Stall/spin accidents in our community

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Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby WaiexN143NM » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:06 am

Hi all,
I believe we need to put more focus on this subject, in podcasts, (jeff, gary, john) and in the quarterly newsletter. Off the top of my head i can think of an accident in florida straight into the swamp, another one next to a airpark and pond. One in georgia on first long cross country after purchasing the aircraft, running out of fuel, and crashing at the airport. One in oshkosh. Now one into a condo roof in mass. There may be some more, id have to go look at the list of accidents. Some of these accidents had high time pilots(was currently flying airline ) , and some were low time, some still in phase one. The point is more effort needs to be expended individually, and as a group.
Does your plane have an AOA indicator or stall warning system.?If your plane doesnt have an efis with aoa then, id be installing something. And when its installed you need to go fly up high and do some slow flight and training. Pre stall and full stall. Get used to throttle settings, airspeeds, plane feel. Different flap settings.
If the one thing that can be taken away from the late great bob hoover, he always said to fly it completely thru the crash, then get out and say wow that was quite a ride.
Im not trying to diminish the tradgedy of anyone, or any incident. But we need to talk about this. Yesterdays accident just brought this to the spotlight again.
I looked at aircraft spruce they have many aoa systems, and stall warning devices. Take a look. If you dont have one, then think about installing something. And when the device is giving us info, then react, and FLY THE PLANE! No more stall spins. Please.
Feel free to add your thoughts.
WaiexN143NM
Michael
Last edited by WaiexN143NM on Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby NWade » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:06 pm

Thanks, Michael. I think this is an important conversation to return to every so-often (even when accidents are not happening).

Some additional suggestions for pilots to think about:
  • How low are my final approaches? Do I tend to fly a long flat glidepath that requires some throttle to carry (drag) it in?
  • How big/wide are my patterns?
  • How often do I practice medium-banked turns with an eye on my turn coordinator - especially at lower altitudes?
  • How often do I re-evaluate the terrain around my home airport and think about the various off-field landing options & consequences?
  • Do I think through a mental plan of action on every takeoff and before entering the landing pattern?
  • In addition to the wind speed & direction before each landing, do I stop and think about the wind gradient I may find on final approach? What about sources of turbulence near the ground as I descend in my pattern?

And its not enough to simply remember these items before each flight. In an emergency you aren't going to have time to make up a plan - you need to have thought of one in advance. So take a couple of seconds to think through each subject and have a plan in mind. If you mentally rehearse it (or mumble it to yourself in the cockpit), then you will be able to react much more quickly and directly to the problem at-hand. Here's an example in a crosswind takeoff situation: Between doing your run-up and taxiing onto the runway don't just say "OK there's a crosswind from the right". Say to yourself "OK there's a crosswind from the right and some trees on that side of the airport. So I'm likely to have some turbulence as I lift off. If I experience a problem on takeoff the wind will be drifting me over the hangars on the left so I'll need to crab into the wind to land back on the runway. If I'm beyond the hangars and I turn left there's an open field to land in but its downwind so I should expect a high groundspeed and not let the optics of that groundspeed fool me into stalling it early - watch the airspeed!"
This takes all of 5 seconds think / talk through. Isn't better safety worth a few seconds of our time?

As a sailplane pilot, these are things we evaluate and practice a lot; but I think they're things that are easy to forget or ignore or become complacent about in a powered aircraft. Its human nature to see something obvious and say "Oh yeah, I knew that!" But our brains are good at tricking us when it comes to the extent of our knowledge, because it blurs the line between what we recognize (i.e. a good idea on paper) and what we have internalized (i.e. what information we can dredge up from long-term memory on our own, without much prompting). Only items that we've internalized and can easily recall are useful to us in an urgent situation - if it isn't automatic or innate information then we won't think of it until after the stressful / high-pressure moment has passed. The best antidote is practice and to take the time to actually plot out our reactions in-advance, so that they're readily available in short-term memory if we need them.

Fly Safe,

--Noel

P.S. As a sailplane pilot who's set records and flown in national & international competition, I'm obviously a fan of soaring and I recommend glider training to any and all pilots. However, many clubs and operations in the US use the "Schweizer 2-33" glider that is terrible to fly (but they use it because its cheap). Also, many US clubs require you to spend all day at the airport just to get 1 or 2 short training flights in; which is fine if its your primary hobby or social group - but not so great if its not your main passion. So if you are interested in glider training for safety or to enhance your aviation knowledge, I highly recommend seeking out a commercial operation that can give you more flights in a shorter period of time (even though this costs more, its more effective training). I also strongly recommend trying to find a club or commercial operator where you can train in a more modern glider like a Schleicher, a Grob, or a Blanik. All of these are more "airplane-like" to fly than the 1937-designed Schweizers, which handle like a box-kite. :P
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby LarryEWaiex121 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:12 pm

Mike and Noel,

Just a quick observation here and it may not apply in this most recent accident but applies to many.
Look at the number one cause of these accidents leading up to a loss of control incident. The engine either quit outright or wasn't producing enough power to remain airborne to the desired landing spot.
Quite simply, we need to reduce the engine failures by being hard nosed on the causes of these engine failures. It's just unacceptable, the level of engine failures in homebuilt aircraft vs. store bought aircraft.
I'm not a big rules and regulations kind of guy but, this is one aspect of the "flexibility" of homebuilt airplanes that I disagree on completely. Airframe failures are a rarity, but not engine failures.
I think the FAA should mandate that a homebuilt airplanes fuel delivery system be built according to the plans purchased with the kit and be inspected as complying with the plans in its "initial" configuration. After phase 1 completion and the required hours flown off, it would then be feasible to allow experimentation by way of returning to phase 1 with the new system the builder wants to implement. I know this is an unpopular concept with many but, too many builders are incorporating pieces and ideas that clearly are not fully thought out or we wouldn't be in this mess. They can't allow themselves to follow the plans but feel confident to "re-engineer" the most critical part of the aircraft. No fuel for any reason means NO POWER!
In my mind two thing are happening here. One, with hours in type comes skill and understanding of how the aircraft handles. Two it proves the system works.
Too much is as risk as matters stand now. We have new builders with low time, or no time in type, flying a completely new airframe, engine, fuel system. Then they head off into the wild blue with probably an understanding of what can go wrong, but not the skills/mindset to deal with a full blown emergency. Its they're baby and they don't want to sacrifice the plane when things go Tango Uniform and begin to make bad choices.
Very simply, we need to have fuel delivery systems that meet some rational standard. This is no place to be experimenting on the first flight. The engines need to work and fuel stoppage or lack of fuel has been an ongoing problem in homebuilt aircraft.
Look at the long list of Sonex crashes and for the most part they are directly related, "first" to engine failure (multiple causes) and then the ensuing loss of control.
This is shameful on all our parts and needs to stop or big brother will fix it for us one way or the other. That or we will as a group, become so high risk, the insurance companies will price us out of the left seat.

Larry
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby vwglenn » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:12 pm

My wife hates it when I watch shows like "Why Planes Crash" and such. I find myself often yelling at the TV as highly experienced pilots do the same stuff over and over and over again. I read the same thing in accident synopsis. I heard it from my flight instructor in the 90s. It was reinforced by my attendance in the FAA accident investigation course. Don't stall the plane and your chances of survival increase dramatically.

FLY THE PLANE

Fly it into a wall. Fly it into trees. Fly it into a car. Fly it into a lake. Just make sure the plane is in controlled flight when you hit.

The most complex airliners with all the crazy gizmos to maintain flight don't seem to help pilots with thousands of hours recognize and overcome this problem. I doubt AOAs and stall buzzers would change much when you're panicked and the ground is coming up fast. You simply have to be mentally prepared to fly it until it stops moving. I heard about an accident where the guy had the correct rudder input but held the stick in his chest as he spun in a panic over 20 rotations. All he had to do was let go of the stick and he may have made it.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Engine or no engine. It's still an airplane. It sill flies. Just not as far. We'll learn a whole lot more about mysterious engine failures if we survive to tell the tale. I have my theory(s) about engine failure but they will remain as speculation until I have some sort of proof.

FLY THE PLANE!!!
Glenn
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby SonexN76ET » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:43 pm

All great points you have all made regarding stall/spin accidents.

A couple of things that I would like to add. When you try to stretch a glide in a Sonex by pulling the nose up, you actually dramatically increase the sink rate as the airplane slows. Close to the ground this will further increase the instinct to pull up which is completely counterproductive and will lead to the deadly stall spin. Train yourself to make your panic reaction a push down to increase airspeed to maintain best glide speed. The stall speed on the Sonex is around 40 mph. You can survive hitting just about anything at that speed. You can not survive a stall from even 30 feet. If you loose power just glide the plane down to as normal of landing as you can make and make gentle turns to avoid hitting the hardest stuff, but watch that airspeed.

I too am very concerned about the number of engine failures in the homebuilt community. It infuriates me when the NTSB comes back with a finding of loss of power for indeterminate reasons. They could at least say the engine may have failed because of X based on this circumstantial evidence or it could have failed because of Y based on a probable factors of ABC (or some such thing that would at least give us something that we could address as a community).

I would like to encourage everyone to use high quality, aircraft grade engine controls and fuel lines. This is not the place to experiment or to be cheap or worried about a couple of ounces.

I would like to see the EAA or FAA publish something on the ABC's of inspecting critical systems. This would focus on the most critical items necessary for safe flight, such as fuel systems, engine controls, ignition systems, induction systems, and flight controls. Things that you really have to make sure are 100% bulletproof.

Please be safe out there and make sure you get the Sonex Transition Flight training before your first flight.

Thanks,

Jake
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby mike.smith » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:50 pm

WaiexN143NM wrote:Hi all,
Now one into a condo roof in mass.


That is WILD SPECULATION!!! The NTSB is investigating and there is NO PROOF and NO INFORMATION that would lead anyone to believe, at this point, that it was a stall/spin. Please do not dishonor the life of my friend with completely unsubstantiated information.
Mike Smith
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby lpaaruule » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:33 pm

I couldn't help but run the numbers on 40mph crash vs stalling at 30 feet.

According to this online calculator: http://keisan.casio.com/exec/system/1224835316

It takes a free fall from 53 feet to reach 40mph. 30 feet free fall would reach 30 mph. The stall would have air resistance, so it would be less than 30mph.

Just some data to ponder.

Regarding another post, I'd be interested to see data that shows non-standard Sonex fuel system engine-outs vs standard Sonex fuel system engine-outs. I don't recall seeing that data anywhere.
Paul LaRue
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby rizzz » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:55 pm

Even though I 100% agree with the statement that your best chances of survival are to fly the plane as long as you can into the crash, I totally disagree with the "you can survive pretty much anything at 40 mph" statement.

This might be almost always the case in a car, a Sonex is not at all built like a car, it does not have wrinkle zones, airbags etc.
If only your body were to impact the ground or anything else at 40 mph, it is a toss of a coin whether you'd survive or not, it would be about the same as an average size adult falling from a 2 to 3 story building, survivable, maybe, but only with a lot of luck.

In a Sonex you'd be a little more protected at the moment of impact but nothing like in a car, the G forces your body will experience in a Sonex crash will still be much greater than in a car crash at the same speed, purely because of the fact that the wrinkle zones of the car will absorb most of the G forces.

And lets put impact forces aside for a second,
Often the actual cause of death will not be excessive G forces your body experiences but rather severe head & spinal trauma, puncturing of vital organs etc from hitting things in the cockpit that your body is thrown towards and/or are thrown at your body.
Cars have many safety features we just cannot include into our airplane because of the weight concerns, for example, cars have mechanisms to pull the steering wheel away from you on impact.
Just imagine what will happen with that whole glareshield/fuel tank/instrument panel structure if you hit a wall nose first at 40 mph, it will come straight at you and in the meantime your head is moving straight towards it. If you do manage to miss it the recoil will then throw your head back again and guess what, there is no headrest to stop it like in a car which means your neck will be subjected to a severe whiplash event.

Anyway, I might have gone a bit too much into the horrible details but I just thought the statement made was a bit of a dangerous one and needed correction as it implied a sense of indestructibility as long as you stick to the don't exceed 40 mph rule...
Michael
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby samiam » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:18 pm

rizzz wrote:Even though I 100% agree with the statement that your best chances of survival are to fly the plane as long as you can into the crash, I totally disagree with the "you can survive pretty much anything at 40 mph" statement.

This might be almost always the case in a car, a Sonex is not at all built like a car, it does not have wrinkle zones, airbags etc.
If only your body were to impact the ground or anything else at 40 mph, it is a toss of a coin whether you'd survive or not, it would be about the same as an average size adult falling from a 2 to 3 story building, survivable, maybe, but only with a lot of luck.

In a Sonex you'd be a little more protected at the moment of impact but nothing like in a car, the G forces your body will experience in a Sonex crash will still be much greater than in a car crash at the same speed, purely because of the fact that the wrinkle zones of the car will absorb most of the G forces.

And lets put impact forces aside for a second,
Often the actual cause of death will not be excessive G forces your body experiences but rather severe head & spinal trauma, puncturing of vital organs etc from hitting things in the cockpit that your body is thrown towards and/or are thrown at your body.
Cars have many safety features we just cannot include into our airplane because of the weight concerns, for example, cars have mechanisms to pull the steering wheel away from you on impact.
Just imagine what will happen with that whole glareshield/fuel tank/instrument panel structure if you hit a wall nose first at 40 mph, it will come straight at you and in the meantime your head is moving straight towards it. If you do manage to miss it the recoil will then throw your head back again and guess what, there is no headrest to stop it like in a car which means your neck will be subjected to a severe whiplash event.

Anyway, I might have gone a bit too much into the horrible details but I just thought the statement made was a bit of a dangerous one and needed correction as it implied a sense of indestructibility as long as you stick to the don't exceed 40 mph rule...


Good points Michael, to which I'll add -

1. You are absolutely right about loose items causing head damage, which is why in any GA airplane, I think it is unacceptable to have anything loose in the cockpit that you wouldn't want to hit you in the head at 50+mph

2. Your point about the G loads is not exactly true. The analogy of jumping from a height of 2 or 3 stories is not really applicable to a 40mph accident, it's analogous to a stall/spin accident, which is why it's so fatal. The difference is that when you impact the ground, your deceleration distance is essentially zero so the G loads are very high. Rod Machado once did a piece on this, where he shows that the math behind it. As long as an airplane crashes at 50mph and slows over a distance of 10 feet or more, the G loads will not be fatal. This is why someone can crash into a building through a window and survive, but if they hit a brick wall they will not.
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Re: Stall/spin accidents in our community

Postby rizzz » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:03 am

samiam wrote:2. Your point about the G loads is not exactly true. The analogy of jumping from a height of 2 or 3 stories is not really applicable to a 40mph accident, it's analogous to a stall/spin accident, which is why it's so fatal. The difference is that when you impact the ground, your deceleration distance is essentially zero so the G loads are very high. Rod Machado once did a piece on this, where he shows that the math behind it. As long as an airplane crashes at 50mph and slows over a distance of 10 feet or more, the G loads will not be fatal. This is why someone can crash into a building through a window and survive, but if they hit a brick wall they will not.


Yes you are correct, in a controlled crash, if there is such a thing, with a bit of luck you will generally not be coming to an instant stop and I agree this is THE difference between a survivable and a non survivable crash.
I should have been more clear on this, I was focusing too much on the "you can survive pretty much anything at 40 mph" statement which implies you can fly straight into a brick wall at that speed.
Michael
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