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Test flying the Winjeel in 1951

Old 14th Dec 2020, 13:27
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Test flying the Winjeel in 1951

With several Winjeels on the Australian civil aircraft register I thought their owners/operators would be interested in reading about the initial spinning trials that took place in 1951 before the aircraft was cleared for RAAF service. Having flown the Winjeel as a RAAF QFI in the 1950's, I have enjoyed reading a fine book "Testing Time" by test pilot John Miles, borrowed from the Civil Aviation Historical Society museum at Essendon. The book was first published in 1979.
Here is an extract:

"We then commenced aerobatic and spinning trials. The only trouble encountered was with spinning. The Winjeel spin was in many respects similar to that of the Meteor 7 which I had some experience with at Farnborough in 1950. The first few turns were like a series of nose down (about 45 degrees) flick rolls. Over a number of flights we gradually increased the number of spin turns. After two or three flights it was decided to allow the aircraft to spin for eight turns. After five turns the aircraft spin became very steep, nose down accompanied with an alternating yaw. Recovery was difficult.

Normal spin recovery is effected by a stick forward movement and centralising of the rudder. With the Winjeel though, the elevator had locked in the up position (the stick back), and some 200 lbs stick force was required to obtain forward movement. Jim Wilson and I between us managed to break the elevator lock and after spinning from 16,000 feet, regained flight at about 1,400 feet. The stick force indicator failed to operate at over 200 lbs forward pressure mark. All other aerobabtic trials were satisfactory; loops, half rolls off the top, half rolls with dive recovery, slow rolls, hesitation rolls with relative high speed 140 knots at entry, etc.

Later spin trials proved that relatively easy recovery from the spinning attitude would be comfortably effected by initial use of anti-spin aileon control. C.A.C. effected modifications to the tail control surfaces. In the end, all rudder and elevator problems were solved and the Winjeel became a very fine training aircraft. It served the RAAF well, being used as its elementary trainer for some 25 years."
............................................................ ............................................................ .........................

I first flew the Winjeel at RAAF Central Flying School, East Sale on 8 December 1955 with Flight Lieutenant Randy Green, a CFS instructor. That aircraft was A85-404. We did spins, aerobatics and circuits. That same day I flew A85-404 with Flight Sergeant Ron Bastin on mutual practice and the next day two more Winjeel flights this time with Flying Officer Dal Oswald and Flying Officer Bob Baddams. December 1955 was a busy time for me at CFS when I flew the Wirraway, Winjeel, Lincoln, Mustang and single seat Vampire Mk 31. In later years Randy Green became a test pilot and he and I remained friends for many years.after we had both left the RAAF.

Eight turn spins were the norm when training student pilots on the Winjeel. Entry was at 8000 feet with crossed controls - rudder in the desired direction of spin and anti-spin aileron. A stable spin ensued and recovey after eight turns was normal. Failure to use anti-spin aileron at spin entry caused the Winjeel to enter a steep spiral dive instead of a low speed spin.

In October 1956 a Winjeel crashed at Canberra. The instructor was Flying Officer Jack Mcarthy a very popular flying instructor from RAAF No 1 Basic Flying Training School based at Uranquinty NSW. The Court of Inquiry was unable to find the cause of the accident although it was speculated he may have been practicing spin recoveries in cloud with another pilot based at Canberra. There was an aerodrome height difference of some 1200 feet between Canberra and Uranquinty which may have been a contributory factor. An RAF test pilot, Flight Lieutenant Sutherland from the RAAF Aircraft Research & Development Unit (ARDU) at Laverton, flew to Uranquinty to flight test all Winjeels for their spin characteristics in case there was a "rogue" spinner among them. Each Winjeel was spun eight times to the left and eight turns to the right . No abnormal spinning characteristics were found. I accompanied the test pilot on two of these flights. Some student pilots were quite apprehensive of spinning in the Winjeel. This was to be expected as eight turns could cause disorientation. Eventually with more time on type their apprehension soon faded.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 23:16
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Thanks for that, Centaurus. I was on the 3rd last Winjeel course and there is no doubt that it was a better trainer than the CT4 that replaced it.

Amongst the numerous aircraft that were used for apprentice training at RSTT, RAAF Wagga in the 1970’s was a prototype Winjeel which had the vertical tailplane mounted further aft. The CAC changes to tail control surfaces to improve spin handling characteristics was obviously the reason why the production aircraft had the vertical tailplane mounted further forward.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 23:23
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The prototype required moving the fin/rudder forward to achieve satisfactory spin qualities. Photos of the prototype before and after mod.




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Old 15th Dec 2020, 00:36
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Very interesting thread!, was the reason the tail was moved forward due to the aggressive spin? as I have read elsewhere it made it almost impossible to spin (the CA22)
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 00:37
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Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post
Having flown the Winjeel as a RAAF QFI in the 1950's, I have enjoyed reading a fine book "Testing Time" by test pilot John Miles, borrowed from the Civil Aviation Historical Society museum at Essendon. The book was first published in 1979.
A great book, I see that my copy was signed by the author.

Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post
C.A.C. effected modifications to the tail control surfaces.
Henry Millicer told us that he came up with the revised tail design after CAC sought his advice. Henry had worked at Percival on the design of the piston Provost so compare the tails Percival Provost - Wikipedia

Interesting also to compare the Provost with the Airtourer overall.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 02:47
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Centaurus and Co.
Could you send all this over to the GA/ Pvt thread...Winjeel flyers should be very interested.
As I was ...! on endorsement..never a mention of spin chararacteristics



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Old 16th Dec 2020, 11:02
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I wonder when the acronym for the Winjeel pre-takeoff vital actions was thought up?

"Try tickling Mary's poor fanny for she is having hairy c**** trouble"
Trims - elevator neutral, rudder 5 deg right; Throttle, friction set; Mixture - full rich; Prop - full increase; Flaps - takeoff; Fuel - selector ON, check contents, boost pump on, check pressure; Switches - as required; Ignition - mags both; Hatches - closed and locked; Harness - locked and tight; Controls - full and free; Throttle - open to full.

First learned in 1969, still burned into the brain. Wish I could remember where I put that new knife sharpener...
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 11:25
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Thanks for another good story, Centaurus. A minor point but I think you'll find that crash that killed Jack McCarthy was in September '56.

Separately, any insights into the 1988 crash at Williamtown that killed Paul Carter and the young bloke he'd taken up for a ride?
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 14:03
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One of the most amazing sights I witnessed as a QFI was at RAAF Base Uranquinty in 1956. There had been a couple of fires in the engines of Winjeels that occurred while the aircraft were inverted with negative "G" during slow rolls. I can't remember the technical details because it was a long time ago. If a fire occurred students were instructed to turn off the fuel cock and the fire would go out. Meanwhile a directive to all pilots stated that until the defect could be rectified all aerobatics were to be conducted over the aerodrome and if a fire occurred the aerodrome was in gliding distance for a forced landing. Now the following description of events will sound implausible but in the meantime take my word for it.

I was having coffee in the air traffic control van situated mid field when a Mayday call was heard by the instructors sitting in deck chairs at the van known as the Pie Cart. . We all looked up and saw a Winjeel flying overhead trailing a thin trail of smoke. The student flying the aircraft was Trainee Pilot Paul Colbey of No 27 Pilots course. He was flying solo having been authorised for an aerobatics sortie over the field by his instructor Flying Officer Tom Larkey. Colbey announced he was on fire and was baling out. Tom leapt to his feet and grabbing the microphone in the ATC van, told Colbey to turn off the fuel cock. It is probable that Colby had already done that as the smoke trail stopped almost immediately.

The next we saw was a small dot leaving the Winjeel which by now appeared to be in a stable glide. We watched the dot fall until a parachute opened at about 1000 ft and disappeared from view behind a small wood about a mile from the airfield. Colbey had baled out leaving the Winjeel to fly itself solo. He had baled out about 3000 feet. He must have trimmed for the glide because the Winjeel began a lazy circle while descending. Those of us at the Pie Cart were concerned the Winjeel might crash somewhere on the airfield and we prepared to run away from the final direction of the gliding Winjeel. The problem being we hadn't a clue where the Winjeel would prang.
We could see the Winjeel gliding in the direction of the village of Uranquinty situated half a mile from the airfield. Soon after, the Winjeel still gliding at a gentle angle nosed into the back yard of someone's house in the village. There was a flash of flame at impact but the flame extinguished itself in a few seconds.

We grabbed a jeep and raced to Uranquinty village expecting to find chaos. We found the Winjeel in the backyard with no fire visible and no one hurt much to our relief. Now this is where I must be careful not to embellish the story because I am relying on my personal recollection of an event of 64 years ago. My recollection was the Winjeel was on its nose, not badly damaged apart from scorch marks and amazingly with the canopy intact.

Meanwhile Trainee Pilot Colbey had landed safely under his parachute and had been picked up and taken to the unit hospital. He was asked how he managed to bale out without first jettisoning the Winjeel canopy? I wasn't there when he was interrogated so the following is my understanding of what he told them. He said smoke had appeared in the cockpit while he was doing aerobatics. He turned off the fuel cock but smoke was still there so he decided to abandon ship. First he tried to jettison the canopy by pulling the jettison handle situated between and slightly behind the two pilots seats. He was a short person and found himself unable to reach the jettison handle as he had to reach backwards to grasp and pull. He stated he then unstrapped himself from the left hand seat and squeezed across to the right hand seat from where he was able to raise his legs and kick out the left pilot seat sliding window. He got out through that window.

Now this is where my recollection could be in doubt but I am certain that next day Colbey was asked to demonstrate his bale out action by putting him into a Winjeel (on the ground of course) and replay how he kicked out the sliding window as climbed out in all his gear and parachute strapped to his bum. I understand he was unable to replicate how he got out. I can understand that as the sliding window is very small and almost impossible to imagine a child going through that small space let alone a pilot with a parachute attached.

Certainly I could not recall a canopy falling from the Winjeel during the period before he was seen to bale out. One of these days I would like to read the official Court of Inquiry of that accident and compare my recollections to the facts.. If anyone reading this acount could tell me how I could find the accident investigation report please let me know as the story sounds so implausible. I believe Paul Colbey eventually joined TAA and was entitled to wear the "caterpillar" badge as someone who saved their life by using their parachute.

Last edited by Centaurus; 16th Dec 2020 at 14:18.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 00:57
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Centaurus,

My father, Ian Reese, joined No.1 B.F.T.S. at Uranquinty in April 1956, starting in Winjeels. Instructors in his log book include Turner, Green, Josselyn, Cramp, Hindley, Fookes, Newham, Mann, McCarthy, Larkey, Weymouth, Price, and Wing Commander Bolitho. My father has now slipped the surly bonds of Earth, so any stories you have of those times would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Nick Reese


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Old 17th Dec 2020, 01:42
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any insights into the 1988 crash at Williamtown that killed Paul Carter
The only info to be gleaned is loss of control during a PFL. Pity our military doesn't make available accident reports.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 02:34
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I tell you what Centy - IF you ever slip the surly bonds of earth for the great back bar in the sky, you and your valuable and interesting stories will be terribly missed. I say IF, because despite your age, you're still looking healthier than a Brahman Bull.

Keep the stories coming.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 03:32
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Thanks. Worthwhile swap over
megan, re military
Not sure if they still do, but when I was an aspiring PPL trainee I used to wag it from school and spend long hours in the Library on North Terrace, Adlaide absorbing the piles of Crash digests of the USAAF and US Navy.
Such was the state of neurons in those days I could remember some interesting accidents, fatal and otherwise.
A couple that are still stuck there. Formation paIr of Crusaders approaching to land at an airfield, lost sight of each other in the finals turn. A main wheel of the higher one penetrated the canopy of the lower one and broke the pilot's neck. The upper guy landed ok after the bump only to find he'd been invoved in the death of his wingman .
F104 to depart on a cool desert morning. The pilot did his t/o distance calcs for all the existing parameters at that time. Serviceable issue delayed departure until afternoon when wind, temperature all changed .No revised data.! Take off distance required had hefty bank deficit in red before blast off, only to never get airborne and spear off into the scrub, wrongly.. Early models had a downwards ejector seat ! Bummer !!

The good old Safety Digests produced by BASI were really "gold" To learn by the mistakes of others.. Amen
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 01:32
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aroa, in a previous life the USN "Approach" magazine was avidly read and is available on line here.

https://safety.navylive.dodlive.mil/approach-magazine/

And the RAAF "Spotlight" magazine, rather than accident investigation is "I learned about flying from that" tales.

https://www.defence.gov.au/DASP/Medi...blications.asp
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 03:42
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And don't forget the compulsory reading of C.R. Terror and his exploits in the USAF transport command crash comics. Make me a Terrortini, please!
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 14:00
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And the RAAF "Spotlight" magazine, rather than accident investigation is "I learned about flying from that" tales


Nowadays, Spotlight is all flashy graphic design and bright colours. It's called 'progress.' In mid 1969 I was posted to RAAF DFS at Depair Canberra and among other jobs wrote Spotlight magazine and Crash Critiques which were sent to all RAAF bases. It was mostly text with occasional black and white photos to illustrate a story. Crash Critiques consisted of around 25 pages and centred around the nitty gritty of the accident. No such thing as graphic design and no special qualifications were needed to be the editor. We were GD Officers - GD meaning General Duties. Jack of all trades - Master of none, comes to mind.

I joined DCA Head Office at 188 Queen Street Melbourne in October 1969 and was alloted a tiny windowless office and told to sit there and swot Air Navigation Orders unless called upon to record Minutes of the occasional meeting. Soul destroying stuff and I bitterly regretted leaving the RAAF. I then discovered that DCA had a huge reference library a few floors up from my level. There I found an absolute goldmine of flight safety publications from all over the world including military publications. "US Navy Approach" magazine, USAF Military Air Command Flyer (MAC Flyer), RAF Air Clues, as well as hundreds of popular aviation magazines such as USA Air Facts Journal, and Flight International. Add to that were rows upon rows of aviation books.

Many of the magazines were multiple copies which I quietly liberated and snuck out of the library with the odd magazine hidden under my coat. Today.these magazines are in digital form by subscription. I had them free at 188 Queen St. In 1976 I joined Air Nauru and took these magazines with me and gave them to our crew room in the Nauru Menen Hotel next to Anabare Bay where a lone Chinaman could be seen each day perched on a pole with his fishing rod and the sea swirling around him at high tide.

From these magazines I would steal articles and reproduce them into an Air Nauru Flight Safety Monthly bulletin. One of the magazines in the DCA library was a Briish Airways Flight safety monthly bulletin. In those days BA had Boeing 737-200 aircraft and with so many of them there was a vast pond of incidents which could prove useful for Air Nauru 737 and 727 crews. Accordingly I contacted the editor of the BA magazine and offered to send him copies of our Air Nauru flight safety magazine in exchange for his magazine. I omitted to mention our flight safety magazine was a five page roneo copy that I threw together when on the island.

Soon after I began to receive the monthly summary of BA incidents sent to my personal post office box at Nauru. This information from British Airways flight safety department proved invaluable to our flight crews. After all Air Nauru had only five Boeings and very few incidents compared to BA with a hundred or more and thus a wide range of incidents. In the meantime during my regular week off back in Melbourne I would drop into DCA Head Office at 188 Queen Steet on a weekend when there was no staff around and say hello to the duty security guard whom I knew from my earlier times as an Airways Surveyor on the 5th floor of DCA HQ. He thought I was still with DCA because he would let me in the front door when I told him I was visiting the main technical library. I brought an empty brief case with me.

Once in the now silent library I would quickly visit the flight safety section and nick spare copies of the latest magazines from UK, USA, Canada, NZ and South Africa as well as the military stuff from these countries. Leaving the building with a bulging briefcase and a wave to the security man I would hop on a No 59 tram for my home near Essendon. These magazines would be borne to Nauru in my navigation bag to be distributed to our Air Nauru pilots via the crew room in the Menen Hotel. Who knows, maybe this was why Air Nauru was such a safe airline as there was enough flight safety reading material to last for years.

All good things must come to an end and that happened on the occasion a new security guard was on duty at 188 Queen Street when I turned up on a Sunday morning. I explained my presence and he accepted my story with some reluctance and let me into the building. I had been in the library for half an hour when I heard someone open the library door. I hid behind a pillar until I heard whoever it was go away. It could have been the security guard or even someone who worked in the library. Either way the game would have been up if they saw my bulging briefcase. I scuttled down the back stairs rather than take the lift and let myself out of the building without being seen.

When I told my wife about this she forbade me from ever taking such a foolish risk again. I saw her point of view and that was the end of the story. I rationalised by saying I only took spare copies and no one would notice. That little racket went on for several months before I realised the risks were too high of being caught in the act.

The years passed and when I left Air Nauru for a flying job in England in 1988 there were no takers among the pilots of Air Nauru to run the Air Nauru flight safety bulletin. I wrote to my friend in the flight safety department of British Airways to cancel my "subscription" to his magazine and thanked him sincerely for his kindness in sending the BA flight safety bulletin to this remote atoll in the Central Pacific and I would buy him a beer when I got to England. We met later at his office in Heathrow and I told him how much Air Nauru crews appreciated his generosity in sending his BA safety bulletin all the way from England especially as our own flight safety 'magazine" in exchange was nothing but a few pages on roneo paper.

That was when he showed me all our Air Nauru flight safety bulletins stacked neatly on a shelf in the Briish Airways flight safety library. It left me a bit teary, I must say.

Last edited by Centaurus; 18th Dec 2020 at 14:27.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 05:02
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Another top anecdote, Thanks a bundle ! ( of magazines)
Aahh Nauru. The little Republic a very long way from anywhere. A most relaxing of spots to sit on the wall of the Menen Hotel in the evening , with a coldie,watching the cu parade past on the trade wind, and the waves roll in from that vast Pacific. Magic and very pacifying.
The surveyor said "Welcome to the Alcatraz of the Central Pacific" when we landed there, but I found our 2 week 'incarceration'. fascinating. Narooted with the mining and a single frame from FL170 took in the whole Republic. And we just had to go north for a bit on climb to get a ahot of the GPS showing the equator.
This world should really be called Planet Water.
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Old 24th Dec 2020, 14:00
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Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post
With several Winjeels on the Australian civil aircraft register I thought their owners/operators would be interested in reading about the initial spinning trials that took place in 1951

"We then commenced aerobatic and spinning trials. The only trouble encountered was with spinning. The Winjeel spin was in many respects similar to that of the Meteor 7 which I had some experience with at F With the Winjeel though, the elevator had locked in the up position (the stick back), and some 200 lbs stick force was required to obtain forward movement. Jim Wilson and I between us managed to break the elevator lock and after spinning from 16,000 feet, regained flight at about 1,400 feet. The stick force indicator failed to operate at over 200 lbs forward pressure mark. All other aerobabtic trials were satisfactory; loops, half rolls off the top, half rolls with dive recovery, slow rolls, hesitation rolls with relative high speed 140 knots at entry, etc.."
............................................................ ............................................................ .........................

I.
Most impressive economy of words: commenced spin at 16,000 feet, regained flight at 1,400; >200lbs of force required. Doubtless many expletives etc also involved. Those guys deserve a medal for coolness under pressure.

Centy, thanks again for an interesting story, please keep them coming. I hope all's well with you in these difficult times.
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Old 3rd Jan 2021, 13:23
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Centy, thanks again for an interesting story, please keep them coming.
This may interest current and future Winjeel owners. In June 1961, RAAF Winjeel A85-433 crashed at RAAF Base Point Cook. Both occupants initially survived the impact but were unable to escape the subsequent burning aircraft. . The aircraft took off from grass strip 13. At approximately 300 feet the instructor called ATC saying "Practice engine failure." Shortly after the call the aircraft entered an incipient spin possibly caused by the failure of the student to immediately lower the nose io a gliding attitude. During the attempted recovery from the incipient spin the aircraft had turned through almost 180 degrees and the wings were levelled just before impact back on the aerodrome.

The aircraft hit the ground albeit at a high rate of descent and caught fire. The landing gear collapsed at impact. The ignition source was thought to be the aircraft battery which broke from its mountings causing arcing. The fuel tank ruptuired at impact. Both pilots survived the impact . The instructor in the right hand seat was knocked unconscious when his shoulder harness failed. The student in the left seat was unable to open the canopy to escape.

The Unit Fire Rescue vehicle arrived at the accident within two minutes. Unfortunately due to a mis-selection by the vehicle driver of the various gears required to produce foam, the foam spray failed to operate. One fireman leapt on the port wing and tried to pull back the canopy which was locked closed from the inside. He was unable to move the canopy. For some reason he did not attempt to jettison the canopy off its rails by actuating the emergency jettison lever situated on the outside of the fuselage on the port side. Instead he thought the canopy could be slid back by the pressing of a small button situated on the outside of the fuselage adjacent to the left pilot position.

At the subsequent Court of Inquiry, the fireman explained he had often seen pilots opening the canopy using this small button. He was unaware that if the canopy was locked closed from the inside of the cockpit the button would not unlock the canopy. The only way to open the locked canopy from the outside was to pull an emergency jettison handle situated on the outside of the port fuselage near the rear of the canopy. This handle was painted with red and white stripes. Asked if the Point Cook Fire crew had ever practiced extracting pilots from a Winjeel where the canopy had been locked from the inside, the answer was no.

The Court of Inquiry investigated the cause of the failure of the instructor's shoulder harness. It found that a modification intended to strengthen the main retaining bolt that anchored the shoulder harness to the airframe, had not been carried out.

The crash was survivable yet three coincidences combined to cause the loss of life.

Human error in that the driver of the fire rescue vehicle had problems with the 13 gear selections needed to produce foam. Human error in that the fireman trying to rescue the two pilots was unfamiliar with the aircraft canopy emergency opening mechanism. Human error in that a modification designed to prevent potential shoulder harness failure had, for some reason, not been carried out.

Last edited by Centaurus; 3rd Jan 2021 at 13:57.
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Old 4th Jan 2021, 03:19
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Regards the Williamtown one in 1988 with PC and passenger, this may not be fully correct or perhaps just rumour control, but my understanding was that the PFL pattern being flown was a circular one (unlike the rectangular pattern used by CT4s at 1FTS, for example) during which a frequency change to tower was required. The implication was that having to look in for the freq. change while in the turning glide led to loss of airspeed and a stall with wing drop - unsure if there was partial flap down at the time, and not having flown the Winjeel I can't vouch for it but again was of the understanding that they could drop a wing fairly well during the stall.

As noted, this is just what I remember of being told or possibly of reading some version of the accident report - apologies for inaccuracies.
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