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Dallas air show crash

Old 17th Nov 2022, 17:31
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How « formation flying » can suddenly go wrong.

In the late 80s I was on a 17 day Anchorage/ Tokyo flying the DC10 out of ZRH. The skipper was on Hunters and in the Swiss national gliding team whilst the system operator pilot (cpl) was on military choppers, both with formation flying experience whilst I had none.

We hired aircraft to fly out to the Skwentna road house whose runway was frozen as it was mid winter. The others hired Cessnas whilst I hired a Cherokee as I had a couple of hundred hours on them including an instructors rating which included a lot of stalling, steep turns and spinning. The flight out in winter twilight conditions went well with the skipper leading the way in a loose line abreast. We were met with snow mobiles and enjoyed a real Swiss goulash. The three of us then went playing on snow mobiles each with one of our hostesses clinging to our waists.

On the way back we were moose and bear spotting below 500ft AGL with me on the left and slightly behind the other two. I spotted a moose and rolled into a left steep turn so that the girls could see it.

Flat out to rejoin the other two aircraft I was in the 8 o clock position when the skipper rolled into a left orbit having spotted another moose. As a competition glider pilot standard turns are carried out with 40+ degrees of bank. Instinctively I rolled to the left and pulled but realised the error immediately as he disappeared under the nose. I tightened the turn up to the stall buffet.

Years later I was asked to join in a partnership to import Pipperstral aircraft and get a microlight instructors endorsement. Having flown the high wing Sinus with the French dealer and World champion I declined. The visibility in turns was awful and the thought of flying circuits with other traffic put me off.

One never knows what the other guy is going to do and flying outside of regimented procedures is dodgy imho.
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Old 17th Nov 2022, 19:56
  #162 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Schnowzer View Post
Looks like a classic join crash. Seen it nearly happen many times in fighter aircraft accompanied by raised heartbeats from all involved. It happens because of tunnel vision on aircraft joining, unfortunately the P-63 was pure pursuit on B-17 which means it had no lateral motion and believe it or not was probably hidden behind P-63 canopy bow until too late to avoid. Very sad. RIP
Yes, indeed - if the aircraft is in your field of view and isn't changing position as viewed through the canopy or windshield, you're on a collision course.
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Old 17th Nov 2022, 20:16
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As much as the money behind PPRuNe will hate this I think that we should all wait for the NTSB report.
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Old 17th Nov 2022, 20:17
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Schnowzer,
I will be willing to wager a lot of money that the P-63 wasn’t rejoining on the B-17. He was concerned with his position vis-a-vis the #2 fighter (Mustang) and never saw or was aware of the B-17’s position.
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Old 17th Nov 2022, 20:45
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Backgrounds and Visibility

Autumn days at my old glider club, white gliders on tow were easy to spot from above. You had to look quite hard to spot the red or yellow towplane even though you knew it was 200' ahead. They blended in very well with the autumn foliage.
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Old 17th Nov 2022, 23:43
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Originally Posted by PJ2 View Post
Yes, indeed - if the aircraft is in your field of view and isn't changing position as viewed through the canopy or windshield, you're on a collision course.
Hypothetical case unrelated to this accident - Two aircraft are flying parallel courses with lateral separation and the same speed. The trailing aircraft has the lead aircraft in a fixed position in the canopy. Are they on a collision course or is this routine formation flying?

Since aircraft on parallel courses with lateral separation cannot collide, and since the trailing aircraft has the lead in his field of view and in a fixed positon in the canopy, it's clear the simplistic statement quoted is false.









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Old 18th Nov 2022, 04:34
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Yes, indeed - if the aircraft is in your field of view and isn't changing position as viewed through the canopy or windshield, you're on a collision course.
Not my statement, but I know what was meant. Perhaps five words can be added to clarify the intention which now reads:

Yes, indeed - if the aircraft is in your field of view and isn't changing position as viewed through the canopy or windshield, and it's increasing in size, you're on a collision course.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 04:46
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We should wait until they retrieve the black boxes. Then we’ll have all the answers.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 06:11
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Since aircraft on parallel courses with lateral separation cannot collide, and since the trailing aircraft has the lead in his field of view and in a fixed positon in the canopy, it's clear the simplistic statement quoted is false
Being pedantic doesn't make the statement false in the context of this conversation, when I spent all my time flying trail with the other chap twenty feet in front we weren't on a collision course either.

If you see another aircraft maintaining a constant bearing you better keep an eye on it as you have no idea what track it is maintaining relative to yours.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 06:27
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Beat me to it! - thanks for the additional five clarifying words, FullOppositeRudder.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 11:22
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Originally Posted by Easy Peasy View Post
We should wait until they retrieve the black boxes. Then we’ll have all the answers.
? What black boxes does that refer to? These are §21.191 SAWC aircraft as far as I am aware, and they don't got black boxes.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 11:57
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Originally Posted by Richard of Oz View Post
The Airboss had briefed the fighters to stay high and bombers to stay low, with the option for the fighters to share the bomber altitude block if everything looked clear.
Isn't that equivalent to saying "You lot fly high and you lot fly low - d'ya hear? But not if you don't want to"? Not my idea of a sound safety brief.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 13:57
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Originally Posted by meleagertoo View Post
Isn't that equivalent to saying "You lot fly high and you lot fly low - d'ya hear? But not if you don't want to"? Not my idea of a sound safety brief.
Agree, it would have been wise to leave at least some 200' between bombers and fighters.

Pilots of both groups could also have questioned that call in order to reduce risks.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 16:16
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Originally Posted by DaveUnwin View Post
Torque, when you said "His experience level at dynamic display flying at low level in an 80 year old single seat fighter will emerge in due course, but will likely be low" you were well off the beam. Craig Hutain had a lot of experience flying machines like the P-63, P-40 etc.
That's interesting. If it turns out that he was in the wrong place, it makes the error harder to comprehend.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 17:34
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Originally Posted by EXDAC View Post
Hypothetical case unrelated to this accident - Two aircraft are flying parallel courses with lateral separation and the same speed. The trailing aircraft has the lead aircraft in a fixed position in the canopy. Are they on a collision course or is this routine formation flying?

Since aircraft on parallel courses with lateral separation cannot collide, and since the trailing aircraft has the lead in his field of view and in a fixed positon in the canopy, it's clear the simplistic statement quoted is false.
Well if you're going to be that pedantic, parallel lines DO cross ... at infinity
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 19:23
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These accidents always generate a lot of comments as to what went wrong. Everyone has `their` idea of how it happened. Of course, none of us know for sure.
Eventually the report will be published. Regulations will change how air shows are flown.
Truthfully, we will still be none the wiser as to why it really happened and powerless to stop the next. Such is the fickle nature of human frailty with an element of bad luck thrown into what is an extremely dynamic environment.
Air shows will continue.
The reality is another two aircraft and six people will be missing.

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Old 18th Nov 2022, 22:02
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There is of course a lot of debate and discussion on how/why this terrible incident occurred. The comment reference the Air Boss allowing the fighters to use the bomber levels "if everything looked clear" is surprising to me.
A lot of focus is on the few seconds prior to impact but I wonder if it all began to unravel much earlier, when the fighters (P51 P51 P63) were still heading south-ish and the bomber groups would have been more or less directly ahead and crossing right to left. If P63 saw the second bomber group and assumed it was the lead group his SA has gone and to all intents and purposes the airspace to his right and below "must be clear" as he tips in fast and wide.

I'd like to see the ADSB overlay for that second little group of bombers and how that fits in with where the fighters (P51 P51 P63) were.

I have done some flying but my thought process here stems from a mis-ident as a controller in a very busy visual circuit. It led me to make a mistake where the aircraft I was seeing downwind was not the one that had just called downwind.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 22:49
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Originally Posted by uxb99 View Post
These accidents always generate a lot of comments as to what went wrong. Everyone has `their` idea of how it happened. Of course, none of us know for sure.
Eventually the report will be published. Regulations will change how air shows are flown.
Truthfully, we will still be none the wiser as to why it really happened and powerless to stop the next. Such is the fickle nature of human frailty with an element of bad luck thrown into what is an extremely dynamic environment.
Air shows will continue.
The reality is another two aircraft and six people will be missing.
Not so. The aviation world has become much safer - since I was an air-minded child, and 707s, DC-8s, 727s and Tridents seemed to stoof in every other week, at traffic levels that were tiny compared to today - because we learn from our errors. Can we do a parade pass to bring history to the crowd, with upper and lower elements that don't try to swap places? Will the investigation find previous incidents where airplanes lost sight of one another, but mercifully not on a collision course? I'd say that's quite possible. Can we make specific changes without separating all airplanes by two miles and 3,000 feet? Probably.

The world in general and the air show circuit in particular should not see the loss of lives and historic, irreplaceable airplanes as the cost of doing business.
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Old 18th Nov 2022, 22:56
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Originally Posted by WING7 View Post
Agree, it would have been wise to leave at least some 200' between bombers and fighters.

Pilots of both groups could also have questioned that call in order to reduce risks.
Mentour says as much. If anything got out of synch then there was no room to manoeuver safely. It wouldn't look as good at greater vertical seperation but it would be safer.

Also, air show in the middle of a densely populated area?
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Old 19th Nov 2022, 03:24
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Originally Posted by fdr;[url=tel:11332845
11332845[/url]]? What black boxes does that refer to? These are §21.191 SAWC aircraft as far as I am aware, and they don't got black boxes.

That was a joke.
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