Dale Snodgrass crash in Idaho

Discussion in 'Aviation Mishaps' started by Fearless Tower, Jul 25, 2021.

  1. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    From some alleged eyewitness observations it sounds like he was intending to do a STOL takeoff and something went horribly wrong after rotation. Apparently went straight up and then slid straight down. No spin.

    The ATC transcript in the karhryns report comments seems to match.
     
  2. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

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    Yep. Here’s Patty Wagstaff talking about foreign objects jamming things for her, four times!

    https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/control-failures/
     
  3. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Thought I read those two dated at one time???
     
  4. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

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    Yes, they were together when I met them both in 2001.
     
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  5. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    video here
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  7. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    It sure looks like either the controls were stuck/locked, or the seat slid back? That climb ended up very steep, seemed like unable to get the noise down at all?

    Just layman’s observation.
     
  8. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Can’t tell for certain, but in that initial climb, before the wing drops, it kind of looks like the elevator is full down and the nose still pitching up.
     
  9. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    yeah, hard to tell from that video. If true, that would certainly support a shifting cargo aft CG hypothesis. Wouldn't be the first time such a CG shift has occurred, especially when repurposing an airplane for ad hoc carriage. Of course we don't know if there was anything being hauled either.
     
  10. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I watched it in high definition on a large screen .... I am not a fixed wing pilot .... but (to me) a normal takeoff is tail up once runway speed allows ..... then tail down (elevator) when enough speed for takeoff ..... in this case it appears to be a 3-point takeoff which would indicate gust locks not removed .... and the moment the pilot realized it there was nothing he could do about it.

    Unless he was demonstrating an STOL departure as was mentioned .... is that how it is done ? (3-point launch)

    .
     
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  11. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    That's horrible. Three point takeoffs aren't unusual for some planes/pilots, not necessarily an indication of a problem. If he tried to bring the tail up, and that didn't work, I'd expect he'd just shut it down and figure out what went wrong. That's on a piston engine tailwheel, though, I have no idea how fast a turboprop (think this is that) slows down. To me it looks like continuous full up until stall/spin. Which, to me, looks like maybe control failure after liftoff, maybe a broken cable or pulley. But that's just the observation of a tailwheel pilot that's never flown anything like that plane. Maybe it doesn't matter, but I hope this ends up being some one in a million mechanical thing.
     
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  12. Bender Aviation

    Bender Aviation Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Elevator trim stall? Sad, and hard to watch.
     
  13. Tools

    Tools Pre-takeoff checklist

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    From the sidelines.... it does appear the elevator deflected down at a critical moment. I’m in the severely out of CG limits corner.

    Very similar video to other known cases of this.

    A STOL demo would only predispose him to not recognizing the problem earlier, which MAY have made a difference, but likely not.

    An aft CG departure is like a Y Axis ground loop. You can fly an unstable aircraft, you simply CANNOT get outside of limits, which are unknown to you. Couple that with not expecting the situation, it’s a likely catastrophic outcome.

    There but by the grace of God go I...
     
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  14. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    I used to think of the airplane as my last ditch euthanasia type thing but nope, not anymore cause if I crash you'll cut me up and do a full fledged autopsy, slice open my veins and look for plaque, CAT scan my brain even though I'm no longer around to pay for it, toxology tests....probably even check the size of my balls. If I were to die violently in a crash I think it better to just be a "motorist" than a pilot, won't end up on the ten o'clock news. Dale is probably glad the whole mess got burned up and there's no evidence for anyone to pick over.

    So how many here actually ever heard of this guy before he crashed? I'll start off by admitting I hadn't. But now our YouTube ques are filled with lots of stuff about Snort and the Marchetti SM1019 and the F-14 and if you watch his talk at the Smithsonian institute you'll find out his favorite airplane in the Navy was the A4. Must be some wisdom in that "Top Gun" movie after all. Anyway, he comes across as a regular guy, not some stiff shirt Captain and what I mean by "regular guy" is a pilot. Just like us guys. Bit of a hotshot too.

    Analysis: I don't know. I'm leaning towards seat malfunction of some sort or control jam at an unexpected fulcrum point. I just can't imagine this guy getting to the runway without doing the 720, double Christopher, bicycle leg-pump thing. Who in the world EVER takes off without doing that? Okay, I know, it's definitely been missed by someone but him? nah... If you watch the video that is linked in post #45 and freeze it at around 0:58 then look at it frame by frame, it's really hard to tell but it looks like his head is down and he's almost sitting on the floor or tilted way back. Like I said, low quality image and inconclusive evidence but that's kinda what I'm seeing.

    I'm dismayed by the hate comments about the stunned bystanders, caught on camera, who didn't just immediately sprint out there onto an active runway where there was a crashed airplane starting on fire to save what was pretty obvious to me a dead body. One guy actually thought they should be executed. Probably one of those folks who think that if you didn't vote for the same guy as me you're a traitor. Anyway, I pointed out that of all the people who have been asphyxiated in a confined space, half of them are someone who went in there to rescue the the original victim. With drownings it's even worse, about two to one. Not to mention the fact that the controller in the tower had to muster the sense to warn the first responders and fire rescue to watch out for adrenaline pumped people running across the field.

    So if a plane crashes in front of you and slowly bursts into flames or if your best friend passes out in a cave. Well....think about it first. I think in this case all of the witnesses did the right thing.

    RIP Captain Snodgrass
     
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  15. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Sigh. Saw him perform.
     
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  16. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi Tools .... I will go back and watch it again .... earlier viewings I had kept my eye on the elevator and could not see it moving either at takeoff or lift-off .... but I could be wrong .... also I noticed the elevator did not change during the crash and even afterward it was still in the level position ... thus my gust-lock speculation .... which brings two more questions:

    ---- does a typical (elevator) gust-lock also lock the rudder at the same time ? .... if so it would be hard to imagine him taking off without rudder control on a taildragger

    ---- next question .... the Marchetti has rear seats .... how could cargo shift rearward to change CofG .... or is there a baggage compartment behind the rear seats ?

    thanks.

    .
     
  17. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    .

    Also wanted to mention that a witness , who sounded like a pilot , said he watched Dale S. load cargo in the back ... watched the takeoff and crash .... and then a couple of days later commented .... "textbook gust-lock accident"

    .
     
  18. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I just can’t see him get bitten by a ‘gust lock’, not that I know what happened.

    On a related note, watching the video & comm, it ‘seemed’ like the timeline from taxi to taking off was rather short? Yes, maybe it was compressed some with the video. That short timeline(if accurate) doesn’t allow a whole lot of time for ground checks & the rest. I had read where he flew in an hour prior, then also where the plane was coming out of maintenance? Those are two very different scenarios.

    Now with a familiar plane that I just flew, I have done abbreviated run ups & a control check while taxiing, not so if coming out of maintenance. With basic stuff like a gust lock or seat slide, a cursory check at the hold short would likely catch that.

    With the mention of a STOL demo on takeoff, that could induce forces that were not present with recent takeoffs. It seemed rather steep for just CG or ‘load shift’ explanations.
     
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  19. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The flight path is not unlike the infamous C2 crash where the load shifted on the cat shot.
     
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  20. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Load shift? Did he stuff an MRAP back there? If not, would a 30 lb bag matter if it shifted a few feet?
     
  21. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    Unless I am missing something I don't see anything in the video that indicates any visible control inputs were made to correct the stall and spin. Even after impact the elevator and rudder returned to neutral. No aileron deflection, no rudder input. Has me really leaning towards the gust lock being on. Also sounds like he is a bit rushed prior to takeoff and made a few minor mistakes.
     
  22. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Gust lock in is not a minor mistake. Makes me feel better about my slow, deliberate preflights.
     
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  23. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    I meant things like not being on tower frequency, saying he was cleared for takeoff even though he wasn't. I realize with the performance of the aircraft a mid field departure is a non event but also hints at being rushed and not wanting to taxi all the way to the end.
     
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  24. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Well not even a load shift. He was building a cabin at the strip he was flying to. Could’ve just been hauling a bunch of supplies loaded outside of the envelope.

    At any rate, gust lock, FOD in the back seat jamming the stick, seat off the tracks, aft CG, etc. All are possible scenarios. Heck, could’ve just been a flight control failure.
     
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  25. LesGawlik

    LesGawlik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The takeaway for me is that no matter how skilled or experienced one is, the little things remain deadly.
     
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  26. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    anyone happen to know where the PTT is on this plane?
     
  27. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    It’s plausible, building supplies, a shovel, or whatever slid back to interfere with controls? If it was loaded with a few ‘building supplies’, may not be a good idea to demo a STOL takeoff? Not saying either happened, just saying.

    I had heard the PTT switch is on the stick.
     
  28. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Blancolirio posted some video that shows the gust lock - a big red u-shaped bar on the floor that locks both stick and rudder pedals when lifted up. Seems pretty much impossible to taxi and take off with that thing engaged. There are also some pictures of the actual aircraft and it shows that the torque tube that connects the front and rear control sticks is fully exposed and runs under the pilot's seat. So I still think it was some sort of seat failure, either it came unlocked or the frame could have been cracked or broken, The seat could have collapsed onto the connecting torque tube and effectively frozen the controls.
     
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  29. Arm3

    Arm3 Pre-Flight

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    Blancolirio just released another video. He talked with other owners of similar planes and they made it seem like the possibility of the front seat sliding back would not be plausible in this case.

    The theory of this video is that misrigged or runaway trim could have been the cause. I have a hard time believing the trim at full up would result in an uncontrollable condition at takeoff speed. That sounds like too much authority to design into a trim system.

     
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  30. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

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    Wow, that makes a lot of sense. Yes it seems like too much authority to design into a trim but he said the owners said in that particular plane it just might be. I’m particularly anxious to find out what the NTSB determines in this case.
     
  31. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    I’m not sure there will be enough evidence for any NTSB cause to be substantiated, which leaves us with pilot’s inability to maintain directional control…
     
  32. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    On several GA NTSB accident reports I've read, they try to establish control continuity. If they do look at the aircraft, maybe there will be enough left to determine if something may have been broken. If it wasn't gust lock, and it wasn't seat failure, to me control failure seems more likely than pilot failure. From the video, there didn't appear to be any attempt to push down, and that's not characteristic of any experienced pilot, let along this one.
     
  33. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I am glad I don't have a rudder lock that I can forget. I have a gust lock on the C-150 that is a red metal flag thingy right through the center of the yoke shaft in front of your face. Hard to takeoff with that still installed.
     
  34. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    The video isn't real clear but I agree that from what you can see there doesn't appear to be any control surface movement at all. The idea of mis-rigged trim seems like speculation has gone off the rails even if the seat didn't. I believe something, on take-off roll, jammed the fully exposed torque tube connection between front and rear control sticks. That could have been a seat structural failure of some sort or a foreign object. It would also eliminate the hard to believe notion that the pilot didn't do a simple check for free controls before take-off. The controls were free and correct prior to the take-off roll then, something went wrong and he had about 3 seconds to figure it out.
     
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  35. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Yes, buggered up controls could be an issue. Does anyone know recent history with the plane? I thought I saw one where he flew it in an hour prior? Then there were reports the plane was coming out of maintenance? Those are two very different scenarios.

    If he flew in an hour prior, the controls should be his he left them.

    If there was any maintenance done, I’d expect a slower taxi & more time before taking off.
     
  36. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Ad hoc cargo loading in the rear cockpit shifting on ground roll acceleration = free and correct control check before takeoff roll but jammed controls after takeoff roll (to say nothing of condition aggravating pitch moment after liftoff).
     
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  37. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I never understood exterior gust locks.
    one absent minded mistake and you are done in seconds.

    I hope there is no one thing on my plane that will kill me if I make a single mistake. I can't think of one.
     
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  38. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    If the gust lock is like on the Bird Dog, you really couldn't accidentally leave it engaged.
     
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  39. jpskies

    jpskies Pre-Flight PoA Supporter

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    My friend owns the exact same model of Machetti SM-1019B for over a year now. I showed him the crash video this morning and he immediately went back to his hangar and tested the gust lock. He came back and said it is very possible the gust lock could be the cause. When the gust lock is engaged, the elevator is aligned with the horizontal stabilizer, which is what appears in the crash video (as well as the aileron). However, he said it's kind of hard to taxi while gust lock is set, but it's not impossible.

    Very sad to see this happened.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2021
  40. Rushie

    Rushie En-Route

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    It’s hard to believe Dale would have done this. But the mind and memory can be a funny thing. I’ve had an absent minded brain fart that could have killed me. But then I’m no Snort. But then even our heroes aren’t infallible.
     
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