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There I was, in the fog, inverted, at night...........

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by M2 Carbine, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Reading some of the posts about the close calls we have had got me to thinking about my past years flying and the many mistakes I've made and the close calls I've seen and had myself.

    One thing I missed in much of my later flying years is the way we instructors, at the Army helicopter school at Fort Wolters, Texas,
    shared our screw ups and close calls
    It was very common for an instructor to come in from a flight, sometimes still white faced, saying, "Holy S*** did I screw up".
    Of course some of the screw ups were in full view of the other instructors and students.;f
    The ego was put aside and the tales were told with the hope that it might keep someone else from making the same mistake.

    This was a heck of a learning experience for a buck instructor with just a little over a thousand hours.

    Like the saying goes, Learn by other's mistakes, you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.:)

    With your permission I'll post what ever comes to mind.

    Don't bother telling me what Regs may have been broken or how stupid some people's (mine mostly) actions were;Q



    The following I posted on another thread a little while ago.

    In the 60's I was an instructor at Ft. Wolters, TX, the Army primary helicopter school. I went through school in 64 and was back instructing Army students from 66 to 71.
    We were very hard up for training aircraft so the Army bought Hughes TH-55's. (a killer POS)

    The civilian Flight Commander of the first "test" class wrote the Th-55 is not only totally unsuitable as a trainer but it shouldn't be in the air at all.

    The Base Commander tore up the FC's report and tried to get him fired.
    When the Base Commander retired, he went to work for Hughes as a vice president. $$$$$$$
    (later I saw in the news paper he was brought back on active duty and court marshaled, a 3 star General's son was killed in the TH-55)

    One of the killer tricks the TH-55 had is what we called "Tucking". If the student and instructor weren't right on it when the instructor gave the student a practice engine failure/autorotation, the Hughes would slide right, turn left, roll left and nose over (down) in a split second.
    The helicopter would be anywhere from nose straight down to "tucked" over on it's back.
    Since we flew 500 feet above the ground there usually wasn't enough time to recover and a number of students and instructors died from "Tucking".

    One day I was talking to another instructor about tucking and he told me about another instructor who recovered before hitting the trees by using fixed wing spin recovery technique (I was a FW instructor). He actually did clip the trees a little.

    A few days later I chopped the throttle on my best student. He was a split second slow entering the autorotation and I was a split second slow getting to the controls. (it's the good students that kill you)

    The Hughes snapped over and we were looking up at the ground through the rotor blades. The helicopter wasn't completely over on it's back. Maybe about 25 or 30 degrees past vertical.
    No doubt at all we would be dead in seconds.

    It would take too long to explain all the control movements I did in the next few seconds.
    First I tried a "normal" helicopter recovery but the nose stayed over. Then I remembered the FW spin recovery and the nose started coming up.
    Now it looked like we were still going to hit the ground before I could pull out of the dive.

    I don't know if we missed the ground by 3 feet or 8 feet but now we were screaming at big power lines. I kept pulling the nose up and we cleared the lines by a few feet. I could see the individual wires in the cable.

    I kept climbing and in a minute I began shaking so badly I had to give the controls to the student.

    I don't know how many were in the "Tucking" survivors club but not many.

    The Hughes had other tricks like venting exhaust gas into the cabin.
    Another long story.
     
  2. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    The trainers we had at Ft Wolters were Hiller OH-23s, Bell H-13s and Hughes Th-55s.
    We were always short of aircraft.

    During the summer we flew with the doors off.

    Every winter we had our Hughes "Christmas fatalities".
    Dual and solo Th-55s would crash for no apparent reason, but it was after we were putting the doors on.

    I said it was carbon monoxide, but the Army said they were testing the dead pilots for carbon monoxide.
    I said I think that's BS.

    I was noonlighting instructing for a Flight Commander (the one who's report on the TH-55 was torn up).
    I had a FW student who was a Sergeant in charge of the general maintenance at the hospital.

    I was to pick him up at his office and as I came in he walked by me and handed me a manila envelope and kept walking out.
    I thought WTF and looked at the envelope. It was an autopsy of the instructor in the latest "Christmas fatility" accident.
    Bad reading.

    When the Sergeant came back he asked me if I saw anything unusual. I said, Ya, the SOB's are not doing a carbon monoxide test.

    On the way home I got the CM tester out of my Stinson and clipped to to my flight suit the next day.
    Then I bought testers for my students.

    Long story but shortly the Army forbid anyone to have a CM tester in the Hughes, because they were working.:(
     

  3. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    The Hiller OH-23 has a three place bench seat. Student flies from the center with the instructor on the left.
    It's a little blind to the right.

    We were heading West, into the Sun.
    The student was flying.

    A Hiller, heading South, flies right in front of us.

    I grabbed the controls to climb but we were already passing over the other Hiller.
    We missed by several feet.
    Close enough that I could see the student pilot was a Lieutenant and I could have read his name tag if I had time.

    The Lieutenant was heading to the main heliport and I followed him in.

    I told my student to shut our ship down and I walked over to where the Lieutenant was parked and shutting down.
    The Lieutenant had that, Oh s*** what have I done now, look when he saw me waiting for him.:)
    As he was getting out he asked me, "Sir, did I do something wrong?".

    I said, "No, I did something wrong, I'm the instructor, and I almost killed you and my student".

    I told him what happened and he said he never seen us.
    I told him I knew he didn't but I wanted him to know what happened so he could learn from it.

    I said there were three sets of eyes in those aircraft, but no matter who is at fault in a mid-air, everyone dies.
     
  4. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo

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    FANTASTIC POST M2 !!!

    And Yeah, I know about those "Holier than Thou's" who start carping about regulations and common sense.

    But those who do, usually haven't much real "stick" time, or they'd have a few "AW-SHXX's" to reflect on, too.

    Only folks who don't screw up, are those who aren't trying hard enough in the first place.

    Count me as a "fellow over-achiever"!!

    The very best DE/FE I ever flew with had an interesting story to tell about the scars he had on his forehead. When asked if he got that in Vietnam, he said no, got through that w/o a scratch. Got this in a Piper Warrior !!!!!!! And told me a very educational story about a closed airport and a 4' ditch to lay a cable/pipeline. He was, is?, an FAA examiner who I got my CFI from. (Not all are the "boogey men" you've probably heard of, some are right-regular guy's!!)

    Even when I land at an International Airport with a "Clearance", I look real close for ditches !!!!!!
     
  5. freepatriot

    freepatriot Retired GT Mod Moderator

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    Well, I'm not a licensed pilot but I like to go up with my friend Jim. We rent 152s and 172s.

    After about 40 minutes in the air, we were over Lantana Airport, heading East downwind and I took this picture:

    [​IMG]

    I showed him the resulting pic on the digital camera, and when we looked up, there was a 172 at 10 o'clock, about fifty feet away and about fifty feet high.

    Jim pushed the nose down, but the 172 was over us before we could even start to dive. We were looking over our right shoulders but with the high wing craft we were in we couldn't see him. We don't know if he banked right or kept going straight, but we're pretty sure the guy never saw us go under his plane.

    Scary reminder to keep scanning the sky.
     
  6. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Aircraft do have serious blind spots.

    I was offshore inbound to Galveston in a long glide.

    About 40 miles out and about 1300 feet I heard some radio chatter around Galveston and I heard,
    "PHI 206L about 40 out passing over a ship, this is Air Log xxx".

    I said, "Is that you Roy?" (he had worked for PHI)

    Roy, "Change freq."

    Me, "Hey, Roy where you at, what you doing buddy?"

    Roy, "Buck, is that you flying 75J? Did you see me? I'm your 8 o'clock".

    Me, "It's 751, my regular L model. I got you now. What's up?"

    Roy, "Buck I let down right on top of you. I almost put my skids into your main rotor blades.

    Me, "No s***!! No, I never seen you. How close was it?"

    Roy, "I didn't see you until I saw your blades out of both side windows."
    (the pilot's seat in a chopper is on the right and Roy saw my blades out the left window)


    The best we could guess is Roy's skids were less than 10 foot above my blades.

    We talked about it later and it seems Roy was also in a long glide and let down on me.

    Years later a PHI A Star and a Air Log 206 had a mid air, offshore from Galveston, killing the pilots.
     
  7. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Not all accidents are too serious, especially when no one gets hurt.

    Back at Fort Wolters again.

    We did much of the training at "Stage Fields".
    They had six parallel "runways", called lanes, about 2000 feet long and about 200 feet apart.
    Three lanes in East traffic, three in West. Which made interesting base legs. (yes there were some bad mid-airs on base)


    Under many downwind legs were small "sod touchdown areas".
    A practice engine out autorotation to dirt was called a "sod" touchdown.
    It's harder to do a sod touchdown because the skids tend to grab the ground and flip you over. On a hard surface you just skid.

    In 64 when I was a student we were required to solo in and practice solo hard surface touchdown autorotations.

    We had to be good at sods, it was on the check rides and it was failing if the student didn't do a good forced landing into the marked sod area.

    In the late 60's the Army kept lowering the requirements in order to get more pilots through flight school.

    The sod requirement was done away with completely for the student.
    The instructors were to demonstrate 3 sods and NO more and sign off the demonstrations in the students records.
    The student was not to touch the controls during the demonstrations.

    Well, what most of us civilian instructors did was not sign off the sods until the last day or two of training.
    Most of us kept teaching the students sod autorotations knowing we would be fired if caught.
    If something happened the instructor had to swear he was doing a demo and screwed up.

    I had given my student an engine failure to the sod under the downwind leg.
    He did good and as we came to a stop in the sod area another instructor, Tommy, called for an autorotation to the same area.
    I picked up and moved off to the side.

    Tommy's student flared too low and too late and pulled pitch too high and Tommy was too late correcting so all they could do was ride it out.
    They went across the ground, nose high, skidding on the heals of the skids with the tail rotor chewing up the ground and flying apart.

    When they came to a stop in a cloud of dust someone came on the radio and said, "Hey Tommy, why don't you let the student try one now".

    Later, some said that was me, but the only thing I could say was, "Holy s***!!;P

    Tommy stuck with the lie and I said when he came skidding by me Tommy was the only one on the controls.;f
     
  8. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    Geez... I've got nothing to compare to all that. :)

    I was practicing short field landings one day and really trying to shorten my total landing distance. I cut the power a little too much, wasn't carrying as much airspeed as I should have, and I planted the mains hard on the tarmac probably within a foot of the end of the runway. I'm surprised that I didn't snap the legs off that little Tomahawk. It was probably the closest I'll ever come to knowing what a carrier landing feels like.

    But the worst thing was that a commuter flight was holding short for my landing and I'm sure those two guys were just laughing their @$$es off at my little escapade. ;P ;f

    But I sure got that puppy stopped waaaaaaaaay short of the 500 foot mark. :)


    T
     
  9. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Ya, like they never did the same thing ;f
     
  10. HerrGlock

    HerrGlock Scouts Out CLM

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    Gethomeitis.

    Two incidents.

    1) Korea. Red Route. I could find it on a map again in a heartbeat but I have no idea what the road is really called. We were coming back from the field, I had a brand new lieutenant with me and we were gonna make it home. Snow came in, unforcast, and the ceiling got lower and lower. I Follow Roads was the only way to get back. We flew in utter silence the last 1/2 hour of the flight. We ended up about 50' AGL and I saw the airfield fence the first time through my chin bubble. It was something that I'd never care to repeat as we came down the only route that did NOT have wires about 100' taller than we were flying. When I landed, all the IPs, SPs and safety officers for all the troops were standing by the door at OPS and I got a standing ovation for "stupidity over and beyond" and a suggestion that a brand new lieutenant may not be the best person to almost go inadvertant IMC with.

    2) Ft Bragg. We were on the extreme left side of R-5311 (Nijmegen?) and we were supposed to get home that day. There was "light to moderate icing" at 1,000' and intentional flight into known icing conditions is a no-go. Well, we took off and requested lower flight and got it. We had only gotten about 2-3 miles from the drop zone when the windshield went white with ice and no one could see a thing. Have you ever tried to fly with one foot proping the door open and trying to guide yourself by looking down through the open door? It SUCKS! In a flight of six it gets even more -er- fun. The controls started getting sluggish on me and when we landed and shut down, I looked and saw the entire mast had a cylinder of ice so thick the push-pull tubes were wearing ruts in it. HOLY COW!

    Okay, that's two of any number of things that were nature induced. Like they say, takeoffs are optional, landings mandatory.

    DanH
     
  11. HerrGlock

    HerrGlock Scouts Out CLM

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    Hey, didn't you have a sling load that night you were inverted in the fog? Also it was VNE, backwards, with a student, right?

    ;j

    DanH
     
  12. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    As I said earlier, I was "moonlighting" instructing for a Southern Airways Flight Commander.

    He leased a Citibira.

    One of the other moonlighting instructors gave me a checkout.
    I had time in an Aeronca Champ so it was mostly just seeing what the Citibra's big engine would do.

    Fixing to hit the throttle for my first TO the instructor says, "Pull the stick back and watch it climb".
    I said, "I'll pull the stick back and watch it climb when we get to a thousand feet".
    He said, "It's OK, this thing will really climb"
    I said, "I bet it will, and I'll find out at 1000 feet".
    (what a wimp;Q )

    A few weeks later the same instructor must have been, "pulling the stick back and watching it climb" on TO.

    No one saw it but it looks like he probably stalled about 150 feet and hit the ground in about a 20 degree nose low attitude with the engine wide open.

    Blood everywhere.

    This is a picture of my wife looking at what's left.
    (She was around a lot of this kind of thing. it's amazing she put up with my flying.
    A fine woman. :hearts:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    ;f You know it Dan ;f

    But many of these fellows wouldn't believe the whole story, them not knowing what "normal" Army flying is.;)
     
  14. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    In 1972 I was flying 100 miles out of Galveston to a drilling rig called the Blue Water Four.
    I was flying a Bell 206B.
    In those days the navigation was dead reckoning with a magnetic compass.
    It was a trick to fly 100 miles over open water and find a single rig, even if it was the size of a 20 story building.

    I was making a Galley crew change. Three men.
    The vis was a little low, overcast and a good SE wind.
    Watching the Whitecaps on the water I could see the further I got from shore the stronger the wind, so I kept adding wind correction.

    I passed the ETA and with the guessing for the wind and low vis I didn't figure I had a chance in hell of finding the rig, but I'de fly a few more minutes until I had to turn back due to fuel.

    About the time I started to turn back I saw the rig a couple miles away.

    Very bumpy approach from the wind swirling around the rig.
    I landed and the three guys got out, having a hard time keeping from being blown off the heliport.
    One man got in back.
    I asked him if he was the only one going in. He said, "No, two more".

    I said they had better get their asses up here, my A/S shows a bad gusty 60 knot wind and I'm having trouble keeping this thing on the deck.

    He said, "We weren't ready. We thought you turned around because our wind indicator is showing over 70 knots."

    The other two passengers finally loaded up and I went back to Galveston and called it a day.:)
     
  15. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Since I retired there has been three pilots killed at work.
    I've talked about all three.
    When I posted the last time about the last pilot all we knew was he gave a May Day call soon after take off.
    The chopper hit the water very hard and broke up and sank.
    The pilot was found floating. He was solo.

    The chopper was a Bell 407, like this one I flew out of Rockport, TX.

    [​IMG]

    The 407 has a computer setup that operates many systems. Too many for my liking. There could be and was a lot of failures that you wouldn't have in a "mechanical" system.
    The computer and aircraft was a joy to fly when everything was working but some of the failures brought to mind, "I ain't making enough money for this sh**"

    The computer also acted somewhat like a Black Box.
    The recovered information told much of what happened in this crash.
    This is the some of what I heard.

    First an engine power turbine wheel failed. (the main turbine in a "jet")
    The pilot went into autorotation and called May Day.
    The engine kept running at about 70%. (just above an idle)
    A lot of warning lights might have been on but maybe not the RIGHT ones. It was probably very confusing.
    The pilot probably seeing this engine RPM and thinking his problem wasn't the engine, pulled out of the autorotation.
    It seems the engine was running but couldn't produce any power so the main rotor RPM bled off fast.
    Why the pilot didn't or couldn't re-enter autorotation, no one knows.
    The last recorded main rotor RPM was 20%.
    The helicopter was falling out of the sky.

    Three very experienced pilots.
    I would guess the lowest time pilot had over 12,000 hours and they all had been flying since the 60's.
     
  16. BillCola

    BillCola Supreme Cmdr ®

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    "Humbling" ain't even the word for it...

    They did, however sure live before they died. Lots sure don't. Best I can do for a "bright side".
     
  17. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Yes Bill.

    I wrote the story on GT somewhere, about my first instructor being killed at an air show in his Ryan Pt-22 .
    He was a neat guy. A real old time airport bum.

    I told a friend that had the same instructor, "That's the only way for a pilot to die".
     
  18. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Your temper can kill you.

    I offer no excuse for my stupidly in this incident.

    At Sabine Pass, Texas I agreed to work over three days, flying for an offshore pipe line inspector.
    This guy was a known horse's *** and he had been trying to give me a hard time for two days.
    The third day the weather was bad but not quite too bad to stop the dawn takeoffs.
    I was delayed about an hour and as I was heading out in good weather, everyone just East of me was heading for the beach in bad weather.

    The inspector was on a pipeline barge in the bad weather. I thought I'de be a good guy and duck into the bad weather and pick him up and take him to his home barge, then head back to Sabine Pass.

    When I got to the barge the weather was about 200 overcast, less than 1.5 miles vis and rain.
    Right away the inspector started giving me crap about being late.

    I said where you want to go.
    Instead of him saying back to his home barge, he wants to go to a barge to the East.
    This was just his way of giving me a little dig, since I'de have to tell him we can't head East because the weather was much worse. (he knew the weather was worse to the East)

    Screw him, I headed East.

    When I filed a flight plan with our radio operator, who was on a platform to the East he said, "Man, you can't get here, We have maybe 100 foot ceilings, less than a mile in heavy rain and thunderstorms."

    (the passengers didn't have head sets at that time)
    I said, "I don't intend getting there. I've got a hard head on board that wants me to fly in this weather and I'm going to give him a good taste of it".

    We had flown about 15 minutes and the inspector was getting pretty jumpy but he wasn't going to suggest we turn around.
    I was going to go another minute or two, then turn West, I couldn't see much out front.

    Through the chin bubble I saw a big waterspout on the water.
    (offshore tornado)

    I said the pilot's prayer, "Oh sh**".
    Rolled into about an 80 degree bank and pulled the stick back.
    Out the right window I was looking right up the funnel of the water spout.

    I said to myself, You dumb SOB you've done it now.

    The passenger grabbed the instrument panel edge with both hands.

    We turned maybe 30 degrees and we must have hit the edge of the waterspout.

    The helicopter "fell" horizontally. Everything lose hit the ceiling and me and the passenger were hanging in the seat belts but I managed to keep my feet on the pedals.

    I would have started laughing if I wasn't so scared. The inspector was still holding onto the panel and his legs were up in the air by his hands.

    This went on for ten minutes.
    OK, for a few seconds, but it seemed like ten minutes.

    I got leveled out heading West.

    In what I thought was a pretty calm voice I said, "Well I don't think we had better head any further East. Where else would you like to go?"

    He asked if I could get him to his home barge.

    No problem.

    I flew that guy a few times after that. He was a changed man.:)
     
  19. freepatriot

    freepatriot Retired GT Mod Moderator

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    Now THAT is a good story.
     
  20. HerrGlock

    HerrGlock Scouts Out CLM

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    I've only lost my temper once in the cockpit. I flew as a unit IP and most of my kids were great, hard charging go-getters. That's what you're looking for in an Army helo pilot anyway. Would you want a shrinking violet to be dependant upon to get the information that can keep you alive?

    Anyway, Bosnia, 1998, just getting to spring.

    We were flying in the Northern area and the guy I had that day was a bit of a hard head but had little military sense flying. Flying over the point of a hill will get you killed (shot down) flying through a saddle with known enemy will get you killed, etc. Every decision this one made was exactly the wrong thing to do. He was a private pilot before he got in so he had decent flying sense, just no military sense at all. He finally got to me. I landed and took his controls out, got back in and went back to base. When we reviewed the flight, it seems we landed somewhere in the IEBL, possibly one of the most land-mined area in the world.

    Yeah, temper can get you killed but sometimes you get lucky.

    DanH