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Question: Pilots in Crashing Aircraft Avoiding People on the Ground

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Question: Pilots in Crashing Aircraft Avoiding People on the Ground

Old 22nd Feb 2019, 11:04
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Question: Pilots in Crashing Aircraft Avoiding People on the Ground

This may be a subject that is a bit distasteful and if the mods think it unacceptable they are welcome to delete it with my apologies.

A current thread marks a flypast for a crashed USAAF aircraft in 1944:

http://www.pprune.org/military-aviat...ast-ideas.html

I'm all for marking the efforts of our wartime ancestors, particularly in the air forces - my father was one of them.

However, I'm always a bit dubious about claims that pilots took steps to avoid buildings, kids in parks etc., so making them even more heroic, if that is possible. Indeed the whole premise of this Sheffield flypast seems to be based on this concept.

A similar thought was made by an eye witness in my father's plane crash - a Valiant - that the pilot tried to avoid him whilst he was working in a field. From what I can gather you can't see much out of the Valiant cockpit and further, the pilot will have been doing his best in trying to keep the plane in the air, dealing with all the problems of a failing machine.

My question is therefore, being realistic as opposed to romantic, are these scenarios likely? Or is it just that individuals like to embellish these incidents because of all the emotions involved?
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 11:15
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There was a crash of a civilian aircraft close to my home airport a few years ago. I won't go into details. Eye witnesses described the pilot as a hero for missing a school and this was widely quoted in the local press. The view of others with flying experience and the subsequent investigation was that the aircraft had entered a spin and the pilot had no height or indeed training from which to initiate a recovery. RIP.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 11:20
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Michael Sargeant comes to mind who had an emergency in a Spit at a show and found the emergency landing runway was full of spectators, he died trying to avoid them. Such a sad waste of life of a fine man let down by the organisers of the show.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ow-crowds.html

https://assets.publishing.service.go...PRXI_05-03.pdf

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=89964

Last edited by NutLoose; 22nd Feb 2019 at 15:08.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 11:48
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Hipper, you're right, this is a distasteful subject. Request removal by the Mods.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 11:58
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Why? yes it may been seen by you as distasteful, but pilots avoiding people on the ground and crashing does not always result in fatalities, after all, everyone learns from it being discussed and hopefully prevents it from happening again.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 12:40
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I'm always a bit dubious about claims that pilots took steps to avoid buildings, kids in parks etc., so making them even more heroic,
I agree, generally, but hearing the details of this particular story whereby the pilot was seen waving to the kids to try and get them to clear the landing site makes me believe that in this case he really did do all he could to avoid them.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 14:15
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Originally Posted by Hipper View Post

However, I'm always a bit dubious about claims that pilots took steps to avoid buildings, kids in parks etc., so making them even more heroic, if that is possible. Indeed the whole premise of this Sheffield flypast seems to be based on this concept.

My question is therefore, being realistic as opposed to romantic, are these scenarios likely? Or is it just that individuals like to embellish these incidents because of all the emotions involved?
Well I think I am qualified to reply as I was that pilot who avoided the old folks home whilst wrestling with the controls of a stricken jet. At least that is what was said. My citation in The London Gazette states: 'he resolved to delay such action (ejection) until clear of the ...suburbs' . Personally. I cannot really recall what was going thro my mind other than I had to get on the ground before I bled to death. Like most in this drastic situation one is dealing frantically with the emergency and not thinking too much about the old peoples home, even if you know that one was close. Actually, often after ejection, the aeroplane changes course set by the pilot and crashed where he least expected it to
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 14:58
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Was there a school within 50 miles? if not it's hardly worth a mention in the press.

Actually, often after ejection, the aeroplane changes course set by the pilot and crashed where he least expected it to

The one on Cornwall proved that

http://www.tintagelweb.co.uk/tintage...ne%20crash.htm
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 15:25
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I have written a series of books dealing with RAF losses (6600 fatal casualties and 9000 aircraft) since VE-Day. In studying reports there are frequent references to: 'the pilot was seen struggling with the controls' or 'the pilot sacrificed himself to avoid a school/hospital etc'. It is usually impossible to have any idea of what is going on in the aircraft and experience suggests that witness testimony is often 'fanciful' to say the least. That said, there can be no doubt that given time, opportunity and visibility a pilot would attempt to find the best place to put an aircraft down or to steer it to a safe heading (say towards the sea) before bailing out/ejecting. There are also known cases where a pilot has prejudiced his survival by trying to ensure his crew have cleared the aircraft before he leaves.

I know of one case of a pilot who had always said he would never leave until his crew were clear but come the great moment, he was the only one to attempt an escape.

This is an unhappy Thread but military flying has many risks attached to it and there is no point in trying to avoid considering it.

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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 16:00
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I think the usual term is "grappling with the controls" O-D. Never quite sure what that means. Any pilots on here ever grappled with the controls? Is it a technique taught at FTS?
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 16:26
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In days gone by many pilots watched wrestling on a Saturday afternoon.

Hence Ken Walton's famous expression: "Greetings, Grapple Fans!"
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 17:27
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Was it a budgie smuggler fetish?
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 17:32
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From the OP
However, I'm always a bit dubious about claims that pilots took steps to avoid buildings, kids in parks etc., so making them even more heroic, if that is possible.

Although not in the same vein as Sheffield I am drawn to BA 38 where Captain Birkill reduced the flaps from 30 to 25 to get more glide rather than dump it on the A30
As a dog walker I have twice had helicopters circle lower and lower over me have cleared out the way and it landed in the park . Both times the HEMS London one

Last edited by Kiltrash; 22nd Feb 2019 at 17:45.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 17:47
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You just dont know exactly where it will hit the ground.
I ejected over the wilds of the Cheviots but the jet still managed to find the farmyard of the only farm for miles around.

By the grace of god no one hurt, as kids had been playing in the farmyard minutes before.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 17:50
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Purely based on Simulator and practice emergency drill experience, when something goes wrong, you are suddenly very busy and very focused on establishing some salient facts:

1. Do you still have a modicum of flight control?
2. Do you have power or are you now a glider?
3. Are you on fire?
4. How likely is it that the answers to 1 through 3 will suddenly change to a less popular option?

Not ever having flown anything with Mr Martin and Mr Baker's option for express transport to the Board of Inquiry, getting on the ground usually dictates looking for a clear area. Depending on your height and speed, that normally means pointing towards what you perceive as a greenish (or blueish, if near a lake/coast) area rather than a greyish area, hopefully grass green, not tree green. As you get closer and lower, and assuming the answer to question 1 is still yes, you might begin to see wires, trees and other hazards, but if the answer to question 2 was no and question 3 was yes, you are probably committed to the spot anyway. Pilots have a healthy sense of self-preservation, so putting it down on a bowling green next to the orphanage might make for good Daily Fail headlines, but the orphans were probably not in the pilot's original landing assessment.

"Do I avoid the buildings if I can?" is a relatively straight forward question to answer. There are undoubtedly cases of stunning heroics and self sacrifice, but if you look at a set of Flight Reference Cards, under "Immediate Actions following Catastrophic failure" it does not (yet) say "Locate nearest Orphanage, Nunnery or Nuclear Processing Facility and land nearby, if possible set transponder code to Alert media, ensure flying suit badges are current".
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 18:07
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Originally Posted by Old-Duffer View Post
I have written a series of books dealing with RAF losses (6600 fatal casualties and 9000 aircraft) since VE-Day. In studying reports there are frequent references to: 'the pilot was seen struggling with the controls' or 'the pilot sacrificed himself to avoid a school/hospital etc'. It is usually impossible to have any idea of what is going on in the aircraft and experience suggests that witness testimony is often 'fanciful' to say the least. That said, there can be no doubt that given time, opportunity and visibility a pilot would attempt to find the best place to put an aircraft down or to steer it to a safe heading (say towards the sea) before bailing out/ejecting. There are also known cases where a pilot has prejudiced his survival by trying to ensure his crew have cleared the aircraft before he leaves.

I know of one case of a pilot who had always said he would never leave until his crew were clear but come the great moment, he was the only one to attempt an escape.

This is an unhappy Thread but military flying has many risks attached to it and there is no point in trying to avoid considering it.

Old Duffer
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 19:24
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I remember a comment made when I worked in Directorate of Flight Safety, when t'was located in Tavistock Square. "The pilot is usually: except in the PR9, the first to arrive at the scene of the accident".

Although no laughing matter, I recall the RAF Form 1180 (summary accident report), which said something like: ' the pilot appears to have decided to follow the railway line, which would have taken him towards his base and this he did at low level. Unfortunately, he overlooked the fact that the line ran through a tunnel.................' need I say more?

O-D
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 21:33
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I witnessed a forced landing where a private pilot experienced an engine failure over a heavily populated area. Perhaps against the odds, he found enough space to land in a park, avoiding damage to himself & passenger (his wife), the aircraft or anyone on the ground. Did he grapple with the controls? Don't think so, according to quotes, he went through the engine failure drills and they worked.
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Old 22nd Feb 2019, 21:52
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“Maverick is in a flat spin: he’s heading out to sea.”
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Old 23rd Feb 2019, 12:24
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I recall a quote from Chuck Yeager that most of these stories where fairytales because when SHTF „you don’t even get to look out the window“.
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