"He was such a good pilot..."

Dan Thomas

Touchdown! Greaser!
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Dan Thomas
A good article on AVweb this morning:
https://www.avweb.com/insider/lesso...utm_campaign=avwebflash&utm_medium=newsletter

From one of the comments:

An old timer once told me, “ They haven’t found a new way to crash a plane in 50 years” ( that would be 80 now).

The “good” instructors get their students through in the minimum time and use every loophole in the regs to do so. They figure they can pick up judgement somewhere along the way. Maybe.

Add in irresponsible YouTube showboats and their worshippers and you wonder why it’s not raining aluminum every day.
 
Reminds me of Richard Collins' book "The Next Hour". His point was that no matter how experienced I am and how great my decision making has been in the past, if I don't do a good job planning my next hour of flight, none of the past matters. He was right, of course, and in that sense I can see how sometimes there are accidents where everyone is surprised because the accident pilots really were good pilots - until one day they were not.

The way I would put it is: Experience and good training are important and helpful, but they should never be used as an excuse to let your guard down.

- Martin
 
Add to that nobody actually teaches how to do a pre-flight anymore, that sometimes you have to reach in under the cowling and touch, tug and twist stuff. Something goes sideways, easier to just blame the wrench who worked on it.
 
We are humans and humans make errors. Training & judgement are required to help mitigate errors but in the end ... we are humans.
And yet, there are still too many stupid accidents.

https://www.skybrary.aero/articles/human-factors-dirty-dozenIn Canada, at least, we get the Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance training. These factors are also involved in piloting.

A really quick summary:

1701194373324.png

More pertinent to the pilot are the Five Hazardous Attitudes:

1701194494591.png

Just being aware of these goes a long way toward being a better pilot.
 
Add to that nobody actually teaches how to do a pre-flight anymore, that sometimes you have to reach in under the cowling and touch, tug and twist stuff. Something goes sideways, easier to just blame the wrench who worked on it.

Based on what evidence?
 
I've found stuff over the years. It's nice that the Navion has gull-wing doors on the top of the cowling. You can see pretty much everything there.
 
I've found stuff over the years. It's nice that the Navion has gull-wing doors on the top of the cowling. You can see pretty much everything there.
Yes, that is so very helpful. Same with the Bonanza. With too many airplanes, there is really no chance to see what's under the cowling unless you have two people and tools available to remove the whole thing.

- Martin
 
I have to say, its those accidents with the "good" pilots that always gives me pause. One just for example, the recent Cardinal crash with Richard McSpadden. By all accounts, McSpadden was a highly accomplished and experienced aviator, yet he was put in a situation that he didn't escape. When that happens, it often makes me question my abilities and my choices. There have been numerous other examples that have triggered this reaction in me.

Its a lot easier to hear about the "dumb" pilot out doing "stupid" pilot things. Things that I would like to think I have the smarts and experience to avoid, although I know I've done some dumb stuff in the past and luckily lived to tell the tale.
 
Most of these "good pilot" crashes didn't actually involve a "good pilot". They involved someone that was more concerned with marketing their pilot skills than they were actually developing skills. Don't let age fool you with this....it has nothing to do with age and everything to do with their big ass head. When the gravity pulling on your big ass head exceeds the lift you have available, you die.
 
I have to say, its those accidents with the "good" pilots that always gives me pause. One just for example, the recent Cardinal crash with Richard McSpadden. By all accounts, McSpadden was a highly accomplished and experienced aviator, yet he was put in a situation that he didn't escape. When that happens, it often makes me question my abilities and my choices. There have been numerous other examples that have triggered this reaction in me.

Its a lot easier to hear about the "dumb" pilot out doing "stupid" pilot things. Things that I would like to think I have the smarts and experience to avoid, although I know I've done some dumb stuff in the past and luckily lived to tell the tale.
I didn't know McSpadden and it seems like I may be the only pilot on the planet that had never read one of his articles. I hear he preached against the "impossible turn", yet may have died during that exact maneuver.

As Mike Tyson put it, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I had a friend who was a high-time pilot in everything from ultralights to his Comanche, yet when he faced an engine-out in the Comanche, looking at going into the water and trees or attempting that "impossible turn", he tried the turn. We're taught not to do it, but in reality, most of us will never have make that choice in real life. If you do, I hope you're not looking at trees and thinking about that perfectly smooth runway behind you. As I stood at the crash site, my best guess was he actually completed the turn and stalled at the last moment, trying to make it past the road and powerlines. He got punched in the mouth and we had to say goodbye to him.
 
I’ve known a few pilots who died flying. People said they didn’t understand it - they were good pilots. No, all of them were good at stick-and-rudder maneuvering, but they didn’t have the judgement as to when and where to push the envelope. And their crashes were not the first occasion that someone watched them fly and said “WTF was he thinking?”.
 
I didn't know McSpadden and it seems like I may be the only pilot on the planet that had never read one of his articles. I hear he preached against the "impossible turn", yet may have died during that exact maneuver.

As Mike Tyson put it, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I had a friend who was a high-time pilot in everything from ultralights to his Comanche, yet when he faced an engine-out in the Comanche, looking at going into the water and trees or attempting that "impossible turn", he tried the turn. We're taught not to do it, but in reality, most of us will never have make that choice in real life. If you do, I hope you're not looking at trees and thinking about that perfectly smooth runway behind you. As I stood at the crash site, my best guess was he actually completed the turn and stalled at the last moment, trying to make it past the road and powerlines. He got punched in the mouth and we had to say goodbye to him.

There was a lot of water in that engine and flying a Comanche, I now cannot understand how it got there. Our fuel caps are as waterproof as any I have seen. That one really bugs me.
 
There was a lot of water in that engine and flying a Comanche, I now cannot understand how it got there. Our fuel caps are as waterproof as any I have seen. That one really bugs me.

That's when it especially hits home, when its a similar aircraft to what you fly, and/or a friend.

Another example that happened closer to home was a Piper Cheyenne being professionally flown. At the time I was training to fly the Cheyenne. I knew the pilot, not well, but he was a regular transient to our field. He was very experienced in type. The Cheyenne crashed on approach to a nearby airport. A pilot witness saw the aircraft on about a mile or final just suddenly roll over and nosedive into the ground. NTSB could find no signs of pre-impact mechanical failures and attributed the accident to "pilot loss of control for unknown reasons". Highly experienced pilot, very capable aircraft, and no good reason for the accident.
 
I have to say, its those accidents with the "good" pilots that always gives me pause. One just for example, the recent Cardinal crash with Richard McSpadden. By all accounts, McSpadden was a highly accomplished and experienced aviator, yet he was put in a situation that he didn't escape. When that happens, it often makes me question my abilities and my choices. There have been numerous other examples that have triggered this reaction in me.

Its a lot easier to hear about the "dumb" pilot out doing "stupid" pilot things. Things that I would like to think I have the smarts and experience to avoid, although I know I've done some dumb stuff in the past and luckily lived to tell the tale.
But was McSpadden controlling the airplane? He was in the right seat and the plan was the owner in the left seat would fly the take off and climb, and McSpadden would take the controls when they began the photography. So we don't really know who was at the controls when the return was attempted.
 
Most of these "good pilot" crashes didn't actually involve a "good pilot".
The point of my original post was that the deceased pilot's friends and relatives will say that they "don't understand; he was such a good pilot."

I've seen newspaper articles quoting them saying that, after the pilot and a couple of friends pile into a granite face in IMC in the mountains. A failure to take the advice of the weather briefer a bit more seriously, another failure to turn around when it started looking sketchy.

Then there are the showoffs that buzz the runway or a friend's house and pull up hard, and the airplane rolls over and dives into the ground. "What happened? He was such a good pilot." No, he wasn't. He did not understand the load factor/accelerated stall stuff that he'd been taught in groundschool. It was academic. Some aerobatic training would have moved it, in intense fashion, from the abstract to the concrete and maybe he wouldn't have pulled stupid stuff after that.

Besides, who are non-flying friends and relatives that they can judge the guy's piloting skills or knowledge?
 
Add to that nobody actually teaches how to do a pre-flight anymore, that sometimes you have to reach in under the cowling and touch, tug and twist stuff. Something goes sideways, asier to just blame
Based on what evidence?

Go watch the ramp. When was the last time you actually saw someone do more than take a cursory look, versus reach in and give a mag a shake to see if it was secure?
 
Isn't that kind of the entire point of this thread? Teaching proper practices is one thing, but keeping up those practices on your own when you're not in the presence of an instructor is altogether different. Every one of the students at the school I was teaching at was taught a proper preflight and shown things above and beyond the checklist. Whether they keep that up once they're out of our hands is on them.
 
I read somewhere - can’t remember who wrote it - to touch and move, or try to move, everything your fingers can reach on preflight. My mindset is to find something that will keep us from flying. Not that I’m hesistant to go up, but it’s intended to prime the mind with an expectation bias toward finding a problem.

A few years back, I got a flight review in a rental 172. After parking and tying it down, I did a walkaround, about like a preflight. The CFI said he’d never seen anyone do that, and thought it was a great idea. I’d rather find a squawk right after the flight it happened on and get it fixed now, rather than get cancelled during preflight.
 
I had a friend at work that wanted to go for a ride in a small plane so I was more than happy to oblige. When I asked him after the flight what was the scariest part he said, "watching you inspect the airplane before we went." He told me that I was inspecting it like I was expecting to find something wrong. I told him I was but since I couldn't find a reason not to go flying ... we would. And we did!
 
There was a lot of water in that engine and flying a Comanche, I now cannot understand how it got there. Our fuel caps are as waterproof as any I have seen. That one really bugs me.

The problem with the Comanche is though it's easy to drain the sump, it's hard to see what comes out without a catch can, getting down on the ground etc., so complacency sets in. Plus, you have four tanks to sump. As far has how water gets in outside of contaminated fuel, the aluminum tank plate can develop small cracks that can go a long time undetected.
 
The problem with the Comanche is though it's easy to drain the sump, it's hard to see what comes out without a catch can, getting down on the ground etc., so complacency sets in. Plus, you have four tanks to sump. As far has how water gets in outside of contaminated fuel, the aluminum tank plate can develop small cracks that can go a long time undetected.

So because of the crash that @Lowflynjack mentioned, I invented a thing. Joe and Walt were our friends that died in that crash. I was a relatively new pilot when they passed and I was ****ed at Walt for a long time because "A simple sump would have revealed water" Now that I fly a Comanche I realize the sumping is different and as I understand "most" Comanche pilots don't sump for the reasons you mention. I think about them on every preflight to this day and I force myself to sump but as you mentioned, there is no way to catch the fuel as with most other planes. So here is what I came up with. Suction to the belly, drain all 4 tanks and retrieve the bottle:

Screenshot 2023-11-28 222419.png
 
The problem with the Comanche is though it's easy to drain the sump, it's hard to see what comes out without a catch can, getting down on the ground etc., so complacency sets in. Plus, you have four tanks to sump. As far has how water gets in outside of contaminated fuel, the aluminum tank plate can develop small cracks that can go a long time undetected.
Could be worse, you could be in a post-restart Cessna with 13 sump points.
 
Comanche doesn’t have typical push valves to sump the tank?
 
I work in "the death business"...there are things that are said, repeated over and over on deaths, that when you look at them, they don't make much sense, but they are always said anyway..."He/she was such a good pilot" is one of them. The one that always stands out to me is, "He/she died doing what they loved." I want to ask, "They loved crashing?"
 
Add to that nobody actually teaches how to do a pre-flight anymore, that sometimes you have to reach in under the cowling and touch, tug and twist stuff. Something goes sideways, easier to just blame the wrench who worked on it.

Really? I am a CFI and aircraft owner. I have certainly covered this with students.
 
So because of the crash that @Lowflynjack mentioned, I invented a thing. Joe and Walt were our friends that died in that crash. I was a relatively new pilot when they passed and I was ****ed at Walt for a long time because "A simple sump would have revealed water" Now that I fly a Comanche I realize the sumping is different and as I understand "most" Comanche pilots don't sump for the reasons you mention.
Yeah, it was tough losing Walt. I didn't know Joe, but it was hard to understand that two pilots got in a plane, that had been sitting outside in heavy rains, and took off without sumping. The NTSB report showed signs that it wasn't a new issue either. I'm glad that someone like you got the message and took action!

If you drain some fuel from all four tanks and find water, do you go back an do them individually to find which one had water? I'm guessing thats the only way!
 
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