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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 13th Nov 2017, 06:17
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Close call - your worst one!

Strange, but while it was actually happening I felt seriously annoyed, but not scared and shaking until I had landed.

In all my flying the worst frights were in tugs, not gliders. Possibly because its hard to see other traffic from the tug aircraft, compared to the very good vis available in most gliders.

But I still remember that time I was launching gliders at the Junior Nationals competition - was it at Bicester or Weston? Anyway, very close indeed to Oxford. Oxford traffic certainly should have been aware that we were launching 50 gliders in 30 minutes. I was pulling up a glider flown by a young Navy pilot. And noticed a twin aircraft coming towards us from Oxford.

In theory, we had the right of way.

But he just carried on, until we were nearly nose to nose. I turned right.
AND THE TWIN TURNED LEFT! we were in serious danger. Only one option left, couldn't go higher, so I dived sharply. The young Navy pilot still hung on, which was a good thing, as we presented only one target instead of two.

The twin carried on very very close, over our combination. And went on its way, wherever. I carried on pulling up the glider, which released at the usual 2,000. I then landed, and went to Control, to tell them about it.

Later on, after the competing gliders had returned from their task, I asked the young Navy pilot how come he didn't let go when he saw the close call.
He said he had paid for a two thousand foot tow and he wanted his money's worth!

Tell us about your close call!
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 07:53
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Northern Ireland, Jan or Feb 1997. 0300 call out, filthy weather (heavy rain and very low cloud). Low level (perhaps 250ft?), NVG, I was map reading, no GPS (see other thread!) black pen with a little red torch, co-pilot handling. Rad Alt set at 50'. Suddenly get "Can't see anything Sir, you have control". Ah.

Then radalt starts squawking.

Map gets chucked in the back, grab controls, aircraft already level but with a rate of descent, pull pitch into IMC and try to figure out what's happening. Bit quiet for a few seconds, then call Aldergrove and get an approach back home.

We'll never know how close we came...
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 07:59
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Driving back home from EMA on the A453 (before it was dualed) having landed about 11 pm, so it was night. Tootling along at about 50 mph - come over the brow of the hill and there's some clown overtaking an HGV on my side of the road. Instant reaction to swerve onto the grass and we avoid by inches. All I lost was a hubcap and my composure!
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 08:00
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Oh, thought it was flying only. Nearly killed myself MUCH more often on the ground!
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 08:32
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Through no fault of my own, they joined me from behind, I became Red 10
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 15:26
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Whilst training out of Sywell 1997 for my PPLH.
In R22 with instructor somewhere South of airfield at about 1500ft in LH turn . I see low wing poss PA28 right on top of us, Shout to instructor "airplane" he takes control and dives us away. VERY Close call.
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 16:12
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Close call #1

Towing a glider in an Auster at Compton Abbas, bumpy day. In the mirror I could see that the glider was struggling to hold position. Get to 2000', feel the jerk of glider release. Look in the mirror - he's gone. Twist round in my seat to confirm. No glider. Close the throttle, drop the nose and bank left.

Another jerk! The glider's still attached! With the stick fully back I can't raise the nose so no point in throttling up - power will only accelerate us downwards. The combination sinks earthward while I think 'why doesn't he release?' I might have to release my end, but I'm reluctant to do that in case the cable wraps round the glider's controls or smashes its canopy. But now there's no other option. My hand starts to reach up to pull the release but then there's another jerk. He's away!

Later on I have a full and frank discussion with the glider instructor, who robustly questioned my competence and told me they couldn't release after I started my dive because of the tension in the cable. The second jerk was actually the cable breaking. My defence was that his station keeping was poor. We agreed to disagree about who was to blame.

Later the thought occurred to me - suppose I couldn't release my end and the cable didn't break . . .

Close call #2

VFR just below the base of the London TMA in a littl'n. Jetstream flashes past underneath right to left, not more than 50 feet below. Didn't see it until after it appeared left side. Comment from the missus in the RHS: 'Are they normally as close as that?'
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 21:34
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First Solo

1977. All those years ago and just yesterday, on a severe clear March day in the Golden Isles of Georgia, my superb flight instructor (he of 27,000 ATP hours!) and I were flying my favorite training aircraft, N757WW, a Cessna 152 widely known by ATCs from Jacksonville to Savannah as "Double Shot". After several circuits around the pattern at KSSI with some nice touch-and-goes, we taxied back to the school's hangar. As I prepared to shut down, Frank touched my right hand as I reached to close the throttle. "Time to solo!" said Frank to his twelve hour total time pilot. "She'll feel a little lighter; just do everything you already know how to do!" My pulse went tachycardic, but I was so very ready to go...

I taxied back to the run-up area of 33, that day's active runway. After requesting an airport advisory and clearance to take off which was granted, I entered the runway. Everything on the panel was in the green. 10 degrees of flaps, a last look around the pattern, a quick deal with God followed by full throttle and some right rudder. Double Shot leapt into the air as if she were STOL equipped! The engine sounded smooth and powerful and the air was as smooth as Steuben glass. I retracted flaps and soared upward at 1,000 f.p.m. toward pattern altitude of 800 feet MSL. Nirvana!

WTF? Just as I reached my assigned altitude and commenced a ninety-degree left-hand turn to downwind, my windshield was filled with an huge Air South DC-3. At my altitude! Not more than 300 feet horizontal separation! Talk about your from ecstasy to seventh sphere of Hell moment! I was too frightened to soil my garish pantaloons!

Long story short: I extended my crosswind leg, watched as the DC-3 made a perfect three-point landing on 22, then proceeded to make three circuits to full stop landings. They were great landings, too: I was not hurt and the aircraft was reusable!

As my flight instructor used scissors to cut the shirt tail off of my favorite pink (but not ghey) shirt, the Air South cockpit crew walked out on the apron and approached us. "Who was flying Double Shot today?" the pilot asked. "This guy?" said the co-pilot, pointing at me. I nodded in assent. The pilot said "Didn't mean to cut you off, but we were an hour behind schedule. Congrats on the solo - can we buy you a beer?" And so they did. Plural.

How wonderful to relive the memories of that extra-special day...

Last edited by cavuman1; 13th Nov 2017 at 22:16. Reason: Insert Pictures
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 22:51
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Well Mary, I like the question, but I'm not sure of the criteria; I could relate "wow, that was dumb" (but no one was hurt), Or "Uh oh, we bent a little bit of metal", or darned near killed (still trying to get over that one).

Yes, there is a lot to learn from the close calls others can relate...

Okay, a modest effort on my part: I used to share an aerodrome with another fellow. He had an older 182, and I flew my 150. Both were STOL equipped, an we both enjoyed flying them for nice, precise, short landings. The runway at this aerodrome was 1600 feet long, but very narrow, only 20 feet wide in places. I went to fly circuits one day. I noticed that my friend had already flown off somewhere in his 182. Hmm, place to myself ! There was a nice breeze coming up, so I flew my circuits into the wind. I was practicing short, and precise. As I had the aerodrome to myself, I focused on my precision. I was not focusing on traffic, nor was he, when he returned from wherever... He had taken off with no wind, so landed in the same direction, except he did not check the wind direction, nor look for traffic. I was flying my circuits into the wind, and I too, was neglectful looking for traffic. We both touched down about the same time, landing toward one and other. As I saw him touch down in front of me, I realized that a go around would be impossible, so I jumped on the brakes, with the controls held full back. He soon realized that his windshield was filling with Cessna 150, and also locked it up. When we both stopped, we were about 100 feet apart, so lots of room. It was a happy thing that we both did good short landings, particularly as his was downwind. I learned to be more aware of my surroundings, even when I thing I have the place to myself!
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 07:00
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In the US of A, they call Mooneys "doctor killers", as I recall.

The V tail ones are the worst!
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 07:13
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That's the Bonanza, the Forked Tail Doctor Killer.
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 07:14
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Don,t think so Mary - it's the V tail Beech Bonanza that was known as the "doctor killer" as they were the folks who could afford to buy them!
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 08:01
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Sywell, about a million years ago in a Beagle Pup. Just finished some rudimentary training in 'aerobatics'. Carrying out a series of aileron rolls all of which lost some altitude which was the intention as we were returning to the field. Inverted, I glanced up ( ie down ) and saw we were a bit lower than I thought - immediate panic and instead of completing the roll, I pulled through and lost a hell of a lot more height - it was very, very close ! Six months later the RAF began to teach me how to do it in a rather more controlled manner, albeit in the mighty JP3a.
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 10:39
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Plodding the circuit doing my night rating solo consolidation at EGTF many years ago.

Crisp evening, cold and dry with endless visibility. I had the circuit to myself, with the only company being a helicopter operating to the south of the runway doing what ever helicopter pilots do practising all that hovering nonsense.

I was feeling quite the pilot as I seemed to have mastered this taking off, flying an landing business, even at night. My little Piper was co-operating, sounding as sweet as a nut and handling crisply in the still night air.

OK this will be my last circuit, on the PAPI's, nice touch down, power on with a little rudder, rotate and head down to scan instruments whilst we negotiate the initial dark zone.

I was hit by something I never saw coming. The controls had a mind of their own and for probably 5-10 seconds I was a passenger. Then the horizon appeared and all was calm again, except my mouth was dry and my heart racing. I rushed my last circuit and was not sure what my radio calls sounded like...I just wanted to get on the ground.

Downwind helicopter blade wash....I was enjoying myself so much, I missed the obvious gotcha.
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 11:44
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Lining up for take off at Chirk airfield, throttle full and start to roll, when three bloody Hercules came roaring out of the Welsh valley directly overhead at, what seemed to me, zero feet. Anyway powered over just over my head.
Don't they have horns to peep or something?

Coming north from a Women's Pilot Association meeting at Oxford many years ago, lovely clear sky until hit an invisible bank of fog over the Evesham ridge. Classic novice pilot in whiteout situation finally emerging very near the green stuff at a worrying angle, a few more seconds and we would have been finished.
If you need an motivation to do instrument training something like that is a massive incentive.
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Old 14th Nov 2017, 12:14
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Checked a guy out on the Tiger Moth. We came out of the bottom of a falling leaf maneuver, a bit lower than I would have liked. Say, about 1000-1200 ft AGL. The guy in the back lowered the nose and applied full power immediately. Too soon, so we flicked into a spin. Managed to save it in about half a turn, but we got a REALLY close look at the treetops underneath!

This was an experienced GA and King Air Air ambulance pilot, but he hadn't flown much aerobatics. Learning moment for me was to never assume anything, like the assumption that such an experienced guy wouldn't do anything like that.

Another one, also in a Tiger Moth. Was on our way to an airshow, four Tiger Moths in formation. A really bumpy day. One of the worst I've experienced actually. Took off with a full tank, but somewhere along the way to our first fuel stop, the primer button on top of the carburettor came loose and fell off, allowing fuel to flow through the overrun pipe in addition to what was being ingested by the engine. The fact that the ride was so bumpy made reading the fuel gauge impossible, but I usually fly by the watch rather than by the fuel gauge anyway. After about an hour and fifteen minutes we landed, and I thought it strange that the little knob on top of the wire all but disappeared below the bottom of the sight glass. Then I shut down and had a look up front, and saw the missing primer button. Safety-wired the mechanism in place to stop the slow leak through the overrun pipe, and filled the tank. I had landed with one and a half gallons remaining!
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Old 15th Nov 2017, 06:41
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Returning to home airport from a local grass strip with another aircraft somewhere behind doing much the same. From his inbound radio call I had him positioned about 5 or 6 miles behind.
Making the 45 turn on to downwind I glanced over my shoulder and there he was, absolutely head on and seconds away! My avoidance was close to aerobatic half expecting his prop would eat my tail.
Back at the hangar we had a discussion. Despite no 'base', 'final' or 'cleared to land' transmissions from me or the tower he thought I was already landed. Nor had he seen me even though I was dead ahead and really close!
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Old 15th Nov 2017, 15:43
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I can recall maybe 5 anxious episodes involving other gliders but here is my solo self inflicted close call.
Flying an old Skylark 3 glider, wind was 25 kts straight down the strip, thermic enough to make the aerotow interesting, the lift was too broken to gain height so joined the circuit, on the down wind leg I allowed the speed to drop then turned base leg.
The glider stalled with wing drop in the gradient, just managed to level the wings in time to flop over the threshold, right in front of the CFI. His comments, " never do that again, go and have a coffee, then come back and show me how it should be done".
I got away with that one!!, but learned from it.
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Old 16th Nov 2017, 13:11
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1. Years ago as a student Flexwing pilot. Somerset, slightly murky Sunday afternoon, looked to Port as part of my scan and there was a glider coming straight at us! Instructor yanked the bar in from the back seat and we passed under it. I do recall from my glance left that the pilot was young, had ginger hair and glasses. Was "bricking it" for several minutes afterwards.

2. Last year, grass strip, 3 Axis microlight with a 582 Blue Top, usual careful pre-flight, lined up, took off and just as I turned crosswind revs died right back, headed for a field close by but found backing the throttle off to about two thirds made the engine run reasonably smoothly, managed to creep up another hundred feet, fly a very abbreviated circuit and land with not problem. There was a piece of a blade of grass in the rear carb float bowl, absolutely no idea how it got in there but it was being sucked up onto the main jet when throttle was at high demand. ALWAYS float bowls off as part of my pre-flight nowadays.
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Old 17th Nov 2017, 19:12
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Worst was a Marchetti coming head on over Rochester, when I was taking a service from Rochester ATC. Thanks for that who ever you were. A set of wheels seen out of the cockpit out of Biggin, missing me by feet, on the quad rule, thanks once again who ever you were. And finally to the gentleman who flew the Le Touquet circuit 200' below circuit height and omitted to tell Le Touquet he was there until base leg. I luckily had already seen him and his lunch companions.
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