Should We Have Published This Video?

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For many of our readers, AVweb is not just an aviation news and feature service, but also, at times, an ethical or moral sounding board. We are sometimes expected to be, to paraphrase Tom Wolfe, a lonely beacon of restraint in a squall of aviation crazies who strut the stage on YouTube.

If we're to meet that expectation, why ever did we publish this video without comment or at least neutrality bordering on acceptance? In case you're not in the click-through mood, that's the one where the pilot of a skydive Dornier does a wing over—if not a split-S—and rolls out on a 50-foot final after a steep turn equally low. This occurred in Europe, by the way. I'm not sure what regulations apply there, but it doesn't matter. Whether a regulatory infraction or not, beyond the edge is beyond the edge no matter where it occurs.

Reader Ken Holston wrote to ask if we got buried in mail on that one. We heard from quite a few readers who were unimpressed with the flying itself and less impressed with our decision to publish the video. Asks Holston, did I intend to let this one go without commenting?

Actually, I didn't. I made a note to blog on it the week it appeared and promptly forgot to do it. Not that I'm necessarily the ideal guy for this for having been one of the crazies in the back jumping out and also having flown a load or two of jumpers, my risk tolerance isn't exactly standard issue. Nonetheless, the flying in that video—however skilled—is outside the bounds of common sense, even for a skydiving operation. There's just no defensible reason for that kind of horsing around and a lot of reasons not to, not the least of which is that makes us all look infantile, in my opinion. The guy flying that airplane has, I'm sure, a certificate stamped commercial. Professionalism it ain't, in my view. Risk resides in an envelope too and in a high-angle bank at that altitude, one wing is poking right out of it.

By their very nature, skydiving operations tend toward the higher risk end of the spectrum. With dozens of takeoffs and landings a day and six or eight people hanging off the airframe for an exit, the sport is risky enough without adding more. Jumpers sign on for a safe ride to altitude, not necessarily an e-ticket airplane ride. It's true that this video involved the landing phase, but the thrill-ride has happened on takeoff, too, with disastrous results.

I've been at enough dropzones to know this is hardly common practice because DZOs won't tolerate it, or at least they shouldn't. Dropzones often have enough tension with the local airport operators without making it worse by pushing outside the envelope of acceptable behavior in the pattern. There's just no point to it.

So why did we publish it, you might logically ask? Should we just give it a pass and aim for the path of enlightenment by pretending it doesn't exist? Once again, I plead the Fifth. I'm strongly biased toward letting people see things on their own terms and decide on their own terms whether that thing is right or wrong. I'll stick my snoot into it and comment if I think what I'm seeing is exceptionally egregious, which this definitely was, in my view. There was an opportunity there to have an educational moment and I just botched it. Next time, I'll try not to. That context considered, would I make the same decision to publish again? Yes, but I'd try to make it count for something other than just the shock value.

Comments (80)

Well, not mentioned, but isn't that a violation of FAR 91.303 ? (abnormal attitude below 1500 feet agl).
Or perhaps 91.13 ? ( careless and reckless)

I though a bank of no more 60 degrees was the rule, but can't seem to find ithis rule.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 6, 2013 9:28 PM    Report this comment

Oop, I now see where you mentioned this video was from Europe . So forget my comments about FAR 91.
( I need better glasses, this iPad mini is hard to read)

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 6, 2013 10:07 PM    Report this comment

I see that nobody else has commented for the past couple hours. So I will stick my snoot back in to add some shocking comments to get the conversation going .
I think this video has substantial educational value. This pilot has the skills to put his airplane down fast in an emergency. Plenty of inexperienced or ignorant pilots think they cannot exceed 30 degrees bank on final so they skid the turn instead in an emergency. But if your engine quits, it might be necessary to bank steeply to get down into a tight spot and this pilot has that skill. He understands that 80 degree bank WITH STICK WELL FORWARD will not stall.
So yes, this has educational value . And no, I am not recommending anyone try this.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 6, 2013 11:36 PM    Report this comment

As one of the less than five Instructors and examiners left in the world on that aircraft and parachute pilot and Examiner I was a little stunned to watch the video. It was being flown way outside the safe flight envelope. Both Myself and our Chief engineer timed the descent and extrapolated that it was exceeding the safe airspeed. The Dornier has fabric skin on the control surfaces and the danger of exceeding safe speeds is damage to these. It is common to lose flap and tail skins in this way. The pilot may have gotten away with this but the damage is cumulative, so what about the next guy that gets in it?

Posted by: steve copeland | January 7, 2013 2:45 AM    Report this comment

Hi Paul,
First you have to understand what kind of plane it is: What Type it is You know: Dornier Skyservant, late model with Either PT6 or the Chezch Walter Turboprops (Almost guaranteed the latter, FEW have been build with PT6).
These planes are build like DIVEBOMBERS, incredibly strong airframe and extremely maneuverable. A true pilots airplane, BIG and POWERFULL Taildragger...
Some of the design engineers are still around and they talk like this kinda stuff should not hurt any.
The fabric on these is mounted with riveted-on sheet-metal strips, again a big time overkill. Sure it might be old and rotten and I would not do these things here myself, but Thats how they do it in the Vatherland...this guy is probably trying to compete with a Pilatus Porter...

Posted by: Lars Gleitsmann | January 7, 2013 3:22 AM    Report this comment

Lars, you are incorrect in some aspects. Yes they are big powerful and heavy duty but they also carry over some of the weakness from the original piston days. We are the biggest operator of these aircraft in the civilian world and I can assure we know all the weak areas. The skins are a regular problem if the airframe is abused and that is not on old and rotten material that is brand new modern materials with specially modified fitting to try and reduce the problem. The flying shown on this video is not very smart and as I said earlier, its the guy who gets in it next that inherits the problem.

Posted by: steve copeland | January 7, 2013 3:30 AM    Report this comment

People die much more often because they cannot handle their aircraft at the limit of the performance envelope. Stall-spin comes to my mind. Those were all guys who did everything to avoid "reckless" maneuvers. That pilot in the video was good. And his job is not to fly irradiated cattle straight and level.

Posted by: ROBERT ZIEGLER | January 7, 2013 5:04 AM    Report this comment

I'd love to see the output of a recording G-meter after a descent like this one. I'll bet it's nowhere near as scary as this blog implies. I'll defer to the experts that timed the descent with regard to airspeed vs Vne, but would like to see the calculations.

Posted by: Michael Armstrong | January 7, 2013 5:05 AM    Report this comment

The blog did not mention G-forces. Whether they're a factor or not may be immaterial. The point is a pattern flown at high speed at 200 feet ending with a 30-degree bank much closer to the runway than is either necessary or sensible.
Skilled pilot or not, there's no reason for that, there's little or no margin for the unforeseen and the attitude embodied is corrosive, eventually making accidents like the 1999 Marine City, Michigan King Air crash that killed 10 more likely.

The point is this: When an aviation operation is that far out of the normal envelope, it deserves comment to point out the higher risk and because we all suffer when crashes occur due to poor judgment, it's not just about the pilot flying the airplane. There's a larger responsibility.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 7, 2013 5:27 AM    Report this comment

Watch a Wold War 2 dog fight from a Spitfire and we consider the pilot really good and congratulate them on a job well done. We watch acrobatic pilots throwing their planes around and we again applaud them.. Hmmm interesting

Posted by: Bruce Savage | January 7, 2013 7:11 AM    Report this comment

It's not a fighter or an aerobatic aircraft....

As the only person so far who has posted who is actually a current type rated pilot, Instructor and Examiner for this type perhaps my earlier comments should be observed?

Posted by: steve copeland | January 7, 2013 7:19 AM    Report this comment

Some good comments here so I'll try to ruin it by saying that I thought the guy was a sissy - he must have missed those tree tops by at least 15 feet.

I watched it a few times and kept an eye on the toy hanging from the middle of the windscreen - it's lack of movement implied some nicely balanced flying, temporary-pilot antics notwithstanding.

Posted by: John Hogan | January 7, 2013 7:22 AM    Report this comment

What does everyone think about the turn coordinator hanging by a string from the wet compass? Not being an acrobatic pilot myself, I was pretty impressed with this pilots ability to keep the ?chicken head? centered throughout these maneuvers!

Posted by: David Hunstad | January 7, 2013 7:31 AM    Report this comment

I worked in the aero department of Dornier from 1980-1984 when the Do 128-6 Turbo Skyservant was being built. These planes, designed from the ground up for rough field STOL work, are built like bricks and have STOL capabilities that borrowed heavily from the Fieseler Storch. Anyone who drops skydivers all day for a living knows how to fly like this, just as you can watch a crop duster do wingovers all day from only a few hundred feet off the ground - what's the big deal? When flying solo, the FAA does not require a parachute when doing acro, BTW. Not sure what the regs are in Europe. Problem is, too many pilots these days are terrified of anything beyond 30 degrees of bank, a spin, taildraggers and landing on grass. Such flying would have never been mentioned in the media a few decades ago.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | January 7, 2013 7:51 AM    Report this comment

I don't think the discussion is or should be around the general handling but rather the speed of descent which if you time from the video is way beyond the limit. Exceeding that limit has repercussions for the airframe and the skins.

Posted by: steve copeland | January 7, 2013 8:10 AM    Report this comment

Look at the guy's shades ... that says it all! ;)

Posted by: JOHN AUSTIN | January 7, 2013 8:28 AM    Report this comment

Though not a jumper or jump plane pilot, I've flown (racing sailplanes) on several airports with jump operations going on concurrently. Clearly the turbine jump pilots enjoy doing all the things that contribute to quick turnarounds. Near vertical descents transitioning directly into non-standard landings is common. Beating all/some of the jumpers down seems to be part of the 'game'. The owner/operators of these planes observe most of this but I can't speak to there attitudes. Beyond the dangers resulting from edge of the envelope flying, the danger of hitting jumpers and/or hitting my aircraft was what really caught my attention. I'm sure the jumpers were supposed to be in certain areas per normal procedures. Sometimes there was close coordination with glider operations but sometimes little or no coordination. But variance from normal procedures was common among jumpers (missing the landing zone or airport) and the gliders (especially when racing). It's exciting flying performed in capable aircraft by very proficient pilots in a very dangerous environment. In one case, I permanently moved my ship to another airport after taking too long to realize the risks involved. AVweb was correct to post it, informed commentary is optional but desirable. Everything will be seen somewhere independent of whether AVweb posts it or not.

Posted by: BILL WATSON | January 7, 2013 8:32 AM    Report this comment

I agree with John Austin.

"What's your problem Kazanski?"

Couldn't resist

Posted by: Jamey Curry | January 7, 2013 8:39 AM    Report this comment

This blog dialog alone makes that video worthwhile and thats why we subscribe to avflash. I agree with the general comments that although cool, his flying especially on the deck is probably not wise and likely to end badly at some point.
As a fellow parapilot we all are pushed to fly as effiently as possible, that means best rate for about 13 minutes, cruise for maybe 1 minute then descend just below VNE. Its nothing like we were ever taught at flight school.
We all usually beat the jumpers down.
Yes communication at the dropzone can be crucial, we have 5 airplanes and it can get interesting with all of us in different phases and jumpers in the air, and listening to terminal and watching for aircraft that choose not to use the MTF.
Thanks for the video Paul, we will add it to our parapilot course.

Posted by: Manfred Harder | January 7, 2013 9:00 AM    Report this comment

If Avweb had published this as a "how-to" video, that'd be bad. But it generated discussion, and that's good.

Safety is not only based on the antics or lack of them, but also on the environment. I've seen straight-in approaches in the midst of a busy pattern that posed more risk, just because of the traffic environment. In this case, failure of pilot or aircraft would have only taken out some trees and raised everyone's insurance premiums a little.

I fully expected the pilot to land on a taxiway or far-down the runway; I was impressed he didn't.

Not exceeding aircraft limitations and staying out of the divers' path make this not terribly unsafe as long as there were no other aircraft around. But, that having been said - there are no old, bold pilots.

Posted by: Mike Perkins | January 7, 2013 9:02 AM    Report this comment

Just what is the "limit" on speed of descent? If he started at 12,000 feet (Paul's estimate) and took 2:15 to get to the ground (my timing of the video), that would be 5,333 fpm straight down, or a straight-line descent at 17° down-bubble at 207 mph (Vne from Jane's) for around 7.4 miles. The controlled spiral dive, if that's what it was, adds some complications, but without real numbers we're all just guessing at whether any limits were exceeded. Crude measurement with a protractor on the screen of the video indicated that the bank angle was around 60° at max, but only briefly. The "dead duck" turn coordinator looked like it was wired straight down. The pilot is reputedly an expert at this who has made his living for some time doing just this kind of flying in an aircraft that was built for it. I sure wouldn't try this at home, but I'd be happy to fly with the guy.

Posted by: Michael Armstrong | January 7, 2013 9:11 AM    Report this comment

Steve relax you showed your hand too soon.
Video's are not accepted in court unless the clip is audited by an accredited appraiser. We see on a regular basis things on TV (Star Trek, Star Gate 24 hours come to mind) that are not real so what make you think this clip is real? Reduce the camera speed and watch how quickly things move around you.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | January 7, 2013 9:12 AM    Report this comment

I won't comment on the stresses to the aircraft as I have no idea. It is a maneuver I would never even contemplate doing and I think foolish. At the same time I gotta say he is a hellava pilot. He kept the ball centered the whole time, very little yoke pressure and complete control.
Not that I would like to fly with him, but it is an entertaining video, a good video to show what can be done with a good pilot. I found this video not much different from a Bob Hoover video.
I see no reason why it shouldn't be shown. Besides I saw it before Avweb linked to it. It isn't like Avweb was the exclusive presenter.
So in final good pilot skills, lousy judgement!

BTW it would appear the video has been speeded up somewhat.

Posted by: Jeff Grigg | January 7, 2013 9:15 AM    Report this comment

Reminded by Jeff's comment that the superior pilot is one who uses his superior judgment to avoid those situations requiring his superior skill.

Posted by: Michael Armstrong | January 7, 2013 9:25 AM    Report this comment

I didn't see anything all that exciting about the descent, but unlike many of my fellow pilots bank angle alone isn’t enough to get me wound up.

Where I would have parted company with the pilot was the hot-dog altitude chosen for the turn to final. His handling and speed control was obviously dead-on but left him too little wiggle room for those little errors we humans make. Or the “wow, never encountered that before” freak gust on an otherwise calm day.

Let's hope this was a special occasion photo opprotunity rather than a standard routine.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 7, 2013 9:28 AM    Report this comment

His lack of good judgement is also shown by his shoulder belt use.

Posted by: Jeff Grigg | January 7, 2013 9:32 AM    Report this comment

A lot of bad things in aviation (and other areas of life) start with the phrase; "watch this." The modern version of "watch this" is to mount a GoPro camera and then do something stupid.

Meanwhile those dangerous straight and level cattle irradiators are delivering hundreds of millions of passengers per year to their destinations (without a single fatality in over eleven years among major US carriers).

I think that your average GA pilot would do a lot better emulating the airline pilots than they would the "watch this" crowd - even if they can keep the turn coordinator centered.

Posted by: PHIL RYDER | January 7, 2013 10:41 AM    Report this comment

This might a view of the maneuver from the ground:
www dot youtube dot com slash watch?v=Qd7MhCF33T4

Posted by: BRADLEY SPATZ | January 7, 2013 11:13 AM    Report this comment

Much as John Wilson said, it was a great display of skill but leaving little margin for error, even for a skydiving operation. To crank the aircraft around like that in a steep bank requires extra airspeed for stall margin, which means that if you level out quickly, you'll have too much airspeed for a normal landing. The ground video link from B.Spatz makes it look like that. Maybe a long rollout is fine at that airport to get back to the loading area, I dunno. Every good jump pilot works on minimizing turnaround & flight time per load, but as a jumper I'd want my DZO (dropzone operator) to make this pilot ease off on the displays of skill. (I wonder if this wasn't a normal jump doesn't usually have a Ju-52 taxiing by - see the ground vid.)

Posted by: Peter Chapman | January 7, 2013 11:48 AM    Report this comment

Repasting the link here, Bradley.

You can paste them straight in, just remove the hypertext protocol and our security software won't strip it.

That video may be of a different operation. Looks like it's in Germany, the other was in Poland. He appears to be about a span and half above the deck, or maybe 80 feet. His bank is close to 90 degrees at mid-turn and about 70 when he rolls out toward final. (I measured it.) Anyone who thinks that's not a loaded turn is dreaming. Not much margin. At least he didn't fly the 50-foot downwind.

This is pretty cool stuff to watch and before the crash, everyone says great piloting. After the crash, it's what a dumb ass.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 7, 2013 11:55 AM    Report this comment

Yeah, I remember another hotshot pilot in shades and a straw hat doing dangerous stuff like this in a business twin. Dumbass was even pouring water from a pitcher into a glass on the glareshield while doing an 8-point roll. What a bad example to set for the rest of us.

Posted by: Chip Davis | January 7, 2013 12:13 PM    Report this comment

Good point. When you get to the bottom of the smoking hole, you could gain great solace from at least thinking you were Bob Hoover. Even if you weren't. :)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 7, 2013 12:37 PM    Report this comment

Congratulations goes out to the most important pilot of this specific (blog) thread, Paul Bertorelli. The concept of actually having a spirited discussion around a touchy topic is both, brave and enlightening, indeed!

Taking 'subjective' topics such as this, opens a much deeper dialog level (albeit, some whining apparent) than your everyday flight bantering. Getting down and dirty, without arms, is a great way (subjectively) to air-out all sides of any controversy.

Maybe no definitive or pertinent answer(s) became of this thread, however, since this strong conversation was 'not' on the back of a crash (where most dialog starts) adds ever more to the powerfulness of its character.

The fact that AvWeb does publish material that makes it worth my time to even open their blog, has it cutting edge in publishing ...
Hats off to you Paul, for stepping outside of the box (if you felt like you did) ... it makes for good controversial dialog! (as you can see)

Posted by: m Lofton | January 7, 2013 12:47 PM    Report this comment

What is so bad about a 30 degree bank close to the runway? Isn't wing down normal crosswind landing technique? I don't know if 30 degrees is excessive , as long as the wings are leveled before the tip hits the ground, of course.
Sure it looks reckless. But what exactly was unsafe? This may be a private strip where this abnormal maneuvering is more or less standard procedure.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 7, 2013 1:00 PM    Report this comment

Much adieu about nothing! All this breathless indignation over what? I saw the video. I am a former CFI and I have had my share of people who are simply afraid to fly or be in an aircraft that exceeds anything over 25 degrees of deck angle or 60 degrees of bank and would have happily have unloaded their digestive system in an aileron roll. Nothing I saw here went beyond what one customarily sees in skydiver operations or spraying operations. Airplanes do operate close to the ground, even in turns and go upside down...sometimes unavoidably ... I would rather fly with this dude than some sweaty palmed Walter Mitty any day. Somebody really needs to get over themselves. Ever done a full cross control take off and departure stall in a Cessna 150?...hello split s.

Posted by: william laatsch | January 7, 2013 1:18 PM    Report this comment

I got beat by Chip Davis. Bob Hoover.

I once saw a Pitts flying in the pattern inverted. That was stupid, totally unnecessary, and very ostentatious. After he landed, we all told him to get the hell out of here and don't come back.

This is a high degree of skill and sensitivity at the controls, very focused flying. Sixty degree bank at fifty feet off the ground, you better be spot on with the rudder, but then he's flying a twin taildragger. That puts his skill level past probably 90% of 'certificated' pilots already.

Posted by: Edward Michalowski | January 7, 2013 1:24 PM    Report this comment

If avweb doesn't mind here's a trip down memory lane, Bob Hoover dead stick looping a Shrike Commanderand more.

Posted by: Edward Michalowski | January 7, 2013 1:28 PM    Report this comment

Anyone familiar with jump operations would have seen nothing unusual except for the low altitude pattern work. Really taking chances there. As far as the descent is concerned I could easily descend at 6000fpm without exceeding airspeed limits in a caravan or twin otter. There used to be a C90 King Air owner who could fly 6 loads of 14 jumpers each in one hour. Unfortunately I flew for a couple of C182 operators who thought slipping on descent was saving the engine, only to result in lots of cracks in the cowlings and rudder skins. I guess the operation of the airplane reflects the way the dz operator runs their dz.

Posted by: matthew wagner | January 7, 2013 1:50 PM    Report this comment

Air show performances are one thing, as are crazy/stupid stunts where there's only the pilot on-board and the possibility of anyone else getting hurt from airplane parts raining down is exceedingly low.

As far as this guy in the video goes, it looks like he was keeping the G-loading relatively low (though it's hard to say what airspeeds were involved), so I didn't think too much of most of the video. But it was high bank angles close to the ground while coming in for a landing that I was cringing at. Short of an emergency where you have to get the plane on the ground NOW, I don't see any reason for that sort of maneuvering, and with the energy involved, if he miscalculated and cartwheeled the plane, there was the potential for damage and/or injury to others on the ground.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 7, 2013 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Another Bob Hoover, no. Another (the late) Lt Col Arthur "Bud" Holland, much more likely. View the video for "CZAR 52", and much, much more importantly, read the accident investigation report. Then go back and watch the Dornier video again.

Posted by: Don Eck | January 7, 2013 2:25 PM    Report this comment

I have watched F-15 pilots bank 90 degrees on final. My guess is that this may be standard military landing technique, perhaps because the engine takes time to spool up so that with a high drag configuration, it works better with a steep turning approach (no power change is needed). So flying tight in and aiming down at the runway works better than a long final. A-10 warthogs often exceed 90 degrees low down, while strafing.
Perhaps a fighter pilot could comment.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 7, 2013 2:46 PM    Report this comment

The incident Don Eck is referring to is one most people will know. It's the B-52 crash a Fairchild Air Force Base in 1994. Here's the link:

I don't think I've ever seen it from this angle, which shows the airplane in attempted knife-edge flight. Awful to watch.

That's not to suggest all low-altitude turning is going to result in a crash. Far from it. Just that when you push closer to the extreme limits, you get into a little corner of the envelope where there's no room for the slightest error.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 7, 2013 3:49 PM    Report this comment

Note to self. Do NOT let this man borrow the plane.

Posted by: jay Manor | January 7, 2013 4:29 PM    Report this comment

I have dropped jumpers (an old dog eared 182 probably barely airworthy). We were way out in the boonies and a little grass strip was home. I would steep spiral the 182 with no G's and no redline (put it on edge and it kinda falls straight down..IF you don't pull back too hard on stick). So other than not being able to see stuff right below you, its no big deal. HAVING SAID THAT, the treetop 180 approach was horribly reckless. (impressive, but reckless).

Posted by: Bob Roehrer | January 7, 2013 4:36 PM    Report this comment

I'm glad you did publish it. A learning tool at the very least. I shared it with others and asked for thoughts. Most said, no biggie, the pilot makes his money by hauling jumpers up. The quicker he can get down, the quicker he can haul more up. My thoughts, were he was hot-dogging for the camera. Pretty fortunate his aerobatic box was void of jumpers that just departed his plane.

Posted by: Steve Nelson | January 7, 2013 5:56 PM    Report this comment

That B -52 accident report was interesting, here is the website:

Apparently, all three experienced pilots did not understand that a level 80 degree bank cannot be sustained for a full 360 degree LEVEL turn around the tower, a manuever that they planned to do that day. Incredible. The pullout was not possible.
The Dornier, on the other hand, was in descending flight, so a steep bank was sustainable. Even so, the pullout timing is critical, so yea was reckless .

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 7, 2013 8:38 PM    Report this comment

Hadn’t watched the Fairchild AFB crash video in a long time. The findings report pulled no punches on this one.

I don't think the B-52 pilot had any intent to go to the extreme bank angle, it's just that we aren't calibrated for the stately fashion an aircraft of that size demonstrates a stall-spin entry. Had the ground not interceded it would have continued the roll well beyond vertical.

In this particular video view it appears to me that the nose was dropping noticeably fairly early in the turn, and rather than giving up and rolling out 10 or 20 degrees worth he pulled on more lift while continuing to hold the bank. It worked for a few seconds but sealed their fate.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 7, 2013 11:05 PM    Report this comment

That pilot is good. I don't approve of the maneuver. Especially that 'fighter-plane' hard bank he did to put it on the runway. I actually tensed on my chair when he did that.

Posted by: Matthew Lee | January 8, 2013 2:23 AM    Report this comment

The Dornier, on the other hand, was in descending flight, so a steep bank was sustainable.

Need to be a little careful with this. If you look at the second video, the airplane--different operation--is in a 90-degree banked level turn. At one point, he may even climb a little. It's all about energy management. High state to lower state.

But the way to think of it is as angle-of-attack and wing loading, not whether the airplane is descending. It could easily stall and roll over the top while in a descent. The turn requires loading the wings because that's where the turn vector comes from.

But to me, the risk is not so much the energy management/stall worry--although that's real--it's the high bank near the ground where obstacles or the ground itself can catch a wing if you don't do everything just right or a gust comes up that wasn't there the last time you tried it. Doing this at 300 feet is one thing, at 80 feet another matter entirely. I don't see the risk/reward in a daily operation where people pay for a lift, whether they're aboard or not.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 8, 2013 7:03 AM    Report this comment

In the grey, wet and cold days of winter, when aviation is hard to make pay, you could work this up into a university seminar on citizen journalism, and how the ease of modern self-publishing can have unexpected consequences (especially if the insurers see the video). I bet the pilot did not think he would provoke technical, moral and philosophical debate as he rushed down for a cold one....

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | January 8, 2013 7:53 AM    Report this comment

Re the B-52... I don't remember the terminology, but in a swept-wing design, there's a tendency to roll in a turn due to the greater lift on the outside wing. This would normally be countered with opposite aileron, which would add lift to the inside wing. This was an H-model B-52, though, which used spoilers, not ailerons, as I remember -- spoilers don't help in this situation. So once this aircraft got into its tight, high-banked turn, the roll was inevitable. I'm sure that someone who really knows this stuff can correct me... This, of course, was nothing that couldn't be handled with a few thousand feet of altitude to recover in.

Posted by: Michael Armstrong | January 8, 2013 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Paul , your last post is all true. My comment concerning descending flight was meant for the first Dornier video.
That second Dornier video with extended LEVEL 90 degree bank made me cringe.

I think this is all good info posted. A student pilot reading this might be confused because books have conflicting or incorrect information about banking. ( such as 90 degree bank = infinite g load) Hopefully pilots will seek the truth.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 8, 2013 10:48 AM    Report this comment

The ground video: OK, obviously a DO-28 is a very docile bird and equally obviously Mr. Horta knows it very well.

But I agree with Paul, another 300 feet or so for the final level-out is called for.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 8, 2013 1:02 PM    Report this comment

The plane in all three videos is the same, HA-ACY. The guy gets around

Posted by: Richard Montague | January 8, 2013 1:04 PM    Report this comment

Paul: How in the world can I not comment on this. About a year ago I was castigated by many for making a comment on what I felt was another particularly stupid human trick related to flying which had the potential to shine an unwarrented light on us aviators. We are free to be stupid in the western world and while I do not argue the medias absolute right to publish whatever it deems newsworthy it continues to amazes me that there are people out there who try to justify the abysmal judgement this particular pilot displayed. There is a high likihood that we will see Avweb publishing another video of this guy in the bottom of a smoking hole. How unnecessary!

Posted by: JEFF OWEN | January 8, 2013 1:53 PM    Report this comment

A high speed,descending, turn, near to the runway, is the safest situation for an engine failure, even if low. As long as he kept below VNE he was safe (assuming no turbulence) Stall/spin is more likely at standard approach speeds - the danger of high speed is not bleeding it off before landing.

Posted by: George Mair | January 8, 2013 4:01 PM    Report this comment

Ah, probability and statistics. A small risk when experienced enough times becomes a practical certainty. I appreciate how this guy used that tight turn to scrub off just the right amount of speed. That hints at skill. It's just that we're not at war and we know that he'll screw it up once in a while or some low probability event will eventually occur. The undoubted thrill and enhanced nervous system function that brings makes you feel (and be) more able to react quickly but ultimately you're one flight closer to the final one. I learnt this vicariously from others in cars and on motorbikes so I don't need to learn it myself the hard way. I don't regret doing some silly things back in the day but I never kidded myself about the facts and now I've got too much to lose. I hope this guy makes it through that phase.

Posted by: John Hogan | January 8, 2013 4:39 PM    Report this comment

Bob Hoover would never fly like that if he was doing DZ ops. I'm sure Bob could put quite a show on with the Dornier, but that's not what this guy was paid for.
Skydive AZ (at E60 - Eloy) has one of the largest DZ's in the world and I've flown in there numerous times. Yes, the King Airs and Porters come in on a high-high downwind but NEVER with the low level shenanigans this guy did. I'm sure a pilot that did would be fired on the spot and probably referred to the Scottsdale FSDO. The DZO at Eloy a professional operator, the one in the video is not.
Sooner or later, if this pilot continues those kinds of operations his margin may evaporate and he'll be dead - and the rest of us holding the bag for a preventable accident.

Posted by: ted saylor | January 9, 2013 12:04 AM    Report this comment

Thanks John for reminding me of the past. When young (under 20), life is great and the world is your oyster your are invincible. Flying drunk farms home in their aircraft late at night landing on a farm strip with the head lights of a car for reference and the farmer too drunk to care. I cringe everytime I think about it these days. I'm in that group (over 60's) that like to balance the aircraft and keep away as best as possible any form of stalling, no more than 30 deg banks etc. If I don't feel right or the aircraft doesn't feel right the flight is cancelled. Ja I've also got too much to lose, Family and grandchildren.

Now to the question of whether the clip should have been shown I vote a resounding Yes. Oh to be young again and never to grow up.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | January 9, 2013 4:35 AM    Report this comment

I've ridden down in a King air jump plane for the fun of it and would ride with Horta (if that's correct?) in a heart beat. I'd love to have a view of the gauges as I expect his airspeed management was exceptional from beginning to end if his coordination is any indication of his skill. I would be sorely disappointed if he did exceed VNE. Will he raise our insurance premiums some day? Maybe but I bet more of the hand wringers who have never intentionally exceeded 30 degrees bank do it more often though.

Posted by: Grant Carruthers | January 9, 2013 7:52 AM    Report this comment

Nobody is so worthless that they can't be used as a bad example. His landing technique can certainly be viewed for it's educational value; to open the discussion as to why it's a bad idea to try such a landing.

In the end we only know 4 things about this video:

1. The turn coordinator hanging from the compass actually looks pretty good.

2. The approach could hardly be considered stabilized.

3. The pilot was NOT alone. I only throw this out there because some of the commenters seem to suggest that if he wants to fly like this when he's alone, that's his privilege. Obviously, someone is holding the camera, so this is still a passenger flight.

We can't really know if any aircraft limitations were exceeded, but from my own experience I've found that obstacles out the windscreen look a lot less impressive through the eye of a wide-angle video camera (there's a grain elevator in the pattern of one of my favorite airports, and it never looks as scary on video as it does in real life). I'm inclined to say he was probably closer to the trees than he looked, but then again I don't know that for certain either.

What is point #4 you ask?
4. The soundtrack is rockin'! After about a week of this tune going through my head, I gave up and bought the track on iTunes. I believe that credit should be given where credit is due, so it should have been noted that the music is Sail from AWOLNATION.

Posted by: John (Dizzy) Phunt | January 9, 2013 8:22 AM    Report this comment

From Paul: "But the way to think of it is as angle-of-attack and wing loading, not whether the airplane is descending."

I don't think this is taught, or not taught very well. In coordinated flight, as long as there is 1-G on your butt the plane will stall at level-flight book speed regardless of flight attitude. Right side up, upside down, 90 degree bank. Plane doesn't know any different.

Of course, like Mr Horta you have to look/think ahead and map out what comes next!!

Posted by: John Wilson | January 9, 2013 8:47 AM    Report this comment

@PeterWilliams - He very well may be an aerobatic rated pilot but that hardly justifies "cowboy" flying. That is the same as doing brain surgery with a spoon just because the surgeon is good.
@GrantCarruthers - This is not about hand wringing. It's about a display of poor professional judgment by an supposed "professional" pilot. Just because you can does not mean you should.
There will always be two points of view but the better of those points of view must always weigh to the one that favors prudent, safe and professional behavior. This example of piloting does not match any of those.

Posted by: JEFF OWEN | January 9, 2013 8:57 AM    Report this comment

"I expect his airspeed management was exceptional from beginning to end if his coordination is any indication of his skill."

I gotta ask...and you suspect this why? Are you--and we--so impressed with the ability to make a coordinated turn that it makes us willing to confer upon the pilot imaginary skills that we have no idea if he possesses merely because he hasn't crashed yet?

Has critical thought vanished or is it just me?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 9, 2013 9:06 AM    Report this comment

Paul said: "Are you--and we--so impressed with the ability to make a coordinated turn that it makes us willing to confer upon the pilot imaginary skills that we have no idea if he possesses merely because he hasn't crashed yet? Has critical thought vanished or is it just me?"

RIGHT ON PAUL!!!! We can always count on you to say it like it is and hopefully make those who are not thinking to do just that.

Posted by: JEFF OWEN | January 9, 2013 10:02 AM    Report this comment

Jeff Owen, your comment cracks me up beyond belief. Don't take that the wrong way, it's just that your metaphor couldn't have been more poorly chosen. Many of the neurosurgeons I have worked with have stated that the spoon is their favorite instrument SWEAR TO GOD. Just funny. It's used to gently extract blood clots from the brain without traumatizing the brain tissue. The rest of your point is completely valid. His manner of flight is extreme, I just won't call it overly dangerous as he seems to have the envelope pretty well pegged. Again, if he doesn't exceed VNE the rest of it was bold but essentially safe.
Paul, I just meant that if his impeccably coordinated flight was an indicator of his skill and attention to detail I'd bet his airspeed control was equally as good. I'd wagger that his ASI is his primary instrument in a maneuver like that or he wouldn't have gotten away with it in so many videos let alone the undocumented flights. And if his ASI is his primary instrument in this maneuver he's altering bank and pitch constantly to attain his acceptable decent speed.
Forgive me as a hip and appendix kept me up all night and my routinely questionable judgement may not be at it's best. No flying today. Cheers all, fly safe AND well.
Anyone know if he's able to generate negative thrust with that prop/engine setup? Another video shows a sustained 6000fpm decent

Posted by: Grant Carruthers | January 9, 2013 11:16 AM    Report this comment

Yes we have fly beta and ground beta but it is never used in descent max airspeed for use of beta is 100kts. 6000fpm descent is exceeding the airspeed limits. At the speeds shown in the movies and the descent rates the pilot is exceeding the limits. But what would I know, i only have 3,000 plus flights and rising in that aircraft.... ;)

Posted by: steve copeland | January 9, 2013 11:37 AM    Report this comment

Don't know about the Do28, but airspeed control in the Otter isn't difficult. You could easily manage it, Grant, I'm sure. The usual method is to wingover almost vertically after the last jumper exits. You're starting at 90 knots, so it takes a few seconds to accelerate, then trim for whatever descent speed you want. I forget what it was. Maybe 180 knots or so.

In the pattern, same deal; trim it right and you'd be no more impressed with his airspeed control than with your own. And as far as coordinated turns go, we're all familiar with the rudder, of course. Plus, don't forget, a jump pilot is doing this a dozen or 20 times a day. You get really good at the finer points of approaches and landings and, also...bored. Hence the need for excitement.

The very hardest part of what's going on the video you may not have noticed. That's to not fly a downwind below the treetops just because you can. In street cycling, we have a term for this: squid. In flying, we seem somehow awestruck by it.

How odd. Different in Europe, though. One reason for that is the torte environment is less toxic there than in the U.S. Insurers don't regulate things to the extent they do in the U.S.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 9, 2013 12:08 PM    Report this comment

Yes, Avweb should have published the video. It's a great video showing skilled piloting. We all have to fly within our limitations. In the inimitable words of Dirty Harry, "A man's gotta know his limitations." This is certainly not meant to suggest a student pilot should go out and do this. Nor that the weekend pilot should try it. It does show what can be done by a skilled pilot. It does show what an good energy management can do for a pilot in an engine out landing. Keep up the good work. I like to see people who fly better than I -- not that I want to emulate them, but to see what can be done.

Posted by: Kingsley Hill | January 9, 2013 6:17 PM    Report this comment

Ughhh, frustrating comments, I'm so glad I live and fly in Alaska where a lot of pilots understand the limits of an airplane. I dont need to be in the airplane shot in this video to know it wasnt operated anywhere near its limitations. Pilots who believe so should stay committed to straight and level flight at 2000 feet or above, long paved runways and stay away from mountain flying. Geesh, you dont have to be a test pilot to have the know how or excellent stick and rudder skills. Speaking of test pilots, search for the video of Tex Johnson rolling a B-707 or all the footage of Bob Hoovers routines in the Commander! Im not saying you cant over stress an airplane, which is why you need an excellent understanding of aerodynamics and physics as well as when and how they apply to limitations. Open your minds and learn, get over your conservative closed minds and learn! You will realize you dont operate anywhere near the airplanes limitations but, your own. Then you may make a huge leap to a new level of knowledge and skill.

Posted by: ricky sueltenfuss | January 9, 2013 6:32 PM    Report this comment

Ughhh, frustrating comments, I'm so glad I live and fly in Alaska where a lot of pilots understand the limits of an airplane. I dont need to be in the airplane shot in this video to know it wasnt operated anywhere near its limitations. Pilots who believe so should stay committed to straight and level flight at 2000 feet or above, long paved runways and stay away from mountain flying. Geesh, you dont have to be a test pilot to have the know how or excellent stick and rudder skills. Speaking of test pilots, search for the video of Tex Johnson rolling a B-707 or all the footage of Bob Hoovers routines in the Commander! Im not saying you cant over stress an airplane, which is why you need an excellent understanding of aerodynamics and physics as well as when and how they apply to limitations. Open your minds and learn, get over your conservative closed minds and learn! You will realize you dont operate anywhere near the airplanes limitations but, your own. Then you may make a huge leap to a new level of knowledge and skill.

Posted by: ricky sueltenfuss | January 9, 2013 6:33 PM    Report this comment

That's why I asked what exactly did he do that was unsafe.
1) I don't see any problem with coordination ( as mentioned several times).
2 His airspeed seemed high, is high airspeed unsafe at a private airfield-pattern?
3) His bank angle was steep near the ground? Some pilots fly steeply banked forward slips and recover near the ground, is this unsafe?
4) He was near stall angle of attack. OK, no one mentioned angle of attack yet, I think. Does anyone know if his angle of attack was unsafe? ( like the B-52)

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 9, 2013 7:08 PM    Report this comment

OK, Ricky got me thinking about advanced aerodynamics ands physics. I think the issue here is accelerated stall, if anything. Most pilots probably forgot about accelerated stalls.
Kershner's pilot manual says that 4 g is needed to stall at twice normal stall speed..
It seems unlikely he was pulling 4 g in the descent. But in any case how is this any different or more dangerous than what Reno racers do in turns near the ground? ( and near mass spectators) Comments?

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 9, 2013 10:43 PM    Report this comment

To me this looks tame I have seen worse, a plane load of jumpers yelling "Roll the Beech" and the pilot does a nice 1 G roll sort of makes you think in an airplane that has to have the spars xrayed for cracks ( 3's can roll well too). Now if you want real excitement go to YouTube look for Rob Holland and What I see 3. Note the altimeter on the right of his instrument panel. Big screen tv, crank the sound does not get much better than this.

Posted by: James Greig | January 10, 2013 12:15 PM    Report this comment

I just an watched an episode of "The Aviators" that explained Red Bull air racing. The Dornier pilot discussed in this blog topic was flying much like any Red Bull air racer where they do low knife edge turns at high g loads.
One race pilot, Matt Hall, said he "G stalled" and hit the water briefly and recovered.
Race pilots pull up to 12 g's in turns and this requires special purpose airplanes.(20 g mentioned)
So I think the Dornier pilots main risk was " G stalling" or structure overload.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 10, 2013 9:14 PM    Report this comment

I remain doubtful that he was anywhere near critical g-loading at any time. His main risk was something none of us would resonably anticipate -- like maybe a terrorist with a shoulder-mounted SAM. For the right price (Joe IS a working pilot, after all), I'll bet he'd be happy to instrument the heck out of his plane (I wouldn't be surprised if there were a g-meter already installed), duplicate the entire flight as best he could videoing the instruments along with the outside view, and surprise us all.

Posted by: Michael Armstrong | January 11, 2013 6:44 AM    Report this comment

Hey Paul, did you notice your Avweb logo airplane.... ( do as I say, not as I do)
Just kidding.

Yes, the g loading is determined by how hard the pilot pulls the stick. The Red Bull guys are pulling large g's and executing 90 degrees heading changes in about one second. The Dornier guy seems to take forever to get through the turn to final, so his g load could be very low, I think.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 11, 2013 10:31 AM    Report this comment

The question that really needs to be asked here is was this really necessary? Yes, even in an aircraft that is not certified for aerobatic flight, you can do what this pilot did without breaking anything (this is generally a very bad idea). I won't comment on his descent rate and/or proximity to Vne because I don't know the airplane, but the split-S at the beginning and the low altitude downwind to final turn are just adding unnecessary risk. There's no need to flirt with the treetops to show off when you could easily plan your descent to hit the pattern at a more reasonable altitude and still probably get down in the same amount of time. Another thing to consider; pilots like Rob Holland who fly airshows for a living will practice for weeks, sometimes months, before adding one new figure into their airshow routine, just to make sure the energy management works out properly. This pilot clearly has good stick and rudder and solid knowledge of his airplane, but stunts like this are cool right up until you misjudge your wingtip clearance and cartwheel down the field. Having flown aerobatics for a few years and having given spin instruction, I understand that you can manage your energy to avoid over-stressing the aircraft and hit final at the appropriate speed. I just don't see why you would want to consistently operate with deliberately increased risks when the same job can be done safely without the showboating.

Posted by: Aaron Fettig | January 11, 2013 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Bravo Aaron. You said it all.

Posted by: JEFF OWEN | January 14, 2013 2:22 PM    Report this comment

This pilot appears to have some skill at flying, but nothing like an instructor of mine 35 years ago. He looped the club 1-26 around our 2-22 with a student and instructor in it. He did amazing things with the towplane and glider and got away with it. As his student I told him “Jack you fly very well but have no judgment”. He cart wheeled and totaled our 1-26 in the cornfield surrounding the runway. He was performing a low pass on a high wind day after flying for 30 minutes of what was supposed to be his 5 hour duration . They found him dead a year later in a Cherokee 140 and I am still flying and instructing students. Our Dornier pilot’s landing leaves no margin for a surprise and show offs don’t last long in our sport. Nice tunes though!

Posted by: Scott Wiley | January 15, 2013 7:24 PM    Report this comment

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