in-flight breakup in the Flight Levels. Thankfully, the pilot was wearing a parachute and survived, albeit with serious injuries. He was wave soaring. The report notes that lenticular clouds were present. Could it be that there was so much turbulence that the glider broke up? They hadn't yet found the wings...

NTSB Identification: LAX06LA024
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 02, 2005 in Sparks, NV
Aircraft: Schleicher ASH 26 E, registration: N26XL
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 2, 2005, about 0940 Pacific standard time, a Schleicher Alexander GMBH & Company, ASH 26E (powered glider), N26XL, experienced an in-flight breakup over Sparks, Nevada, during an unknown phase of flight. The glider was destroyed, and the airline transport pilot was seriously injured. The pilot owned and operated the glider. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the ground level impact site, and undetermined conditions existed aloft. The personal flight was performed under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was in effect. The flight originated from Inyokern, California, about 0645.

Preliminary information received from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) quality assurance personnel indicates that the pilot did not report experiencing any difficulties during the flight. The pilot had been cleared to fly in an airspace block between FL 180 and FL 280. Controllers opined that the pilot's communications sounded "normal" during conversations within minutes of their losing radio and radar contact.

FAA air route traffic control center recorded radar data for the last 8 minutes 13 seconds of recorded flight indicates that at 0932:17 the glider was at a mode C transponder altitude of 20,000 feet. At 0935:42, the glider's altitude had decreased to 18,800 feet, and at 0939:06, it had increased to 20,800 feet.

The last (mode C) radar hit occurred at 0939:30. At this time the glider was located about 0.8 nautical miles (nm) north-northeast (030 degrees, magnetic) of Sparks. One minute later the glider was about 2.2 nm and 032 degrees from Sparks.

The main wreckage was found about 2.6 nm north-northeast of Sparks. The wings and the horizontal stabilizers were not with the main wreckage. They have not, as yet, been located. According to Sparks Police Department personnel, various other components from the glider have been located in the city over an approximate 5-mile-long path.

Several FAA air traffic controllers, based in the Reno/Tahoe International Airport control tower, reported observing a target rapidly descend on their D-BRITE radar. Using binoculars while looking in the same general area, they observed a parachute. The controllers telephoned 911 and advised local authorities of the situation.

The pilot, with his deployed parachute, was located about 1.6 nm and 007 degrees from the main wreckage.

The Reno Airport, elevation 4,415 feet mean sea level, is located about 4.8 nm south of the accident site. At 0956, Reno reported the following weather conditions at the airport: wind from 190 degrees at 29 knots with gusts to 38 knots; 10 miles visibility; few clouds at 10,000 feet and broken clouds at 15,000 and 25,000 feet.

An acquaintance of the pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that, at the time of the accident, he was soaring several miles from the accident site. The acquaintance stated that his friend was engaged in a cross-country wave soaring activity. Lenticular clouds were present in the area.
Here's a picture of the wreckage:

Here's another view:

From the Sparks Tribune

The article in the Sparks Tribune reports that the pilot indicated he encountered "heavy winds" that ultimately led to failure of the tail system, which in turn led to failure of the wings. He bailed out between 12,000 and 15,000 MSL. His injuries appear to have resulted from a hard landing, and then being dragged by the parachute canopy.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sunshine State

Greetings from the land of the grapfruit and Mickey Mouse: Beautiful, sunny F-L-A. The IFR Pilot was "forced" to travel to the land of his adolesence to participate in a continuing legal education seminar for the AOPA Legal Services Plan. Learned lots of good stuff, so please potential clients, keep busting those TFRs and otherwise irritating the FAA. The IFR Pilot-Lawyer is here to help!

After suffering through 8 hours of legal mumbo-jumbo, a just reward was in order: Attending AOPA Expo! I took it in a couple of years ago when it was in Philly, and figured what the heck, I'm here, the show's here, might as well check it out. (JP flew 78S down with a couple of other folks, and had GREAT tailwinds!!!! Evidence stolen from

Nice trip, indeed!)

Couple items of interest. First, even though the IFR Pilot's medical is in limbo until an upcoming endoscope, it is actually permissible for him to fly and log PIC time, so long as there is another properly certificated pilot on board the aircraft. This is because the FARs recognize a distinction between ACTING as PIC and LOGGING PIC time. According to AOPA's Director of Medical Services, Gary Crump:

FAA distinguishes between the two, and logging PIC time is legal without a medical as long as the ACTING pilot in command is properly certificated.
Yeah, baby, the IFR Pilot's goin' flyin' when he gets home. Learning this important regulatory nuance means that I can keep my passenger-carrying, night, and instrument currencies current pending return of the medical clearance. Yippe-kay-ya!

Second, a somewhat alarming statistic: only about 15% of Air Traffic Controllers are pilots. This means that a substantial majority of them are likely to have no freakin' idea what's going on in the cockpit of your plane when you've got a problem, sumble into IMC, have a vacuum failure, etc. I once heard someone observe that they give controllers voice authority training. I don't know if that's really true or not. The lesson here, though, is that YOU are the PIC. Don't assume that ATC knows what's best for you just because they deliver that next instruction with all the confidence in the world.

Third, if you are looking to spend money of aviation goodies -- go to Oshkosh. Sure, there's plenty of stuff to drool over at AOPA Expo, but it just doesn't even compare with the volume of stuff available at AirVenture. Having already experienced the crack once, however, the IFR Pilot wisely gave the pushers at the Bose booth a wide berth. (JP checked it out, but succumed to a different drug, found here. We'll see whether it actually works and suits his needs. Can you say "30 day trial"???)

Tomorrow returns to IFR Pilot to the friendly confines of a commerical airport to do battle with the TSA folks. I'll be sure to remove my belt, watch, shoes, and the steel plate in my head before going through the metal detector!