Top Ten of 2011

30 Dec 11 One Comment

If it happens two years in a row, that makes it tradition, right? Last year I put together the ten most popular posts as an end of year wrap-up. I’ve checked the results for 2011 and I’m a little bit surprised that we have only one repeat entry. All the rest were posted this year.

Number Ten: We’ve Lost the Cabin: Southwest Flight 812

On the 1st of April this year, Southwest Airlines flight 812 departed from Phoenix for Sacramento. There were five crew and 118 passengers on board.

At 34,000 feet, climbing through to FL360, there was a loud sharp noise. The cabin experienced rapid decompression and the oxygen masks deployed.

Interesting to see this particular incident in the top ten. You can be sure I’m planning a follow-up to this piece!

Number Nine: Unfit to Fly

After parking at the clubhouse, the pilot spoke to several club members. They described him as being in a highly agitated, even distressed, state. He was sweating profusely, with sweat-soaked clothing. He was also very voluble, and talked of a number of things, including personal family issues which were obviously a source of concern to him. He was given a hot drink but did not eat anything.

If you have read a few of my accident analyses, you’ll know that I’m usually pretty quick to defend the pilot but in this case, there’s really no excuse. He should not have been flying that plane.

Number Eight: How to Drown a Jet

Somewhat telling is the commentary from the person who started filming: “We’ve got a nutball trying to land.” Even he didn’t expect to see the landing go so completely wrong, though. And then at the half-way mark of the video, just when I thought it was all over, things suddenly get exciting again.

Well, this one is pretty hard to justify as well. The video is amazing to watch and I’m still giggling at the registration for his new Citation.

Number Seven: Sex and Skydiving and the FAA

The film, titled “SexSkyDive” by Live2FlyVoodoo Productions, was a low-budget project. In the early hours of the morning before the skydiving school opened, Torres and Howell met up with a pilot and a camera man to create the footage. The good-looking couple boarded the plane naked and were filmed having sex next to the pilot as the flight began and then continuing with their, um, throes of passion as they jumped out in tandem and soared through the sky. The cameraman jumped after them for long range shots and Torres appears to have had a camera in his hand to get a close-up view of Howell’s ecstasy.

Of course, you all only watched the video to see if the pilot violated any federal guidelines, right?

Number Six: Stunt Pilots Survive Crash at Air Fiesta

When the engine quit, Amanda was on the top wing in the rack. Kyle continued to fly the airplane in a straight and level fashion as long as he could to give Amanda every opportunity to unstrap and get into the front cockpit where she would have the best chance in the event of a hard landing.

Just seeing this post again breaks my heart. Amanda Franklin did not survive the injuries and burns received in the accident. However, you can still support Kyle Franklin who is committed to continuing flying. His website is at Franklin’s Flying Circus & Airshow and he has a Facebook page (you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to read it) at Facebook: Franklin’s Flying Circus

Number Five: In Deep Shit

I have been researching the original rivers of London, specifically the Fleet, which is a part of the famous Victorian sewer system designed by Bazalgette in the 1860s and 70s. I found photographs on various websites: dark brick curved walls with a trickle of grey water pooling at the centre, all edges fuzzy in the low light. I wondered if there was a way to see them for myself and, on a whim, I sent a message to Thames Water asking if that might be possible.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when they said yes.

Not at all aviation related but I hoped you might enjoy joining me on my sewer tour and I’m glad to find I was right.

Number Four: The Amazing Story of the B-17 Flying Fortress

“Part of the nose peeled back and obstructed my vision and that of my co-pilot, 1st Lt. Phillip H. Stahlman of Shippenville, Pennsylvania. What little there was left in front of me looked like a scrap heap. The wind was rushing through. Our feet were exposed to the open air at nearly 30,000 feet above the ground. The temperature was unbearable.”

The 398th Bomb Group Web Site is an amazing resource and I was thrilled when they gave me permission to share one of their stories on my website.

Number Three: Southbridge Tornado

On the 1st of June, a tornado touched down in Southbridge in the late afternoon. It left a 39-mile path of damage behind it, the second longest track in Massachusetts’ history.

This is a collection of visuals from the aftermath: two videos and photographs from Dan Collins who had his plane hangared at Southbridge Municipal.

Number Two: FAA Approved?

So, the story goes that the Alaskan pilot had 2 new tires, three cases of speed tape and several rolls of cellophane delivered to the site and promptly repaired his plane so that he could fly it home.

This collection of photographs was the most accessed page in 2010 and almost again in 2011. Since my post, the event has had world-wide media coverage and even inspired a television episode: MythBusters: Duct Tape Plane. Also, you can read the whole story on Alaska Dispatch, who spoke to the pilot’s father: An appetite for revenge.

Number One: A Close Encounter with an Emu

I touched down 80 metres from the threshold and was just letting it roll out (save the brakes and undercarriage on the rough strip) and the speed had just dipped below about 90kts. Approach on the PA-601 is about 100. As you can hear, we were discussing the state of strip, which used to be very wide, but the grass is narrowing it further each year. An emu was sitting on the side unseen in the bushes and we obviously startled it, and it bolted from cover in front. One of my passengers yelled out, and I jumped on the brakes, hard, and washed off about 40 knots in about 3 seconds! The emu went in front of us and lost his footing on the loose dust, just as the wing passed harmlessly over him! Cue much celebration!

I have to admit, this was probably my favourite post as well. I’d found the video a few weeks earlier and was thrilled when the pilot agreed to tell me all about it.


So, that’s it: the top ten viewed posts from 2011. There’s definitely a bias towards high-action and adventure there!

I hope you enjoyed these and I’m looking forward to sharing many more interesting posts with you in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Category: Miscellaneous,

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