Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Watched a plane crash

Got back from a trip with my wife and kids, had just landed and was putting the plane in the hangar when a Navion took off on KCCR 32L, the runway right next to my hangar. He got to maybe 400 ft, I heard a pop or a backfire and the engine quit. He pointed the nose down, leveled off, then made the mistake of trying to circle back around. It looked scary as it was basically pointed straight at me and my hangar, then stall/spun at maybe 20 or 30 feet and crashed nose first into the dirt, a wheel popped off and flew a hundred feet away. I yelled to my wife to watch the kids and I ran to the plane and was the first one there... no fire, but gas leaking out the bottom, the engine basically separated from the airframe. I jumped on top and pulled open the canopy and two older guys were inside, alive and conscious but clearly in shock and bleeding from their heads. Some other guys ran out from their hangars with fire extinguishers and luckily there was no fire. I didn't try to pull them out for fear of injuring them worse. Fire dept was there a few mins later. 

I was already on edge after all the crashes this month, and this was quite a shocker, especially in front of my wife and kids. Scary stuff.  Some news reports:  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 849S71.DTL  I left an officer my business card in case the NTSB wants a report.   Very surreal. I just stood there watching and at first I didn't get it... I was thinking, what the heck are those fools doing? I was thinking they were training and had purposefully pulled the engine, then it sort of hit me that they were going to crash, then they crashed, right in front of me. The sound of it was sickening. Definitely makes me take pause and think about my flying. I also think it's just as important to have a single engine out mantra as it does for us twin guys... if you're below 600 ft or so, land straight ahead or turn 90 deg at most. You're not going to get around 180 deg from 400 ft. It all happened so fast, it's got to be instinctual.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the eyewitness account, and for going out so quickly to help the pilots.

    One thing I don't like about flying in the Bay Area is how so many of our airports don't have good options if your engine fails at takeoff. At my home airport KSQL there's nothing but buildings, roads, and ditches straight ahead from the usual runway 30. KPAO isn't much better; check out this account of the student pilot who survived an engine failure at takeoff there earlier this year. http://mrshoe.org/blog/2011/09/01/i-crashed-my-airplane