This Week’s Most Amazing Stories
This has been an amazing week for aviation news with unbelievable stories and videos seemingly coming from all directions. Anna and I have been posting every day to the Fear of Landing Facebook page but I wanted to share the best here.
First off, the incredible crash landing in Everett, Washington. The pilot had just taken off from Paine Field in a Piper Cherokee when the aircraft lost power. The pilot did not make the rookie mistake of turning back but instead immediately set up for landing, coming down about 2,000 feet from the end of runway 34L.
Amazingly, the pilot and his passengers walked away! There was only one minor injury reported, by a passenger in a car which does make me wonder if they sprained their neck watching it happen! AOPA reports that a quick survey on Google Earth showed ‘no appealing options’ for an emergency landing after a low-altitude power failure, as the area is heavily built up.
Meanwhile, in Denmark, a skydiver is lucky to be alive after failing to get clear of the aircraft. The 45-year-old skydiver jumped from a Cessna 182 at about 2,500 meters (8,000 feet) but then tangled his foot in a cable. Apparently (bearing in mind I know nothing about skydiving) he had failed to cut the static line which connects the aircraft to the deployment bag? In any event, he was trapped in position, dangling under the aircraft with no way to free himself.
The Local Denmark, an English language newspaper in Denmark, has translated quotes from those involved who spoke to the television news.
“As soon as his instructor, who jumped before him, was able to get radio contact with the pilot and people on the ground, a rescue operation was started,” duty officer Jens Claumarch of Mid and West Jutland Police told news agency Ritzau.
“At that point, the aircraft was down to a height of around 500 metres, but went up to around a kilometre in case he came loose and needed to use his parachute.”
The pilot actually had no idea that the jump had gone wrong until ground control notified him. He described it as a nightmare experience. The aircraft, followed by a helicopter ambulance, circled to burn fuel for almost an hour before attempting a landing at Lindtorp airfield.
On the ground, they foamed the landing areas so that the skydiver’s impact could be softened. Meanwhile, the pilot came in for the slowest possible landing.
“On the way down I was thinking whether I was about to kill a man. What will happen? There was only one method left, and that was to try and land with him.”
The skydiver was dragged along the grass for about 200 metres (650 feet) but amazingly suffered only some grazes and a groin strain. The duty officer’s comment was spot on.
“There’s not much need for him to play the lottery this week. He’s used up all his luck,”
And finally in not such a happy ending, the runway at Halfpenny Green near Wolverhampton was torn up after a de Havilland Vampire put on full power. There was a small airshow in progress so there’s a number of videos but I think this one by Graham Innes is the best.
Hard not to wince!
The 1952 Vampire Goblin is the same one that the Vampire Preservation Group put up for sale last year. They believe it to be the only airworthy de Havilland Vampire T11 in the world (and they should know) and CAA has given special permission for it to maintain its authentic RAF colours. I’m not sure if one of the original display pilots was flying at the airshow (they did no airshows in 2016) or if the aircraft has been passed on to someone else. If I had the money, I totally would have bought it.
I have to admit I was initially a bit surprised that the pilot simply continued with the debris flying everywhere like that but, as he can’t see behind him, possibly he had no idea until afterwards? Certainly, the Vampire landed on a different runway. The aircraft was undamaged and flew again later that day.
In any event, that’s going to cost a pretty penny to get fixed up although apparently the runway was due for refurbishing anyway. I’m just glad that the Vampire is OK. :D