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Tiger Moth incident at Brimpton

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Tiger Moth incident at Brimpton

Old 15th Jun 2017, 22:57
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Add to trim, the higher seat position due to a new cushion into the mix.

His perception of the correct take-off attitude could have been thrown (thinking it was normal when it was in fact tail low) and add to that the stick feel with rearward trim (he would have felt he was pushing forward with some resistance so may have felt the tail low attitude was the normal TO attitude).

It looked right, it felt right...

All supposition of course but I know that adding cushions or trying a new seat position sometimes results in pilots stuffing landings when they misjudge the 3 point attitude in a tail dragger. I could see how it could trigger a tail low take-off as well.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 08:32
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I don't buy into the aft trim theory, the tail came up straight away at the start of takeoff as you'd expect suggesting there was enough down authority and at that point you would then notice an unusual trim setting. I can understand not wanting to touch down again, it would have very likely damaged that lovely aircraft. However, it did not appear to be under control at any point and so far behind the drag curve that I don't think there was an alternative. Max height was about 5- 10 feet so I don't think enough to get the nose down and build up enough speed to get her flying. It really was right on the stall all the way down the strip and wallowing from side to side. At Brimpton the clubhouse is at the far end of the strip as was the enclosure full of people, allowing plenty of time to abort and avoid and should have featured highly in the takeoff briefing, whether that was done formally out loud between the pilots or just in P1's own head before rolling.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 11:00
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By all measures of experience this pilot would not be labelled 'incompetent' ?
Many thousands of hours total. More relevant perhaps, many hours and recency in this Tiger Moth.
He made a handling error in this instance. End of story??
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 14:28
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Originally Posted by cessnapete
By all measures of experience this pilot would not be labelled 'incompetent' ?
Many thousands of hours total. More relevant perhaps, many hours and recency in this Tiger Moth.
He made a handling error in this instance. End of story??
No, not the end of story actually, the scars will never end for the lady, the owner is out a bunch of money, we all pay higher insurance rates, general aviation looks bad again for no good reason and a bunch of spectators were nearly killed.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 21:01
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I thought the aircraft was group owned. Are you a disgruntled group member?
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 02:49
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Originally Posted by tmmorris
I thought the aircraft was group owned. Are you a disgruntled group member?
I suspect that all the owners are disgruntled. But perhaps the lady more so.

I am disgruntled at all the stupid accidents that happen that are completely unnecessary. We see it year after year. A pilot does a spur of the moment low level roll in a Hurricane a few years ago and destroys it. Another one goes up in in strong winds in a DH.53 Hummingbird, an aircraft lighter than a Moth and crashes it. All poor airmanship.

It never seems to end.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 05:29
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JammedStab
You are right, it never seems to end. it's called Life, sometimes bad things happen. Most of us aspire to perfection in our aviation activities . Due to human frailty, we sometime fall a little short.
Unlike you it seems!
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 06:14
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Originally Posted by megan


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Interesting photo. I seem to remember briefly seeing it before. In the past, I have not looked particularly closely at flight control inputs on Moths in photos but I do see in this one what appears to be neutral elevator on an aircraft that apparently was airborne at an extremely low speed.

Last edited by JammedStab; 17th Jun 2017 at 14:04.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 07:43
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Originally Posted by JammedStab
Most accidents are preventable by methods other than Megan's resigned view blaming bumps, crosswind, and seat height, and perhaps the will of allah soon.
Apart from the last one I personally would suspect that all of those factors contributed to the accident and don't see that as resignation at all.

I would also add into it the closeness of car parking to the runway, failure to set trim for take-off and distraction (and I also suspect inexperience or lack of recency on type).

They however are not the 'cause' or 'to blame'. They are factors that contributed.

Any one of those factors not being the way it was may have resulted in a different outcome (potentially avoiding the accident from occurring altogether).

To simply say 'the pilot was incompetent' or 'use a checklist' is not really explaining anything and does not really contribute to avoiding future incidents.

I want to know what factors contributed to the accident and how in future I can avoid things like that happening to me (or how I can simulate them with my students to help them avoid them).

Also saying "we should not make mistakes, we should strive to be better" is to me another form of resignation.

I know of few pilots who would have the attitude - "I am not that good but it doesn't matter and I am not really trying to be a better operator" Trying to understand why mistakes happen is what can help to make me a better pilot.

Poo-pooing factors like the above mentioned seat height, mis-set trim, striking a bump etc in favour of saying "pure incompetence" is (in my opinion) not helpful. I have seen how seat height in a tail wheel aircraft can have quite an impact, particularly for people with low recent currency on type or low tailwheel time. When I switch seats from front to back I often get my first landing wrong. A different visual picture due to jacking up the seat, a different stick feel, low recency, distraction, uneven runway in an aircraft with poor forward visibility etc are not excuses, they are factors that I need to be aware of.

Last edited by jonkster; 17th Jun 2017 at 07:55.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 11:14
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I am not a Tiger Moth pilot. But would like to ask based on the photo -

Is it routine to take off in the three point attitude?
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 12:49
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Originally Posted by jonkster
To simply say 'the pilot was incompetent' or 'use a checklist' is not really explaining anything and does not really contribute to avoiding future incidents.
I have on multiple occasions in this thread given info on how to prevent future incidents in the exact conditions that happened this day.

These include methods to prevent the accident whether one is using a checklist or not and was repeated by me yesterday(in the post that you partially quoted but is no longer here). Also, what should be done if one gets airborne early, something which is inevitable some point on grass runway ops.

Originally Posted by jonkster
Poo-pooing factors like the above mentioned seat height, mis-set trim, striking a bump etc in favour of saying "pure incompetence" is (in my opinion) not helpful. I have seen how seat height in a tail wheel aircraft can have quite an impact, particularly for people with low recent currency on type or low tailwheel time. When I switch seats from front to back I often get my first landing wrong. A different visual picture due to jacking up the seat, a different stick feel, low recency, distraction, uneven runway in an aircraft with poor forward visibility etc are not excuses, they are factors that I need to be aware of.
There is a big difference between getting the landing wrong due to changing your seat height and crashing due to changing your seat height. Or in this case, a big difference between getting the takeoff wrong and crashing. Of course a seat position change can influence things but it doesn't change the basics of flight. If the landing doesn't work out right, do something about it. Same with the takeoff. Many pilots move from seat to seat in the same aircraft(front to back, left to right) on type or fly various different types that can be quite different. If the new perspective screws up a landing enough, then go-around, if one gets airborne too early, do something about it. Common sense is an important part of flying. If the cushion is so thick that it significantly affects you, remove the cushion and get something thinner, something which should be obvious as soon as you get in the cockpit, that is, whether you will be comfortable or not.

In the accident case, the pilot said he didn't want to touch down again after getting airborne. That was his thought process and seat height has nothing to do with not wanting to touch down again, which may be the only option available to prevent a stall. Seat height also has nothing to do with setting trim properly before takeoff either(and I did not "Poo-poo" the fact that it was mis-set). Looking at the picture, his height in the cockpit looks quite normal to me. Could making excuses for poor flying ability be a possibility?

If low recency is an issue, one should go up with an instructor. That can vary by pilot and falls under the self-recognition of capability, another important thing that a pilot needs.

But seriously...if he really had 120 hours on type with a significant amount of time on grass runways, that is a fair amount of experience. I don't know whether individual age factor has been considered. Doctors do have the ability to pull drivers licenses in some jurisdictions, and for good reason.

Last edited by JammedStab; 18th Jun 2017 at 04:09.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 13:01
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The basic question in the early stage of any takeoff is 'is the airspeed increasing?' if not, lower the nose. I'm no skygod but I've learned that over hundreds of glider and light aircraft flights.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 20:06
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I do hope that the rather lovely picture posted by Jammedstab is not a takeoff. A Moth doesn't have enough grunt to deal with that sort of attitude so close to ground and that is a little too much bank at that height. Was this the aircraft just before the event?

PM
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 21:24
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What is the airspeed in that photo? What was the camera shutter speed?
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 23:41
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Originally Posted by Piltdown Man
I do hope that the rather lovely picture posted by Jammedstab is not a takeoff. A Moth doesn't have enough grunt to deal with that sort of attitude so close to ground and that is a little too much bank at that height. Was this the aircraft just before the event?

PM
I believe that is the accident flight itself. Originally posted by someone else.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 12:03
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Originally Posted by megan
I was a spotty callow non flying youth at the time and participated in getting her back on her wheels.That is an assessment that does no one any good. Chuck Yeager could have been tarred by that brush by the likes of you when he crashed the NF-104. A case where his instrument flying skills were not up to the task in hand. Are you going to call him an incompetent? Bob Hoover crashed an Aero Commander after refuelling with jet fuel instead of the proper avgas. Incompetent? He also scraped the belly of an Aero Commander on the runway during a fly past at an airshow. Incompetent? The worlds most experienced 747 pilot came very nearly to landing one gear up. Incompetent? (He did write a very good article on how it came about).
Thought I might follow up on some of the stuff posted here now that things have settled down. The first is your quote above.

I have little to no knowledge of the mistakes made by Hoover that you mentioned or the 747 pilot so I have no comment but I do have some further info on the rocket powered NF-104 crash you mentioned involving Chuck Yeager. It is written in a book called "Contrails Over the Mojave" by a fellow test pilot which fills in some details.
The same test pilot also wrote an article in Air & Space magazine a few years ago although much detail specific to the accident is missing.

Sky High in a Starfighter | History | Air & Space Magazine

Read the article first and then read this additional information from the book to get an idea of what happened.

- The Soviets held the altitude record at the time with a maximum of almost 114,000 feet. The NF-104 was going to be used to break the record using a zoom climb.
- Optimum climb angle was 65-70 degrees.
- Major Robert Smith set an unofficial record(no FAI monitors) of over 120,000'
- On one test flight, Smith increased the pitch angle to 85 degrees to see what would happen. He lost control, went over the top upside down and entered a spin from which he recovered.
- Yeager wanted the official record and time was short as he wanted the record set by mid-December, the 60th anniversary of powered flight.
- With time so short to the anniversary, not only were the planned sequence of build-up flights cancelled, he didn't wait for the preceding flight test data(the loss of control flight) to be evaluated. Instead, he said "If Smith can fly it, I can".
- He did two practice flights prior to the record attempt day. On the record attempt day, he did a morning practice flight to around 108,000'
- On the planned record setting flight, he was advised at 70,000 feet that his angle of climb was too shallow.
- In order to get back onto thew desired climb path, he activated the reaction controls. Something that had worked previously at lower altitudes with higher dynamic pressure.
- In the higher altitude environment, the effect was different and he discovered that he could not lower the nose. Control was lost and he crashed.
- The accident report said that Yeager contributed to the accident by"purposely exceeding the recommended angle of attack in order to attain a higher altitude".
- Major Smith later stated..."A flight test engineer told me that the stability derivatives from his flights had not been reduced until after Yeager flew. The engineer tried to get Yeager to wait until they were done and he could train in the simulator but he refused."
- The project was cancelled.

This accident was caused by rushing, an unwillingness to listen to sound planning ideas, ego refusing to accept that someone else could be as good or a better pilot, not being cautious when operating in an unknown environment, and waiting for an analysis of a previous incident. So when you ask if Yeager "could be tarred by that brush", the brush being my earlier statement that incompetence caused an accident, I would say that what Yeager did in the events leading to his accident were hardly the model of a competent pilot.

The book also mentions that Yeager taxied a B-57 into a bus at Norton AFB. "Without much ado, it was decided that there was no pilot error-it was the fault of the contractor for parking the bus in plain sight, where it had been for months. It is doubtful if any other Edwards pilot would have been excused, but Yeager managed to blame the incident on the bus driver".

One needs to brush aside the hype and do a careful analysis when it comes to these accidents instead of relying on emotion such as...that guy was a hero or very experienced so he must be good and can't be criticized.

Be careful out there, these big time guys can kill you or destroy your aircraft just as much as anyone else.

Last edited by JammedStab; 19th Jun 2017 at 22:47.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 02:30
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There have been a couple of posts here suggesting that aborting the takeoff would have been a good idea. Assuming that it is properly done, it would be difficult to argue that it is not better than continuing in the manner that was done on this flight and crashing.

But, is aborting the takeoff really necessary when bounced into the air early due to hitting a bump? Why not just lower the nose and continue, assuming that obstacles are not a factor. I don't think that the takeoff distance would be extended significantly in this case. Aborting the takeoff could lead to an overrun if the runway is fairly short, which I believe it was. (I did look at my VFR chart a while back but can't remember the exact length at Brimpton).

Last edited by JammedStab; 20th Jun 2017 at 01:05.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 08:55
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Step Turn:

I have never seen any brakes on any British Tiger Moth that I have ever flown.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 10:00
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To be fair to Step Turn, the Canadian-built Tigers (DH-82C I think) which he may well have flown did have brakes (and a tail wheel!) as standard.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 12:24
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Canadian built Tiger Moths came from the factory with brakes. They also have different positioning of the gear legs(angled further forward by shortening what is called the radius rod that angles upward and forward from the gear leg and acts as the front attachment to the fuselage) in order to reduce the likelihood of a noseover during brake use and I suppose just general soft field ops.

Try holding the tail of a DH-82A in the level position. You can balance it on one finger making yourself look like a superhero of strength. Try doing the same on a Canadian Moth. It ain't gonna happen as it takes muscle power to hold it level and it is not enjoyable. Therefore, in the level attitude(at least with power off and no airspeed, it wants to settle on its tail).

One might ask why you would ever want to lift the tail of a Tiger Moth anyways, but the drain in the fuel tank is not at the lowest point when in the three point attitude. Water can accumulate aft of the drain. With the aircraft level, the drain is now at the lowest point. Something you might want to do, if there is any reason to suspect contamination of the fuel in the main tank is to have someone raise the tail and then drain the tank as the water has moved to the new lowest point in the tank. Perhaps rock the wings as well as the corrugations could prevent migration of water to the drain.

I think the Aussies looked into modifying the fuel drain by moving it to the lowest point the fuel tank while in the three point attitude but not much came of it.

As for the idea of an aborted takeoff...not necessary. There is plenty of power to accelerate in a level attitude and then climb out. Abort the takeoff when there is a reason to abort such as when the ability to safely fly away using basic flying skills are no longer available. Brimpton is not an overly long runway. Not sure about obstacles(which can change the decision dynamics) but if the departure path clear, I would go for it while accepting the possibility of a bounce or two while accelerating. Trying to stop on a short runway with no brakes may leave you with few favourable options.

Last edited by JammedStab; 20th Jun 2017 at 01:01.
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