4th Feb 2005, 19:32
OK this might be a little off the wall but I'll ask anyways. I'm currently writing a novella in which one of the characters needs to 'disappear'. He's a qualified private pilot and skydiver with his own rig. The basic plan is to hire a small aircraft by himself at dusk, trim it out at say 6-7000 feet heading out to sea and using GPS jump to where he has a car waiting. The jump would take place at night with min 7/8 cloud cover therefore no moonlight and over a *very* sparsely populated area.
Would ATC radar show anything unusual ie something falling from the aircraft ?
Anything to add to this, flaws, potential hiccups etc ???
Flameproof suit donned
Edit to add some kind of suicide note would be left beforehand.
4th Feb 2005, 22:48
Hasn't this happened in real life once?
Anyway, a relatively small non-metallic human being type target would not show on radar.
7th Feb 2005, 19:26
Don't think the disappearance method is your problem. It's the questions afterwards. Wouldn't it all appear a little odd?
8th Feb 2005, 00:59
Something similar did happen in real life many years ago. Can't recall the full details but it was in an AAIB Bulletin.
It was a light aircraft inbound to the Channel Islands from the UK. Somewhere north of the Jersey Zone the pilot says he has a problem and is going down.
Jersey's radar is a lot better than realised though and it tracked the aircraft as it turned north and headed back to the UK. The target was very intermittent and this suggested the aircraft was at extremely low level.
Parts of the aircraft were eventaully found just offshore from the south coast.
Apologies for the vague details but it was a long time ago - possibly early 1980's.
8th Feb 2005, 06:44
Allegedly, several times - a C152/C172 from Shoreham (think it might have been G-TOON?) about 1980, a Dan-Air pilot if I recall - this might be the same event as Jabberwok's post; then again... I do recall a friend from Dan-Air telling me some rumour or tother about it, but it's a quarter of a century ago!
There was a well known aviator who was lost in his beloved Tiger Moth crossing the channel several years ago, amid much speculation... an article about him appeared in the Telegraph magazine a few months later, though I can't remember any details as to why it was thought suspicious.
Some wreckage from the Cessna was recovered off the Channel Islands as I recall; no trace of the Tiger nor either pilot. To be honest, I think both simply crashed rather than doing a Reggie Perrin...
8th Feb 2005, 08:46
I would beg to differ with Rollingthunder... birds show up on primary radar so something like a human body would. I've certainly watched parachutists on primary radar..
8th Feb 2005, 16:59
I certainly defer to HEATHROW DIRECTOR.
8th Feb 2005, 18:27
He's a qualified private pilot and skydiver with his own rig.
I think that might make the disappearance a little suspicious for the cops.
Also, better make sure that me leaves his rig at home. If it is missing from the house during the investigation then it wouldn't take the boys in blue long to put two and two together!
Does this make me an accessory to anything now?......?????
9th Feb 2005, 01:13
Thanks fro the responses guys especially HD.
Would the authorities check the radar tapes (?) for anything unusual and would they show beyond reasonable doubt that a person exited the aircraft ?
9th Feb 2005, 07:14
Seeing as anything falling from the aircraft will show up on radar, the solution will be that we forget the suicide note and he instead radios that his aircraft is starting to break up and pushes out a selection of spare parts before he pushes himself out (using a stolen rig). That should fox them for a while.:E
Another way is that he takes his rig and leaves it, upon landing after his 'emergency exit', in such a way that it looks like he did not fasten it correctly, so that at some point on the descent rig and occupant parted company. Authorities find rig, cannot find body but assume it is somewhere in sparsely populated area.
This is fiction, right?:suspect:
9th Feb 2005, 07:58
You might also want to do a little more than have the pilot just 'trim it out at say 6-7000 feet heading out to sea' because - well I must admit here that I've flown gliders far more than light aircraft - but nothing I've flown ever keeps its wings level for long if you don't make at least the occasional small correction, so the aircraft would probably end up going round in circles, and crash not all that far from where the pilot jumped! Better that he hire an aircraft with an auto-pilot, and set that to head the aircraft out to sea - that will guarantee that it keeps going in a straight line till it runs out of fuel. It would also adjust for centre-of-gravity changes that will occur when the pilots weight leaves the aircraft.
Maybe a few light aircraft pilots out there could do a quick test - or even already know - how long does your aircraft keep flying straight-and-level for if you take your hands and feet off the controls?
9th Feb 2005, 10:59
How would you explain that the aircraft was heading out to sea in the first place?
And if you're planning for the aircraft to ditch at sea - won't it look a bit odd that it didn't turn back or have enough fuel to reach land?