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View Full Version : Festus MO NORDO crash


CBreezy
09-24-2018, 01:08 PM
AA pilot crashes and kills himself and son after losing electric in airplane. Unable to turn on the airport lighting late at night, he texts his fiance to bring a flashlight to the airport to help guide him to the field.

Festus is within 30 min of St Louis International, St Louis Downtown and a secondary executive airport, all VFR and all 24/7.

https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/father-and-son-killed-in-small-plane-crash-in-festus/article_8ae6adcb-fef5-55ec-a341-3868fa136bab.html#tracking-source=home-the-latest


USMCFLYR
09-24-2018, 01:43 PM
Another forum reporting he was an Envoy pilot.

In any case - poor ADM to try and use a person with a flashlight at the end of that runway. :confused:

Sad to hear of such an outcome.

JohnBurke
09-24-2018, 03:21 PM
I've done a lot of landings at night with a light, whether car lights or flare pots or hand held lights, to mark a landing spot. It's not that difficult and not dangerous. That said, with other options nearby and likely a host of lit runways in the region that don't require pilot intervention and probably aren't controlled, there's little excuse for not getting back on the ground in one piece.


galaxy flyer
09-24-2018, 04:57 PM
I've done a lot of landings at night with a light, whether car lights or flare pots or hand held lights, to mark a landing spot. It's not that difficult and not dangerous. That said, with other options nearby and likely a host of lit runways in the region that don't require pilot intervention and probably aren't controlled, there's little excuse for not getting back on the ground in one piece.

I doubt any AA or Envoy pilots had training or experience qualifying them for that kind of operation. If he could contact his fiancť, he could have landed at STL, BLV or Spirit.

GF

Stoked27
09-24-2018, 05:08 PM
Very sad outcome. I keep my handheld Icom in my flight bag every time I fly (still time-building, so I’m only in small GA planes). After I read this article I double-checked my battery and recharged it for good measure.

Am I the odd man out to always carry a backup or do other people do that too? I understand in the 121 world it wouldn’t be as necessary for a backup, but in GA I don’t know where I learned to be paranoid about always having a backup. I haven’t experienced a radio or electrical failure yet (only an alternator failure). Maybe that was it.

JohnBurke
09-24-2018, 05:14 PM
I doubt any AA or Envoy pilots had training or experience qualifying them for that kind of operation. If he could contact his fiancť, he could have landed at STL, BLV or Spirit.

GF

It looks like a Cessna...neither AA nor Envoy provides any training to fly a Cessna...but as pilots with experience outside of their respective airlines, they should certainly have been able to figure it out.

The father, in particular was an experienced pilot. According to the article referenced at the outset to this thread, "He served in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Iowa National Guard, flying medical evacuation helicopters. He also flew medical evacuation helicopters for the University of Iowa hospital.

He flew commercially for American Airlines after he retired from the military. He was an officer with the Missouri Commemorative Air Force."

https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/father-and-son-killed-in-small-plane-crash-in-festus/article_8ae6adcb-fef5-55ec-a341-3868fa136bab.html#tracking-source=home-the-latest

Very sad outcome. I keep my handheld Icom in my flight bag every time I fly (still time-building, so I’m only in small GA planes). After I read this article I double-checked my battery and recharged it for good measure.

Am I the odd man out to always carry a backup or do other people do that too? I understand in the 121 world it wouldn’t be as necessary for a backup, but in GA I don’t know where I learned to be paranoid about always having a backup. I haven’t experienced a radio or electrical failure yet (only an alternator failure). Maybe that was it.

Paranoid about an electrical failure? Having grown up in airplanes with no electrical systems, I find it hard to imagine what's so scary about not having a radio. It really isn't that big a deal.

When doing night landings, I always shut off the cockpit and landing lights and required students to do landing without. It would be a severe disservice to let a student go who wasn't prepared for that.

The father, an experienced military and medevac pilot, certainly had ample night experience and NVG experience landing in unlighted locations or minimally lit locations. While I doubt he had NVG's with him in this case, the ability to land with ground reference lights such as a car at the end of the runway or a flashlight, especially when one is talking to the other person, shouldn't be an issue...especially if familiar with the airport.

With other airports in the area that did have lights, landing would have been a non-issue. Even towered locations.

Perhaps what kept them away from the towered location was the inability to light up. If they didn't have enough battery left to que up the runway lights with radio transmissions, they probably lacked position lights, too, which would have meant that they couldn't even have garnered a light gun signal at a towered airport, as no one would see them. In that case, it would strictly have been see and avoid, and they may have ended up where they did because they didn't want to be in that situation. No way to ask them now.

Adlerdriver
09-24-2018, 05:21 PM
NY to MO is at least 700 NM (if we're talking western NY). Long way for a -150. Considering the time of the crash, maybe they were pushing it? Possible some bad fuel planning limited their options?
I know - don't speculate. Just trying to reconcile how one ends up blowing off some of the available surrounding airports.

Stoked27
09-24-2018, 05:41 PM
Paranoid about an electrical failure? Having grown up in airplanes with no electrical systems, I find it hard to imagine what's so scary about not having a radio. It really isn't that big a deal.

When doing night landings, I always shut off the cockpit and landing lights and required students to do landing without. It would be a severe disservice to let a student go who wasn't prepared for that.

The father, an experienced military and medevac pilot, certainly had ample night experience and NVG experience landing in unlighted locations or minimally lit locations. While I doubt he had NVG's with him in this case, the ability to land with ground reference lights such as a car at the end of the runway or a flashlight, especially when one is talking to the other person, shouldn't be an issue...especially if familiar with the airport.

With other airports in the area that did have lights, landing would have been a non-issue. Even towered locations.

Perhaps what kept them away from the towered location was the inability to light up. If they didn't have enough battery left to que up the runway lights with radio transmissions, they probably lacked position lights, too, which would have meant that they couldn't even have garnered a light gun signal at a towered airport, as no one would see them. In that case, it would strictly have been see and avoid, and they may have ended up where they did because they didn't want to be in that situation. No way to ask them now.

I guess paranoid is a strong word. I'm not afraid it's going to fail, it's not keeping me from flying in the slightest bit. My handheld is not on my personal MEL. Although just like keeping some spare batteries on hand, I would rather have my handheld with me rather than collecting dust at home. I was taught all through my PPL to land without the landing light and greatly preferred it so it didn't mess up my depth perception when the light hit the runway, but I've since become fine with both and it makes no difference to me. It took a different instructor after my PPL to make me get used to landing with the landing light. I've more-so considered having my handheld with me for "benefit" of communication purposes (not "necessity" of communication) rather than specifically for turning on the airport lighting at night after hours.

You speak about the accident pilot's experience, but I'm not Monday-morning quarterbacking this unfortunate event. I never suggested they needed to have a handheld, but as with reading about every accident it makes me ask myself... what would I have done in that situation?... and I concluded I would've reached for my radio. Then I realized, dang, I'm the only person that I know who keeps their radio in their bag. Even of the folks who I know that fly gliders and purchased their own radios. So maybe you'll say I'm being dumb, but I'll still keep my handheld in my bag instead of in a drawer at home. I'm sure my perspective will change if I get the opportunity to fly large jets, but right now flying solo day and night in beat-up rental airplanes while I'm still a low-time pilot I'd prefer to aim for being a "old pilot" before being an "old, bold pilot."

(To your point about how you grew up around airplanes... not everyone has had that luxury, so keep that in mind for other folks' ADM process)

JohnBurke
09-24-2018, 06:31 PM
It wasn't a luxury, it was earned, every second of it, cycling 30 miles each way in school to work all night scrubbing airplanes in the winter...so no, not a luxury. Some of us grew up that way because we did whatever it took to be there and worked our asses off doing it.

I have a handheld transceiver. I toted it all over the world, carried it in airplanes without electrical systems, small piston airplanes, turbine ag airplanes, and just bout everything else you can imagine, and came to the conclusion that as I never used it, not once, it was more dead weight. I originally bought it as a personal spare for some work I was doing in Iraq. Never used it there, either. I had plenty of blacked out landings, though.

I don't know the details of what this pair did or decided, but one of them had ample experience landing in the dark in places with little or no light and was no stranger to operations well outside typical airline operations. The decision chain may never be known for this particular incident, but I suspect that a certain amount of the logic will be evident when investigators examine the text conversation with the fiancť.

JamesNoBrakes
09-24-2018, 06:34 PM
Attempting something really opens the door to a lot of bad outcomes. Guy could have thought some other light/car was his wife and ran right into terrain because if it. It depends on the ambient light, light pollution, all sorts of stuff. Yes, this makes a good case for a backup transciever or 2nd battery powered backup GPS unit instead of a dual 530 stack.

CBreezy
09-24-2018, 08:43 PM
I doubt any AA or Envoy pilots had training or experience qualifying them for that kind of operation. If he could contact his fiancť, he could have landed at STL, BLV or Spirit.

GF

This exactly. He was low enough and in a dense enough area to contact any of the towers within 30 miles by cell.

To the guy who said it was too dangerous to go to a towered airport: As a radio equipped airplane without a functioning radio, you are an emergency aircraft. You do at a class d the same as you would at untowered. Observe traffic, enter the pattern and land. You can talk it over with tower once you are alive on the ground.

JohnBurke
09-25-2018, 04:38 AM
To the guy who said it was too dangerous to go to a towered airport:

Nobody said it was too dangerous. Read.

MrBojangles
09-25-2018, 04:45 AM
You have to believe fatigue was a big factor in this decision making. 2am after a lonnnng flight. Itís sad. I really hate seeing people die in avoidable situations

CBreezy
09-25-2018, 05:51 AM
Nobody said it was too dangerous. Read.

You did. You said they chose to try and land at a field without any lights over going to a towered airport because they can't be seen. You are insinuating that it was the more dangerous choice.

" If they didn't have enough battery left to que up the runway lights with radio transmissions, they probably lacked position lights, too, which would have meant that they couldn't even have garnered a light gun signal at a towered airport, as no one would see them. In that case, it would strictly have been see and avoid, and they may have ended up where they did because they didn't want to be in that situation"

JohnBurke
09-25-2018, 07:39 AM
You are insinuating that it was the more dangerous choice.


Speak for yourself. I'll speak for myself. Do NOT put words in my mouth.

Had I intended to say it was dangerous, or "the more dangerous choice," I would have done so. I speak VERY well for myself, thanks, and need no help from you.

To be clear; the only person here who has published that sentiment is YOU.

CBreezy
09-25-2018, 08:13 AM
Speak for yourself. I'll speak for myself. Do NOT put words in my mouth.

Had I intended to say it was dangerous, or "the more dangerous choice," I would have done so. I speak VERY well for myself, thanks, and need no help from you.

To be clear; the only person here who has published that sentiment is YOU.

Clearly you are confused with your own writing. When you come up with a hypothetical situation and then imply it was because of being unlit at night, having to see and avoid and unable to get a landing clearance, terms that are primarily associated with risk, then only to say they chose not to put themselves in that situation, you imply it was dangerous. In ADM and Risk Management, if you identify risks and then mitigate them by doing something incredibly risky, in your hypothetical situation, you propose that they didn't go to a towered airport because they were avoiding the risk of a collision. YOUR example makes landing at an unlit field using only a home flashlight as guidance the less risky (consults thesaurus) or dangerous choice. Your implication, not mine.

JohnBurke
09-25-2018, 09:25 AM
Clearly you are confused with your own writing.

No. I'm not confused at all. After all, I wrote it, bright spark.

You have a reading comprehension problem. Apparently a significant one. You won't leave it alone, and now the thread is about you, so lets...

When you come up with a hypothetical situation and then imply it was because of being unlit at night, having to see and avoid and unable to get a landing clearance, terms that are primarily associated with risk, then only to say they chose not to put themselves in that situation, you imply it was dangerous.

You have a language problem too, and some affection for the run-on sentence.

Implied nothing. Again, had I intended to say something, I would have. If you think you are remotely capable, attempt to speak for yourself, not for me. If you think it's dangerous, then say so, attribute the words to you, and be done. Do not attempt to tell me what I said; I didn't say it.

Again, I speak extremely well on my own behalf, without any need of your half-baked effort to the contrary.

The fact is that the crash happened at night. The fact is that the crash happened at an uncontrolled field. Controlled fields were available. Lighted airfields were available. The deceased did not avail themselves of those options. They lacked sufficient battery to use the radio to key the lights, and almost certainly lacked insufficient battery to illuminate position lights.

On that basis they may have elected not to attempt to visit an airfield where radio transmissions were required, or a busier field.

Not a damn thing about risk or dangerous in there. If you find it dangerous, or if you think that this is a reason they elected not to go to another field, then speak for your own self, own your own words, and stop trying to stuff your god damn words into my mouth. Do you think you can do that?

In ADM and Risk Management, if you identify risks and then mitigate them by doing something incredibly risky, in your hypothetical situation, you propose that they didn't go to a towered airport because they were avoiding the risk of a collision.


No, again, bright spark, I did not say that.

YOU JUST SAID THAT.

I didn't say a damn thing about a collision. READ.

If you wish to make a post and say something, then do it. Stop beating around the bush, speak for yourself, make your own statements, and move on.

Your implication, not mine.

I implied nothing. You have difficulty reading and comprehending, perhaps even walking and chewing gum, but there's no implication: you've repeatedly told me what I said, attempted to prove it by quoting it, and have been equally wrong on both counts. Now, if you think yourself capable, speak for yourself.

YOUR example makes landing at an unlit field using only a home flashlight as guidance the less risky (consults thesaurus) or dangerous choice.

Again, you have some real difficulty with perception and comprehension.

Try to wrap your head around this if you can: the deceased made the decision to land at an uncontrolled field, with a flashlight for a reference. They paid for this decision with their lives. This fact is sealed in blood.

I did not determine it to be more or less risk. They made their choice. We don't know their rationale, as I have said. READ. They're dead. We have no way to know.

They MAY have decided not to use the controlled field for lack of a radio. We don't know. I have said this. READ. They're dead. We have no way to know.

We do know what they did decide to do, because it killed them. They're dead. This much we know.

At no point have I cited risk; this is your decision, and something which you can't admit.

So far as the mishap goes, the issue of whether they should have chosen a lighted controlled field or an unlighted uncontrolled field is largely irrelevant, save for their death. Had they stopped and waited to continue in the daylight, instead of pursuing cross country flight in a single engine piston powered airplane, this would be an academic question that would never have been asked.

Proper airmanship would have been to wait for daylight. In a single engine airplane with one generator and one vacuum source, one engine, and no way to see to make a forced landing, good airmanship dictates waiting for daylight.

I just said that. Pick it apart if you wish, but try it in your own words, and don't add any to mine.

CBreezy
09-25-2018, 10:51 AM
No. I'm not confused at all. After all, I wrote it, bright spark.

You have a reading comprehension problem. Apparently a significant one. You won't leave it alone, and now the thread is about you, so lets...



You have a language problem too, and some affection for the run-on sentence.

Implied nothing. Again, had I intended to say something, I would have. If you think you are remotely capable, attempt to speak for yourself, not for me. If you think it's dangerous, then say so, attribute the words to you, and be done. Do not attempt to tell me what I said; I didn't say it.

Again, I speak extremely well on my own behalf, without any need of your half-baked effort to the contrary.

The fact is that the crash happened at night. The fact is that the crash happened at an uncontrolled field. Controlled fields were available. Lighted airfields were available. The deceased did not avail themselves of those options. They lacked sufficient battery to use the radio to key the lights, and almost certainly lacked insufficient battery to illuminate position lights.

On that basis they may have elected not to attempt to visit an airfield where radio transmissions were required, or a busier field.

Not a damn thing about risk or dangerous in there. If you find it dangerous, or if you think that this is a reason they elected not to go to another field, then speak for your own self, own your own words, and stop trying to stuff your god damn words into my mouth. Do you think you can do that?



No, again, bright spark, I did not say that.

YOU JUST SAID THAT.

I didn't say a damn thing about a collision. READ.

If you wish to make a post and say something, then do it. Stop beating around the bush, speak for yourself, make your own statements, and move on.



I implied nothing. You have difficulty reading and comprehending, perhaps even walking and chewing gum, but there's no implication: you've repeatedly told me what I said, attempted to prove it by quoting it, and have been equally wrong on both counts. Now, if you think yourself capable, speak for yourself.



Again, you have some real difficulty with perception and comprehension.

Try to wrap your head around this if you can: the deceased made the decision to land at an uncontrolled field, with a flashlight for a reference. They paid for this decision with their lives. This fact is sealed in blood.

I did not determine it to be more or less risk. They made their choice. We don't know their rationale, as I have said. READ. They're dead. We have no way to know.

They MAY have decided not to use the controlled field for lack of a radio. We don't know. I have said this. READ. They're dead. We have no way to know.

We do know what they did decide to do, because it killed them. They're dead. This much we know.

At no point have I cited risk; this is your decision, and something which you can't admit.

So far as the mishap goes, the issue of whether they should have chosen a lighted controlled field or an unlighted uncontrolled field is largely irrelevant, save for their death. Had they stopped and waited to continue in the daylight, instead of pursuing cross country flight in a single engine piston powered airplane, this would be an academic question that would never have been asked.

Proper airmanship would have been to wait for daylight. In a single engine airplane with one generator and one vacuum source, one engine, and no way to see to make a forced landing, good airmanship dictates waiting for daylight.

I just said that. Pick it apart if you wish, but try it in your own words, and don't add any to mine.

Grammar burn. Haha. Unlike you, I don't have delusions of being a writer or grammar expert. I also am typing on a phone and is a lot more difficult to make lengthy statements in a reasonable amount of time.

To your point, it isn't my fault you aren't smart enough to understand what you are writing. Perhaps you should take a few seconds to think about the implications of what you are saying before you hit submit. I am not the one who injected a hypothetical scenario about going to a towered field. You did. Those were your words. You then tried to come up with a reason why they hypothetically chose not to go there. You did. Not me. You tried to reason why someone might not go to a towered field by addressing inherent risks of entering a traffic pattern at night without comms or lights. I know this might be hard for you to understand, but just because you didn't say the word risk doesn't mean that isn't what you were describing. If I say, "he got into a flying machine with wings, a propeller and tricycle landing gear," I would look like a fool if I lost my mind because someone said I was describing an airplane. If you can't stand by your own statement, then go edit it.

JohnBurke
09-25-2018, 11:13 AM
This message is hidden because CBreezy is on your ignore list.

The noise to signal ratio is drastically improved.

Blackhawk
09-26-2018, 11:39 AM
If you have a cell phone and reception, don't call your girlfriend. Call 911 and they will patch you through to ATC. Get vectored for a towered airport and cleared into the airspace to land.
Landing at night without cockpit lights? Yeah, shouldn't be a big deal. Landing without runway lights? Mmm... depending on the illumination (I have not checked on the night of the crash), can be difficult and probably warrants a "Pan Pan" emergency. I've flown in some places such as the Southwest US where, on moonless nights, you meet the FAA definition of IMC even if it's CAVU.
Finally, NVG flying and night unaided are two different animals.

Elevation
09-27-2018, 02:47 AM
There isnít really enough data to say anything intelligent about this accident. There are things which are perplexing, but that just means thereís isnít enough data.

Like some others, I used to land without runway lights a fair bit, but I also remember when someone lined a truck up with the edge of a grass runway rather than centerline. It was funny, but it could have gone poorly. Thatís an experience which fewer and fewer pilots will have had. Am I better off for having that experience, or am I more likely to put myself in a stupid situation? I think both.

TiredSoul
09-27-2018, 02:52 AM
The country Iím in doesnít allow me to open the posted link but if you can contact your girlfriend you can contact ATC.
When flightinstructing a colleague called the local tower on his cellphone after loosing all electrical power. Wasnít even any paperwork.
I flew around with both the number of the flightschool and the control tower in my phone.
Back in 2000 I remember doing a Florida-Texas return XC with a foreign time building student in a C172 that only had one radio.
We did half of it at night and I carried an emergency kit with a flare gun.
Stupid or not I figured I could always shoot a flare at the tower if we lost all.

rickair7777
09-27-2018, 06:51 AM
If you have a cell phone and reception, don't call your girlfriend. Call 911 and they will patch you through to ATC. Get vectored for a towered airport and cleared into the airspace to land.
Landing at night without cockpit lights? Yeah, shouldn't be a big deal. Landing without runway lights? Mmm... depending on the illumination (I have not checked on the night of the crash), can be difficult and probably warrants a "Pan Pan" emergency. I've flown in some places such as the Southwest US where, on moonless nights, you meet the FAA definition of IMC even if it's CAVU.
Finally, NVG flying and night unaided are two different animals.

When I was a student, we used to practice night landings without LDG lights and/or runway lights. But only both with a pretty full moon. On a moonless night in the desert you'd need CAT III autoland.

JohnBurke
09-27-2018, 07:07 AM
When I was a student, we used to practice night landings without LDG lights and/or runway lights. But only both with a pretty full moon. On a moonless night in the desert you'd need CAT III autoland.

Not with a car/lights on the runway and a light at each end. I've done it many times, and there are some locations where I flew medevac, that the only lighting was an ambulance or law enforcement vehicle at one end or the other, and flashlights or another vehicle at the other.

I flew from a location on an reservation where the lights on the dirt airstrip were 60 watt bulbs, turned on by plugging in an extension cord in a hangar. The cord came out of the dirt. Plug it in before departure to turn on the lights. The locals would steal the bulbs to use in their homes. It wasn't at all uncommon to come back and find no lights, or some, one side unlighted, or the bulbs just gone...or not plugged in.

We didn't have cell phones. Those didn't come along until a bit later.

I learned to fly in aircraft without electrical systems. No radios. No cell phones, either. Believe it or not, such operations are not an emergency.

Blackhawk
09-27-2018, 07:18 AM
Not with a car/lights on the runway and a light at each end. I've done it many times, and there are some locations where I flew medevac, that the only lighting was an ambulance or law enforcement vehicle at one end or the other, and flashlights or another vehicle at the other.

I flew from a location on an reservation where the lights on the dirt airstrip were 60 watt bulbs, turned on by plugging in an extension cord in a hangar. The cord came out of the dirt. Plug it in before departure to turn on the lights. The locals would steal the bulbs to use in their homes. It wasn't at all uncommon to come back and find no lights, or some, one side unlighted, or the bulbs just gone...or not plugged in.

We didn't have cell phones. Those didn't come along until a bit later.

I learned to fly in aircraft without electrical systems. No radios. No cell phones, either. Believe it or not, such operations are not an emergency.

Just to say “I’ve done it so everyone should be able to do it” is short-sighted and part of the reason the GA accident rate is so poor. EMS accident rate? Yeah, not so hot.

I taught night landings in the desert to unilluminated LZs with NVGs in combat. Probably one of the most hazardous maneuvers I have ever taught or performed. For the normal GA pilot, this is an emergency and you are doing them a disservice by encouraging them to do otherwise. It’s called the macho hazardous attitude.

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/1999/september/flight-training-magazine/hazardous-attitudes

The absence of an accident does not indicate safety. Often times a possible option is not the safest option. I cringe at things I survived as a young pilot. My survival is not an indication that what I did was smart or safe. I try to impart those lessons learned to other pilots so they don't kill themselves doing the same things I was lucky enough to survive. Sometimes I think my guardian angel got really, really tired of saving my rear end. "Geez. This idiot again???"
If this guy had called 911, had them contact approach and gone to an illuminated airport this probably would have turned out differently.

JohnBurke
09-27-2018, 10:32 AM
Just to say ďIíve done it so everyone should be able to do itĒ is short-sighted and part of the reason the GA accident rate is so poor. EMS accident rate? Yeah, not so hot.


Did you just say this? You did. Apparently that makes you short sighted.

I did not. You quoted me and responded as though I said it, but nowhere in my comments will you find me saying this. YOU said it.



I taught night landings in the desert to unilluminated LZs with NVGs in combat. Probably one of the most hazardous maneuvers I have ever taught or performed. For the normal GA pilot, this is an emergency and you are doing them a disservice by encouraging them to do otherwise.

I am encouraging no one to do this. Nor have I done so.

I most certainly do teach and require a student to do this, because it would be irresponsible for a student to find himself or herself alone, at night, with an electrical failure, experiencing this for the first time and making a decision like the subjects of the initial post (who are dead). It empowers and fuels decision making such that having had this experience and exposure, may make clearer the decision when better options are available.

There is nothing macho about this. It is a matter of safety, the same as teaching off field landings. The instructor who sends a student forth to have his or first off field landing alone...has done that student a great disservice. He has failed that student. It's little wonder that so many are afraid to land off field. They've never done it or been shown it. The same can be said of dark cockpits and dark runways.

I found myself in a completely dark cockpit in a large four engine jet one night, between the mountains in Afghanistan. I'd like to think that some experience beyond the simulator lent a degree of focus and clarity to the moment; it's nothing to do with "macho," but everything to do with safety, experience, training, and preparation.

J
If this guy had called 911, had them contact approach and gone to an illuminated airport this probably would have turned out differently.

Have you ever, by chance worked in dispatch answering 911 calls?

That's not really something that a dispatcher is equipped to do.

Had the individuals had foreflight or other services available in the cockpit (and possibly did, as they're ubiquitous today), the phone number is right there...but then the cell can be used to call an operator directly, too.

You might be able to impress this course of action on the subjects of the original post, but they're dead.

The time to impress these options and to expand the thinking-box is prior to being dead. That includes exposing the student to something other than a trip around the pattern. Far from "macho," it may save their life.

One of the two pilots was a career army aviator and airline captain. How much do you think you could drill into him, that he hadn't picked up already in his career? The other pilot was his son, following in Dad's footsteps. Who do you think he's going to look to for counsel and an example, more than anyone else on the face of the planet?

Blackhawk
09-27-2018, 11:51 AM
Did you just say this? You did. Apparently that makes you short sighted.

I did not. You quoted me and responded as though I said it, but nowhere in my comments will you find me saying this. YOU said it.



I am encouraging no one to do this. Nor have I done so.

I most certainly do teach and require a student to do this, because it would be irresponsible for a student to find himself or herself alone, at night, with an electrical failure, experiencing this for the first time and making a decision like the subjects of the initial post (who are dead). It empowers and fuels decision making such that having had this experience and exposure, may make clearer the decision when better options are available.

There is nothing macho about this. It is a matter of safety, the same as teaching off field landings. The instructor who sends a student forth to have his or first off field landing alone...has done that student a great disservice. He has failed that student. It's little wonder that so many are afraid to land off field. They've never done it or been shown it. The same can be said of dark cockpits and dark runways.

I found myself in a completely dark cockpit in a large four engine jet one night, between the mountains in Afghanistan. I'd like to think that some experience beyond the simulator lent a degree of focus and clarity to the moment; it's nothing to do with "macho," but everything to do with safety, experience, training, and preparation.



Have you ever, by chance worked in dispatch answering 911 calls?

That's not really something that a dispatcher is equipped to do.

Had the individuals had foreflight or other services available in the cockpit (and possibly did, as they're ubiquitous today), the phone number is right there...but then the cell can be used to call an operator directly, too.

You might be able to impress this course of action on the subjects of the original post, but they're dead.

The time to impress these options and to expand the thinking-box is prior to being dead. That includes exposing the student to something other than a trip around the pattern. Far from "macho," it may save their life.

One of the two pilots was a career army aviator and airline captain. How much do you think you could drill into him, that he hadn't picked up already in his career? The other pilot was his son, following in Dad's footsteps. Who do you think he's going to look to for counsel and an example, more than anyone else on the face of the planet?

Not even sure where to start. So here goes.
First, while you say you don't encourage people to do so, you present your scenario as something all pilots should do. There is a big difference in teaching pilots to fly without electrical systems and encouraging them to fly to an airport without lights. Heck, you even end your rant by stating "I learned to fly in aircraft without electrical systems. No radios. No cell phones, either. Believe it or not, such operations are not an emergency." My emphasis.
Actually, this depends on many factors best summed up by the PAVE acronym. Pilot, Airplane, eVironment and External factors. Yeah, going up in a J-3 day/VFR, no big deal. An airplane losing electrical power day/VFR at a nontowered airport should also not be a big deal. Losing electrical power on approach to a class B airport, bigger deal. Night/VFR, potentially bigger deal. Night IMC, a really big deal.
There is also a very big difference between teaching a pilot to deal with such things and telling them it's normal to land at an unlit airport at night. Again, it would depend on how current a pilot is doing such things, environmental conditions (full moon versus new moon, haze, etc), and the type of airplane. Heck, I had a total electrical failure in a C-310 with the gear in transit and flaps partially extended during a night departure with zero illumination in the desert. The 45-year-old GCU fried the entire electrical system as I raised the gear. Fortunately, it was VFR and the runway lights stayed on long enough for me to lower the gear completely. IMC it would have been very dicey with all the mountains around.
In the Festus scenario, it would have been better to choose an airport with lighting since that was an option.
911 and ATC. Nope, haven't worked there. I also haven't worked in ATC, but I know some of their functions and capabilities. Yes, some pilots have gotten through to ATC via 911 so 911 dispatchers seem to be able to do so. It's happened more than once. Is it a better option to look up the number on ForeFlight? Sure... if you have it. Don't know if this guy did.
Again, safety is not the lack of risk. It's analyzing threats and risks and making the best choice. Just because we teach someone to do something in case there is no alternative, it does not mean it's the best course of action. We teach them to land in strong crosswinds, but they probably should normally take the runway with the wind down the pipe. I teach pilots to do a short field takeoff in a multiengine airplane because the FAA says I must. I then tell him to avoid short fields, and for myself and my family, I don't use an airport that does not give me 1.5x the takeoff distance under normal conditions in the POH. If conditions are worse (rain), I add more.
You teach someone to shoot an ILS to minimums, but you also tell him/her to set higher minimums until they get some IMC time under their belt. Heck, even airlines do this with NQP captains and approaches to minimums are their bread and butter.

So basically there is a difference between teaching someone to handle a situation and telling them that should be the normal way to do things, and what you presented was "I did this, so anyone should be able to do this". Depending on PAVE this may not be the case and we should teach them to evaluate the options and choose the one that is safest.

JohnBurke
09-27-2018, 12:52 PM
First, while you say you don't encourage people to do so, you present your scenario as something all pilots should do.

No, I don't.

I present what I do as something I do.

You go do whatever you do, but when you do it, don't attribute it to me.

Heck, you even end your rant by stating "I learned to fly in aircraft without electrical systems. No radios. No cell phones, either. Believe it or not, such operations are not an emergency." My emphasis.


It's a statement, not a rant, and yes, it's your emphasis. Operating an airplane without an electrical system is not an emergency. If you choose to see it differently, by all means state as much, but the truth is, operating airplane that lacks an electrical system is not an emergency.

Likewise, operating an airplane that has no radio is not an emergency. If you think it's an emergency, by all means, say so, but the truth is, that it is not. It may shock you, but there are a lot of aircraft out there today that have neither electrical systems, nor radios.


In the Festus scenario, it would have been better to choose an airport with lighting since that was an option.


Thank you, Captain Obvious. I believe that's been established, repeatedly. In fact, in this thread, I was the first. Never the less, it's been well established.

It's also not what the deceased chose to do.


We teach them to land in strong crosswinds, but they probably should normally take the runway with the wind down the pipe.

Wow. That sounds dramatic, but the fact is that if a student is trained to land with a crosswind, then the student should be able to land with a crosswind. I'd rather the student go find a crosswind to land in and practice, rather than avoid them. Down the pipe? Sounds almost Micky Spillaneish.

I teach pilots to do a short field takeoff in a multiengine airplane because the FAA says I must. I then tell him to avoid short fields, and for myself and my family, I don't use an airport that does not give me 1.5x the takeoff distance under normal conditions in the POH. If conditions are worse (rain), I add more.


How in the world can one ever fly a light twin out of anything but a 12,000' runway with at least ten miles of clearway on either end?

One could gingerly tell the student about what it's like to fly in the real world, then roll him in bubble wrap and set him on a shelf and say "all those things I told you about, don't ever do them," because after all, God forbid that anyone go build proficiency, yet we're not talking about a student pilot here. We're taking about a career army pilot and active airline pilot, and his son, who made a decision.

Had they elected to not fly the single engine airplane at night, and wait for daylight, this wouldn't really be an issue.

There's a difference between doing things that pilots are trained to do (short field, crosswind landings, etc) and for which the airplanes are capable, and for which frequent repetition is necessary for proficiency, and which are expected as staples of the airman's core skill set, and making a series of poor decisions.

There is no indication as to when this pair lost their electrical source, or how long they'd flown in that condition, but certainly long enough to drain the battery. How many airports did they pass in that time, how many other options did they discard or set aside? Did they expect the lights to be on, at arrival? Why did they not go to another airport? We don't know.

The ability to make a descent and landing after dark, in less than favorable conditions should be a pre-requisite if one intends to fly a single engine airplane with one alternator and no backup, after dark. Every bit as much as one should be proficient and prepared to make a forced landing if the engine quits. With a single electrical generation system and a limited battery, a single vacuum source, one engine, and no backups, one had better be able to fly the airplane all the way down under the least favorable circumstance, and that would include the lack of runway lights, which occurred here. If one is not prepared for the realities of what might happen at night, one should consider other options...and in a single engine piston airplane, day is preferable to night. It's hard to make that off field forced landing at night.

As a new private pilot, I rented a gee-whiz airplane at the time, a Cessna 172, with extra seats, a nose wheel, and an extra radio, more room, performance, etc. I took my mother flying as my first passenger and made a cross country flight to a high desert airport. Enroute, the alternator died, far enough out that there wasn't battery to last the trip back. I couldn't illuminate the lights at the destination, and it got dark. I headed back toward the departure point, but with mountains about and a very dark high desert around, and a dark cockpit, I had only my flashlight. It failed. I had three flashlights I my bag; each failed, and I used a chemical light stick, instead.

The stick turned out to be too bright, so I dropped it down my shirt to muffle the light, and could faintly make out a slight glow ahead, which indicated the mountains; the glow became my reference to go home, and I did.

A great many pilots have had similar experiences with slight variations in the details; we all have, and we've had them over and over regarding this aspect or that, until the basis of our judgement is the experience we hold.

A pilot who is not given the experience, in training or in actual fact, sits on an empty foundation of unknown strength. Lacking knowledge of the foundation, he or she ought exercise care for fear of overburdening it; when the foundation collapses, the outcome is at best uncertain, and at worst, fatal. In this case, it proved the latter.

We do not know what the decision chain was for the pilots, father and son. Certainly the father did not lack experience. Did he feel pressed to get on the ground for a morning deadhead to work? Was he fighting with the girlfriend and she unwilling to come get them elsewhere? Were conditions such that he felt confident in the outcome? Is this something he had done before? We don't know.

The reference article is vague and without much input or value. An investigation will ensue, and later we'll learn more.

Hopefully you've recovered from your learning experience in the C-130. The A models that I flew were not without their limitations and flaws, either. When the wings stayed on.

Flightcap
09-29-2018, 06:57 AM
Just let JohnBurke go guys. He turns every safety thread he responds to into this kind of stupid twisting-everyone's-words debate. Don't feed the troll.

Thoughts and prayers for the family involved. Hope we all can learn something to take from it to make our own flying safer.

sherpster
09-29-2018, 07:59 AM
Everyone knows that "Night Air has no lift"

CaseTractor
09-29-2018, 08:24 AM
If you have a cell phone and reception, don't call your girlfriend. Call 911 and they will patch you through to ATC. Get vectored for a towered airport and cleared into the airspace to land.
Landing at night without cockpit lights? Yeah, shouldn't be a big deal. Landing without runway lights? Mmm... depending on the illumination (I have not checked on the night of the crash), can be difficult and probably warrants a "Pan Pan" emergency. I've flown in some places such as the Southwest US where, on moonless nights, you meet the FAA definition of IMC even if it's CAVU.
Finally, NVG flying and night unaided are two different animals.

Good input! I've been thinking about how to quickly and accurately get in touch with ATC from a cell phone while airborne. I don't have any better ideas, but how well would this work? Does anyone have any first hand experience to the feasibility?

Can a 911 dispatcher really "connect" you to any ATC facility you desire? Would they even be familiar enough to know how to search this?
At some altitude, say 3500 feet or so, what happens when you dial 911? What happens when you traverse one cell tower to another? I guess I just don't have enough faith in the training of emergency services to handle this unless they were GA familiar.

Another thought, call the fight service or clearance delivery numbers starting with 1-800-WBRIEF. They could at least possibly get you a direct line to a center's supervisory desk and go from there.

Another point to consider, as important as a backup handheld, if one is not available, a quality connection between your aviation headset and cell phone could be crucial. Test this capability to give you the peace of mind it works in a potential emergency. Is there a way it can work with the interphone off? ie battery in the headset?

Last point to consider, if IFR, some places have Surveillance approaches, some even have Precision Surveillance approaches that can get you to 200 and 1/2. This could be done via cell if truly NORDO and have a transponder. Could this work with electrical failure and "primary" only radar target?

If the alternator fails or belt breaks, shut down the master and save the battery for the home stretch. And then only turn on what's most necessary in the last possible minutes they are needed. A battery advertises, 45 min of juice, realistically probably half that at best.

I'm not second guessing anything, but want to add to the constructive conversation to help others should they be faced with an electrical failure emergency in difficult conditions.

JohnBurke
09-29-2018, 03:38 PM
Just let JohnBurke go guys. He turns every safety thread he responds to into this kind of stupid twisting-everyone's-words debate. Don't feed the troll.

Thoughts and prayers for the family involved. Hope we all can learn something to take from it to make our own flying safer.

You've got something to contribute, bright spark? Or was that it?

Everyone knows that "Night Air has no lift"

Pretty damn hard to make a forced landing in the dark, and given a single generator with little backup, and generally a single vacuum system and increasingly mostly electric instruments that depend on that one electrical system, limited performance, generally minimal capability, if any in ice or weather, no radar, etc, one might consider the ramifications.

Night air has lift. It hides obstacles which become a factor when say, attempting a landing on an unlit runway with no cockpit lights, no radio, and no ground lighting. Or say, making a forced landing.

Have you not ever made one before?

sherpster
09-29-2018, 04:49 PM
Lot of experts on here, I was just sharing a phrase Ive heard said on many a dark night. Obviously night air has lift, just a phrase to illuminate the dangers of night flying. Pun intended.

TiredSoul
09-29-2018, 06:15 PM
Hereís my last contribution:
It was a pretty stupid attempt.

CBreezy
10-01-2018, 04:43 AM
Good input! I've been thinking about how to quickly and accurately get in touch with ATC from a cell phone while airborne. I don't have any better ideas, but how well would this work? Does anyone have any first hand experience to the feasibility?

Can a 911 dispatcher really "connect" you to any ATC facility you desire? Would they even be familiar enough to know how to search this?
At some altitude, say 3500 feet or so, what happens when you dial 911? What happens when you traverse one cell tower to another? I guess I just don't have enough faith in the training of emergency services to handle this unless they were GA familiar.

Another thought, call the fight service or clearance delivery numbers starting with 1-800-WBRIEF. They could at least possibly get you a direct line to a center's supervisory desk and go from there.

Another point to consider, as important as a backup handheld, if one is not available, a quality connection between your aviation headset and cell phone could be crucial. Test this capability to give you the peace of mind it works in a potential emergency. Is there a way it can work with the interphone off? ie battery in the headset?

Last point to consider, if IFR, some places have Surveillance approaches, some even have Precision Surveillance approaches that can get you to 200 and 1/2. This could be done via cell if truly NORDO and have a transponder. Could this work with electrical failure and "primary" only radar target?

If the alternator fails or belt breaks, shut down the master and save the battery for the home stretch. And then only turn on what's most necessary in the last possible minutes they are needed. A battery advertises, 45 min of juice, realistically probably half that at best.

I'm not second guessing anything, but want to add to the constructive conversation to help others should they be faced with an electrical failure emergency in difficult conditions.

Lots of towers have their number listed. You could call them directly. Also, many RCOs have a number to call for clearances. You could call that number too. Center can clear you to land at any airport with coordination from their tower.

I had to use it once many years ago as a flight instructor when my radios didn't work. Called the tower, they cleared me to land.

JamesNoBrakes
10-01-2018, 07:48 PM
Lots of towers have their number listed. You could call them directly. Also, many RCOs have a number to call for clearances. You could call that number too. Center can clear you to land at any airport with coordination from their tower.

I had to use it once many years ago as a flight instructor when my radios didn't work. Called the tower, they cleared me to land.

It's a good idea to have the number for the FAA Regional Operations Center (ROC) for the area you fly in, heck, one ROC could connect you to another most likely. They can connect you quickly to anything FAA, such as a control tower, approach, etc. We try to give this information out as much as possible to airmen, printed up on little business cards. It's definitely not meant to be some internal-only thing.

UAL T38 Phlyer
10-02-2018, 10:25 AM
1-800-WX BRIEF.

Tell the FSS your predicament, and ask for the number for the airport you want to land at.

Comforteagle76
10-30-2018, 10:13 PM
You've got something to contribute, bright spark? Or was that it?



Pretty damn hard to make a forced landing in the dark, and given a single generator with little backup, and generally a single vacuum system and increasingly mostly electric instruments that depend on that one electrical system, limited performance, generally minimal capability, if any in ice or weather, no radar, etc, one might consider the ramifications.

Night air has lift. It hides obstacles which become a factor when say, attempting a landing on an unlit runway with no cockpit lights, no radio, and no ground lighting. Or say, making a forced landing.

Have you not ever made one before?Iím pretty sure the night air thing was a joke, bright spark...lol



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