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Volume 25, Number 35b
August 29, 2018
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Eco-Groups Lobby Against Supersonic Flight
Mary Grady

With a measure to lift the ban on supersonic flight above the U.S. in play in the Senate, a coalition of 38 environmental and health advocacy groups issued a news release this week urging lawmakers to uphold the current restrictions. The new jet designs would burn up to “seven times more fuel per passenger” compared to today’s airliners, according to the coalition’s news release. “Resurrecting these flying gas-guzzlers would cause the aviation industry’s already massive climate damage to skyrocket,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Supersonic planes are a gratuitous luxury for the super-rich and a dirty burden for everyone else.” Spike Aerospace, Aerion and Boom all are working to bring supersonic aircraft to market in the next decade. NASA is testing new technology that would “soften” the boom so it would be less disruptive to people on the ground.

A recent analysis (PDF) by the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation concluded that new supersonic airliners would likely exceed international subsonic limits for nitrogen oxides by 40 percent, according to the coalition letter. Exposure to nitrogen oxides is linked to respiratory disease, heart attacks and strokes. “At a time when we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from aviation, not increase them, incentivizing commercial use of supersonic aircraft is a huge step in the wrong direction,” said Sarah Burt, a lawyer at Earthjustice.

When There's No Need For Speed
Paul Bertorelli

I’m not sure I know where to look when seeking wisdom about things aeronautical, but I know two places not to look: the YouTube comments section and the dreary carnage of the NTSB database. But wisdom is different than inspiration and the latter can be found in both those sources.

Scrolling through the comment field for today’s video about light sport accident patterns, I saw an observation from one viewer suggesting that a little too much speed on landing is better than not enough. Ah, here we are; your X-rays are back from the lab and we think we see the problem.

I spend a lot of time plowing through the NTSB’s indices of carnage, mayhem and bent metal. If I have learned anything, it is only to reinforce what you already know: The plurality of aviation accidents happen in the narrow slice of rectangular airspace immediately above a runway and speed control—or lack thereof—has a lot to do with it.

For the video report and the accompanying article in Aviation Consumer, I used a basis of 212 light sport accidents, but I read many more to buttress what I think I know about this subject. My conclusion linking light wing loading and featherish control forces is somewhat of a theoretical leap. The NTSB reports are long on bloodless detail but short in describing what was actually transpiring between the pilot’s ears, if anything at all was.

For my next project, I’m going back into the data to sort out how many landing accidents are caused by too much speed rather that too little. My educated guess is about two thirds. In a heavier standard-category airplane, this is challenge enough, but in a light sport with immeasurably gossamer pitch and roll feedback, navigating a speed-of-heat landing flare requires skills and patience beyond the ken of mere mortals. Into this uncertainty, gravity renders the inevitable dope slap and the next thing you know, you’ve merited a few cells in one of Paul Bertorelli’s annoying Excel spreadsheets.

I’m pretty sure too much speed on landing emerges from fear of stalls because of too little. Many pilots—even experienced ones—are fearful or at least uncomfortable with stalls. A portion of those who are not can probably pull off a high percentage of good landings, while another portion are the clueless ones who end their careers in a heap of twisted metal that even a tyro investigator will immediately recognize as a stall/spin.

What to do about this? Billions of trees have died in the service of explaining how to improve landings. In its 91 years of existence, Flying alone has published the same article 4126 times. (I made that up, but go ahead, prove me wrong.) To this august body of repetitive stating of the obvious, I have no additional observations. I got nothin’ here.

All I can say is what works for me. And that’s not to fly with a CFI who may or may not know a whit about nailing the best airspeeds for landing and, in fact, not to fly with anyone in the right seat at all. In every airplane I have flown, I have had to figure out the best overall speed over the fence on my own, mostly by ignoring the POH and developing a feel for what works.

Last week I was in Kerrville, Texas, flying Mooney’s new M20V Acclaim. (Spoiler: It’s kick-ass cool.) Because the external cameras freeze and die at altitude, I rigged them up for a series of takeoffs and landings so as to keep the viewer mildly amused with as many views as possible. The POH recommends an airspeed of 74 knots for the landing which is itself probably a little high. We had about 15 knots of wind, slightly quartering. So the approaches were flown at 80 over the numbers and sometimes a little higher because in turbulence, the airspeed tape is like a berserk slot machine.

And here a sidebar. I wonder if some seriously smart young Embry-Riddle student did a study, he or she wouldn’t find that pilots flying steam gauges would get better landings than those flying glass tapes. A modern skill for the modern pilot is to avoid target fixation on that digital airspeed value. Not that I’m blaming glass for bad landings, but wondering if it helps or hinders.

Anyway, my too-fast landings weren’t horrible—an LSO might call them fair passes. But they were long and floaty. I was flying with the preternaturally calm Premier Aircraft Sales’ Lee Drumheller, but there’s a certain deferential nature to the flight demo dance that causes an understandable nervousness when approaches in a near million-dollar airplane are flown a little slow instead of a little fast. So I don’t fool around trying to hang it on the prop.

But I would if I were alone. Although I talk to myself and sometimes answer, I don’t make myself nervous. When I get serious about this stuff, I’ll do eight or 10 landings, nibbling the airspeed back right to the point of the impending mush, then easing it off. In my view, the best landings ensue from a slow approach with a taste of power right into the flare. Finishing it with that final tug of pitch causes the airplane to surrender all of its energy at once. Done right, you make the first turnoff by adding a little power, not stomping the brakes. Probably won’t be a greaser and who cares?

Confidence accrues from performing well without the right seat adding sotto voce tension, needed or not. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only guy to think this, but I’m also pretty sure not enough pilots actually go out and practice it, given the number of metal-rending arrivals. And as I’ve said before, the NTSB only hears about a fraction of them. But there are more than enough to populate one of my annoying spreadsheets.

Aireon Opens Registration For ADS-B Tracking
Mary Grady

Aireon Alert, which promises to provide free emergency response tracking for any ADS-B-equipped aircraft, anywhere in the world, is now open to accept registrations, the company has announced. The Aireon Alert satellite-based service will provide to aircraft operators and search-and-rescue the last known position of any ADS-B-equipped aircraft that is in distress or has lost communications. Current signals emit a signal every 15 minutes, while Aireon will monitor ADS-B signals every eight seconds at most, reducing the search area for a lost aircraft from more than 58,000 square miles to 5 square miles or less. It’s expected to go online early next year. It will be operated out of the IAA North Atlantic Communications Center in Ireland.

For the first time, Aireon says, aircraft operators and search teams will have access, on request, to exact position data for an aircraft in distress, even if it’s over the oceans or in remote areas far from ground-based infrastructure. “As long as an aircraft is broadcasting on 1090 MHz ADS-B, we will be able to locate it anywhere worldwide,” said Peter Kearney, CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority. “This is a unique and secure cloud-based service, designed to the highest data protection standards.” The system uses Iridium’s constellation of satellites, and is designed to provide ATC services for customers worldwide. The search-and-rescue capability is offered free as a public service to the aviation community, the company says. For more information or to pre-register for Aireon Alert, visit the company’s website.

NOTE: Aireon's website says the service is "not designed for private pilots and the general aviation commnunity," however, the service will work with search and rescue providers. AVweb contacted the company for clarification and has posted an update

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Lake Aircraft Seeks Buyer
Mary Grady

Lake Aircraft has gone up for sale before, several times, but this week the company announced it’s trying again to find a new owner for its assets, including the only FAA-certified single-engine amphibious airplane on the market. The offering includes all the intellectual property and equipment needed to manufacture the Lake Renegade, Seafury and Seawolf airplanes. “The manufacturing operation can then be used as a foundation to expand into bigger and more complex aircraft,” said Armand Rivard, president of Revo Inc., the Lake Aircraft holding company. “This FAA Type Certificate simplifies the start-up of a new aircraft company.” More than 1300 Lake amphibian aircraft are flying in over 50 countries around the world. The line has been in production for more than 50 years.

The offered assets include the FAA Type Certificate, global manufacturing and marketing rights, component and assembly tooling, dies, jigs and engineering drawings for the Lake amphibian airplanes. A team of Lake experts will also be available to assist in the transition and continued production. The Renegade is the most popular of the three models. The turbocharged Seafury has more speed and payload capacity, and the Seawolf is equipped with under-wing hard points for carrying external payloads, and is used for research, search and rescue, law enforcement, air evacuation and other special operations.

Cockpits By Braille

Stuff happens. One minute the engine may be purring like a kitten, the next it can be coughing up a hairball. Pilots who react well to such challenges often credit their training, applying the instincts honed by indoctrination without the need for excessive thought. How does that happen? Most pilots regularly practice simulating an engine out, picking a field and pitching for best glide. That is one scenario to be ready for, but emergencies come in many forms, and your preparation in advance will pay off when that time comes.

I recently signed off a flight review for a non-instrument-rated pilot who flies in mountains that often have bad weather. He impressed me with a seamless and nearly-instinctive 180-degree inadvertent cloud encounter/escape. I’d asked him to assume he was in a canyon with a limited turning radius, and without hesitation, he noted his heading, added flaps, slowed his airspeed, entered a turn and rolled out precisely on the opposite heading. It was well-executed because he had practiced the procedure, his own form of kill-proofing, on his own.

In an emergency, we fall back on our training, our procedural memory. But as numerous studies have shown, it only counts if we physically practice to the point our actions are second nature, even instinctive. As the saying goes, training loads the gun, but practice is what pulls the trigger. We have to actually go through the physical motions for the neurons to get properly wired.

Chair-Fly Emergencies

Many of us have limited practice time (and money), so it makes sense to focus on the most common emergency scenarios applicable to you and your aircraft. I would start by looking up accident reports for the particular airframe you are flying and identify its failure modes. If you chair-fly your emergency checklist procedures for the most common scenarios, you can wire them into your brain for the day you need them.

When I bought a 182, I went to the NTSB web site ( and read accident reports to learn about the airplane’s mechanical and design weaknesses. I also found a great report on 182s prepared by the AOPA Air Safety Institute. I learned that carburetor icing was one of the common reasons that 182s of my particular vintage fell from the sky. I knew immediately that the location of the carb heat control would be paramount for my own procedural training. Subsequently, whenever I fly carbureted aircraft, I memorize the carb heat control’s location.

I have learned other things. For example, a common failure mode among low-wing airplanes is the loss of fuel flow due to a failed fuel pump. For aircraft with multiple-tank fuel systems, it’s critical to wire in the sequence of turning on a boost pump and switching tanks correctly. We can ready ourselves for many of these scenarios by mentally stepping through how they would present, lock into memory the appropriate response, and finally practice. And practice, and practice. Memorization is a good first step, but chair-flying is better. Live practice in the aircraft is better still.

The best place to rehearse “what if” scenarios is by sitting in the actual cockpit, where you can touch the gauges, buttons, levers and systems and call out the actions. Chair-flying is a very effective way to wire in your physical responses to the most common emergencies. It is also a cheap way to help you memorize locations of the switches and gauges that are critical for troubleshooting.

Go With The Flow

A common behavioral practice among professional pilots is per-forming a flow for each phase of flight: pre-takeoff, takeoff, initial climb, cruise climb, cruise, descent, pre-landing, landing, post-landing and securing the aircraft. A flow is simply a systematic scan, often in the shape of a reversed question mark.

Typically it starts low, at the area between the seats, then works up and left across the lower panel, and then back across the main stack to whatever instruments or gauges are on the right side of the panel. In aircraft with systems overhead, the flow continues upward from the right side of the panel and proceeds from right to left across the top over any switches or gauges above you.

We practice the flow to verify the location and status of each system and gauge. However, it also trains us mentally so we become more familiar with the aircraft and the appropriate configuration for each given phase of flight. It is critical for catching common pilot errors, like leaving a fuel pump on when it is time to shut it off, or its corollary, turning it on as part of a pre-landing checklist. Practitioners also rely on the flow and scan as a trend monitor throughout the flight. It’s where we catch engine temperatures rising, anemic fuel flows or ammeters showing discharge.

When your engine coughs, it’s time for a flow. You need to systematically look at things like engine temperatures, oil pressure, fuel flow or fuel pressure, etc., and then immediately know what that data is telling you so you can swiftly take the appropriate corrective action. If you have developed good procedural memory that is ingrained through repetition and practice, you’ll know the steps and sequences of what to do next—the locations of the levers and buttons to push or not push, and the ones that need to be cross-checked before engaging.

There is nothing more satisfying than to feel at one with your plane, essentially reading the cockpit by Braille, using your eyes and hands to quickly and automatically glide through flows, checks and procedures. If you build your procedural memory by chair-flying and whenever you fly, it will be there when you need it.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers get less attention in our daily flying and scanning than they deserve, which is unfortunate because they are often involved in emergent situations, either as a cause, an indicator or an option for fixing the underlying issue quickly. The problem is they can be—almost always, in my experience—located in very inconvenient places. Sometimes they are not well labeled and if they are, you may need a flashlight, reading glasses and the ability to assume a yoga position in flight.

Take time during preflight to look at the circuit breaker panel and identify the breakers you might need to find fast (fuel, gear and autopilot first, then avionics, particularly if you have a glass panel). This is especially important while you are getting familiar with a new aircraft or when preparing to launch into the night.

Make time to know where the most important circuit breakers are and understand each breaker’s underlying purpose. The higher the amp load, the more important your knowledge will be. If one has popped, leaving it that way may be the safest option. On the other hand, some emergency procedures and obvious troubleshooting actions might involve pushing a popped circuit breaker back in. For example, if you want to get your gear down, it may be in the procedure to keep resetting until it is down. Many emergency checklists are specific on resetting a breaker, however. For example: Reset the circuit breaker once; if it pops again, leave it alone and proceed to the next step.

The emergency checklist for the Caravan actually identifies critical circuit breaker locations (e.g., third row, second from the end).

I always like to identify the circuit breaker that disables the autopilot because it is not entirely uncommon for an autopilot to try to kill you. If your plane unexpectedly tries to climb or bank aggressively, and the various disconnects (buttons and manual override) do not respond as expected, you should be able to quickly disable the autopilot circuit breaker.

Trust, But Verify

As valuable as it is to develop excellent procedural memories, there are certain actions that should not be done automatically without at least one last visual verification. For example, it would be an irrevocable commitment to grab the mixture instead of the prop, or select “Off” instead of “Both” on the fuel selector without checking first. Twins are particularly notorious for punishing pilots who neglect to verify. Shutting down or feathering the wrong engine has killed more than a few pilots. Feathering a prop is not recommended when it is on the one engine that is still working.

If you haven’t reviewed your emergency procedures in a while, do yourself a favor and chair-fly the top three emergencies you think you might experience. If you are well-practiced for the unthinkable, your neurons will be there to efficiently help you through the crisis.

GAS For Engine Failures

If acronyms or mnemonics are your thing, aviation is the right place to be. From ALSF to ZYC, we all use some form of memory aid—in addition to checklists—to help us keep things straight. Here’s another one you can add to your collection.

Gas: Know all the relevant levers, buttons and gauges well enough that you could switch fuel pump on, change tanks, check fuel pressure and check the fuel gauge from a chair in your living room with your eyes closed. In aircraft with electrical fuel pumps, you’ll also need to know how to check the circuit breakers to ensure electrical fuel pumps are getting juice.

Air: Know how to select an alternate air source, carb heat or the inertial bypass in turbine aircraft. Alternate air is a rarely used system, so it can be easy to forget it exists. It is not a part of most routine flows, so the only way to have it in your procedural memory is to practice the emergency sequence.

Spark: Scan your magnetos so you know how they are performing. If you can immediately locate a particular button, lever or switch, it is much easier to keep an eye on the gauges that show effect. If you mess with magnetos, keep an eye on the tachometer and the engine monitor. If you turn on a fuel pump, keep an eye on the fuel flow or pressure. If you can locate the appropriate button, lever or switch without searching for it, it will be much easier to keep your eye on the gauge that shows the effect.


Use the CIGARS preflight checklist to get in tune with your cockpit and help wire in procedural memory.

Controls: Place your hands where are they on the airframe and note their locational relationships

Instruments: Identify where to view gas, oil pressure, temps, etc.

Gas: Identify where to view quantity, fuel gauge location, fuel pumps,

Attitude: Trim and check cowl flaps while not in motion

Run-up: Where are the levers, switches etc., you will need for performing a run-up?

Seatbelts, Switches and Stuff: Now is the time to look around the cockpit for all the various switches, gauges, circuit breakers and more, all the devices you might need later in the flight.

Differences Training and Preflight Orientation

If you are in a rental or commercial fleet, differences training is important. It is not at all unusual for multiple copies of the same aircraft model to have systems controls in totally different locations. I fly a Caravan and have memorized the autopilot circuit breaker location—or more correctly, locations—because it is different in the two different airframes I fly. At top right is the panel of one Caravan, a steam-gauge airplane. At bottom right is the other plane’s panel, which has a Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck.

Flight instruments are not the only difference between the two planes.When you get in the seat of your particular ride, do a quick preliminary CIGARS check to familiarize yourself with the cockpit geography and spot differences in systems. It’s a good time to note physical relationships and groupings. When I do it, I find that physically touching each of the systems helps me wire in my muscle memory. I will even touch the systems I don’t use often, like alternate static source or alternate air source, just as a reminder.

Mike Hart flies his Piper J3 Cub and Cessna 180 when he’s not schlepping people and packages for a Part 135 operator. He’s also the Idaho State Liaison for the Recreational Aviation Foundation.

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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NASA Advances Wing-Folding Technology
Mary Grady

Engineers from NASA and Boeing have successfully used “shape memory alloys” to fold a full-sized wing section from an F/A-18 Hornet jet, NASA has reported. The technology enabled the team to fold the wing section in the lab 90 degrees, with very precise control enabling them to select any position within that sweep. The ability to reshape wings for different phases of flight could boost aircraft performance by reducing weight and drag, while improving aircraft control and stability, NASA said. The technology had been previously demonstrated on a sub-scale drone. NASA now plans to conduct full-scale flight testing with an F/A-18.

The advantages of reshaping the wing in flight have long been known, says NASA researcher Othmane Benafan. “We are not the first ones doing this research,” he said. “This dates back to the early 1960s.” The current research is focused on using the new “shape-memory alloy” materials as actuators. The alloys can be “trained” to return to a previous form when heated, and NASA engineers have developed efficient and reliable new training procedures. The next step will be full-scale flight testing of the technology with an F/A-18, NASA said.

SkyRyse Launches Semi-Autonomous Transportation Service
Kate O'Connor

California-based SkyRyse announced the launch of a new emergency response service using semi-autonomous aircraft and introduced its advanced pilot assistance system (APAS) on Tuesday. According to the company, APAS automates, adapts and enhances control systems on compatible aircraft by using artificial intelligence, a camera and sensor suite, and decision-making algorithms. For the immediate future, a pilot is still needed onboard the aircraft.

“We are building an air transportation service that is not limited by today's infrastructure,” said SkyRyse CEO and co-founder Mark Groden. “Because the stakes are highest in emergency response situations when minutes can mean the difference between life and death, we’re launching SkyRyse Emergency Response to support governments and municipalities first, with plans to change how we get around our cities in the future.”

The company is scheduled to begin operation of its Air Emergency Response service in Tracy, California, in January 2019. The service includes APAS-equipped vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, pilots and a mobile app to “provide support to the city’s emergency response units, including law enforcement, search and rescue missions, and firefighters.” According to SkyRyse, their service will reduce both emergency response times and cost for the city. The company says APAS will work with any FAA-approved VTOL aircraft.

Similar technologies designed to adapt current aircraft models for semi- and fully-autonomous flight are being developed by other companies including Boeing's Aurora Flight Sciences and Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky.

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Why Light Sport Airplanes Suffer So Many Crashes
Paul Bertorelli

Light sport airplanes were supposed to be a cheaper alternative to certified aircraft and they are. But AVweb's look at the accident record of these airplanes confirms what many skeptics worried about: They suffer more crashes than standard category aircraft. This video explains why.



General Aviation Accident Bulletin

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine, and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s website at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

May 18, 2018, Crescent Mills, Calif.

Cessna 182D Skylane

At about 0809 Pacific time, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power while maneuvering. The pilot subsequently executed a forced landing into a river. The private pilot and passenger were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Approaching the destination airport, the pilot observed low fog in the valley. He executed a long counter-clockwise circle around the valley and fog. As the circle completed and at a low power setting, the engine abruptly lost all power. The pilot established the best glide speed and proceeded toward a river. Attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful. The descent continued and the airplane landed in the river, impacting rocks and coming to rest. The airplane impacted rocks and came to rest nose-down with its left wing in the water.

May 20, 2018, Bennington, Vt.

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II

The airplane was destroyed at about 1423 Eastern time when it collided with wooded terrain while maneuvering. A post-crash fire ensued. The solo instrument-rated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Over the previous three days, the pilot had obtained a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor certificate with a multi-engine land rating. The designated pilot examiner reviewed weather with the pilot on May 19 for his flight back to his home airport. The DPE advised the pilot to delay his departure a day until the weather improved.

While en route, the pilot was receiving flight following services from the Albany (NY) Approach Control facility. The controller advised the pilot of precipitation and nearby mountainous terrain. In response to a question, the pilot reported cloud bases were at 3,000 feet when the airplane was at 3,400 feet. Shortly, the airplane’s altitude was varying between 3,200 feet and 4,000 feet MSL over an area where ATC’s minimum vectoring altitude was 5,000 feet. The airplane briefly turned to a westbound heading, then turned back to a southeasterly heading. The controller advised the pilot that if he continued on the present heading, radar coverage would be lost. While the pilot was turning back to a westerly heading, radar and radio contact were lost. The last radar target was plotted at 1423:41, at 3,500 feet MSL and a groundspeed of 218 knots. The accident site was at approximately 2,625 feet MSL.

The main wreckage came to rest upright and was oriented on a 265-degree magnetic heading. Both propellers exhibited damage consistent with being under power. The attitude indicator was disassembled, and its gyro and gyro housing exhibited rotational scoring. Weather recorded at a station about five miles west-southwest of the accident site and at 827 feet MSL at 1415 included visibility of 10 miles, a few clouds at 1,700 feet AGL, a broken ceiling at 3,600 feet and an overcast ceiling at 4,600 feet.

May 22, 2018, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Cessna 140

At about 1930 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain. The commercial pilot was seriously injured; the pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses observed the airplane making touch-and-go landings. During the third touch-and-go, the airplane had climbed to about 200-300 feet AGL when the engine “sputtered,” revved up, sputtered a second time and then experienced a total loss of power. The witnesses observed the airplane make a left turn like it was trying to return to the runway. During the left turn, the airplane descended steeply and impacted the ground.

All major components were accounted for at the scene. Control cable continuity was confirmed, the fuel selector valve was in the right tank position and the throttle and mixture controls were in the full forward position. The magneto switch was in the BOTH position. About 3.25 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel were found in each wing fuel tank.

May 25, 2018, Santa Fe, NM.

Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing

The airplane impacted terrain at about 1342 Mountain time. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Day visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane was in cruise flight at 10,500 feet MSL and receiving flight following services from ATC. It entered a descent at 1340:11 for unknown reasons. The final radar return was recorded at 1342:48 at 7,900 feet MSL (650 feet AGL) about 1.25 nm east-northeast of the accident site.

May 27, 2018, Omaha, Neb.

Beechcraft P35 Bonanza

At 0840 Central time, the airplane impacted terrain following a loss of control during takeoff. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed by a post-impact fire. Day visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses observed the airplane attempting to take off. During the takeoff roll, about 1,300 feet from the departure end of Runway 30, the airplane exited the left side of the runway, traveled through several grass medians between the runway and taxiways, onto several taxiway surfaces and was briefly airborne during portions of the runway excursion. The airplane crossed the end of the runway, became airborne and then appeared to stall. The airplane’s right wing struck the terrain, the airplane cartwheeled and a post-impact fire ensued. The witnesses stated the airplane looked like it was out of control during the takeoff sequence. During the runway excursion, the airplane impacted several runway and taxiway light structures.

The main wreckage came to rest inverted about 200 feet from the end of the runway and was consumed by fire. The 0835 automated weather observation included wind from 240 degrees at seven knots and clear skies. The calculated density altitude was 3,150 feet.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to Aviation Safety!

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Short Final: Turtle

I was doing traffic pattern work in a Citabria on a Friday afternoon at a busy, towered, Class D airport. Meanwhile, the business jet traffic was picking up, and the tower controller was doing an admirable job working our touch and goes in between the jet arrivals and departures.

Lear123 (just departed): KXYZ Tower, be advised there is a large turtle on Runway 17, about two‑thirds of the way down from the numbers.

KXYZ Tower: Lear123, thanks for turtle report. Contact departure on 123.8.

KXYZ Tower: KXYZ traffic, be advised there is a large turtle on the west edge of Runway 17 at about 6,000 feet. We are monitoring his position.

Citabria 34NM: KXYZ Tower, 34NM is midfield downwind for another touch and go.

KXYZ Tower: 34NM, did you hear the turtle NOTAM?

Citabria 34NM: Roger that, but we don’t have him on TCAS, Turtle Collision Avoidance System.

KXYZ Tower: Citabria 34NM, you might want to avoid using too much runway on this one, although the turtle is likely no factor, he’s much faster than you are. Cleared touch and go Runway 17.

Grant Haddix
Katy, TX
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