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Miss Velma's engine failure and crash landing at Duxford from the cockpit

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.

Miss Velma's engine failure and crash landing at Duxford from the cockpit

Old 20th May 2018, 08:43
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Indeed although not quite 90 off as he wasn’t due south when he made the decision to return. The M11 was an unwelcome complication. Not easy no matter what he chose. Glad he walked away.
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Old 20th May 2018, 09:36
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Part of the issue with emergencies in expensive Warbirds is that there could be a temptation to try and save the aircraft till the bitter end. Consider Gliders on cross country flying. They regularly make safe off-site landings for several reasons. Their landing speed is lower but, they always make a glide approach anyway so their handling skills are practiced. They generally have well considered plans for setting-up and executing a "forced landing", so they use the plan and land safely. I have never seen a Mustang make or practice a glide approach. The usual is a powered approach with a high RPM for engine response. This is the best way to operate them but, any serious loss of power may present the pilot with a scenario he is unable to deal with on approach. Generally, loss of power sufficient to continue normal flight in Piston warbirds would lead to a wheels-up forced landing in the original flying manual and, this is can the safest way if the pilot is trained for it.

OAP
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Old 20th May 2018, 16:37
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Originally Posted by Onceapilot View Post
<snip>
Consider Gliders on cross country flying. They regularly make safe off-site landings for several reasons. Their landing speed is lower but, they always make a glide approach anyway so their handling skills are practiced.
<snip>
And very importantly gliders despite their fragile appearance are designed to land in fields.
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Old 20th May 2018, 17:00
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Excellent video and discussion within it. Not sure why posters are discussing the circuit - they were not flying a circuit to land but were positioning for a run in and break, so clearly it would be wider than normal. Thatís why he had just moved to echelon starboard.
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Old 20th May 2018, 18:05
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Strangely enough, at the same show, there was a mid air between 2 other P-51's (prop strike during a formation change resulting to damage to the tailplane IIRC). This did result in an emergency downwind landed (uneventful).
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Old 20th May 2018, 20:08
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This video really resonates with me because I had a similar incident in my Nanchang last week.I was leading a 4 ship formation and My troubles started with a mild RPM oscillations. So I went to full rich, scanned the gauges, which were normal and then turned the formation towards our home airport which was about 15 miles away. As soon as I had finished the turn the engine stumbled. At this point I declared an emergency, detached the 2nd element and started a slow climb. My wingman stayed with me a reported no leaks or smoke.

For the first half of the trip the choice was fly over the city or around the edge over water, so I obviously stayed over the water. As we chugged back home the engine was intermittently stumbling but still maintaining power. At this point I decided not to touch anything on the theory that I didnít want to mess with what was working. I told the tower I was doing a straight in on the runway that was basically aligned with the track back to the airport and starting to feel relatively sanguine when the engine without warning quit cold. I was startled enough to do nothing and after maybe 2 seconds the engine roared back to life. It ran for maybe 5 seconds and then quit again. Again I froze for a second and the cycle repeated itself. The third time with no action on my part the engine stayed running. At this point my attention was totally outside planing on where to put the airplane.

Fortunately the engine stayed running and I was able to maintain height until I could made a steep glide approach and an uneventful landing at our home airport with CFR assets standing by. The engine was running at idle as I rolled out after landing but quit as soon as I tried to add power to taxi off the runway.

if the engine had just quit I knew exactly what to do, however intermittent loss of power with no obvious indication of what is wrong is a very difficult situation to deal with. I think I made the right decision not to adjust the engine controls except to go to rich mixture but it is hard to say. The smartest thing I did was as soon as the engine started acting in an odd way I turned towards the airport and after the first stumble declared an emergency and arranged my flight path to cater for a total failure at anytime



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Old 20th May 2018, 23:46
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
And post accident review, i know its stretching the military side but it is a fascinating insight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBpqvPujZgM

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/...irport-landing



.
The guy did about everything wrong and doesn't know the best glide speed in the P-51 with gear and flaps up is 175MPH, not 150MPH. Additionally, the dash one calls for the canopy to be jettisoned in this case, and it weighs about 40 lbs, not 300lbs. The video clearly shows his problem and it is a fuel issue with fluctuating pressure. The normal fuel pressure in flight is 16 to 18 pounds. The fuel pressure drops significantly in the video but the pilot doesn't seem to notice this and its correlation to loss of power. It appears that he attempted to switch tanks and this should have cured the pressure problem as each tank has an electric fuel pump submersed in it. However, the fuel tank pumps will not come on line, if the boost pump switch on the engine control panel is not selected to the "ON" position as it is wired in series with the fuel tank selector. Additionally, he could have tried holding the engine primer switch down which would put fuel directly into the induction manifold and give him partial power. With a few hundred hours in the Mustang I disagree with most of the decisions made by the pilot, but at least he walked away and that's a big deal.
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Old 21st May 2018, 03:05
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Originally Posted by eggplantwalking View Post
The guy did about everything wrong and doesn't know the best glide speed in the P-51 with gear and flaps up is 175MPH, not 150MPH. Additionally, the dash one calls for the canopy to be jettisoned in this case, and it weighs about 40 lbs, not 300lbs. The video clearly shows his problem and it is a fuel issue with fluctuating pressure. The normal fuel pressure in flight is 16 to 18 pounds. The fuel pressure drops significantly in the video but the pilot doesn't seem to notice this and its correlation to loss of power. It appears that he attempted to switch tanks and this should have cured the pressure problem as each tank has an electric fuel pump submersed in it. However, the fuel tank pumps will not come on line, if the boost pump switch on the engine control panel is not selected to the "ON" position as it is wired in series with the fuel tank selector. Additionally, he could have tried holding the engine primer switch down which would put fuel directly into the induction manifold and give him partial power. With a few hundred hours in the Mustang I disagree with most of the decisions made by the pilot, but at least he walked away and that's a big deal.
I think you are being a bit harsh. He had 104 seconds to deal with the emergency, and he did switch switch tanks. He was IMHO pretty forthcoming about his mistakes but the bottom line was he turned away from the runway that was right there
​​​
but was in reality not reachable and flew the airplane to a successful forced landing instead of a stall-spin fatal with a destroyed airplane. No injury to him and an aircraft that will fly again, I am OK with that.

Do do you really think you would have done better ?



Last edited by Big Pistons Forever; 21st May 2018 at 18:54.
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Old 21st May 2018, 17:41
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Originally Posted by Big Pistons Forever View Post


I think you are being a bit harsh. He had 104 seconds to deal with the emergency, and he did switch switch tanks. He was IMHO pretty forthcoming about his mistakes but the bottom line was he turned away from the runway that was right there
​​​
but was in reality reachable and flew the airplane to a successful forced landing instead of a stall-spin fatal with a destroyed airplane. No injury to him and an aircraft that will fly again, I am OK with that.

Do do you really think you would have done better ?

As a formation pilot you know the concentration required and your eyes are outside of the cockpit 99% of the time. When the engine quit the first time I would not have thought to much about it as the carburetor on the Merlin is downdraft and will do just that, if a negative "G" is put on it. On the second failure I would have immediately left the formation with a quick call, and been with eyes inside the cockpit checking oil pressure, fuel pressure and coolant temperature while establishing best glide and turning toward the airport. Remember Murphy's Law: In aviation whatever can go wrong, will go wrong and will usually get worse. In this case he continued to try to stay in the formation wasting precious evaluation time of the situation. Assuming all the tricks to get the engine running failed, the pilot should have put the propeller at full low pitch to help extend the glide and concentrated on flying the aircraft; not taking advice from the tower. Watching the video it should have been possible to preform a successful landing, in my opinion. I had two engine failures with the Merlin, one while at altitude; no problem. The other just after take-off and that was much more interesting. And, it both instances no damage to the aircraft, only engine repairs.
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Old 21st May 2018, 19:25
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With a few hundred hours in the Mustang
Was your ego this big when you had ten hours...??
It's not really what you said, more the way you said it...
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 13:50
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Originally Posted by eggplantwalking View Post
As a formation pilot you know the concentration required and your eyes are outside of the cockpit 99% of the time. When the engine quit the first time I would not have thought to much about it as the carburetor on the Merlin is downdraft and will do just that, if a negative "G" is put on it. On the second failure I would have immediately left the formation with a quick call, and been with eyes inside the cockpit checking oil pressure, fuel pressure and coolant temperature while establishing best glide and turning toward the airport. Remember Murphy's Law: In aviation whatever can go wrong, will go wrong and will usually get worse. In this case he continued to try to stay in the formation wasting precious evaluation time of the situation. Assuming all the tricks to get the engine running failed, the pilot should have put the propeller at full low pitch to help extend the glide and concentrated on flying the aircraft; not taking advice from the tower. Watching the video it should have been possible to preform a successful landing, in my opinion. I had two engine failures with the Merlin, one while at altitude; no problem. The other just after take-off and that was much more interesting. And, it both instances no damage to the aircraft, only engine repairs.

My thoughts exactly...
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 15:55
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Intermittent engine failure by far the most dangerous, and to have been flying in display formation over Duxford, not a lot of altitude but I think he did everything right. Every time flying cross country in the UK in a glider, I am getting nervous and chosing fields by one thousand feet. Having chosen a field, the bigger the better, as a rule. Beware of wires, not easy to see.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 16:02
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Great to see Miss Velma back at Duxford in one piece and flying again, albeit repainted as Contrary Mary...
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 01:53
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the pilot should have put the propeller at full low pitch to help extend the glide
Sounds to me like the input from a simmer, not what we were taught flying high performance pistons. The prop can be used to modulate the descent, low pitch if overshooting, high pitch if undershooting, note the difference to your statement re low pitch. What is the ALTP rating you have, never heard of it.
I had two engine failures with the Merlin
Can you give us the registrations of the aircraft and dates on which you had your engine failures.

Last edited by megan; 27th Jul 2018 at 05:46.
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 07:29
  #35 (permalink)  
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When the engine quit the first time I would not have thought to much about it as the carburetor on the Merlin is downdraft and will do just that, if a negative "G" is put on it
I believe I'm right in saying the carburetors in the Merlin 66 (Packard V-1650) powering the Mustang don't cut under negative G.
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 20:05
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eggplantwalking,
Whilst you quote some figures from the P51 Dash One manual that are correct, I disagree with most of what you say. As treadigraph has said, the Packard Merlin in a P51 has an injected carburetor that does not cut under negative g. I do not know the weight of the canopy but I am sure that it is more than 40 lbs! The main problem that I have with what you have said is that it appears to me that you have no understanding of Human Factors whatsoever which is why you fail to understand this pilot's actions following an intermittent loss of engine power. At no stage from when the first engine cut occurred did he have the energy to glide back to the airfield. It has already been well covered by others that an intermittent loss of power is a very difficult situation to deal with and there is a certain amount of luck involved as to whether the actions that you choose are the best; only post incident analysis will indicate this and, hopefully, may then provide lessons learned to those who suffer a similar failure subsequently. So saying, no two failures are ever the same. There are some interesting discussion points related to whether or not the electric fuel pump was on or off plus the relative merits of opening the canopy versus jettisoning it. However, I would not criticize Mark for anything that he did and his late decision to raise the landing gear and land in the field to the east of the M11 is commendable and definitely the correct and valid action. For me, one of the most interesting HF aspects was his reaction to the ATC call regarding the landing gear. None of us know how we would have reacted when given that call in those circumstances and any criticism based on hindsight from an armchair is unlikely to be justifiable. Overall, I suspect that I may well have completed essentially the same actions that Mark did in the circumstances with which he was confronted.

What is the basis for my opinions above? I was in that formation, I had flown 'Miss Velma' at Flying Legends in 2016 and I have had a partial loss of power (mechanical, dropped valve rod) in a P51 when I had about the same hours on type and in heavy warbirds that Mark had.

Very happy to discuss this further but if anyone wishes to criticize the pilot's actions then they should/must justify their reasons.
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Old 28th Jul 2018, 03:11
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I believe I'm right in saying the carburetors in the Merlin 66 (Packard V-1650) powering the Mustang don't cut under negative G
You're correct treaders. US produced engines with a Bendix injection carburettor whereas the UK used the SU carburettor, the -ve "g" cut on UK engines being caused by the float. The cut was a two stage affair, first the fuel was forced to the top of the float chamber which exposed the main jets to air causing a lean cut, secondly if the -ve "g" continued the fuel being forced to the top of the chamber the float would now float on the fuel surface in the reverse sense ie at the bottom of the chamber, with the needle valve now wide open you now suffered a rich cut.

Another indication our friend knows little.
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 00:55
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I have just stumbled across this thread, and a lot of what has been said is now water under the bridge, but I feel minded to reply. In hindsight, I can agree with some of the strategies that have been postulated by the online experts. Yes, I should have left the formation earlier. Yes, I could have changed tanks earlier (BTW the boost pump was always on). Yes, I might have tried the priming pump to see if this gave me some power. Yes, I might have turned in slightly earlier, although my vector towards the crowd would have been greater. No, I couldn't have landed down wind, as 12 Spitfires were landing the other way (or so I modelled in my overloaded brain).
For those that have sat through the entire interview I gave to Rich McSpadden at US AOPA (who as an ex- leader of the USAF Thunderbirds, knows a thing or two), I put my hand up to most of these failings. But the main reason I did the online chat, and shared the video was to allow the aviation community to re-live my predicament vicariously and debate what they themselves would do in similar circumstances, not necessarily in a P-51. Was it a textbook reaction to an intermittent failure? Of course not. We will all react to these kinds of events in different ways. However, if just one pilot watches the video and devises a plan to deal with a similar situation when the noise up front ceases, then it has been worthwhile.
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 03:59
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Aerostar, mind not the detractors*, it's easy to criticise from the comfort of your easy chair whist tapping a keyboard. They wish they might have done half as well. Bugger the airframe, the most important part came through relatively unscathed, and has been forthcoming in an effort to educate the flying fraternity, particularly key board warriors. Well done Sir.

*The nearest eggplantwalking has been to a cockpit is a photo in the local paper.
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 14:52
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Originally Posted by Aerostar6 View Post
I have just stumbled across this thread, and a lot of what has been said is now water under the bridge, but I feel minded to reply. In hindsight, I can agree with some of the strategies that have been postulated by the online experts. Yes, I should have left the formation earlier. Yes, I could have changed tanks earlier (BTW the boost pump was always on). Yes, I might have tried the priming pump to see if this gave me some power. Yes, I might have turned in slightly earlier, although my vector towards the crowd would have been greater. No, I couldn't have landed down wind, as 12 Spitfires were landing the other way (or so I modelled in my overloaded brain).
For those that have sat through the entire interview I gave to Rich McSpadden at US AOPA (who as an ex- leader of the USAF Thunderbirds, knows a thing or two), I put my hand up to most of these failings. But the main reason I did the online chat, and shared the video was to allow the aviation community to re-live my predicament vicariously and debate what they themselves would do in similar circumstances, not necessarily in a P-51. Was it a textbook reaction to an intermittent failure? Of course not. We will all react to these kinds of events in different ways. However, if just one pilot watches the video and devises a plan to deal with a similar situation when the noise up front ceases, then it has been worthwhile.
Great job, Mark. Not only did you save yourself and not hurt anyone on the ground but you allowed the recording of a tremendously instructive, and honest, interview about the incident.

I doubt if anyone reading/writing this thread could have done any better!

Thinking back to my own training, and brief time instructing, perhaps actions in the event of an engine failure were overcomplicated. My checklist, albeit committed to memory at the time, consisted of about 10 items- far too much to cope with in an emergency, particularly if not much height is available.

I now think the engine failure at take-off drill was much more realistic and focused on a few vital actions which can be applied to all engine failures. And perhaps we should be trained to treat partial engine failures in single engine aircraft as full engine failures if there is somewhere realistic to land?

Having said all that, again, very well done, Mark. You did the absolutely the most important thing well- you flew the aircraft all the way down to the ground (and for another 100 yards)!

Last edited by Forfoxake; 29th Jul 2018 at 15:03.
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