Help me decide where to crash

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Lndwarrior, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    361
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Gary
    My home airport is surrounded by rolling hills with lots of oak trees. For the first 400 feet of altitude they are my only option (based on my aircraft and my skill level).

    At about 800 feet and up (depending on the circumstances, weight, wind, etc) I can seriously consider a turn back to the runway.

    Then there is a point between that 400 feet (where I'm landing straight ahead) and about 800 feet (where a turn back might be an option) where another option is presented.

    The other option (other than landing into rolling hills covered in oak trees) is a small lake. The lake is shallow near the shoreline and surrounded by houses. Not too many boats and no swimmers (designated swimming areas only).

    My plane is a fixed gear, nose dragger, with a stall speed around 40 mph.

    So between 400 feet and 800 feet do I consider the lake or take my changes in the hills and oak trees?

    One other data point - the hills are not totally covered in oaks. I may be able to get the wheels on the ground and possibly some breaking before I hit one. The other variable is the hills slope pretty good - and I'm no Trent Palmer! I'm not certain I could hit my spot and land on a slope while avoiding the trees.

    Part of me thinks if I can just get the wheels on the ground at 40 mph and get some breaking before I hit something, that might be the best option.

    On the other hand the water just looks tempting, even though there is the potential for nosing over - and my plane has a tip-up canopy which could be a real problem. If it tips over, I doubt if I'm going to get out.

    As I'm writing this I think I'm answering my own question. It seems to me the tip-over potential is real, and the result of that might likely be fatal.

    Curious what others might say about this?
     
  2. IK04

    IK04 Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    1,427
    Location:
    Copperas Cove, Texas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    LNXGUY
    You are on the right path. Forget about the water. You wouldn't want to survive the landing, yet drown!
     
    Tantalum, Huckster79 and mwagg737 like this.
  3. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    23,782
    Location:
    Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ed Frederick
    There was a report a few years back, the survival rate of water vs trees favored the water. The planes don't flip over if "landed" with the nose up like a normal landing even in nosegear aircraft.

    I would take the water over trees every time.

    Time is limited but pop the canopy before going down.
     
    PeterNSteinmetz and TCABM like this.
  4. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,164
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brian Flynn
    The fatality rate of ditching is one of the lowest of all crashes. The worst choice is hitting the oak tree
     
  5. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,711
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Challenged
    zaitcev likes this.
  6. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Northern NV
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    DesertNomad
    I fly over the Sierra Nevada mountains almost every week. They are full of 100' pine trees. My preferred options where there is no airport are: Interstate 80, an open meadow (only a few of those), along the shore of a small lake (several of those), anywhere else that might look marginal, trees.

    I'd do everything I could to avoid an oak tree.
     
  7. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,645
    Location:
    Madison, OH
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    dtuuri
    I knew somebody who chose a creek to land in rather than trees. Drowned. :(
     
  8. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    10,219
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ryan
    Don’t crash and then you won’t have to worry about it...
     
    Tantalum and Zeldman like this.
  9. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Messages:
    2,636
    Location:
    KLAF
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    455 Bravo Uniform
    Pick the one with the biggest margin for error. That’s whatever patch is biggest and least percent blocked by hard vertical objects.

    Remember you’re going to be stressed and adrenaline pumped - can you do a spot landing at a moments notice at 40’ish knots touchdown speed? Pick the bigger flat. And if you miss your spot, the less immovable objects the better.

    Sounds like the lake has the best chance.

    Post up an aerial photo.
     
  10. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2015
    Messages:
    6,911
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Aztec Flyer
    We've had this sort of discussion before.

    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/threads/where-would-you-land.113776/

    @Ken Ibold has posted stats in the past about water landings that were an eye opener for me. 95% survival rate if the plane was landed under control. Changed my mind about how I look at the options, as I am flying over dense forest and lakes all the time.

    BUT, if you really MUST do a water landing highly recommended you do some advance planning, along the lines @Shepherd did - post #18 on this thread:

    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...ar-for-near-coast-flight-in-warm-water.97229/
     
  11. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,118
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    chemgeek
    The biggest risk of landing in the water is flipping the plane, which increases the likelihood of drowning. Woods are not ideal, but I personally know in our region of at least 2-3 forced landings in the treetops that wound up as walk-away events, including the aircraft (C152) that I trained in. (A rusty rental pilot got lost over the Adirondacks, ran out of fuel, and set it down in the treetops as gently as possible. It took several hours to get to them because it was so remote, but everyone walked out.) Neither water or woods is a great option, but if that is the only option the key is to alight with the slowest possible speed and minimal sink rate and hope to decelerate as slowly as possible after contact with terrain.

    At our airport RWY 35 departs over a large pond/small lake. No one who is based here considers the pond the remotest option for emergency landing, although someone managed to have a takeoff runway overrun incident years a go and rolled right into the pond. If you can gain just a few hundred feet, there is a clearing to the right of the runway behind a tree line that is the preferred spot. Beyond that, with more altitude, there are several corn and cabbage fields available within gliding distance. If you get past those to pattern altitude, there is enough altitude to turn around. The pond is not appetizing, and I hope I never get caught in that small emergency window during takeoff.
     
  12. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Messages:
    3,656
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Shawn
    What's the old saying?...If your are gonna crash in trees aim for between two narrow ones to rip the wing off and leave the fireball of fuel behind you!

    All things being equally bad I think I am going for water. Trees seem like if you don't die you will likely get pretty jacked up in the process. Water seems more like a simple pass/fail survival!

    ...so the real question its would you rather potentially drown or be engulfed in a fireball?
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  13. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    14,991
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Fearless Tower
    The problem with these threads is that not every forrest is the same. Not every body of water is the same.

    A good pilot prepares for the possibility of both by learning the techniques to maximize survival in either scenario and picks the best option at the moment needed.
     
    Bobanna and Zeldman like this.
  14. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2018
    Messages:
    2,404
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Kenny Phillips
    "Tie a yellow Piper 'round the old oak tree ..." is not a song I want to hear. I'd head for water.
     
    Bobanna likes this.
  15. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    23,782
    Location:
    Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ed Frederick
    Correct, some have trees, and some are slow witted runners from GreenBOW ALABAMA!!! :D
     
    Fearless Tower likes this.
  16. Brad Smith

    Brad Smith Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Messages:
    554
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brad Smith
    I'd look for a new airport with better options to fly out of. Sounds drastic, but it ensures a safer landing if you lose power at a low altitude. Even a Cirrus has altitude limitations as to when you can pull the red handle. Good luck.
     
  17. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    6,962
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    He’s from Cloverdale according to his profile. O60 is the Airport there. Lots of flat spots around there. I’m not seeing trees or lake as the choices. Is it O60 @Lndwarrior ?
     
  18. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2014
    Messages:
    11,490
    Location:
    high desert NM
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Billy
    A pillow factory.??
     
    DesertNomad, Flocker and Lndwarrior like this.
  19. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    361
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Gary
    Used to be Cloverdale, now Im at Pine Mountain Lake - E45.
     
  20. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    361
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Gary
    This isnt a general question, its a specific one about a specific location.
     
  21. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    6,962
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    Ah. I think I’d be more partial to a 27 departure. Maybe you could make Hermitage, 45CN. It’s a couple hundred feet lower. But if you’re short it’s definitely a tree thang. What do the other pilots there have to say about all this?
     
  22. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,711
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Challenged
    This is probably really beautiful scenery to fly over, but also makes the expansive, tree-less, flat fields surrounding my own home airport take on some appeal. Maybe a side stepping departure from 27 towards the lake once you're out of usable runway? That would allow you to minimize the turn required to get back to the runway and it would put you closer to the lake/golf course, giving you three potential options depending on height. I guess there's going to be a small window in there where you aren't going to have a good time if it quits though.


    Screenshot from 2019-07-21 06-57-24.png
     
    Lndwarrior likes this.
  23. ZeroPapaGolf

    ZeroPapaGolf Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Messages:
    648
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    ZeroPapaGolf
    I debated this a lot flying out of M01 in Memphis. The options are basically trees, small and people-filled park, or the Mississippi River. It seemed like the best plan was the river near shore, or a sandbar if the river stage happened to be low.
     
  24. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Messages:
    4,636
    Location:
    A Rubber Room
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cli4ord
    I usually crash in bed or in the Easyboy.
     
    Zeldman likes this.
  25. Sundancer

    Sundancer En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,917
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Sundog
    If you get good at spot landings, take a shot at a clear spot in the tees - 30 or 40 feet will work, in something like a 172; touch down slow, under control, and the hard stop will ruin the plane, but not you.

    Or, just wait and see if the "opprtunity" presents itself, and then decide spontaneously. Unless/until then don't worry about it.
     
  26. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,324
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bonchie
    I've seen enough data at this point that I'm choosing the water over a hardwood forest, fixed gear or not. Especially if there's no one in the backseat. If I've kids in car seats, my calculation changes.

    While people often insist that fixed gear will flip, I'm still seeing precious little evidence that actually happens all that often. There was one guy who tried to do a study on it and found it almost never happens. Can't remember who or where the link is.

    BTW, saw a new video of a 172 going down in the water right off a beach in the surf just a week ago. It didn't flip. Just plopped in.
     
  27. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,645
    Location:
    Madison, OH
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    dtuuri
    If this is it, IMO it was on the way over before the nose/nosewheel hit bottom:

    Had it been deep water and not flipped the passengers would have been below the water line, wing floating above.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  28. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,324
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bonchie
    That looks to be a hundred feet or so off shore, so I'm not convinced it actually hit bottom as much as just mushed down in the front and bobbed up. Either way, sure they could drown.

    Or an oak tree could crush your skull or immobilize you while you burn to death. I'm still choosing water based on the data I've seen.
     
  29. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    4,173
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    That's pretty slow, which is good, and once you're in ground effect you're likely hitting the ground (if you keep it in control, perfect conditions) around 30 mph.. that's not bad and much better than what you'll get with most other planes

    I have found that these things, while there are generally rules of thumb (swim vs oak tree) will otherwise be very dependent on the unfolding situation in front of you. You have to keep your eyes and options open
     
  30. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,645
    Location:
    Madison, OH
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    dtuuri
    The wings never rest on the water, so I think the gear must be down.

    As for the trees, I knew two people who burned and died when their Super Cub caught a tree after an engine failure after takeoff. One wing hit a tree and the plane knife-edged up to vertical as it nosed straight down to the ground and, bam, caught fire. Same thing happened to someone I knew doing a low level roll in a Baby Great Lakes -- wing hit a tree, followed by a vertical dive into someone's back yard nose first. No fire, but killed two. So much for the theory of shooting between two trees, IMO. If the alignment isn't perfect... it's a nose dive to the ground. I once saw a student pilot explaining to the highway patrol how his Taylorcraft wound up perched in the top of a tree at a long-since closed airstrip in my home town even I didn't know was there. The guy had a bandaged ear -- and an out-of-date sectional chart. I knew an instructor and a student who stalled (apparently) on final and wound up snagged in a tree in a Piper Colt. The CFI dropped to the ground, broke both ankles and walked about a mile to get help for the student pinned in the tree. Me? I'm taking the trees, head-on into the branches of the lowest one I see.
     
  31. Dana

    Dana Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Messages:
    946
    Location:
    CT & NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dana
    One factor in the decision is how good a swimmer you are?

    If you go into thick trees under control you have a good chance of surviving. OTOH, if you try to put it down in a small clearing or road and clip a tree with just one wingtip and the plane spins around, your chances are less good.

    When I was flying powered paragliders I carried a long string (a box of dental floss, really) and a fishing sinker in case of a tree landing, the idea is to lower the string to pull up a heavier rope brought by rescuers to get down. Never had a chance to use it... when my engine quit I ended up in the ocean. Fortunately I'm a good swimmer...
     
    Lndwarrior likes this.
  32. HighCountry

    HighCountry Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    HighCountry
    The description says it’s a 172RG and the gear appears to be up. I spent many summers at OC, MD. No way it’s shallow that far out and the plane is clearly bobbing in the surf.

    Which brings up an interesting twist to the OP question. Would your answer be different for fixed gear vs retract? I’d think gear up would be more favorable for any soft surface (snow, sand) or water landing vs fixed?
     
  33. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    3,645
    Location:
    Madison, OH
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    dtuuri
    Well, I did say "nose" slash nosewheel. :)

    "He landed close to shore. ...being in shallow water also guaranteed that he was able to walk to the shore to get help." https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/...right/65-5be96961-c3c3-423f-b0a6-c6653afa1b2e

    "Bobbing in the surf" sounds like he had a cork for an engine.
     
  34. HighCountry

    HighCountry Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    HighCountry
    Hehe, I bet it didn’t bob for very long ;)
     
  35. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    50,423
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    DenverPilot
    How well do you swim?

    I’m not going to pick one. I’m going to pass along the sage advice of an FAA accident investigator who did a multi year presentation on crashing airplanes and surviving...

    “Hit the thing that will dissipate the most energy *over the greatest distance* without intruding into the cockpit.

    If you’re not sure, hit the softest thing.”

    The TOPS of the trees is great. Little chance they’re coming inside with you and lots of branches breaking off sucking away your energy. The bottoms, no bueno.

    The water great, if you hit it at a SHALLOW angle under control. Mash the airplane into it in a short space, too much deceleration in too short a distance.

    It’s about knocking off energy. Even knocking parts of the airframe off takes away energy that’s about to hurt you, in the sudden stop at the end.
     
  36. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    3,016
    Location:
    Tupelo, MS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    ktup-flyer
    Can I just not crash? That's my favorite option
     
  37. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,164
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brian Flynn
    Last frame, the airplane rolls to the right, the right wing is in the water.

    Bottom line, landings that are under control are highly survivable. Personally I trust my ability to be under control better ditching in the water than pinballing around trees.
     
  38. pigpenracing

    pigpenracing Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,310
    Location:
    Brenham Tx
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    pigpen
    Every situation is different so don't make plans to crash anywhere!
    That is what will kill you!
    If you already have in your head to do something your probably going to do it. The circumstances may be better to do something completely different...
     
  39. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    50,423
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    DenverPilot
    But do expect the engine to quit. On takeoff. Every time. Nose down. Maintain airspeed. Decide where you’re going.
     
  40. pigpenracing

    pigpenracing Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,310
    Location:
    Brenham Tx
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    pigpen
    It happened to me... Nothing major, the crank just broke in half :( I did what I had to do and landed safely back on the runway. It was in a 540 powered Christen Eagle that glides like a brick!
    crank 1.jpg
     
    denverpilot likes this.