New Documentary on JFK Jr. Accident

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Palmpilot, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. redtail

    redtail En-Route

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    One of the haziest days I had experienced during my training (out of TEB). I distinctly remember commenting about it to my CFI once we got up. His (JFK Jr) accident was a low point for me as I finished up my training in the following weeks and took my checkride, but it really drove home some important points my CFI had been teaching me all along.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  2. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    His #1 mistake was not taking the cfi with him. His ego killed he and his pax. Nothing against him but he was too confident that he could do it himself. It's a trait that many successful people suffer from.
     
  3. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    .... that and not hitting the AP on button
     
  4. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    I think that is right. The morning after JFK bought it, I flew from Easton, MD back to Bridgeport, CT. Weather was marginal VFR for sure. We departed and I tried to climb to 9,500 but the little Cherokee wouldn't get there. We stopped the climb at 7,500 - above the 7,000 ceiling of the NY Bravo - and proceeded. Still had maybe 4 miles vis at that altitude due to extreme dewpoint. Scared the poo out of me when we saw an L1011 directly ahead at even altitude, going into Philly! We were the definition of VFR in IMC; like JFK I had some Instrument training but not enough for sure.

    The autopilot kept me straight and level until we were over Deer Park, LI at which point I could commence a VFR descent into KBDR.

    If JFKJr knew what the autopilot could do he would be here today...

    -Skip
     
  5. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Maybe the instructor was afraid that if he showed JFK jr how to use the auto pilot then JFK jr might have used it to fly in less than VFR conditions. Lots and lots of VFR only pilots have been guilty of that.
     
  6. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    Good point. My CFI probably doesn't even know how to operate my Century 41. I'm not yet finished with my IFR but I've known this AP inside and out for a long time. Now I don't use it as a crutch and have done 95% of sim IMC hand flying but I guarantee I know what it can do.

    I think some people are reluctant to use it when semi panicked because they are afraid the heading bug or HSI needle is pointing behind them. What they don't think about is that it doesn't care. Standard rate turn till it gets happy. Hit ON!!! Then take a deep breath and adjust the bug.
     
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  7. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I know what happened to JFK Jr. because it nearly happened to me. Got out over Lake Michigan in VFR conditions in haze. No horizon of any kind. Next thing I know I'm in a steep dive. I got on instruments and was all right, but had I a pair of high maintenance wimmin aboard the outcome might have been less benign.
     
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  8. Hawker800

    Hawker800 Line Up and Wait

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    What did John Jr. miss most about Martha's Vineyard? The airport.
     
  9. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    When I was working toward my private back in the day I went down to Venice FL for vacation. I thought I'd get my night XC out of the way and went with an instructor from VNC to Lakeland to Sarasota and back to Venice. At one point he took me out over the ocean and turned us toward the horizon to show me how disorienting it could be. Night, pitch black, sky, horizon and ocean all blended into one . No way I would have survived that with my experience level at the time.
     
  10. Glen R

    Glen R Pre-Flight

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    I flew that route the same day. Visibility was 3 in haze. Pretty rough during the day. When I read the news the next morning I had no doubt as to what happened.
     
  11. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    Don't worry...in another 75 years or so, somebody will find a photo that definitively proves he survived the crash.
     
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  12. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    I was flying between Milwaukee and Holland MI and had nearly the same thing in haze...a false horizon from a cloud bank, and I kept turning north in my attempt to "level" with the horizon. Scary stuff until I figured out what I was doing.
     
  13. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Scariest thing is how it can sneak up on you. That said, forewarned is forearmed. Hasn't happened to me since.
     
  14. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route

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    I took off to the west out of Cedar Key (KCDK) in probably 4-5 miles vis. Headed out over the Gulf of Mexico there was no horizon. I can see how it could happen. I used the AI and finished my turn back towards the east and it was fine. A little haze and some water, you're not using visual cues to fly.

    John
     
  15. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Fly along a few miles offshore on a hazy night, like JFK Jr. did, and you might see lights in the distance which you know to be a familiar town on the shore. Only it's not; it's a boat just half a mile off your wingtip. And the disorientation insidiously begins.
     
  16. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I had a problem similar to that over southern Arizona one night, with perfect visibility! I got into a bank while I was fiddling with the avionics, and when I looked up, my mind could not make sense of what I was seeing. Thank heaven for my instrument training!
     
  17. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Show of hands -- How many others here besides me have started a quick turn at night to avoid a midair collision with a full moon?

    :oops:
     
  18. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route

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    I haven't. But on my first night flight the flight instructor kept pointing at Venus and asking if I saw that plane. I finally told him it was Venus. I'm not sure if he knew and was just testing me or if he was confused about it.
     
  19. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    On the 1 year anniversary I got a call from someone, I think it was NBC, wanting to do a "1 year after" piece. I had worked with them extensively immediately after the accident since I was one of the few GA oriented "subject matter experts" at that time. I told them it was a rather unremarkable accident from an industry point of view and that there was no "1-year after" tale to tell. I think they'd expected some kind of revolution in the industry because their favorite son had perished.
     
  20. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    I was working as a flight instructor in WV when this accident happened. A news reporter called me and asked me about my thoughts. I had not heard about the accident so he read me a news story over the phone. I told him that since I was not there, I can't speak officially, but is sounds like a possible spacial disorientation accident to me. That is he could not determine what was straight and level due to possibly not being able to see any visible horizon.

    The guy thanked me and that was it. I am certain this was the same guy that called me a few months earlier about an accident in Huntington. I told him the guy was practicing the porposing maneuver and the nose gear broke. The porposing maneuver is used on long runways to shorten the amount of taxi time used to get to the exit on the other end of the runway by half flying and half taxiing.....
     
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  21. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Time filler.
     
  22. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not me. In my case it was either Jupiter or Saturn. Probably Jupiter. Coming back from an XC about 1am, no moon, heading east, the "landing light" was at 12 o'clock and there was no relative motion. I started a turn, then realized what I was seeing.
     
  23. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I found it interesting, but there's no law that everyone has to like the same things on TV.
     
  24. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    No but Obama issued an Executive Order to that effect IIRC.
    Were you denied FF?
     
  25. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    I don't recall for sure but I believe I had FF on that portion of the flight. But it was a long time ago....
     
  26. JimNtexas

    JimNtexas Pattern Altitude

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    I have my own theory about the JFK jr accident. The pilot had just traded in his C182 for his Saratoga. On the C182 you usually fly with the fuel selector on 'both' most of the time. I'm pretty sure he was on autopilot for most of his flight, why wouldn't he be using it? I wonder if he was slow switching tanks on his Piper.

    Based on my vast experience of a couple of flights in a similar airplane, I recall the mic button to be very close to the autopilot disconnect button on the yoke.

    I think the pilot inadvertently disconnected his autopilot (perhaps trying to key the mic) causing the aircraft to roll , perhaps quickly. At night, over water, stars in the sky, lights on the black surface. A perfect recipe for loss of control due to spatial disorientation.
     
  27. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Help me understand. I have not flown in IMC. I have flown a lot at night and gotten the leaning sensation of feeling that I am flying cockeyed somehow.

    The first time it happened, I right away moved my eyes to the AI and flew that thing until it went away.
    For folks that spin it in (like this JFK fella), is the problem that the bodys' lies are so overwhelmingly strong that they don't believe the instruments?

    I am not trying to trivialize something that kills pilots but it seems to me if something seems off, there is a ton if information on your panel.

    @BrianNC you said no way you would have survived w/o CFI there. Is it not as simple as just flying the AI / TC to do a 180 the other direction?

    I totally get the lack of horizon messing up my equilibrium and causing confusion. Barring inst. failure in IMC, what is it that keeps people from keeping the plane in a level attitude with instruments?
     
  28. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't think anyone knows for sure what went wrong when JFK Jr lost control of the plane. One way it could have happened is inadvertently getting into a descending turn while his eyes were diverted to something other than the AI. Once that happens, you have to make sure that you level the wings before you raise the nose. Otherwise you can get into a graveyard spiral, in which pulling back on the stick or yoke just tightens the spiral.

    As for doing a 180, you first have to recognize the necessity of doing so. He may not have actually been in IMC, as night VFR in some situations can give you a lack of visual reference, or confusing visual reference. (The latter happened to me in good VFR one night over the Arizona desert.) Even if he had made a 180, being out over the water on a hazy night, it may or may not have helped.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  29. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Not just not believing in the instruments but not being able to interpret them correctly from mass confusion. Without even being disoriented it takes a new pilot a few seconds to scan, interpret, then control input. You induce spatial disorientation to that mix and forget about it. I've been so disoriented (coriolis illusion) in IMC that I wasn't even sure blue on the AI should be up. :eek:

    The second problem is a new instrument pilot will sometimes instinctively react to the initial onset of spatial D without even referencing the instruments. Unless your aircraft is completely unstable hands off, let it do its thing for a few seconds until you get your inner ear stabilized.

    Oddly enough, in all the instrument flying I did in the Army, the only times where the other pilot got totally disoriented, were on clear nights. Both had to relinquish the controls and both were on checkrides. :(
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
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  30. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hahahahaha
    Distractions mostly is my guess. Maintaining attitude in a perfect world is not particularly difficult in most certified spam cans. There are a few individual examples that I would not fly in IMC (like one particular 172 that continually wants to bank and we aren't talking Benjamins here). That said, there are lots of folks that passed the PP cert ride who haven't added significant hood time and instrument skills are gone. Piloting skills are perishable, instrument skills definitely have a "use by" date for good reason.

    So our intrepid pilot finds themselves inadvertently in IMC (clouds or dark night), gets distracted a bit, enters an unusual attitude and doesn't recognize it or doesn't know how to recover. Game over, no more quarters but they get a headline or two.
     
  31. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    You know what?
    I hadn't considered the possibility of getting into an unusual attitude and not knowing it.

    I guess if you are frantically looking down for city lights or some horizon, eyes outside, not taking a sec to look at the panel, you could not be aware you've gone wonky.
    good point.
     
  32. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Get yer instrument ticket 6PC. You own an airplane so it is time.
     
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  33. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I can imagine once the aircraft enters an unusual attitude the instrument readings must be very difficult to understand.
     
  34. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd say "can" rather than "must". In 15 minutes or less I can give you a pretty much foolproof method for recovering from unusual attitudes. It isn't upset training but it's easy to grasp and works in the real world. And it'll prolly stick with you for a long, long time.
     
  35. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Interested. Show me next weekend.
     
  36. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I didn't say I'd show you. We hardly know each other.
     
  37. Maciej

    Maciej Line Up and Wait

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    I feel like you've transitioned to senior leadership wherever you work, I hear this all day long now lol
     
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  38. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Final Approach

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    Isn't unusual attitudes under the hood still on the PTS? I know my CFII did many many with me, I always thought they were fun.
     
  39. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Does PTS still exist? Has ACS taken over all?

    Anyway, teaching unusual attitude recovery wasn't something my instructors seemed to be good at. One very brief lesson from a DPE (not part of a checkride) fixed that little item.
     
  40. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Final Approach

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    With the hood on, my guy would make me look down and then it was like a rollercoaster ride, tossing the plane (and me) all about, then having me look up and recover on instruments.
     
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