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Close call - your worst one!

Accidents and Close Calls Discussion on accidents, close calls, and other unplanned aviation events, so we can learn from them, and be better pilots ourselves.

Close call - your worst one!

Old 17th Nov 2017, 20:20
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Wearing my brand new headset, never had one before.

Finals, concentrating, aircraft stable.....what is that hissing sound???

Check instruments, my word the ASI appears to be reading 5kts under stall speed, lift one earphone off and discover the hissing is the stall warning horn.

Look back up and the runway is getting bigger panickingly faster. firewall throttle, yolk into spine, under carriage touches down, throttle to idle, remarkably short landing run.

Up to the tower to pay the landing fee, controller says "that was a bit of a steep landing", I say "it was a bit wasn't it".
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 07:46
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1. September 1966. In a Piper Colt with my instructor, midway through my PPL. We were at about 2000’, west of Reading and north of Aldermaston. A Hastings suddenly materialized head-on and passed less than 100’ above, before either of us could react.

2. Leconfield, July 1967. My first UAS Summer Camp at Binbrook. I had flown with my instructor to Leconfield to do circuits on their grass runway.

During the flare on one landing, the right wing suddenly dropped with a vengeance. My instructor took over and applied full throttle and full left stick, and we staggered back into the air. He then said very forcefully “Don’t EVER do that again!” I was mystified as I had no idea what had happened.

Two circuits later, while downwind, I noticed grass on the wingtip, which resulted in a full stop landing and inspection of the damage. We subsequently walked out to the runway and found a 20 yard furrow in the grass. That was a very close call.

It turned out that what had happened was that a Shackleton was doing an engine run up and the slipstream was blowing across the runway threshold! I remember that we debriefed in the tower. I must have looked rather shocked as I was given a mug of tea, liberally laced with rum.

I suspect there was some kind of coverup going on as I was coached as to what to put in my statement.

The Chipmunk needed a new wing.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 21:18
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Last time a spun a Tomahawk.
Never spun it again.
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Old 18th Nov 2017, 22:06
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My closest call was returning to my home base. I always have my Zaon MRX switched on and as I joined the circuit, it was registering traffic 3 miles away, 700 feet lower. I called Downwind 06. Upon turning Base, the target was 2 miles away, 700 feet lower. I called Base 06. As I flew along base, the target became closer. I turned on to final, called Final 06 and was shocked to see my Zaon suddenly start showing target 0.2 miles away, 200 feet lower, climbing.

I called over the radio to ask if anyone on the field had a transponder on, thinking this was possibly the issue. At the same time I intensified my scan trying to see if I could spot any conflicting traffic. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught some movement from underneath the root of my left wing and was shocked to see a motor-glider come shooting past me, climbing straight through my final. Vertical separation was at some point zero, horizontal less than 40 feet.

My first reaction was to call over radio 'what the XXXX was that?' At the airfield, the controller looked in the direction of my approach and saw the motor-glider come low over the field and called the pilot up - he was that close, that low, his registration could be read.

To both our surprise, the pilot not only responded, but when asked why he was breaching the rules of the AIP (no flying over the city at under 2000 feet) and why he'd not called up or observed my calls in the pattern, his response was that 'he was allowed to do that, low flying training is expected; in any case, he was not obligated to talk to anyone if he didn't wish to'.

Both the controller and I reported the incident, it was investigated and found that the pilot had taken off from an airfield around 15 minutes away using Runway 24. Because of this, he assumed that my home airfield would also be using Runway 24 and it didn't register to him that 06 was in use. His intention was to follow the river running parallel to the runway but that brought him straight through my final.

He confirmed he had heard me on the radio but assumed as I was landing, not going for a touch an go, that I wouldn't be a factor - which would have been the case, had my home field also been using 24. Moral of the story: You might have taken off using one circuit direction but another airfield in the vicinity might be using the reciprocal direction....
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Old 20th Nov 2017, 14:07
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Coasting out from Cap Gris Nez (in a PA28 with roof windows) having come up from Le Touquet. The other aircraft, going in the opposite direction, was close enough for me to feel, hear and see it flashing just over my head. I didn't see it coming and afterwards, I couldn't see a trace of where it had gone. I was just left with immense shock and a memory that is is still with me, crystal clear, thirty years later.
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 05:59
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Last time a spun a Tomahawk.
Never spun it again.
I thought the Tomahawk gave a very impressive spin demonstration, but nothing to be scared of. However, I had several hundred spins under my belt by then, in Chipmunks, Citabrias and gliders.
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 07:04
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Originally Posted by India Four Two
I thought the Tomahawk gave a very impressive spin demonstration, but nothing to be scared of. However, I had several hundred spins under my belt by then, in Chipmunks, Citabrias and gliders.

Cant be sure but I seem to recall that spinning a Tomahawk was either prohibited or recommended to be avoided.
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 11:00
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Had two close calls in 1979-1980 when flying Jet Provosts at Linton The first was a close one with a Bulldog head-on when I dived through a hole in some stratus with a base os around 2000 feet Agl during a solo radar to visual. Which occurred about 5 mile North west of Linton ( not instrument rated )and so neededto stay clear of cloud. The Bulldog was I guess scud runningstaying beneath the cloud staying visual with the ground and heading forLeeming . My I pulled up to to stay visual al with the ground somewhere in the vicinity of Easingwold doing about 250 knots and as the hole was quite small the cloud prevented me from seeing the Bulldog until I was levelling off beneath it I was heading south west the Bulldog heading north east to follow the railway track between York
and Leeming and we passed by on opposite headings at more or less the same level. All I can Romberg is I bright landing light and and to helmeted heads swivelling. Round mouths open as we flashed pasteach other very close neither of us had time to take avoiding action and it was over in a flash but a minor change in our flight paths could easily have resulted in a mid ai r I kept the incident stum and didn't report it as an air Miss as I didn't want to expose
my lack of good airmanship and draw attention to myself whilst still a very junior sprog pilot under training and I was concerned that Prince Andrew then u/t at the RN ETS might have been flying the Bulldog and I hadn't read the notams about Purple Airspce!
My second close call was on a solo low level navexwhen the cloud an viz were dropping as I was flying north over the North York Moors and I had a close shave with the Billsdale mast or more accurately with the guy wires that supported said mast?
I survived both and spent a happy year at Linton accumulating 160 hours on J P's of both types happy days indeed
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Old 23rd Nov 2017, 19:55
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Originally Posted by pasir

Cant be sure but I seem to recall that spinning a Tomahawk was either prohibited or recommended to be avoided.
They were restricted to those airframes with a full harness.
I had a real nasty checking out a QFI who had only spun C150's before.
Mishandled recovery attempt (with the elevator held fully back) , we entered the secondary spin mode which is highly unpleasant.

Started ar F060, recovered somewhere between 1200 and 1500 feet QNH !!
I always loved flying and spinning the Pa38 as an instructor, but that flight cured me of the desire to allow anybody else to spin it.
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 18:41
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In ATC back in the 80's at an en route centre. 2 aircraft converging , B747 and HP7 at nearly 90°angle at 6000 ft.Spotted just as phone rings to warn from adjacent unit. Avoiding action climb and descent given. The Herald crew were asked if they had seen the 747. "No, we were IMC,but we heard him"!Wasn't a good feeling for all involved!
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 03:58
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I was about 8000 feet or so in the company Cessna 182 east of los angeles. VFR with ATC flight following. ATC alerts of a twin at my altitude at 11 o'clock, opposite direction. I spot him, close but no factor, which I tell to the controller. Immediately after my call out, the twin cranks into a left turn directly for us. Incredulous at what I was seeing, it took about 5 seconds for me to disconnect autopilot and dive for life and limb. The twin zipped over me close enough to see the oil stains on the bottom of the wings. Second time that scenario has happened, other other time it was a Agusta helo that came barreling along without a hint of even knowing I was there. The pilots must have been on autopilot with their eye buried in the cockpit. Either that or they enjoyed seeing my eyes, big and bright as white saucers through my windscreen.
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 15:04
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Worst one? Being on final and hearing the controller clear to land a big airliner a lot faster and close behind on the same runway. After my "sorry?" on the radio, the feeling of wake turbulence from theirs go around was my razor sharp closest call - controller did forget about me. Things happen, so what?
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 16:28
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Cant be sure but I seem to recall that spinning a Tomahawk was either prohibited or recommended to be avoided.
Tomahawk is cleared for spinning (you need a four point harness to spin legally). We've got one where I teach and never had any issues with spinning so long as you comply with the POH in every respect.
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Old 5th Dec 2017, 18:39
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Vmo until 3.5NM (250knts) everything forward services on the numbers slammed the anchors on full reverse off on the opposite direction fast exit. Hit V1 on the taxi to the apron. Engines shut down before the brakes set and batterys off.

Into the FBO and some bastard was in the disabled bog next to the entrance. With trousers already undone and grapsed very tightly at the top.

Before the mental cry of "faaaaaaaarck" was complete the door unlocked.

15 mins later the tech log was completed with completely fictional times due to really not caring what they were when I landed or parked.
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Old 17th Dec 2017, 09:47
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Off base, night flight in a light twin engine helicopter, for low level filming sortie over a capital city, despite two tail rotor chip light warnings in previous 24 hours.

30 minutes into flight aborted the mission on third warning(!) and following the expedited landing at international airport, discovered a large chunk of a bearing on the chip.

Despite a crew who considered themselves safety conscious.

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Old 17th Dec 2017, 16:17
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I almost married a Russian! Just escaped.
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Old 18th Jan 2018, 05:35
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Returning to Redhill one friday afternoon in the Tiger Club days. Field was shared with Bristow helis, with their own tower and radio, dividing line on the N-S runway. I was running in from the south, called their frequency about 10 miles out, no answer. Thinks - Friday, knocked off early. Lined up on the r/w - maybe a "little" on their side so as to see who was getting planes out for evening flying. A chopper appeared climbing out of the ground clutter dead ahead and TOO CLOSE. Shoved the stick forward and went just under him. Instinct to do that as a turn would have lost sight ( me in a low-winger) Scared the .... out of the heli instructor & student, radio immediately burst into life as I whipped over to our half of the field and landed. Apologized to irate instructor, and Michael helped calm him down. Rapped over the knuckles, as I was inthe wrong, but at least I didn't hit him
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Old 18th Jan 2018, 14:40
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Red face Out of Ideas and Altitude Simultaneously!

I posted this previously in Rotorheads and believe it counts as a close call...

Dear Vertical Freedom,

You definitely put the WOW in your pilotage and photographic skills! I garnered four hours of PIC time in an Evergreen Bell 206 Long Ranger way back in 1978. (I had accumulated 760 hours in Cessna 152's, 172's, 185's, and 320's at the time.) I could hover, barely...

One Sunday my friend/instructor called to see if I would like to bring my then-wife, son, and friend along for a sight seeing pleasure flight in the chopper. We spent nearly an hour doing maneuvers and low-level, high-speed runs over marshland and ocean. We requested and were granted landing permission at KSSI (St. Simons Island) when we were three minutes out at 3,000' MSL. My so-called friend came on the intercom and said "Watch this!" I recall, in slow motion, his reaching out from the right seat to cycle the emergency fuel cut-off switch. The annunciator panel went from green to orange to red. We were going to auto-rotate and were too low to get a relight/restart. I turned around and told my wife, son, and friend (who was busy shooting 3 frames/second with his Nikon) to Brace-Brace-Brace.

We flared 50' too soon and went down on the beach. Airspeed was indicated at 60 kts. and the VSI was pegged full down. Our skids dug into the sand, we tipped forward, and the main rotors made a clean decapitation of the boom. My wife grabbed our 8-year-old son and exited beneath the still-rotating main, which fluffed her hair. Had she been an inch taller - curtains! I fumbled frantically and finally released my five-point harness and exited stage left.

We walked about a quarter mile up the beach on Sea Island and encountered four gentlemen who were leaning out of a porch on the third floor of a condominium. They yelled "Hey! Did you see that helicopter go down? It was smoking and going too fast!" I responded "Yeah! We were in it!" "Do you want a drink?", they asked. Moments later, four gentlemen from Atlanta hugged us and motioned to a table upon which were half-gallons of every alcoholic beverage known to modern man. I grabbed a bottle and glugged. Our "pilot", replete in the knowledge that the FAA would be around soon, did not partake. My wife, who worked for the Sea Island Company, commandeered one of their limousines and took our son home. Our friend still has photos of the entire episode.

All by way of saying Thank You for bringing the joy of High Flight back to me. I have been afraid all these years and now am not. I owe a debt of gratitude to he who understands the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake, a kind and beautiful Bride, and the miracle of Himalayan Mountain Highs.

John Denver, whose Dad flew B-58's, would be proud...

(And jealous!)

Best and Highest Regards,

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Old 20th Jan 2018, 17:06
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We met at Barton and pulled the Chipmunk (Sierra Lima) from the hangar. The weather wasn't brilliant, but it was quite flyable. We pre-flit, strapped in, and fired up.

Once the oil temp was up, we taxyed to the hold for 09 (the only one of Barton's runways which points directly at a built up area). Checks complete,
we lined up and I applied full power. Tail-up, SL accelerated smoothly over the wet grass and I let her unstick at 45 knots, holding her down just above the surface in ground effect until we had 60 knots, then eased the stick back and climbed out at 70 with a good rate of climb.

As we crossed the upwind fence, SL gave a mighty cough, which I felt through the controls. Could be a bit of water in the fuel - I made a mental note to stay in the circuit until I was happy with the engine, and continued ahead (no other options at that stage, anyway). A couple of seconds later, now about 300 feet over the built up area, the steady blattering roar of the Gipsy Major engine deteriorated into a series of loud pops, bangs, and surges, accompanied by much vibration. I could no longer read the instruments as the panel vibrated, or hear the radio (despite headsets) because of the cacophony from up front. I levelled off immediately, holding full power (such as it now was...) to let the speed build as much as it could and started a very gentle slightly descending left turn transmitting "Sierra Lima immediate return".

I couldn't hear the reply of course, but knew there was at least one other aircraft in the circuit in front of us. If we could turn beyond 90 degrees before the engine failed completely I thought we could probably continue a gliding, descending teardrop turn from there and get back in somewhere on the airfield. Or failing that, into a field north of Barton. Crashing into the built up area as at first feared seemed unlikely now, thankfully.

In the turn I noted the cemetery rotating around the left wingtip and looking ominously close. Then three brilliant white swans in perfect formation swept gracefully under us; I could swear their beady eyes were swiveled upwards towards the noisy, banging, shaking, farting red beast descending towards them.

Rather than the engine failing completely as I had feared it might, the misfiring actually became slightly less severe and I realised we could hold
height. So I stopped the turn after 180 degrees which put us on a close-in low-down left hand downwind leg for the active runway, 09. I transmitted "Sierra Lima, rough running engine, immediate return" in case the tower and the circuit traffic hadn't got the message the first time.

Again, I couldn't hear the reply. I pulled on full flap, turned base very close in with the 09 numbers on the left wingtip while transmitting "Sierra Lima close-in left base" for the information of any other traffic that this is now MY runway AND I AM GOING TO LAND ON IT. Once I knew we could get in I closed the throttle, let go a very old breath, trimmed for 60 knots, and continued a steep gliding left turn right down onto the runway.

We taxyed, followed by the fire tender with its blue flashing light, straight to the engineer's hangar. They did some ground runs - lots of misfiring (but nothing like as bad as it had been in the air) with flames and white puffs of unburnt fuel from the exhaust at high RPM, black smoke at low RPM.

As a postscript, the aeroplane was 'fixed' by changing the plugs, but it still wasn't running as it should. Later, we applied a mod so we could use 'modern' plugs, which improved things a lot. But what really fixed it was, several months after the above, a mag failed (on the ground) and after it was changed we had no more intermittent mis-fires - or worse.

I don't think either of us will ever forget those surreal white swans flying gracefully through the middle of our drama.
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Old 20th Jan 2018, 19:43
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Angel On a Wing and a Prayer

Dear Shaggy,

What a well-told adventure! My pulse rate accelerated as I read it - I was made to feel that I was right there in the cockpit with you.

You were so busy that you missed the swan directly beneath you, though. She was praying for a successful outcome.

So glad those supplications came true!

May tailwinds, clear skies, and smooth-running engines be yours, Sir...

- Ed
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