Looking at those photos I have to wonder if this plane had shoulder harnesses. It doesn't look that bad
I don’t typically watch Dan Gryder’s videos but the one I watched yesterday he went to the site. After seeing the scene I don’t think a lack of shoulder harnesses would have made a difference, if they indeed didn’t have them.

It looks like they were 15-20 feet below where the slope leveled out. I’d guess where they impacted was around a 30-45 degree up slope. 20 feet higher and they likely would have walked away.

Surprised they went as far north as they did before turning back. Also that they put the gear down. I wonder who was pilot flying, and whether the complete facts of this sad aviation event will ever be known. And if I ever had a fatal, I wouldn't want Dan Gryder picking up bits and pieces of the crash. Not a good look.

It looks like they were 15-20 feet below where the slope leveled out. I’d guess where they impacted was around a 30-45 degree up slope. 20 feet higher and they likely would have walked away.
Makes you wonder if they had dropped the flaps a couple of seconds before impact if they would have survived.

Blunt force stop. They survived the initial impact briefly. Most people forget that our hearts and other organs do not have a solid connection to the body and they float in the chest with veins and arteries providing anchorage. Unlike cars, airplanes have no crush zone. If they extended the gear that was enough drag to make a fatal difference.

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Makes you wonder if they had dropped the flaps a couple of seconds before impact if they would have survived.
Lots of what if’s….we just don’t know.

We need to teach that to turn back to the runway increases your chances of death by 50%. Using Ron’s numbers. Anyone doing video eyecandy on the impossible turn needs to start with that.

Actually doing them WRONG does.

The problem is, most pilots have no idea of what altitude is high enough to consider a turn back. And, before take off, they need to set a number based on conditions (winds).

And some aircraft, it is just not possible.

Turn backs are practiced by pre-solo students in gliders all the time. It is NOT impossible.

We need to teach that to turn back to the runway increases your chances of death by 50%. Using Ron’s numbers. Anyone doing video eyecandy on the impossible turn needs to start with that.

Here he is.....teaching it.

Here's another good one....

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Here he is.....teaching it.

Here's another good one....

"Gravity is still undefeated."

Hard to watch as a personal friend and fellow pilot since childhood but done tastefully with respect and this is appreciated very much by those who knew Spad and his family. I don’t post often but really appreciate informative, tasteful and not judgmental posts that may help others understand who the pilots were and what learning from this tragedy may help prevent in the future. I never knew Russ but knowing he’s a friend of Richard’s, would have enjoyed flying with him also.
The remembrance service was bittersweet due to the irony of an unfortunate accident to such an experienced pair of pilots and with the knowledge of how they perished despite the years of experience. It was extremely well managed, done tastefully, and appreciated by the friends, co-workers, and especially the family. The weather was bleary, low ceilings, with an almost constant drizzle reducing the chances of a flyover to nil but almost appropriate weather for a gloomy sad get-together. The stories were many and full of happy memories that were appropriately hard to listen to but grateful for being shared.
For those that knew them personally I would say that you’ve been blessed and honored; for those that knew them through seeing them on TV, air shows, videos, you’ve also had an opportunity to learn from them. Keeping their memories alive through teaching and learning from the videos put out through the years will help others aviate in a safer manner and they would be glad to have continued to teach others in this manner.

I’d also like to thank those whom have posted for the respect shown with regards to the accident. It’s the nature of us to try to decipher the steps and causes on the technical side of incidents but it’s been a relief to have seen proper analysis, patience in finding out more information, and due regard for those left behind. In so many other unfortunate incidents postings are often quickly written and without regard to others left behind. I truly appreciate those whom have been cordial and respectful to Richard and Russ by being patient and polite in the investigation and not just shooting from the hip with regards to the cause. It’s tough to have to wait for the NTSB for an official cause but we cannot undo the outcome of the crash but can honor their memory by learning further how to possibly prevent future similar situations.

May you have blue skies and safe landing,
Gene

Turn backs are practiced by pre-solo students in gliders all the time. It is NOT impossible.
It’s called a “Rope Break” and it only works on gliders because your Angle of Climb (on tow) is MUCH higher than your Angle of Glide, so at approx 500ft AGL a Glider you have enough excess altitude it can make the 270+90 turns and still glide back.

As mentioned earlier in this thread (or another thread similar): it is almost impossible in most Airplanes because your Angle of Climb closely matches your Angle of engine-out Glide; so in a straight-out departure (unless you are flying circles above the runway) you’ll never get enough “margin” between the two glideslope angles to safely make the turn back to the runway.

In the other note about the landing gear: when I joined an airplane partnership, it was explained that dropping gear is done for commercial 180 power off , but should not be done for an actual emergency (unless already at the runway) because the drag penalty is too large on engine-out glide.
the more experienced partner told me: “if you have to dead-stick this plane in, I’d rather you glide it in and land gear-up on the airport environment, rather than drop the gear and then crash short of the fence”.

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As mentioned earlier in this thread (or another thread similar): it is almost impossible in most Airplanes because your Angle of Climb closely matches your Angle of engine-out Glide; so in a straight-out departure (unless you are flying circles above the runway) you’ll never get enough “margin” between the two angles to safely make the turn back to the runway.
This is the critical concept that is missed by crusaders advocating for a specific altitude that "works" to turn back. It depends on a whole slew of variables, but those variables need to be actually calculated and converted to an accurate climb angle and descent angle, because that's the ultimate math needed (including altitude loss in the turns). If you're not making that calculation (and no one that I know actually does) then you're back to guesswork, with potentially fatal consequences for the wrong guess.

It’s proper to turn when THERE AINT NO WHERE AHEAD.

But….

Can’t stall. Not negotiable. Stalling is totally verboten. Illegal even, let’s codify it in the FARs.

So what if the turn gives you less time in the air. You’re crashing into bad straight ahead anyway, may as well get it over with.

BUT

You may find a better situation. I did.

Let’s take this one step further. AS SOON as possible after liftoff, start moving towards bad places to crash. Then, if your motor quits, that is below you, the ONE place you ain’t gonna make. This staying over the runway until it’s gone and then turn on course is a bad idea.

So, become a brilliant in your head on the spot mathematician, or REALLY learn to fly your plane… so you can do ANYTHING and NOT STALL.

Food for thought.

Also that they put the gear down
I most cases putting the gear down before impact is preferred. The gear is designed to take an impact and absorb energy. Better to have that energy transferred into gear landing gear and than directly into the fuselage.

Would be interesting to know when they put the gear down? We probably won't ever know, but if early vs waiting might have made the difference in clearing the berm they impacted.
Another interesting thing to know that we may find out...
Was the prop windmilling? if Yes, did they pull prop control back to extend the glide?

Brian

Was the prop windmilling? if Yes, did they pull prop control back to extend the glide?

Probably Won’t make a difference on most Constant Speed props… the engine is either generating enough power to pull your forwards, or… it’s not generating enough power (oil pressure + RPM) to make the prop Governor respond, it’s below its operating range so will be stuck at minimum (fine) pitch no matter which way you move the blue knob.

Eg: try to cycle prop when on the ground and engine is at Idle: no response. That’s why you need to run-up to 1,800 or 2k RPM to cycle the prop during run-up checks.

(Talking about most single engine CS prop governors, not auto-feathering like the multi’s have or Beta region like the Turboprops have).

I most cases putting the gear down before impact is preferred. The gear is designed to take an impact and absorb energy. Better to have that energy transferred into gear landing gear and than directly into the fuselage.

Would be interesting to know when they put the gear down? We probably won't ever know, but if early vs waiting might have made the difference in clearing the berm they impacted.
Another interesting thing to know that we may find out...
Was the prop windmilling? if Yes, did they pull prop control back to extend the glide?

Brian
I would dispute 'most cases'.

In some examples it can help.

Other airplanes specifically call out for gear up off airport because of possibility of flipping or worse damage.

In the case of retract Cessnas, dropping the gear takes more time than most airplanes and adds additional drag while doing it. If they did attempt to lower the gear on a 177RG, that may very well have made the difference between life and death in this case.

If I was attempting a turn back in a retract Cessna, (assuming the gear was already retracted) I would not have touched the gear handle unless I knew I had the runway made with a margin of error.

Probably Won’t make a difference on most Constant Speed props… the engine is either generating enough power to pull your forwards, or… it’s not generating enough power (oil pressure + RPM) to make the prop Governor respond, it’s below its operating range so will be stuck at minimum (fine) pitch no matter which way you move the blue knob.

Extremely noticeable and makes a difference on my Cardinal RG.

If Russ and Richard couldn't do it......I don't think any of us could have.

If Russ and Richard couldn't do it......I don't think any of us could have.
I doubt they were seriously proficient with Cardinal emergency procedure ops. I've flown a BUNCH of different types of airplanes and you have to know what you're proficient in, and what you really aren't proficient in. If I have flown a plane a lot AND have practiced emergency ops, I might try something in that plane that I might not in another. It's definitely not the same to do that in the Super Cub as it is in the Cardinal. I've practiced return to the runway scenarios in my Luscombe and I think I've got a pretty good shot at that, but I personally don't think it's prudent in the RG with any sort of weight, or higher density altitude scenarios, and not below a personal minimum of 600' in ideal conditions with NO decent other options. I've been in RG's for about 500 hours per year for the better part of the last ten years and the ground track makes me uncomfortable. I think that there are places that it *might* work, but that terrain doesn't look like a place I'd try it.
As a few others have said, if they would've brought the prop back and left the gear up, they *might* have made it, but in that case, one of those fields earlier would've been a better choice, by far. The other thing is that people are waaaay too afraid of belly landings as a good survival option. I've had to do that once and now that I know what it's like, It's in my Swiss Army Knife list of emergency options. You can get a Cardinal stopped in about 500 feet of sliding on it's belly, and I'd bet it'd be survivable in a much short space even if you hit something soft-ish.

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I doubt they were seriously proficient with Cardinal emergency procedure ops. I've flown a BUNCH of different types of airplanes and you have to know what you're proficient in, and what you really aren't proficient in. If I have flown a plane a lot AND have practiced emergency ops, I might try something in that plane that I might not in another. It's definitely not the same to do that in the Super Cub as it is in the Cardinal. I've practiced return to the runway scenarios in my Luscombe and I think I've got a pretty good shot at that, but I personally don't think it's prudent in the RG with any sort of weight, or higher density altitude scenarios, and not below a personal minimum of 600' in ideal conditions with NO decent other options. I've been in RG's for about 500 hours per year for the better part of the last ten years and the ground track makes me uncomfortable. I think that there are places that it *might* work, but that terrain doesn't look like a place I'd try it.
As a few others have said, if they would've brought the prop back and left the gear up, they *might* have made it, but in that case, one of those fields earlier would've been a better choice, by far. The other thing is that people are waaaay too afraid of belly landings as a good survival option. I've had to do that once and now that I know what it's like, It's in my Swiss Army Knife list of emergency options. You can get a Cardinal stopped in about 500 feet of sliding on it's belly, and I'd bet it'd be survivable in a much short space even if you hit something soft-ish.

You sound like a much better pilot than either Russ or Richard.

You sound like a much better pilot than either Russ or Richard.
I honestly doubt it. I'm definitely not good enough to be a Thunderbird pilot.
All it takes is one mistake and we can all make them. Best stack the odds where you can.

Off topic:

How do these jack stands work? (I know almost nothing about retractable gear maintenance.) Do the poles go into a sleeve in the wing? Something seems awfully flimsy to me about the construct. (Maybe that's why it looks like someone is clapping in the lower left of the photo - or maybe praying.)

If Russ and Richard couldn't do it......I don't think any of us could have.
Maybe, maybe not.

I'm not being critical of either of them nor have I any delusions that I'm a better pilot. I'm definitely not.

But luck/fate has a vote.

I guess here is my point - this accident could have happened to any of us. It just so happened to them first.

There are things the rest of us can learn that might make a difference if it happens in the future. At least gives us a slightly better chance.

Off topic:

How do these jack stands work? (I know almost nothing about retractable gear maintenance.) Do the poles go into a sleeve in the wing? Something seems awfully flimsy to me about the construct. (Maybe that's why it looks like someone is clapping in the lower left of the photo - or maybe praying.)

View attachment 121644

The plane will have ‘dimples’ convex bumps at balance points for the Jack shaft to mate with. I don’t have my own jacks(\$300 ish each), but thought about getting some. Even with the dimples one must proceed with caution. As you can imagine, your year could be messed up if it slips off the Jack.

Off topic:

How do these jack stands work? (I know almost nothing about retractable gear maintenance.) Do the poles go into a sleeve in the wing? Something seems awfully flimsy to me about the construct. (Maybe that's why it looks like someone is clapping in the lower left of the photo - or maybe praying.)

View attachment 121644

Jack point. You can see it better at 0:27 in the video below.

Maybe, maybe not.

I'm not being critical of either of them nor have I any delusions that I'm a better pilot. I'm definitely not.

But luck/fate has a vote.

I guess here is my point - this accident could have happened to any of us. It just so happened to them first.

There are things the rest of us can learn that might make a difference if it happens in the future. At least gives us a slightly better chance.
Could be......However, the guys from AOPA studied the impossible turn. Did videos demonstrating the turn in various aircraft. Spoke about it at Oshkosh. If I only knew of them from reading articles and watching pod casts I might have a different impression....but, I know these guys from the airport. They fly everything, from J-3 to EABs to Staggerwing Beeches to jets, and are highly skilled. The fact that Richard had practiced this maneuver, with his skill level and yet was not successful is very stunning. Short of aiming for the trees and hoping for the best......I seriously doubt anyone could have survived this.

I'd look for an AOPA pod cast in the next few months outlining what happened.....and maybe a few pointers. They were there in the Bonanza and saw what happened....

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Jack point. You can see it better at 0:27 in the video below.
Thanks. That explains a lot.

Probably Won’t make a difference on most Constant Speed props… the engine is either generating enough power to pull your forwards, or… it’s not generating enough power (oil pressure + RPM) to make the prop Governor respond, it’s below its operating range so will be stuck at minimum (fine) pitch no matter which way you move the blue knob.

Eg: try to cycle prop when on the ground and engine is at Idle: no response. That’s why you need to run-up to 1,800 or 2k RPM to cycle the prop during run-up checks.

(Talking about most single engine CS prop governors, not auto-feathering like the multi’s have or Beta region like the Turboprops have).

Your "test" failed as the there is not enough RPM to have enough resistance to change the RPM.

But inflight, a windmilling engine will produce enough oil pressure to change the prop pitch. And you can feel the difference when you pull the prop back.

But inflight, a windmilling engine will produce enough oil pressure to change the prop pitch. And you can feel the difference when you pull the prop back.
Yes, it's VERY noticable. Feels like you retracted a speed brake.

Without oil pressure.....the prop is not controllable and is on the low pitch stops....which is the highest drag configuration.

I saw the Gryder video. Basically, it is saying that there was a partial power loss.

If true, the 180 degree immediate turnback that pilots typically discuss(and which has been a significant focus of discussion on this thread) seems no longer relevant. And assuming the track shown in the video is accurate, a partial failure does make sense.
Somebody mentioned that the pilot had practiced this for an article but that was the total engine failure scenario.

Now one is in the situation of having to decide whether to land off airport or try to get back to the airport.

In this case, the terrain is not looking good for an off airport landing and perhaps they had enough power to remain level or climb just a bit but not turn around, especially with hills around.

That could explain going over the water before turning.

It can be very difficult decision making at this point with a lot of variables(which are different in each case) as well as the option of some open spaces that we are told did exist.

I’m sure the closer one gets to the airport, the more tempting it becomes over an open space or into trees.

I have lost a cylinder but fortunately, I was right over the airport at 2000 feet(skydiving ops with airport viewing for first jumpers) and wasn’t even 100% sure I had an issue until I added power on the turn to final and the vibration really started. Different scenario as I had loads of extra energy.

Could be......However, the guys from AOPA studied the impossible turn. Did videos demonstrating the turn in various aircraft. Spoke about it at Oshkosh. If I only knew of them from reading articles and watching pod casts I might have a different impression....but, I know these guys from the airport. They fly everything, from J-3 to EABs to Staggerwing Beeches to jets, and are highly skilled. The fact that Richard had practiced this maneuver, with his skill level and yet was not successful is very stunning. Short of aiming for the trees and hoping for the best......I seriously doubt anyone could have survived this.
Consider, too, the psychological pressure of this. He'd taken the lead to demonstrate the "Impossible Turn" was possible. If he HADN'T attempted a turnback...what do you suppose the public reaction might have been? Might the realization of this have affected his decision process?

Ron Wanttaja

I saw the Gryder video. Basically, it is saying that there was a partial power loss.

If true, the 180 degree immediate turnback that pilots typically discuss(and which has been a significant focus of discussion on this thread) seems no longer relevant. And assuming the track shown in the video is accurate, a partial failure does make sense.
Somebody mentioned that the pilot had practiced this for an article but that was the total engine failure scenario.
I would tend to believe that a partial power loss would make the turnback scenario easier...though it could, of course, affect the decision process.

My hangar is located near the north end of the runway at my home field. About six years ago, I was working in my hangar when I heard the engine of a plane taking off start to miss. I stepped outside and saw a Cessna 152 start the turnback maneuver with the engine popping. My hangar is on the east side of the runway, and the guy started the turnback maneuver to the east. As he got about 220 degrees through the turn the nose dipped slightly, and he was HEADING RIGHT AT ME. Caused a moment's concern, I'll tell you.

Anyway, the nose came up again, and he went by overhead, at an angle to intersect the runway. Landed OK, but had so much speed he went off into the dirt at the south end of the runway....

The pilot did a good job, but I still wonder about the decision process.

Ron Wanttaja

I’m sure the closer one gets to the airport, the more tempting it becomes over an open space or into trees.

I have lost a cylinder but fortunately, I was right over the airport at 2000 feet(skydiving ops with airport viewing for first jumpers) and wasn’t even 100% sure I had an issue until I added power on the turn to final and the vibration really started. Different scenario as I had loads of extra energy.
Definitely. It's a hard call. I've nursed a sick J-3 Cub with a dead cylinder home - was only about 200' AGL on base, but also tried to make it back in a Glasair last year when the engine seized. I'm quite glad it seized when it did because the terrain along the way back to the airport was worse than it was where we ended up putting it down.

I'm biased at this point to making a more controlled landing ASAP with a sick engine if a "decent" spot is available vs trying to nurse it back all the way. The worse the terrain, the harder the call.

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The NTSB preliminary report is out. Can someone look it up and post a link.

The NTSB preliminary report is out. Can someone look it up and post a link.

Ron Wanttaja

Consider, too, the psychological pressure of this. He'd taken the lead to demonstrate the "Impossible Turn" was possible. If he HADN'T attempted a turnback...what do you suppose the public reaction might have been? Might the realization of this have affected his decision process?

Ron Wanttaja
I can’t imagine that was even a thought in the moment.

That NTSB PR is going stop a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks about the engine, prop and also the gear position in the crash. Sad to read, but this is going to be a long process to make a determination that makes common sense. Wish there was a smoking gun, but it doesn't look obvious. Sometimes things just don't line up in your favor. Part of our commitment to safety also accepts a degree of risk in what we do. That risk sometimes comes to the front of the line.

That NTSB PR is going stop a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks about the engine, prop and also the gear position in the crash. Sad to read, but this is going to be a long process to make a determination that makes common sense. Wish there was a smoking gun, but it doesn't look obvious. Sometimes things just don't line up in your favor. Part of our commitment to safety also accepts a degree of risk in what we do. That risk sometimes comes to the front of the line.
Cowl flaps were open. Wonder what temps they were seeing. Normally it's cowl flaps closed for descent. The gear position wasn't conclusive, could be they had started them retracting again or not... prop was in high pitch, that might have made a difference based on what I've seen, but if they thought they were getting some power out of it, they might have left it alone until it wasn't helping them.
The nose landing gear was crushed aft during the impact sequence and the actuator was separated (its position could not be determined). The main landing gear were in an intermediate position. The single main landing gear actuator was observed attached to its frame. The sector gear teeth were intact. There was no observable damage to the main landing gear down locks or gear legs. The main landing gear wheels were observed in contact with the buckled lower fuselage and not in the wheel wells.
The electrical and lighting switch positions were damaged during the impact sequence and their positions could not be determined. The cowl flap handle was in the “OPEN” position. The mixture control was in the full rich position, the propeller control was in the high rpm / fine pitch position, and the throttle was out about 2-inches and bent slightly up and to the left about 30-degrees.
This is interesting:
During taxi out, witnesses heard the engine of the accident airplane running when the Beech A36 pulled up next to it. The accident airplane’s engine then shut off, and about 10 seconds later, the engine restarted. During the takeoff roll, a witness described that the engine sounded as if the propeller was set for “climb” and not takeoff, then he heard the engine surge. During the initial climb, the witness further described that the engine did not sound as if it was running at full power. The accident airplane then made a gentle left turn while it was 300 to 400 feet above ground level to join with the Beech A36. As the accident airplane closed to within about 1,000 feet of the Beech A36, it suddenly made a hard right turn back toward the departure airport. During the turn, the pilot of the Beech A36 heard the passenger in the accident airplane transmit on the common traffic advisory frequency, “We have a problem and we’re returning to the airport.”
Whatever they were doing, they made a decisive decision. Another possible takeaway, that I've thought before - if you have time to say something, state the nature of the emergency. It might help someone else even if you don't survive. All of us flying Cardinals want to know what went wrong.

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Quote: "In the case of retract Cessnas, dropping the gear takes more time than most airplanes and adds additional drag while doing it. If they did attempt to lower the gear on a 177RG, that may very well have made the difference between life and death in this case.
If I was attempting a turn back in a retract Cessna, (assuming the gear was already retracted) I would not have touched the gear handle unless I knew I had the runway made with a margin of error."

I just about saw a C177RG go into the wires at the north end of the field when he bounced, decided to go-around at mid-field and retracted the gear on a 2600 foot runway. I chatted with him and mentioned that the drag of pulling the gear up changed being a low drag high horsepower C172 into a plane with two big buckets of drag facing into the relative wind. I think he's back to studying the manual for his plane now. . . I don't even fly RG Cessnas but I knew that.