The Great Ongoing General Aviation Thread

How do you know your main gear is missing unless you hit something.

Like the article says. They made a really crappy landing, thought something broke, so they went around. Then they looked out the window and saw the damage.

This article has somewhat better info about the mysterious jumping pilot. But they didn’t write it exactly in chrono order, so one has to read carefully to understand the sequence of events. Usual warning about TV station websites: there’s auto-playing vid at this link, but the textual story there is what matters.

They launched from Rocky Mount - Wilson Airport to Raeford West airport. The former is a typical small public airport:

Interestingly, Raeford West is a private field w a 4200’ long grass runway. Which is plenty good enough for a C212:

After roughly half an hour on the ground there they took off, “circled the field” per the news article, so perhaps a traffic pattern with a touch and go, then meandered away eventually to declare their emergency & head towards

which is an airliner-sized airport 80 miles away to make their emergency landing. At typical C212 cruise speeds that’s maybe a 20-30ish minute flight. And some 30 miles = 10-15 minutes short of RDU the FO ended up dead on the ground.

The C212 has fixed landing gear and from various pix of the airplane it ought to be easy to see the wheels from the cockpit. And if not, it’d certainly be easy to see the landing gear from the side windows.

If you try to Google map for Raeford, there are 2 such airports in NC and Google finds the wrong one. I had success using the airport manager’s address from Airnav then looking around for something resembling an airfield. You can see some farm fields with what appears to be a couple of runways carved in them, the longest of which has the correct azimuth vs Airnav’s data. The address of the airport manager is also the address of a seed company adjacent to the farm fields and runways where we can see a bunch of greenhouses.


Story time: When I was a teen pilot in So Cal there are a group of us who were all similar. Grew up hanging out at airports, had been flying lightplanes w Dad or Uncle or whoever since we were kids, solo-ed on our 16th birthday, etc. All “Clean Cut All-American Boys” excited about aviation as a career.

One of my pals decided to earn some extra money ferrying drugs up from Mexico. And by “some” I mean “lots”.

About 6 months later he was “shot while escaping” from the Federales at a pickup field down there. One round from an M1 in the head at close range. It’s easy to persuade yourself your clean-cut nature will let you do this highly profitable drug stuff for awhile, then exit that industry for a better, more conventional one. Doesn’t always work out according to plan. His parents were mortified to learn of their son’s all-too brief secret life.


Back to this current event:
Perhaps our freshly freefalling pilot realized he too was about to mortify his parents and did something rash.

I wonder what they grow on that seed farm? Perhaps DEA might want to visit them.

Just found this - pretty cool:

there’s a touring collection of da Vinci’s inventions that stopped at the Air Force Museum. it was geared towards hands-on learning for kids.

Imagine what he would have created if he had a modern engineering degree.

Probably not a damn thing. Modern schooling would have driven the genius right out of him. Rather, what he would have created if the world had modern-ish engineering.

You mean Da Vinci’s drawings of potential inventions. He drew a lot of stuff that can’t be built except out of unobtanium.

He was a mad creative genius and is rightfully celebrated down the centuries even unto now for his vision. But lacking the ability to build a lot of his ideas, they were never proven then to be the pipe dreams they still are today. And probably will be for all time.

Not exactly GA, but I had some interesting workdays a few days ago. Johnny L.A. may especially appreciate this one.

My copilot du jour was a young woman in her early 30s who’d started out as a civilian helo pilot, never military. After a stint doing traffic reporting in a Robinson she’d gotten a job here in Miami delivering turbine helos to customers all over the Caribbean, Central, & So America. As she said, “I’ve toured much of 2 continents, and a shitload of ocean, at 500 feet.” That takes brass 'nads, even if they are internally mounted.

After that she flew EMS helos for a private company here, then counter-wildfire helos for the county Fire Department.

Finally she made the jump to RJs and eventually just recently to 737s in the Big Leagues. And is a damn fine aviator.

She was a cool and inspiring story of desire and long-term effort leading to success. After 10+ years of bustin’ ass.

Story 2: At the end of one flight a 30-ish Mom w a ~6yo girl were getting off the airplane. The little girl was starstruck; she had already decided she wanted to be a pilot when she grew up. It was heartwarming to watch my (childless) FO connect w this little kid. With me cheering from behind.

Our aviation future is in good hands. There’s plenty of 6yos who still feel the romance. It ain’t the jets; it’s the people.

Helis are generally flown VFR, but you have to be careful over oceans or deserts. At 400 or 500 feet, you really have to keep an eye on the altimeter because there are no visual cues about your altitude when you’re over flat, featureless terrain.

One of the old guys at my fliying club used to fly anti-sub patrols in a Canadair Argus. He had thousands of hours in the thing, flying 18 hour sub patrols as low as 200 ft above the water. One Argus and its 15 crew were lost when a wing hit the water while turning at patrol altitude. They lost a little height, and that’s all it took.

He was in the air and flying over Russian ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Argus had equipment to detect emissions from diesel subs and optics to spot periscopes, but you had to be down on the water to use them. It also dropped sonobuoys when required, which was also done right down on the deck. Most Arguses spent the majority of their life below 2,000 ft.

Interestingly, the Argus had a normal endurance of 26 hours, and held the record for longest unrefueled flight (31 hours) until the Rutan Voyager came along.

I agree but why would you fly at that altitude? It’s like racing a motorcycle without a helmet.

In SoCal, 400 AGL was routine in the helicopters. Transiting LAX airspace offshore, aircraft were required to fly at 100 feet or below.

Higher than 500 feet, helicopter pilots get nosebleeds. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the Argus ref. I love machines of that era and while I recognized the name I didn’t know any details. The wiki on it is pretty good. Although hidden in the tale of its development is clear signs of tangled decision-making: we started with a simple derivative of the existing model X, then blended in a bunch of model Y, then replaced all of everything one bit at a time as we realized that wouldn’t work. Holy cost / schedule overrun, Batman!

A possible quibble about the accident in your snip: It sounds like they were done exercising w a friendly sub and then did a low showboat pass and turning pullup. Always fun & pretty. Unless you tie, yet again, the world record for low altitude flight at zero feet. Nobody has ever beaten that record. Darn shame folks keep trying though.

IANA helo pilot. But my understanding is they really don’t benefit from climbing.

At 120 KIAS cruise, even going to 10,000 MSL only gets you 140 KTAS. And half the time will bring you into more unfavorable winds.

AIUI, unlike a fixed-wing, you don’t pay for the high climb fuel consumption by saving fuel later in a long idle descent. Instead you have the high climb fuel consumption and almost all of the normal cruise fuel consumption in descent. So it’s a net loser in fuel consumption per hour. Whether the higher TAS leads to more or less net total range probably depends on the specific model of helo.

In general I’d agree with your sentiment that, all else equal, over uninhabited flat terrain or water I’d rather be higher to have more time to communicate before a forced landing. And over non-flat terrain, I’d still like to be higher AGL to improve the odds on finding a flat-ish spot to land should the need arise. Apparently all else isn’t equal.

As you climb, the air density gets lower (density altitude increases). If you need a certain amount of air flowing over the wings to maintain an altitude, then you have to fly faster when you’re higher to get the same amount of ‘wind’ – if both wings are going the same direction. Helicopters have a ‘wing’ that goes backward. As forward speed increases, airspeed over the retreating blade decreases. The rotor system compensates for the lower airspeed by increasing the angle of attack, and by flapping. At some higher airspeed, the system can no longer compensate and you get retreating blade stall. So airplanes: Go higher, go faster; helicopters, go higher, go slower.

Ah, those were the days - nicer amenities but quite a few more crashes:

Yes but going lower hurts regardless of craft.

Not really. Aircraft are compromises. Going lower does spend more fuel, but going lower gives helicopters advantages.

How do you figure? An airplane doesn’t have to slow down and hover to land in an emergency. A helicopter does. A power-off landing at 500 feet isn’t going to end well in a helicopter.

A helicopter doesn’t need a runway. I’d much rather lose my engine in a helicopter than an airplane.

I am not a pilot, but I am a pedant.

The world record for low altitude flight is - 206m ( - 675 feet)