Comparing the Usefulness of Trees

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Thaddeus

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Jul 9, 2014
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Valparaiso, Indiana
Looked back at 2007 posting of the Recent Crash of N59RR and how the PIC decided the field could not be made and decided to fly it into the crash, and the trees. Both walked away.

http://www.sonerai.net/smf/index.php?PHPSESSID=d4bmakc0cru9125mfp7smn8ob5&topic=46.0

Just comparing that to a recent crash of a Piper 24 in Texas. It "appears" that the pilot in Texas tried to make it out of the trees and stalled, killing him and his passenger. Contributing factor was that day was hot with 14 mph headwind gusting to 20, becoming tailwind when pilot tried to return to the field. Just got it past the trees when stalled and fell.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Single-Engine-Plane-Bursts-Into-Flames-Shortly-After-Takeoff-in-East-Texas-311265181.html

Lesson learned; fly it until it stops.
 

acrojohn

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Dec 5, 2010
Messages
101
Location
Chesapeake, VA
Famous quote, "Fly it all the way into the crash".

Lessons learned:
1. If you can't land safely, get the plane as slow as possible and hit the softest thing in front of you.
2. If you have to go down in the woods, hit the small trees. Going down between the trunks is fine as long as there aren't any more beyond those two that you can't see. Crap shoot. See lesson #1.
3. Trying to flare and stall into the tree tops is no guarantee the branches will catch you. If you blow thru the tree tops the ground will catch you. Big trees have big branches. See lesson number 1.
 

Pttim

I thought this would only take a year!
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Pennsylvania
Best advice!ive heard in a long time always default Rule #1
 

ggrant

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Jan 2, 2015
Messages
50
Location
Commerce Township, Michigan
I was always told to hit the tops of pine trees. I am told they will bend over and then the roots let go - almost like catching you and then setting you down gently.

I hope to never test this - but it makes sense. Also, it sounds a lot better than hitting an oak tree ;)
 

Thaddeus

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Jul 9, 2014
Messages
192
Location
Valparaiso, Indiana
No. 1 is good! I'd turn into the wind if not already there and aim for the smaller trees and as near the ground as possible to let the wings take the beating and to get rid of energy. Best, between two small trees. Getting into the tops could result in falling too far. I've got oaks that are over 100 feet tall. The fellow in TX nearly doubled his potential impact energy by turning downwind. I don't know how far he fell but the airframe wasn't able to deflect much force over distance it appears. I think he made a bad call although he was not low time.

I just bring it up because take off emergency planning for many of us does not include establishing decision points for engine out for particular runways and situations. We have general decision points for take off based on performance and we plan for approach speed. We often don't plan our "what ifs" for that particular flight in those particular conditions at that place and time. Training can't substitute for planning.

TX plane had engine history. If he'd departed left at an angle, he would have avoided the trees. When he got into the jam, made the wrong series of decisions based on a mistaken belief or hope, that he could make it back to the field. That belief occurred since he did not know the correct decision point for return so he fabricated one, the wrong one, in the emergency. He never got to the safe return altitude given the conditions. That wrong decision to turn back led to turning downwind, which led to tailwind, which led to higher sink rate and higher ground speed, which led to trees fast approaching, which led to pulling the yoke back, (the last bad decision), which led to the stall. He was a nice guy and otherwise good pilot (YouTube videos). If he'd thought through the departure with engine out in mind, he might have made a different assessment about returning. The fact that he owned the field and had hanger parties could have played into the decision on the split second to attempt the return. We'll never know.

Anyway, I'm thinking about a departure/approach decision point check list with terrain, obstacles, conditions based on airplane performance for airports and enroute terrain and conditions. The idea being to have a more specific "if this, then that" alternative plan for emergencies. Avare has airports within range in the app. Maybe for takeoffs and approaches, locating the other clear 1,000 feet possibilities past the threshold is a start.
 
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