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-   -   when fate almost kills you! (https://www.pprune.org/accidents-close-calls/562577-when-fate-almost-kills-you.html)

WestWind1950 7th Jun 2015 09:48

when fate almost kills you!
Some of you may remember me as a once quite active ppruner, my flying life is in Germany. I have had the luck/privilege of meeting some ppruners, especially those who took part in the once well known "pink headset" thread. :D

I had a bad airplane accident on March 3, 2013. The pilot died of his injuries----I survied (when you see the pictures.....you wonder that they rescued me at all). I'm now sitting in a wheel chair, all interest in flying is gone. The pilot was very experienced and had won many competitions As a former flight instructor I feel I should have seen the accident coming and done something, anything to avoid it. I have absolutely NO memory of the accident.....odd, but true :ooh: After the accident I was in a coma for about 3 weeks, probably good that I don't remember anything.

The plane was a simple SF25 power glider.



pictures will get added later.......I have to upload them first. sorry

oddly, I was once very good with computers, but now I can't even upload photos properly....darn!


Pace 8th Jun 2015 12:51


An awful experience for you to have to go through and may I add have to live with.
I have lost seven friends in flying some very good and careful pilots so it is a possibility we all have to live with.
When the accident reports come out I think as pilots we all like to think the pilot was an accident waiting to happen and the aircraft a load of flying scrap as that makes us able to push the accident to the back of our minds.

When it happens to a good pilot in a good aircraft it makes us aware of our own vulnerability.

Having come to flying from car racing where there was also a risk factor probably worse in those days than flying you hav ego accept that risk or take up something else. The same can happen in a car accident on normal roads but we all still drive our families and loved ones.

I am very sorry that this one bit you so hard


Pilot DAR 8th Jun 2015 14:51

What a horrifying experience Westwind, particularly in such a "gentle" aircraft. I see them flying when I work in Germany, and have often pictured them as very serene, it's hard to picture one hitting hard.

There have bee a few times when things have been going wrong, I have asked myself: "Is this what it feels like just before you have a life altering accident?" Happily, I have never found out first hand, but I've been there second hand a few times....

We welcome any wisdom you can offer to the group.....

mary meagher 9th Jun 2015 08:49

Westwind, can you refer us to the accident report? (hopefully in English?)

We use a Falke motor glider at Shenington Gliding Club. I am a retired instructor and tug pilot, but NEVER got happy with the Falke, or for that matter with the more modern motor glider I tried to manage in the US....the requirement, if you wished to restart the engine airborne, to FEATHER/UNFEATHER the prop, and DIVE to start it!. I was too feeble to feather or unfeather, and I didn't like the idea of having to dive to start the engine. This was a Grob motor glider.

So for me I much prefer either a power plane, OR a glider. And the Falke is very very feeble as a power plane, and not a very good glider either, though it gets a lot of use at our club, I am still uncomfortable every time I see it struggling to takeoff.

Derek Piggot recommends the Falke or other motor glider for the basic glider training of takeoffs/landings. I don't like it for that purpose either, you are seated side by side rather than tandem. And it makes too much noise!.....

John Farley 9th Jun 2015 09:23

So sorry WestWind

Hope this helps others re background info- from Googling the registration.

Type: Silhouette image of generic SF25 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Scheibe SF 25C Rotax Falke
Owner/operator: Flugsportclub Aschaffenburg
Registration: D-KTIC
C/n / msn: 44555
Fatalities: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities: 0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: 0,2 km from Aschaffenburg Airport (EDFC) - Germany
Phase: Approach
Nature: Private
Departure airport: Aschaffenburg Airport (EDFC)
Destination airport: Aschaffenburg Airport (EDFC)

A Rotax 912 powered motorglider Scheibe SF 25 C ("Rotaxfalke") returned from a local scenic flight, when the plane crashlanded 200 m short of the threshold into a muddy (wet & ploughed) agricultural field.

Local media reports, that the flight took place as this was the first sunny day in a long time.

Both occupants were trapped in the wreckage for apx. an hour before they could be extracted by local fire brigade using hydraulic rescue equipment.

Both casualties are in serious condition, the 82 year old male pilot was airlifted by a rescue helicopter to Frankfurt University Trauma Center, while his 63 year female passenger was rushed with a second medevac-chopper to the district hospital Aschaffenburg.

Flying conditions were perfect, the visibility more than 50km, the wind virtually clam.

Pace 9th Jun 2015 23:15


I really hope you are OK? i cannot imagine how you feel as no one can who has not been through such an ordeal and left in a wheelchair 2 years later could possibly understand the emotions you have been through.

I would really rather know how you are what state you are in and whether there is light at the end of the tunnel for you ?

It is a very brave thing you have done posting this and well you just got me thinking ???

Hope you are OK


WestWind1950 10th Jun 2015 08:47

John. that's a very good translation and sum of what it was all about.

Yes, we were on a normal scenic flight. The pilot was more of a glider pilot then motor pilot, and had over 8000 hours,....he always shut the engine off. I do know he had intended to "go around" which obviously didn't work, I don't know why not. The official accident reports (sorry, in German only) mention there was no technical problem and he was healthy (there was no heart attack or other issue).

We had flown a similar flight in November 2012, which was more then 90 days which means, he didn't have his 3 take-offs and landings before our flight in March and, of course, I didn't check him for it.....no one did.

Mary, I got my first flight licence on a power glider in 1994....and never once since then did I shut off the engine! I, too, prefer having a motor running in front. Most of the flight training I did as an instructor was in C150's and such.


mary meagher 10th Jun 2015 09:09

Thanks for that, Westwind. The report may say there were no physical problems.

But the pilots age was 82. And he was highly experienced. I am also 82, and with more than 3000 hours, but I am uncomfortably aware that my JUDGEMENT and physical and mental abilities are not what they used to be.

Unless the German investigation reveals any shortcomings that were beginning to be noticed by the pilot's friends at the gliding club, deference may have inhibited anyone from asking "are you current? are you OK to fly with pax?"

Believe me, my friends at the gliding club have noticed my shortcomings of late, and don't hesitate to joke about it. Four years ago I stepped down from instructing or flying power, still fly gliders, but only with a safety pilot.

It should be the responsible thing for friends and colleagues to keep an eye on us old farts, and make sure that they realise there is a time limit on our abilities...though it is very hard to get the male pilot to admit he is not as sharp as he used to be.

John Farley 10th Jun 2015 13:21


I could not agree more. I am 82 as well and I cannot do all of those things that I feel pilots should be able to do as well as I could when I was younger – see, hear, think, remember, concentrate, run and so on. So I don’t fly – much as I would like to.

9 lives 10th Jun 2015 13:26

As I have fairly well mastered the basics of flying in GA aircraft, I look beyond to attempt to prevent other factors from spoiling things. I recognize "focus failure" as a risk which needs to be acknowledged, and actively avert it.

I first saw this in my 20's when I drove to work at Toronto International Airport during my airline flight ops days. My drive was 95% expressway, with only one stop sign, and one traffic light from my house to the parking lot. Many was the time I'd get to my office, and have zero recollection of the drive. Some other part of my brain drove the car there, 'cause it was not me! I can only hope that either that unknown part of my brain could handle anything, or else it could wake up the rest of my brain, in the case of an unexpected event. I'd had a half hour of total focus failure.

I have read lots on human factors, and recognize focus failure as a big risk. It has many different causes. I recall, while in the employ of a passionate and sometime emotional fellow, he was in a rage about something. I knew he was headed out the door to go and fly. I decided enough was enough, and stepped between he and the door. I asserted that he was not emotionally fit to fly. He stopped, paused, thought, and instantly calmed down. He said "you're right, I'll settle down before I fly". I let him pass, and problem perhaps averted.

I check myself against complacency, but on my horizon, I see the greater challenge imposed by age. I envy those who fly into their golden years, and hope to be one. But, I also admire pilots who have chosen to recognize failing focus, and take a less primary role flying.

I know nothing more about this sad event than that kindly presented by Westy (thank you), but it does seem to have elements of pilot incapacitation involved. Incapacitation is not always physical....

KNIEVEL77 10th Jun 2015 14:14

This is a very interesting thread and as a very low time student, I often think if I should be spending all of this money on a hobby, that if I make one wrong judgement, could ultimately cost me!
I'd be keen to find out, if in hindsight, you guys had wished you had never taken up flying in the first place?
Thanks in anticipation.

9 lives 10th Jun 2015 15:19

Flying, for me, was not a choice, it was a passion, it was going to happen to me no matter what. I started with an enormous bag of luck, and enough common sense to make up for having no experience. Now, I have lots of experience, 99.99% of it awesome, and not to have been missed, My common sense is still common, but I think I've spent most of my luck.

So now, with 40 very happy years behind me, I'm trying to put in place checks to be sure that I can truly enjoy the rest of my flying, and thereafter, be around to look back upon it with fondness.

I have seen the world, befriended excellent people with the same passion, and felt the air through the controls of 80 different types of aircraft, I would not have missed it for anything!

KNIEVEL77 10th Jun 2015 16:25

It has always been something I have wanted to do but I always wonder if I should take up a more sedate, less expensive, safer passtime as it is always in the back of my mind that this passion of mine could ultimately be my downfall.
Another reason why I don't ride motorbikes!

mary meagher 10th Jun 2015 16:54

Knievel, not riding motorbikes is very very sensible. Far more dangerous than flying!

You didn't tell us how old you are....I used to find that gliding students over the age of 60 had a very flat learning curve....and seldom achieve safe solo standard. I started flying at 50, with a background of sailing which helps.
And was lucky enough in 1983 to join Booker Gliding Club which at that time was very very good indeed, our Chief Flying Instructor became a World Champion. It was challenging to learn at an airfield tucked under the London Heathrow zone, and to fly gliders - airtow only! fitting in with the other users of that busy airfield, close to the M40 and High Wycombe....other users being two light aircraft clubs, and helicopters of every sort.

If you like spending money, why power flying is good at that. But I've done both, and Shenington gliding club is now my second family.

Step turn said he was able, in his 20's, to drive to his office on the motorway with his brain switched off...automatic pilot all the way. I still drive on automatic pilot, these abilities don't fade if you frequently follow the same route, even without a sat nav. Flying, however, requires your full attention. Encountering another aircraft midair can spoil your entire day....

KNIEVEL77 10th Jun 2015 16:59

Hi Mary,
I am 49 so more concerned about danger than in my earlier years.
There are so many stories of fully competent, experienced pilot having serious accidents that, as mentioned, makes me wonder if I'm doing the right thing starting to learn to fly, especially at the age I am at, or maybe I should just take up golf!!!!

Pace 10th Jun 2015 21:11


There is a saying that a man or woman has to do what a Man (or woman) has to do!
Life is full of risks. Risks of being hurt in relationships or being hurt in aeroplanes or loosing all your money in an investment venture.

The problem with risks are that usually the bigger risks the potential bigger gains and also the bigger losses

You can go through life directed by fear and lead a very boring flat life or you can feel the fear and do it anyway.

We all get our fingers burnt to some degree or other by stepping out of our comfort zone but that is the risk you have to take to richen your life.

Those are the choices lead a dull life or go for what you love and to hell with the consequences
The biggest accident rates whether in cars or skiing or whatever happen to young guys in their teens or early 20s hence why the insurance rates are so high for the young.

Even though this pilot was 82 it is jumping the gun a bit to determine that the crash was due to Old age and could be way off mark.

I lost 7 friends to flying some a lot better pilots than I.
One was 78 and a huge inspiration, second father and friend. In the last two years of his life he flew single pilot 32 ferries in beat up wrecks across the North Atlantic.
He crashed in Canada.I never knew such a young minded 78 year old with such a passion and zest for life

Give me people like him any day than the boring old farts who's high light of the week is a visit to the Doctor or watching television with a blanket over their legs some at 50 with bellies like pregnant women (( Think old and you will be old so if you can get your medical whether you are 40 50 60 or 80 and are lucky enough to be in good health fly for as long as the passion is there

Just make sure like me you have a good guardian angel )) and fly within your limits and you will be ok! if not ? If your cards are marked they are marked

Would you rather risk a shorter life as a Lion or maybe a shorter life thinking it will be a longer life as a sheep ?
Neither is guaranteed


9 lives 11th Jun 2015 03:11

Westy has caringly given us a first hand description of a very unhappy event. Such events are very rare. In some cases, they can be forecast, in a few cases, it is just fate - there's no way around it.

Everyone is different, find what lights your fire and follow it. It might be flying, it might be something else. Flying can bite, as can many other activities. Without getting into the "flying is safer than driving" discussion, I've been flying longer than I've been driving. I've never been involved in an aircraft event where anyone was hurt, or I could not repair the damage myself. But I've had three cars written off around me, and a few more damaged by faulty drivers. Last winter, my healthy, 49 year old CPL friend dropped dead of a heart attack without previous symptoms. That's got to be fate!

Decide what you like and do it safely. Learn the ins an outs, and practice. But sometimes, you had to step outside your comfort zone, to feel the rush. It can be a little rush, or a huge flood, whatever you need.

Last summer I landed my flying boat to camp on a remote lake in the Canadian north, 93 miles away from the nearest other person. I hiked up a waterfall, and enjoyed the serenity of desolation - that does it for me. There was a rush - if I buggered up that landing or takeoff, there would be really a really big problem. The rush was getting it right in challenging conditions. But, I put a lot of safeguards in place before I left. I believe in fate, and I believe in luck, and I work hard to provide both with the best chance of success!

Pace 11th Jun 2015 08:11

Step Turn )
I will have to come and see you and you can take me flying in that boat plane :ok: I have only been through Goose Bay a number of times but envy the lakes and freedom of flying boat planes that you have.

That is what its all about! Being able to fly over beautiful country select a lake, land and see places that would take you days to find.

Over here in the UK boat planes are so restricted that its not worthwhile but in the Italian lakes there is an excellent boat plane club tucked in the Alps. I am tempted to getting that rating ;)


9 lives 11th Jun 2015 14:53

Any time Pace...

My wife thought I was nuts, and she followed my progress with concern on the SPOT. Days4, 5 and 6 of the seven day trip are as follows (the SPOT file would not present the whole trip as one image).

I felt fate in many senses doing such a trip. Aside from a couple of legs with a buddy flying the same route, all the flying was just me. That makes you take stock of what's happening around you, and keeps your spidy senses tingling!

That is the point!

Some of the photos from that trip are on the first page of the "Photos of private flying" thread....


The whole trip was a "closer call" than normal flying for me, just because of remoteness. A simple problem gets big fast when you're alone, far from help...

Chuck Ellsworth 11th Jun 2015 22:30

Physical and mental deterioration with age is inescapable, unfortunately there is no set standard from individual to individual.

I retired at 70 an age I had decided upon as my own personal limit.

When I reached age 70 the people who I was flying for said you can't quit because of age because you still pass all your recurrent flight check's including an unrestricted air display license.

My answer was that is even better because I was not forced to quit because I was getting dangerous.

For me it was the correct thing to do because I had been flying commercially for fifty two years, that was long enough and I wanted to live a normal life free from having to do what others wanted me to do.

It will be ten years ago in October that I quit and if I had it all to do over again I would do the same thing.

As to physical reflexes I honestly see no difference now and ten years ago, I do however find I get tired easier when doing something that takes concentration like driving this motor home with a car behind it which is fifty eight feet long.

Today I got up at 6:30 AM and fired up the motor home and drove to a truck stop and bought fuel and water for making coffee, had coffee, drove two hours, had breakfast and here I am in Osoyoos B.C. at 2:30 pm in a really nice RV park watching TV with the air conditioners running and typing on this keyboard.

And I feel tired so I must be getting old. :)

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