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Steve Fossett missing - Final NTSB Report

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Steve Fossett missing - Final NTSB Report

Old 11th Jul 2009, 02:45
  #241 (permalink)  
LH2
 
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I haven't read the NTSB report, and only skimmed over recent posts to see if I was taking this out of context, but...

400 ft per minute downdraft would not make the aircraft uncontrollable. Turbulence might. But all he had to do to avoid a crash was turn away.
...with any mountain experience at all (and the gentle rolling hills of Scotland don't count ) you would realise you've just described the typical day out which ends with bits of brain splattered all over the granite. To wit:

400 ft per minute downdraft would not make the aircraft uncontrollable
-400fpm (approx. -2m/s) is very bad news at high density altitudes, such as your typical summer mountain environment.

Turbulence might
Strong winds + mountains = rotors. Plenty of ways those can kill you, incl. losing consciousness following a sudden meeting of cockpit and skull.

But all he had to do to avoid a crash was turn away
One needs to appreciate that at high density altitude if you're lucky you've got 50% as much engine as at sea level, while at the same time you require a bigger turn radius. If you happen to be on a downdraft your available turning space will be reduced both horizontally and vertically, more so the longer you stay in the downdraft. Pulling a successful turn in the mountains requires experience, but that same experience will usually stop you from getting into a situation where you need to contemplate that sort of thing. I can remember two recent accidents (within the last 18 months) where non-mountain pilots and their passengers got killed just that way.

So yes, the conditions you describe can easily kill any pilot regardless of experience and no, you can't "just" turn away, because it doesn't work like that.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 02:56
  #242 (permalink)  
 
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Downdrafts

How can you have a downdraft at or near the ground?
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 03:14
  #243 (permalink)  
 
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This guy wasn't a novice, yet he appears to have made a novice mistake (apparently flying near the aircraft limits of performance near mountainous terrain).

There are some pilots for whom a mistake of this type is "out of character". I'd call this "out of character".

Downdrafts near the ground are very possible. The wind only goes horizontal at ground level because it has nowhere else to go. It does however have this swirling motion in the vertical plane if you could see it, which means there are updrafts at ground level, too.

"Inconclusive" doesn't mean there wasn't a plausible explanation. It just means that they couldn't find an obvious problem that could cause a crash.

I wouldn't rule out suicide. It happens.

ECAM Actions.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 03:15
  #244 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Milt View Post
Downdrafts

How can you have a downdraft at or near the ground?
I would have thought, in a mountainous area, a downdraft would be quite possible, ask a glider pilot. Please correct me if I'm wrong, just a thought.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 04:42
  #245 (permalink)  
 
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How can you have a downdraft at or near the ground?
Very easily, Milt, in the Sierra Nevadas.
Westerly winds more than thirty knots aloft, brings on some rather unusual conditions that you might not believe, in these mountains.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 09:31
  #246 (permalink)  
 
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I've done some high altitude flying in Utah and Colorado, and am well aware of the turbulence you can get. But I have never gone near a mountain in high winds, as opposed to flying in wide valleys. I find it easy to take aircraft climb performance and handling into account. I'm just naturally chicken. The highest I've flown close to the ground is 12,000 ft, in very calm conditions.
Fosset didn't spin in. If conscious, I would risk a spin rather than fly into an upslope at high speed, without even rounding out.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 11:02
  #247 (permalink)  
 
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I've spent thousands of hours close to the terrain in that region, and considerable time close to the terrain in the area that the crash reportedly occurred. Frequently within 15 feet to 100 feet of the terrain, and nearly always in high winds, and much of it in light aircraft, as well as large airplanes, turboprops, pistons, and turbojets.

Shears, severe to extreme turbulence, rotors, downdrafts, and updrafts can not only put an airplane into the mountain, but can separate it in flight.

Those who question Fossett's competence or his need or right to be there do so in ignorance, and should be immediately discounted as without credibility. How would they know?
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 13:02
  #248 (permalink)  
 
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Those who question Fossett's competence or his need or right to be there do so in ignorance, and should be immediately discounted as without credibility. How would they know?
That may well be true .. .. .. as would flying wihtin 15 feet of the terrain.

We know you have Sky God status but best to keep it to yourself on a thread such as this old chap.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 13:29
  #249 (permalink)  
 
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I thought there was also poor visibility or IMC conditions...or perhaps this isn't correct.

Poor vis and downdrafts and turbulence with significantly reduced performance would be v difficult to get away from.
I do wonder how someone with his experience put himself in this position. As far as I know, he was out for a jolly and not trying to get somewhere.

Still many un-answered questions.

ZA
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 13:46
  #250 (permalink)  
 
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 13:58
  #251 (permalink)  

 
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I was flying in that general area a month or so ago, and the turbulence was pretty bad. One minute we'd be going up at 1250 fpm with no throttle on, trying to maintain < Va, the next we'd be coming down at 800 fpm at full power with the stall warner chirping away...8500', DA40-180.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 14:12
  #252 (permalink)  
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SNS3Guppy

"Frequently within 15 feet to 100 feet of the terrain, "

In a helicopter I hope.

What were you doing this close to the ground?
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 15:23
  #253 (permalink)  
LH2
 
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"Frequently within 15 feet to 100 feet of the terrain, "

In a helicopter I hope.

What were you doing this close to the ground?
Mountain flying, probably leisure, or airborne geophysics, or maybe firefighting, or SAR, or military.

Note that the terrain clearances mentioned could equally be vertical or lateral. E.g., One (and perhaps the only) way to cross a col might be to catch rising air flowing next to the slope (orographic or anabatic lift). Also, if you think you might need to do a 180, you get as close to one side of the valley as possible (the downwind side usually) in order to leave as much room as you can towards the turning side.

btw, I concur with the spirit of SNS3G's last paragraph in his previous post, as mountain flying is an entirely different discipline compared to "normal" flying. It's a bit like questioning what was a seaplane pilot doing so close to the water, or what was an aerobatics pilot doing flying inverted.
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Old 11th Jul 2009, 15:54
  #254 (permalink)  
 
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That might all be so except for the mention of much of it being in light aircraft .. .. .. not the best vehicle for the purposes you mention, notwithstanding the 15 foot of terrain clearance.

I think the gentlemen erm enjoys a little exaggeration shall we say.

Still always enjoy his posts.
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