Eject! Eject! Eject!... Oops.

Pilot ejected when small airplane dives near Chattanooga

I always use a checklist, and I normally vocalise as I go through it. One of the things I say out loud is ‘Seats and seat belts adjusted and locked.’ Note that when I was flying helicopters, I almost always flew with the doors off.

I am unaware of a ‘malfunction’ that would cause an aircraft to dive violently enough to cause the canopy to jettison, and yet allow it to remain controllable so the other numbskull (the instructor was not wearing a seat belt either) can land the aircraft safely. Maybe I’m just being suspicious, but I think something else might have been going on.

The (presumed) original owner of the aircraft died in a crash. (The article doesn’t say what kind of crash.) The new owner is ejected from the aircraft. I’m thinking the next owner should paint ‘The Hope Diamond’ on the cowl.

And you damn well better use it.
Tennessee police search for man ejected from plane


I have to wonder what kind of maneuver they were doing that would spill a passenger out of his seat! Given that the wings fail on these things more than one would like, I don’t think it’s aerobatic!

WTF? Guy wears a seat belt to drive to the airport but doesn’t in the airplane?
I suspect the autopsy will find blood and guts but no brains.


Flingwing Johnny has scooped me again!

Mods, feel free to merge…

Foul play


Or fowl play.

The birds got him.

As I said, I don’t know what kind of ‘malfunction’ would result in such a violent maneuver that left the aircraft controllable afterward. I suspect whoever was at the controls did something wrong. I don’t know the stall characteristics of the aircraft involved, but I can imagine that certain stall maneuvers that are commonly practiced might well have caused a violent pitch-down. It’s possible that the downward pitch was significant enough that an un-belted occupant could have slammed against the canopy, causing the latch to fail.

The accident aircraft is stressed to +6/-4 g. A sudden pitch downward might be enough to hurl a body against the canopy (causing the latch to fail), but not enough to exceed the -4 g design limit.

Anything greater than about -1 G is going to be problem unless you are holding tight to something before it happens.

Reminds me of an accident I read about years ago. Sorta one of those in hindsight moments (precognition pun retroactively approaching).

Some guys’ canopy blew off. A few miles further down he crashed and died. Why? Because his vision was bad enough without glasses that he couldn’t fly the plane. In hindsight it seems pretty obviously that you better have those babies well secured to your head with a good packup pair at the ready.

But most folks don’t worry about the canopy going bye bye. And if they do, I doubt they think “oh shit, I’ll lose my glasses too”.

Were my eyesight bad enough I could not fly an aircraft without them, I’d have a spare pair with me at all times.

There have been cases where pilots have lost control after a door or window opened in-flight. They become so distracted trying to close the hole, that they forget to fly the aircraft. I had a window blow open on a 172 Skyhawk at cruising speed (about 120 knots) once. The sudden noise got my attention. I reached over and closed and latched it. My mom was involved in an aerial burial once. As she dumped the ashes, the slipstream took her brand new Ray Bans. (She thought it was fitting that a pilot should be ‘laid to rest’ with a new pair of aviator shades.)

Well the plane was the Zodiac…

Holy hell, how did I miss this?? I live about 20 min from that area…

Think I’ll show this to my husband, who is planning on get his private pilot’s license soon.

My eyesight is very poor. I was advised when I started flying to always carry a spare set of glasses and I did so on every flight. Heh, I wanted to be an astronaut and even got a PhD so that I might qualify and even when they reduced the standards in the 90’s I still didn’t qualify :P.

Well, if he wanted to be thrown clear, looks like he got his wish…

Count yourself lucky it missed you — they’re still trying to find where he landed.

The article has been updated to indicate that the body has been found.

I concur.

Both the failure to wear seatbelts and the canopy opening in flight are really weird of themselves - the combination is almost absurdly unlikely. Good chance there’s more to this story.

Same thing happened to me on my second solo, right after takeoff. Those windows are loud when they slam up against the bottom of the wing!

Isn’t that plane noted for (other than in-flight detachable wings) extreme pitch movements AND a tiny CG range? What happens if the pilot’s weight is suddenly removed (-G)? What would the guy still holding on do - put nose up or down?

I never trusted the hinge-less aileron design, and the behavior of Heinz (designer) and co. in stonewalling a defective spar was inexcusable.

I had not looked into the Zodiac before, but a quick scan of Wiki shows that wing flutter appears to have been an issue in some crashes. I also see that the canopy is hinged at the front.