Nobody is immune.

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Ryanb, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    We lost another one of the best. A long time pilot who was based at my field went down in a nearby river this past Monday afternoon in his Bellanca Viking.

    When I read the news article, which mentioned the airplane (Bellanca Viking) and then saw a few photos of debris found in the river, I instantly knew who it was. After being submerged for 4 days, SaR was finally able to retrieve the wreckage, which found the two occupants still seatbelted in.

    It leaves a lot of questions. This pilot is a retired USMC capt with military and civilian flight experience—well seasoned. Over the years I recall hearing that distinct voice over the CTAF ‘Dallas Bay 49 VEE is 8 miles to the N inbound for landing...Dallas Bay!’ I’d say to myself “There’s Frank!”

    Although I didn’t know him as well as many, I did know enough to realize how friendly he was and how much he loved to fly. Not too long ago I was just about to take the runway as he was clearing to taxi to his hangar and he said over CTAF ‘y’all have a good flight!’ Probably the last short interaction that I had with him.

    It reminds me how none of us are immune to having an accident. It also leads me to question how much is experience actually worth? We can have decades of training and overall flight experience but when certain situations arise, there may be nothing one can do to change the potential outcome. You can discuss and practice emergency procedures until you’re blue in the face, but there’s still no guarantees.

    Fly safe!

     
  2. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    Sorry for the loss of your friend.

    Just my “low experience” opinion on experience but I think the journey of flying over many years is a struggle between the many factors that make for a safe flight. Obviously experience teaches better skills of piloting the airplane and should teach better ADM it’s a trade off in other areas. Unfortunately I think increased experience often has an inverse relationship with complacency and confidence (not the good kind).

    Also consider that a heavily experienced pilot is one that is accumulating lots of hours. The more time in a plane the more the odds are that you’ll have a problem of some sorts.

    At the end of the day we just have to recognize that flying planes can be done safely but relative to a lot of other recreational activities it carries a higher price when something does go wrong.
     
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  3. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I tend to think of experience like a bell curve in the same way that you just mentioned.
     
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  4. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    Some people say Murphy's Law is that "If something can go wrong it will go wrong." I believe just the opposite, that if something can go wrong it will in fact go right enough times that the operator will become complacent and then it will go wrong. That is why we have checklists so we will in fact look at the list and tell ourselves we have checked the items on the list.

    Sorry to hear of your loss. Let this be a lesson to us all.
     
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  5. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sorry to hear of the loss.

    Unfortunately, all the experience in the world will not compensate for moments of inattention, distraction, or mechanical/medical failure. That's why Cockpit management is so important and why we should go through the IMSAFE drill before any flight.
     
  6. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  7. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    We all know how accurate bystander comments are. I’d be extremely surprised if he was doing loops, especially in the winds we had on Monday and in an airplane not approved for such. He never struck me as someone who would act foolishly.
     
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  8. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    I think sometimes, with some people, of experience counteracting with complacency, with a look of an induced/parasitic drag chart: one going down while the other goes up. (not saying this applied to your friend)
     
  9. Fallsrider

    Fallsrider Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I'm sorry to hear of your loss and his family's loss. It's always hard to lose a friend. Let us know when you find out what happened.
     
  10. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    You can apply the training you were given and remain current, learn a lot of things along the way, keep your plane in tip top maintenance, fly the plane in the middle of the envelope as much as possible, use situational awareness, use risk management, mitigate your risks and your risks of drawing 8s and Aces is greatly reduced. But if you draw a bad hand, it is your experience, judgement and skills that are left to save your ass.
     
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  11. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I'd agree with @Ryanb about witness comments...if I were to guess st the maneuver based on that, I'd actually bet on a tight 360 to look at something on the ground and trying to pull it too tight ...moose stall.
     
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  12. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Sorry for the loss of your friend.
    Experience counts for a lot.
    It's the experience you don't have that will kill you.
     
  13. Cluemeister

    Cluemeister Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Every fatal the same thought process.

    - Was it distraction and loss of control?
    - Was it a mechanical failure?
    - Was it intentional recklessness?
    - Was it a sudden medical condition?
    - Was it not following a checklist (gear up, not switching fuel tanks)
     
  14. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    To find the occupants still strapped in their seatbelts and the way the wreckage appeared, tells me that it had to be a rather uncontrolled impact, rather than a controlled crash (ie., engine failure). What you suggest sounds probable.
     
  15. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Condolences to friends and family.

    Given the current fed shutdown, I have to wonder if the cause will ever be known.
     
  16. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Why? Just because a shutdown was going on when the crash occurred, doesn’t mean it’ll automatically get sent to the NTSB’s archives. They’ll just resume their investigations once they reopen.
     
  17. Sundancer

    Sundancer En-Route

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    Experience is tricky - A lower time pilot with a bunch of recent experience could be sharper, stick and rudder wise, than an old dog not flying much. Not always, for sure, but maybe, so it's a guessing game.

    My unscientific opinion, more like an observation, is that recency of experince is about as important as total experience. Matter of degree, though.
     
  18. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Experience or not, we are all human and all make mistakes. You just never know which one will be "the" mistake. We do the best we can.
     
  19. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    One of the first books I read after I got my private was "The Killing Zone: by Craig. I highly recommend it.
     
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  20. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    Yes. But still, there's a chance that the actual cause will never be known, but the NTSB will say that the probable cause was exceeding the critical AoA, 'cuz they have a rubber stamp that says that.
     
  21. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    They won’t need to. I’m sure someone on here will have all the answers by then.
     
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  22. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Because who knows when that will be and who knows how long it will take them to actually get caught up enough to begin working on it once they start working again and who knows what needed evidence might be destroyed or otherwise unavailable by then.

    There was a fatal on Beaver Island last week and the feds essentially said 'yeah, we ain't coming, deal with it yourselves'. I just wonder if when its all said and done how many cases will end up with probable cause unknown due to something like 'it could not be determined how much of the crushing of the leading edge occurred during the accident and how much occurred during the removal and subsequent storage of the wreckage.' And also 'toxicology could not be performed as the remains of the pilot were buried before investigation began...'
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  23. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    That’s not a likely scenario. Any fatality that occurs in a sudden manner, by law, has to be reported to the medical examiner and an autopsy must be conducted. Even if the body is interred before the investigation can begin, the NTSB will just gather the data from the coroner’s office.
     
  24. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    I still think it's invaluable. I am much more suited to handle different emergency/weather/decision making scenarios now with 20 years and over 1500 hours of GA flying than I was at 19 with 100 hours. That said, other than the love of your children/family, very few things in life are a guarantee. Hoover or Yeager could have been in that ERAU arrow and the result would have been the same.

    Sorry for your loss Ryan...very sad.
     
  25. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    :yeahthat:

    I also believe there is no substitute for experience. I think the statistics for professional pilots support that.

    I have a 78 year old friend who's been flying Twinkies, Barons and Bonanzas for decades. Slowed down his flying a lot a few years ago. Sold his last Bo and stopped flying solo more than two years ago.
    He can fly my Aztec like he's wearing it. Has trouble with ATC in busy airspace and the IFR GPS is a complete mystery to him. But his weather acumen combined with physically flying the airplane...I learn something from him every time he comes flying with me, and I'm still catching up.

    Very sad to hear about this accident Ryan. Could have been mechanical. Could have been pilot error; as others have noted we are all human. And flying is more intolerant of errors than many other pastimes. This is in fact one of the reasons I love to fly; it is demanding enough that it forces me to forget all the other crap going on in life for a while.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
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  26. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    Tough loss. Sucks to see anybody go down but harder to swallow when it’s someone that you look up to. God bless.
     
  27. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    Very sorry for the loss of your friend. I've definitely read accident reports and thought to myself, I'll never have the experience this person had, which leads me to wonder if I should even keep soldiering on.

    I think there's a sweet spot somewhere between keeping yourself and your airplane sharp and needlessly exposing yourself to additional risk. More light-heartedly, this doesn't take into account the fact that flying is super awesome and we all enjoy it. Having sex with my wife has the potential to lead to another baby, am I going to stop having sex with my wife? No, but ideally I want to have just enough sex to stay proficient and no more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  28. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    All they need to do when they come back to work is browse the pilot forums. I’m sure that someone will have figured it all out without any actual details.
     
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  29. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Very sorry to hear.
     
  30. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Often if the pilot dies, shy if some advanced flight data from a device, you never will 100% know IMO, maybe after NTSB without data from the crew, I give maybe 70% trust in the NTSB findings shy of a obvious major mechanical/structure failure.
     
  31. 3393RP

    3393RP Pattern Altitude

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    A long time ago I became acquainted with a pilot that had flown aircraft for a friend's dad for many years. He was a B-17 instructor pilot during WWII, and had many hours and much experience.

    The company had three planes, and the aircraft he was flying regularly was a 421C. I was a teenage student pilot, and occasionally sat in the right seat for one day trips.

    One day when I wasn't along for the ride, he made a gear up landing after a long day of short hops around the state. About a month later, he informed his boss he was going to retire from flying the company's aircraft.

    He was sufficiently alarmed by his mistake to take stock of his actions and conclude he was no longer fit to fly other people. I had never heard of any medical problems, but my friend told me he was experiencing some memory loss and cognitive issues.

    It must have been a difficult decision.
     
  32. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I’ve gotta bring it back up, because it’s just been on my mind. I know this is pure speculation, but the news outlets reported that upon retrival of the aircraft, after being submerged for 3 days, that the occupants were found still strapped in their seatbelts. This seems to tell me that there was no effort to escape the aircraft. I would think that if this was just a classic engine failure scenario, the pilot would’ve just gear upped it into the river and would have more likely than not, tried to unstrap himself and make an attempt to exit...no? I suppose if the crash landing was unsuccessful and they were flipped upon impact with the water, they could’ve been knocked out. Seems interesting to me that they were still strapped in their seatbelts (no escape attempt). Makes me think it was either an unsuccessful water ditching, or it was an uncontrolled crash caused by some other factor.

    What say-eth y’all?
     
  33. Lantraxco

    Lantraxco Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I say when the good Lord calls you home, it doesn't matter whether you're walking, driving, riding a motorcycle, flying, or sitting in front of the TV... you get your ticket punched and take that last flight. Still sad, RIP
     
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  34. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    CO intoxication?
     
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  35. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    If they were still strapped in, they hit hard.
     
  36. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    My thoughts too, which is why I’d be very curious to know what events led up to it. My thinking is that they were knocked out upon impact.
     
  37. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    On the other hand if the good Lord isn't ready to call you home you are INDESTRUCTIBLE.
     
  38. Cluemeister

    Cluemeister Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    You asked for speculation: Possible sight seeing, momentarily distracted at low speed, stalled over the river, and dropped in? That could happen so fast you wouldn't have time to react in any meaningful way.

    So sad.
     
  39. vman

    vman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    i was lucky to end up winging a deadman base to final turn, on a student pilot long distance x-country,

    yeah, i put in rudder in that deal, prob the first time ever to that point..& prob exceeded the 30 deg max bank angle in the pattern instructor stressed, it was an all of a sudden wtf?! situation for the first time

    then as a pp with a bud onboard, had another diff 1st time sudden wtf deal i winged by prob inches

    experience trumps cluelessness
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  40. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    If it wasn’t mechanical, this would be my guess.