Seasonal Greetings from Fear of Landing

20 Dec 19 13 Comments

I’m pretty sure it’s a tradition now that I get the Friday before Christmas off. At least, I hope so, because I’ve got some kind of horrible sniffly-sneezy-coughing-possibly-dying thing and I just do not have enough brain to finish the piece I have been working on.

So I’m going back to bed and feeling sorry for myself but I’ll leave you with content from other people.

This is a good write-up of military report of the Mirage 2000D fatal crash which took place in France at the beginning of the year:

Mirage 2000D crash final report blames insufficient training

The report points to a lack of training for the 3rd Fighter Wing, which has endured several years of organic training deficit due to high engagement on operational theaters and low availability of the Mirage 2000D. “This lack of training led to an attempt to optimize each flight,” says the BEA-É, adding that “over the years, training has become increasingly dense.”

The optimization directs pilots to acquire as many skills as possible, instead of maturing those they already possess. The investigation revealed that the pilot had been qualified for a year and a half, but had carried out this type of mission only seven times and probably never in such weather conditions. That situation creates an environment where pilots feel pressured by the judgment of another experienced pilot and do not voice their concerns regarding an unadapted flight plan.

Read the whole article here.

This fantastic image was posted to Reddit’s OldSchoolCool group with a caption of Pilot restarting a stalled propeller (1960s)

The photograph is great but the fascinating thing is that the photographer was watching and posted to the group to explain the context of the shot:

I took this in November 1946 and it shows Merle Larson demonstrating a small air show stunt that he did. It appears that he is alone in the plane but there is another pilot (Gladys Davis) flying the plane from the back seat and he does have a rope tied around himself. Merle was a WWII B-24 pilot, flight instructor, inventor and builder of three unusual planes based at Buchanan Field, Concord, California.

This video shows a fatal GA crash and is hard to watch:

On June 28, 2013, about 0948 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-22-135 Tri-Pacer, N1540P, and a Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow, N2108T, collided midair while on final approach to landing at the Johnson Creek Airport (3U2), Yellow Pine, Idaho.

The private pilot of the Tri-Pacer and his pilot-rated passenger sustained serious injuries. The private pilot of the Arrow sustained serious injuries. Tragically, his 20-month-old son sustained fatal injuries. The child was secured in a CARES child restraint.

A review of the recorded CTAF transmissions revealed that both pilots were transmitting their positions within the airport traffic pattern, corroborating their reports that they did so. It could not be determined why neither pilot heard the other pilot’s position reports and the NTSB found it likely that both pilots were not adequately monitoring other aircraft position reports while in the pattern.

The NTSB report states “If either pilot had heard the other pilot’s position reports, it is likely that the collision would not have occurred.” (Vigilance is such a common theme.)

Both NTSB accident reports are included as part of a larger document repository containing investigative information about this accident. Those documents, which include the CTAF transcript, can be found at

And finally, not quite our usual fare but I stumbled upon this article about NASA and its connection with the occult, filed under Rocket Design.

Jack Parsons and the Occult Roots of JPL

This one is particularly interesting to me because the Jack Parsons in the headline and pictured in the article was actually a great-great uncle or cousin eight times removed or something of mine — we are definitely related on my American grandmother’s side. My Favorite Aunt Nancy should appear in the comments shortly to clarify.

One day, in 1937, Parsons and Forman attended a lecture on rocketry at Cal Tech, where they became acquainted with student Frank Melina. Melina was a theorist and mathematician, studying Mechanical Engineering at the time. The three men began making enquiries around the Cal Tech campus with regards to establishing a rocket development program, but were constantly refused opportunities as rocketry was still largely seen as science fiction at that time.

Read the whole article here.

I hope that you enjoyed these as much as I did and that the end of the year is full of happiness and tranquility for you.

Me, I’m going back to bed.

Category: Miscellaneous,


  • Interesting cameo entries.

    Sylvia, I wish you likewise a very Happy Christmas, and may we read many more of your always interesting blogs in 2020.
    Thank you very much.
    I am sure that this sentiment is shared by all other regular readers and commentators.

    • Thank you and also thank you for being here and putting so much of your time into this community. I’m sure all the other regular readers and commentators share my sentiment as well. :)

  • Thank you ever so much for your always excellent analyses of all these crashes. You always shed some sort of light that I hadn’t heard before.

    I hope you have a great Christmas and feel better very soon!

  • Favorite Aunt Nancy here — re the last article on Jack Parsons: He was quite a character (but then … you should see the rest of the Tree!). Sylvia is Jack’s 7th cousin, once removed. It’s not that ‘distant’ really — 7th cousin means they go back to the 6th Great Grandparent as their common relative and once removed just means separated by one generation. I get to be Jack’s 7th Cousin — not removed or anything. So I’m pretty sure Sylvia has to listen to me, no matter what. Yup, pretty sure that’s how it works. Go to bed, Sylvia.

  • Hi Sylvia, I hope you get well soon! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thanks for all of your interesting, well-written articles. Thanks also for the great video clips. Bronwen in Ontario Canada

  • Syliva,
    We all hope that you will have recovered in time to have a great Christmas.
    P.S.: One thought. I had suspected that there was something a bit strange about the pilot hanging out of the door of that Piper Cub to hand-crank the engine. I don’t know if this aircraft could build up enough speed in a dive for a windmilling start. I never had occasion to try it myself. It was possible to do this in a Tiger Moth and also in a Stampe SV4. Some instructors in the Tiger Club demonstrated it during a check-out. It gave pilots the confidence and skills to do it in case the engine stopped, a possibility during aerobatics. But that is not what drew my attention. What did was that the pilot obviously had to lean out and was very much forward. Possibly more than he could have trimmed the aircraft for; in order not to get into a much steeper nose dive I guess that the trim would have had to be all the way aft.
    The J3 as shown was flown from the rear seat for balance. So the photo suggested that someone was in the rear seat.
    Still, a spectacular photo.
    Have a hot whiskey with some lemon (Irish whiskey. Scotch is spelled “whisky”) and a few cloves and get better soon Sylvia !

  • Sylvia, your weekly posts are greatly anticipated and always fascinating. The amount of work involved must be considerable – but hugely appreciated. Get better, have a great break and here’s to 2020.

  • Given how the story turned out, it’s not surprising I’ve never heard of Parsons even though I was a space nut (age 4 when Sputnik went up and the US went a little crazy) even before I was interested in flying. Thank you for this link — it was fascinating — and here’s hoping you’re better soon.

    Rudy: the photo makes it look like the plane is much too close to the runway to dive for a windmill start; this looks like a put-up job to impress groundlings — and what’s most impressive to me is that the stunter could actually exert enough force on the prop from that position to get the engine to turn over; I wonder how often the pilot had to make a no-power landing. I see what you mean about the unbalanced load, but I’m wondering: did the J-3 even have an adjustable vertical-trim tab, or would the pilot had to have just braced herself and held the stick as hard back as she could?

    • Thank you. I am feeling better! I know the name because Parsons was my grandmother’s maiden name and because my aunt pointed it out to me, so now I always notice when he comes up on the edges of other people’s stories. He appears to have been quite the character!

Post a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.