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Old 08-13-2018, 12:12 AM
Karen Lingel Karen Lingel is offline
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Landing a plane on the freeway

This is two questions, really.

1) How many innocent people is it acceptable to kill while trying to save your own skin?

2) If you land a plane on the freeway, do you get a ticket or any kind of punishment at all?
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:50 AM
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I am a pilot.

1. Zero

2. It probably depends on the state. A fellow landed on Interstate 80 near Reno a number of years ago and was not fined as far as I know.

Keep in mind that a freeway is not a great place to land. Road signs, power lines and traffic can all mess up a landing. The one good thing is that small planes land at about 60mph which can mesh with light traffic well. That plane is registered to a local company... I wonder if I know the pilot??

Last edited by Desert Nomad; 08-13-2018 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 02:14 AM
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I am also a pilot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen Lingel View Post
1) How many innocent people is it acceptable to kill while trying to save your own skin?
None. However, no one died in that instance. No one was even hurt. That also held true for the small plane that recently landed on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Quote:
2) If you land a plane on the freeway, do you get a ticket or any kind of punishment at all?
If the reason you did so was a genuine emergency? No. Why would there be?

Like an accident on the road with any vehicle, though, a pilot would be liable for an material damages cause by such a landing, and if found negligent could also be held liable for that.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:15 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Do pilots train for this?
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:35 AM
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Do pilots train for this?
When I was taking lessons, every once-in-a-while my instructor would reduce the engine speed to idle and say "You've just lost the engine. What do you do?" If I remember correctly, the procedure was to establish the plane at its best glide speed, look for the safest place to land (airport, road, field, golf course, that sort of thing) and head toward it, call ATC on the radio, try to fix the problem, and prepare the plane for landing before you touch down. We'd glide for a while and see if I could have made it to the landing area I'd picked, then the instructor would push the the throttle back in and we'd climb away.

So you train for it up to a point, but I don't think any instructor would take it all the way to the ground. In my day, I also learned how to take off and land on short runways or soft runways like grass or gravel. (I've been out of general aviation for quite a while; don't know if soft-field techniques are still taught.) Those would also be good lessons to know if I ever had to set down in a real emergency.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:08 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Do pilots train for this?
In general, yes. Ideally you'd go for a big square paddock. During PPL training you start with practice engine failures just after take-off and later on you do practice engine out landings from altitude (maybe 3000'). How low you go depends on the instructor.

I never had just a PPL for long so I'm not sure what a PPL recurrent check involves, for my annual CPL checkout I would do a full engine out landing to a runway.

Ideally you shouldn't fly a single engine plane out of gliding distance of a suitable landing area (e.g., paddock) but this is rarely practical.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:16 AM
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My son is taking pilot lessons. His instructor told him,

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Contrary to popular belief, a road is not a good place to land in an emergency. The best place is a flat field with low (or no) vegetation, such as a soybean field. When flying, you should always be looking around for a field where you can land the plane, in case an emergency occurs.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:37 AM
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... Ideally you shouldn't fly a single engine plane out of gliding distance of a suitable landing area (e.g., paddock) but this is rarely practical.
Out of interest, Pilot People, if you were flying at say 15,000 feet what sort of gliding distances would you expect a single engine aircraft to offer you?

Are suitable paddocks marked on maps or is it a case of remembering that one summer you drove past a nice big wide field just to the left of the sheer moutain range ...?

Or calling Rex Kramer.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:46 AM
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Do pilots train for this?
Yes, at least in some Air Forces they do.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
Out of interest, Pilot People, if you were flying at say 15,000 feet what sort of gliding distances would you expect a single engine aircraft to offer you?

Are suitable paddocks marked on maps or is it a case of remembering that one summer you drove past a nice big wide field just to the left of the sheer moutain range ...?

Or calling Rex Kramer.
Hi.

My own aircraft has a realistic engine off Glide Ratio of about 8:1, I.e for every 1 unit of height lost, I travel 8 units forwards.

15,000ft however is pretty high for a regular light aircraft. I've been up to 12,000 a couple of times, but aircraft performance was pretty marginal by then.... And I was getting cold!

No, suitable "emergency" landing sites are not marked on maps (unless they're an actual airfield obviously).
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:18 AM
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Not a pilot but many friends who are, many tales ... my favorite was the fella who used the plane parking area rather than taxi- and runways ... and Moore Road was suitable because the airport was 30 miles away ...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but landing on a freeway because of a genuine emergency probably won't get you any grief from the local police ... but the FAA is going to be up your ass ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 08-13-2018 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
Out of interest, Pilot People, if you were flying at say 15,000 feet what sort of gliding distances would you expect a single engine aircraft to offer you?
A Cessna like the one in the article would probably cruise more in the 5,000-7,000 foot altitude range. If you start going much higher, you need an oxygen system, which is normally found on more expensive airplanes (though there are other options).

But just as a very rough rule of thumb, think of such planes as having 1.5 miles of glide per 1,000 feet of altitude. So, a plane like that at cruise could go for about 7-ish miles if the engine suddenly went kaput. And of course, it would take 5+ minutes to reach the ground. Some have a perception that the plane goes from cruising to the ground very quickly, when in fact you have plenty of time to crap your pants.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:30 AM
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"A desperate man will grasp even the point of a sword."

Having said that, I also have to think that your average pilot is intelligent enough not to commit suicide by landing on top of cars and, in so doing, kill himself, his passengers and innocent people on the ground.

We had a small plane land on Lake Shore Drive a couple of weeks or so ago, and he pulled it off without even an injury.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:38 AM
Razncain Razncain is offline
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My instructor told me the same thing as to what Crafter Man's son told him, about roads are not really a good place to land in an emergency. But he certainly didn't rule it out either, and there are times he says it's your best option.

My instructor commented about how good the road looks from up in the air. But when you get down closer, you realize many obstacles become much more obvious, highline wires and poles, signage, other things, traffic in rural areas is pretty much a non-issue.

Of course, my plane at the time had a 34' wing span. The one I fly now is only 23', so the roads are looking a lot better. It's easy to work your way in with the traffic too, but in an urban area, if possible, it's best to stay high enough to where you can clear those areas. About the only thing you see that might be viable to land in a congested area are golf courses of which many a pilot has landed on including Harrison Ford.
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Old 08-13-2018, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
We had a small plane land on Lake Shore Drive a couple of weeks or so ago, and he pulled it off without even an injury.
Lake Shore Drive has the advantage (from an emergency landing standpoint) of having stretches on which there are relatively few obstructions that cross over it (i.e., bridges, overhead wires, etc.)

Here's a link to a story about the event -- I'm fairly astonished that he didn't hit any cars, given that he landed on LSD at 3:15pm on a Friday, when one would expect that there would be quite a lot of traffic.

https://wgntv.com/2018/07/27/plane-m...e-shore-drive/
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:22 AM
Gorsnak Gorsnak is offline
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Sometimes a road might be the only remotely decent option, and then the light turns green and you have to dodge traffic. A few years back there was such an incident here, with fatal results. A light twin lost both engines 5km from the airport, attempted a street landing, and aborted off to the side of the road at the last minute. There was a thread about it at the time, where I posted a google maps link showing the location.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:23 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Serious question: Do airplanes come equipped with the equivalent of a car horn, or some sort of siren, to make their presence known to people around them (other planes, or in this situation, cars on the ground) that otherwise might not see them? I can't imagine such a thing being useful very often, but I don't honk my car horn that often either.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:26 AM
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No horns in planes. There are landing lights that you could flick on and off, but that's not saying much.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
Out of interest, Pilot People, if you were flying at say 15,000 feet what sort of gliding distances would you expect a single engine aircraft to offer you?
All the way to the crash site.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:33 AM
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No horns in planes.
Unless you're flying a Stuka.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:42 AM
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For an entertaining take on this, I'll suggest watching 405 (2000), a short film.

http://www.405themovie.com/
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Old 08-13-2018, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
A Cessna like the one in the article would probably cruise more in the 5,000-7,000 foot altitude range. If you start going much higher, you need an oxygen system, which is normally found on more expensive airplanes (though there are other options).
I have a Piper Dakota (235hp, single engine). I live in Nevada and normally fly between 10,000' and 12,000'. I've had it up to 13,500'. I do have oxygen on board.

Of course the ground out here is at 5,000'. My plane will glide at about 8:1.

As far as roads, in rural Nevada (like highway 6 between Tonopah and Ely), they may be a real option since there is no traffic, few signs etc. out in the middle of nowhere.

Last edited by Desert Nomad; 08-13-2018 at 11:30 AM.
  #23  
Old 08-13-2018, 12:54 PM
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I never landed on a freeway, but as others have mentioned during an emergency things change but in general in rural areas it is not illegal to land on roads as long as you are safe about it.

No FAR that prohibits landing on roads. Local and State Highway laws may or may not allow for it and in general you can land on BLM land.

Here are the Wyoming regs as an example.

Quote:
10-4-303. Low or dangerous flight; landing on land or water of another.
(a) Flight in aircraft over the lands and waters of this state is lawful unless it is:
(i) At such a low altitude as to interfere with the existing use to which the land or water, or the
space over the land or water, is put by the owner;
(ii) Conducted as to be imminently dangerous to persons or property lawfully on the land or water;
or
(iii) In violation of the air commerce regulations promulgated by the department of transportation of
the United States.
(b) The landing of an aircraft on the lands or waters of another, without his consent, is unlawful, except
in the case of a forced landing. For damages caused by a forced landing, however, the owner or
lessee of the aircraft or the airman shall be liable for actual damage caused by the forced landing
I haven't flown in 20 years, but the low and slow club like people in cubs use this for pee stops in rural areas more than you would think. Not practical in something like a Piper Dakota of course and the Interstate is way too dangerous but a lonely county road way out of the way is pretty safe.

Last edited by rat avatar; 08-13-2018 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:42 PM
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Since the first question is not factual, let's move this to Great Debates.

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Old 08-13-2018, 02:14 PM
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When I was getting my private license through Air Cadets eons ago we were practicing for an engine failure and my instructor had me go through the motions of picking out a suitable field, setting up for landing, and making "radio" calls. As we got lower and lower I realized I had picked a wheat field that was about 3 ft tall and green which would have been hell to l and in. We get lower and lower, and I'm waiting for the go ahead to pull up,..nothing. We're down to about 150 ft and he finally says , OK, Go. "Thank God, " I'm thinking, so I firewall the throttle (this is a Cessna 152) and proceed to dump the flaps from full down to full up...and doown we went. I can still hear the wheat scarping the bottom of the plane as it struggled to gain altitude. I look over and my instructor is bracing for impact which didn't give me confidence. But it slowwwly pulled up, and once we were back at cruising altitude he asked me what lessons I had learned. 1) Green wheat fields are crappy landing spots, 2) increment flaps, 3) make sure you have a little more speed than you need. 4) It is unbelievable how quiet a Cessna cabin can be when your instructor is staring at you...
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Old 08-13-2018, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
When I was taking lessons, every once-in-a-while my instructor would reduce the engine speed to idle and say "You've just lost the engine. What do you do?" If I remember correctly, the procedure was to establish the plane at its best glide speed, look for the safest place to land (airport, road, field, golf course, that sort of thing) and head toward it, call ATC on the radio, try to fix the problem, and prepare the plane for landing before you touch down. We'd glide for a while and see if I could have made it to the landing area I'd picked, then the instructor would push the the throttle back in and we'd climb away.

So you train for it up to a point, but I don't think any instructor would take it all the way to the ground.
Yes, some would.

But probably not with a new pilot.

After I got my PPL I would, periodically, go for either refresher training or to further my skills. A couple of my instructors would have me practice emergency landings all the way to the ground (engine at idle). I will note, however, they were particular about conditions. Also, by that time I had had a genuine forced landing in a field under my belt so a simulated emergency that ended on a paved or grass runway was pretty tame by comparison.

Quote:
In my day, I also learned how to take off and land on short runways or soft runways like grass or gravel. (I've been out of general aviation for quite a while; don't know if soft-field techniques are still taught.) Those would also be good lessons to know if I ever had to set down in a real emergency.
The techniques for short/soft landings are still taught, but I have met many pilots who have never landed on anything but pavement, much less a grass strip, much less a rough field. There is some gap between theory and reality. Particularly between any actual airstrip and a genuine rough field.

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Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
Out of interest, Pilot People, if you were flying at say 15,000 feet what sort of gliding distances would you expect a single engine aircraft to offer you?
Well... in theory you could get a 7:1 glide ratio out of a single engine Cessna, which in theory would give you a potential 19.5 miles and some change... but I don't know any pilots who would bet their life on that number. Including me, with most of my hours in that sort of Cessna. In reality, you're not going to get perfect performance at 15,000 feet in a single-engine Cessna, and there will probably be at least a minute or two when your engine first quits when you're moving from cruise configuration to best-glide, looking for a field, etc. I'd prefer to keep my target landing area within 10 miles or less because why cut your margin for error/problems any tighter than necessary? Probably I could squeeze 12-15 out of it, but that would be stretching things.

The Diamond Katana I flew, on the other hand, had something like an 11:1 glide ratio, which in theory gives you a potential glide distance of 31.25 miles... but, again, I wouldn't stake my life on it. You seldom get perfect performance and since I had less time in the Katana my skills in it would not be perfect - I'd be looking for a landing spot within 20 miles, preferably closer.

That sort of illustrates why it's very important to know the characteristics and performance traits of the airplane you are flying.

Quote:
Are suitable paddocks marked on maps or is it a case of remembering that one summer you drove past a nice big wide field just to the left of the sheer moutain range ...?
As perhaps the above example illustrates, there is no one "correct" answer. Different airplanes are different, so there's no point to a map-maker even trying to guess what would make a suitable landing for anything. Yes, some of it is remembering suitable landing spots, or working them out prior to launching.

Then we get into other picky details - because a Cessna wing is on top of the airplane the wings have more ground clearance, which can be important during ground travel. Low wing airplanes are more likely to be damaged landing in a rough field because the wings are more likely to impact obstacles. A Stearman has a steel frame and is built much sturdier than a lot of newer airplanes - it's the only sort of airplane I've ever known to have impacted a tree during landing and won (it knocked off the top third of a pine and kept on going), usually airplane vs. tree turns the airplane into confetti. There's a lot more structure between me and the site of impact in a Cessna than in, say, a Max-Air Drifter where you sit waaaaay out front and arguably the pilot arrives at the point of impact before the airplane does.

All of the above can affect how you choose a landing field. In a high-wing I might be more inclined to pick a two lane rural road lined with mailboxes that is closer, rather than a field of tall grass, because the Cessna wing will clear the mailboxes. In a Piper Cherokee, though - a low wing - the wings will almost certainly hit those mailboxes and all sorts of chaos could ensue so I might opt for a slightly further field of hay, because tall hay, although not fun, will probably do less damage, is less likely to break open a wing/fuel tank, and so on, although there's always a risk when landing off-field. But... if I had to, if there was no alternative, road-lined-with-mailboxes is probably survivable in either.

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Originally Posted by watchwolf49 View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but landing on a freeway because of a genuine emergency probably won't get you any grief from the local police ... but the FAA is going to be up your ass ...
They will ask you to explain/justify yourself the next day.

Based on my experience with a forced landing in, essentially, someone's backyard in Illinois back about 20 years now.

They weren't "up my ass" but let's just say I felt thoroughly examined afterwards.

After it was over the FAA guy complimented me on my landing skills and thanked me for not making him fill out the paperwork on a dead pilot.

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Originally Posted by swampspruce View Post
1) Green wheat fields are crappy landing spots
Corn fields are worse. Hold an ear of corn in your hands. Imagine it hitting you in the face at 50-80 miles per hour. Now imagine a LOT of ears of corn hitting you in the face at that speed. Corn is evil.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:35 PM
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given that he landed on LSD at 3:15pm on a Friday,
He just slipped it on in on LSD, Friday night trouble bound?

They never shoulda closed Meigs!
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:53 PM
Karen Lingel Karen Lingel is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
However, no one died in that instance. No one was even hurt. That also held true for the small plane that recently landed on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.
No one was hurt this time, but the last time a plane landed on the freeway around here, an 11 year old's leg got chopped off, while the pilot and his son were safe and sound.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:57 PM
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For an entertaining take on this, I'll suggest watching 405 (2000), a short film.

http://www.405themovie.com/
Came her to post that film. Saw it when it went viral but I still cannot believe it was made in 2000 on a PC.

Great backstory.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/405_(film)

Last edited by jasg; 08-13-2018 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:23 PM
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I saw the video of this on the news this morning. Damn good flying! Nice nobody panicked and made a mess of it.

I like how he pulled over to the side, like he was getting stopped by the cops.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
He just slipped it on in on LSD, Friday night trouble bound?

They never shoulda closed Meigs!
No, they should not have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen Lingel View Post
No one was hurt this time, but the last time a plane landed on the freeway around here, an 11 year old's leg got chopped off, while the pilot and his son were safe and sound.
Yes, I recall hearing about that.

And a good dozen years ago one of my pilot friends attempt a landing on a road not more than half a mile from my home and wrapped his airplane (and himself) around a lamp post at nearly 100 mph - he kept his leg, after they removed bits of airplane from it, but it was touch and go for awhile and he'll always walk with a limp. Also had to remove bits of him from the wreck of the airplane.

Landings like that are not risk free, but they aren't instant death, either.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:53 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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No horns in planes. There are landing lights that you could flick on and off, but that's not saying much.
Some planes do have horns but they are for alerting ground crew and not designed to be heard in flight.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:07 PM
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In that area there really isn't another place to try and set down and it is obvious that the pilot practiced way more than the typical private pilot does with his power back landings.

A couple of flares but a good job at trying to protect lives all around. With the wires he went under it could have been much much worse and I am not sure if flaring was in part an attempt at getting below those wires but much better than the typical minimal effort skill set that you often see.


Link to video without comentary

https://youtu.be/2Ci76jGLamE

Last edited by rat avatar; 08-13-2018 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:19 PM
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Looking at youtube videos I ran into this guys channel that shows just how crazy the STOL world has gotten. No way I could have considered this with 40HP at 7000', heck we couldn't fly the J3 on hot days.

https://youtu.be/PGKQsM3XVFQ
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen Lingel View Post
If you land a plane on the freeway, do you get a ticket or any kind of punishment at all?
I've twice landed my glider on an interstate highway (in both cases it was not yet open to traffic). Police were friendly and helpful.

YMMV.
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Old 08-14-2018, 12:00 AM
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As others mentioned, you are trained in basic private pilot training to learn how to pick a spot and glide to it if the engine conks out. If necessary, maneuver (S-turns) to line up with the best open space. Rural roads are no fun - too narrow, often lined with the only trees for hundreds of years, and often lined with power and phone lines. Rural expressways, better. Urban expressways, too many wires and poles.

Recall a flight near Atlanta back in the 70's or 80's where a 737 (or was it a 727?) flew through a hailstorm thunderhead (brilliant bit of piloting) and tried a dead landing on an interstate at night... the almost made it, actually touched down but clipped a light standard with a wingtip and shredded killing quite a few passengers.

MY instructor mentioned a fellow who ran out of gas short of the airport tried to put down across the two soccer fields of the local school; cracked up his plane and broke his ankle because there was a small but wheel-breaking ditch, a dip about a foot deep between the fields. Remember that a small aircraft - the 2 to 6 passenger Cessna/Piper types - land pretty slow. Their typical stall speed is below 60mph depending on load, and then like any braking vehicle, they can stop pretty fast once on the ground. Even if they hit something or flip, there risk is not terribly worse than flipping in a car at 40 to 60mph. In fact, one risk is that they may land safely in an area too constricted for a takeoff run. The real killer is stalling out far too high trying to "stretch" that glide, or total loss of control and straight into the ground.

He also mentioned that generally if you put down on a road and the aircraft survives, the police will give you one of two choices: if you are really lucky and you can, they will block the road and let you fly out. More likely, they will force you to get a aircraft moving company, take off the wings, and haul the plane to the nearest airport - more expensive than any fine they will give you, and reinforces the concept "don't land on the road". Then the Canadian Dept. of Transport (and presumably same goes for the feds in the USA) will investigate any safety incident involving an aircraft and give the appropriate penalties including (I assume) fines and pilot license suspension or loss, depending on why the problem. One of the most common causes of engine failure is fuel exhaustion, or assorted other mismanagement like failing to flip over to the other tank in time.

Last edited by md2000; 08-14-2018 at 12:03 AM.
  #37  
Old 08-14-2018, 07:17 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Recall a flight near Atlanta back in the 70's or 80's where a 737 (or was it a 727?) flew through a hailstorm thunderhead (brilliant bit of piloting) and tried a dead landing on an interstate at night... the almost made it, actually touched down but clipped a light standard with a wingtip and shredded killing quite a few passengers.
Southern Airways 242, a DC-9 in 1977.

Quote:
He also mentioned that generally if you put down on a road and the aircraft survives, the police will give you one of two choices
All that and more, but (A) You'll be alive, and (B) Your only problem is likely to be financial. Legally, you did what you had to in an emergency. In the US, don't forget to file your NASA form - it isn't exactly a Cloak of Protection, but it's close.
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Old 08-14-2018, 08:04 AM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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My first thought on seeing the thread title was, "treadmill"?
  #39  
Old 08-14-2018, 11:14 AM
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You can't land on a treadmill, you'll never slow down enough to land...
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  #40  
Old 08-14-2018, 11:56 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Carry the treadmill aboard with you. If you get in trouble, just reach out and hold it under the landing gear, and set it to whatever speed it takes to touch down softly.
  #41  
Old 08-14-2018, 10:04 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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My son is taking pilot lessons. His instructor told him,
His instructor told him wrong. Soy beans tend to wad up in the gear. It's not the optimal crop to land in.

Roads work just fine in an emergency if you can see the wires crossing it. landing speeds tend to be similar to highway speeds so it's easy to "merge" into traffic. You can cross-control a plane to fudge the approach to help the merge process.

Cars outweigh small planes and are structurally much stronger.
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Old 08-14-2018, 10:43 PM
rsat3acr rsat3acr is offline
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Can't speak about planes since I only flew Hueys in the Army. In flight school our mapboards that we carried had to have written in large print, ALL ROADS HAVE WIRES. Power lines will flat out mess up a helicopter. We did practice emergency landings all the time, both with power recovery and to the ground autorotations. Of course helicopters have the advantage of lower airspeeds. Can have a zero(for all practical purposes) horizontal and vertical airspeed when touching down during an autorotation. As for the 8:1 glide ratio the other pilots are talking about, our was about 1:1 and since we were seldom over 500 above ground level we didn't have long glide distances. Any time there was an instructor pilot in the other seat on anything but an actual mission you could bet they'd roll the throttle sometime during the flight.

Last edited by rsat3acr; 08-14-2018 at 10:44 PM.
  #43  
Old 08-15-2018, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
His instructor told him wrong. Soy beans tend to wad up in the gear. It's not the optimal crop to land in.
I'm not sure there exists an "optimal crop" - from experience, hay will also get caught up in the gear so presumably wheat would also. Corn I've already covered. You're right about soybeans getting into the gear (also experience, not my bad that time, I just helped the clean up). Pretty much anything other than mowed turf has issues.
  #44  
Old 08-15-2018, 08:07 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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I'm not sure there exists an "optimal crop"
Anything that won't kill you or anybody else is optimal. Don't worry about limiting damage to the plane, just worry about yourself. I was taught "If you decide you have to land your airplane off-airport, just tell yourself that the insurance company owns it now, not you".
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:20 AM
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Yep - when I had to land in a field due to bad weather I basically considered the airplane a write-off and just concentrated on getting the flesh and blood through the experience. The fact that afterward there wasn't any damage to the airplane was a bonus.

That said - given a choice between a cornfield and hayfield, assuming all other factors are equal, the hayfield is your better option. But usually you don't get the luxury of that much choice.
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:45 AM
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Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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I am the only one that thought of the plane that landed in a road, ruptured a fuel tank, and caused a huge fireball?

Only minor injuries on the ground.
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Old 08-15-2018, 11:41 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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That said - given a choice between a cornfield and hayfield, assuming all other factors are equal, the hayfield is your better option. But usually you don't get the luxury of that much choice.
Anything's better than an orchard, I suppose.

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And a good dozen years ago one of my pilot friends attempt a landing on a road not more than half a mile from my home and wrapped his airplane (and himself) around a lamp post at nearly 100 mph - he kept his leg, after they removed bits of airplane from it, but it was touch and go for awhile and he'll always walk with a limp.
I first read this as "always walk with a lamp," and I thought for a second that they had been unable to remove it for some reason.
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Old 08-15-2018, 11:46 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Anything's better than an orchard, I suppose.
Depends on your options. If you can land in a dense forest with trees with soft, bendy branches up top, well, I know a guy who did that and just climbed down. If you do have to hit trunks, try to aim between them, so they'll tear the wings off evenly and not impact the cabin.

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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
I first read this as "always walk with a lamp,"
Only if you're looking for an honest man.

Last edited by ElvisL1ves; 08-15-2018 at 11:46 AM.
  #49  
Old 08-15-2018, 12:32 PM
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That said - given a choice between a cornfield and hayfield, assuming all other factors are equal, the hayfield is your better option. But usually you don't get the luxury of that much choice.
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Anything's better than an orchard, I suppose.
I do have friends who landed in treetops and were uninjured.

There are times an orchard is the lesser evil - ElvisL1ves covered some of that. You can spend endless hours discussing emergency landings and increasingly hair-raising scenarios.
  #50  
Old 08-15-2018, 02:23 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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My instructor on emergency night landings in the sparsely developed area of Canada where there are almost no visual references:

"Set up for your best glide speed wait until you are about 100 ft above the ground, then turn on your landing light. If you like what you see, go ahead and land."

"And if you don't like what you see?"

"Turn off your landing light."

Glide ratios can vary quite substantially in light aircraft, btw. I flew aircraft at both extremes - a slick Mooney with long wings that would glide almost as well as a training glider, and my Grumman AA1, which had the glide characteristics of a homesick brick.
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