Aviation Safety Letter 1/2005

Accidents Reports

The object of this column is to inform recreational aircraft owners and pilots of incidents and accidents that have occurred in recent months in Canada. This information is published in order that pilots may recognize conduct and types of operations leading to risks, and too often, to a loss of life.

Fuel estimate "slightly" off - A Piper PA-28 departed on a visual flight rules (VFR) flight with a planned time en route of 3 hr 20 min and an estimated 5 hr of fuel on board. Two hours into the flight, the pilot became aware that his fuel quantity was less than anticipated and there was no diversion airport available. The engine failed due to fuel exhaustion after 3 hr 10 min total flight time, 5 NM short of destination. The aircraft was force-landed on a small lake. Tip: Review Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) 602.88.

Balloon forced into wires by wind shift - A balloon, Lindstrand Model LBL 310 A, was on approach to a field when a wind shift caused the balloon to descend rapidly toward power lines. The pilot lit the burners and attempted to clear the power lines but was unsuccessful. The balloon envelope made contact and knocked down several power lines. The pilot managed to get the balloon free and flew on to make a successful landing 2 mi. further. Two passengers suffered minor injuries during the impact with the power lines and the balloon sustained minor damage.

Hard landing on glassy water - On completion of a local flight at Churchill Lake, Ont., the Aeronca 7AC aircraft landed hard on glassy water. The float boxing wires on the right side of the aircraft failed and allowed the right wing tip to contact the water. Neither the pilot nor the passenger was injured.

Wire strike - The pilot of an amateur-built on floats was on approach for a water landing on a river near Alma, Que. He collided with one of the guard wires extending above a heavy wire cluster running from one tower to the other. The aircraft crashed into the river, but the pilot and the two passengers were successfully rescued. All the wires of the high capacity electrical power line were marked, except for the upper guard wire that was located about 15 ft above the main cluster. The guard wires, also called lightning protection wires, are of a smaller diameter than the main wires, making it hard for pilots to distinguish them from the surrounding background.

Gyroplane no match for downdraft - A RAF 2000 amateur-built gyroplane had departed from Runway 03 at the Medicine Hat, Alta., airport on a local pleasure flight. Following a normal climb to approximately 250 ft above ground level (AGL), the gyroplane began to lose altitude. The pilot confirmed that the airspeed, engine RPM and rotor RPM indications were normal for a climb configuration. However, the gyroplane continued to descend and a forced landing was performed on 10th Avenue, in the southwest corner of the city. There was no damage to the gyroplane and the pilot and passenger were not injured. The wind and terrain conditions were such that the gyroplane may have entered the downdraft side of a wave of air flowing over the south bank of the river valley, which exceeded the climb capability of the aircraft. A combination of temperature and pressure altitude, all-up weight and strong downward moving air mass likely created a situation where the aircraft capabilities were exceeded.

Pilot removes shoulder and lap restraints just before impact - The amateur-built Glastar aircraft was taking off from Six Mile Lake, Ont., on a VFR flight to Lake Rosseau/Cameron Bay, Ont. The aircraft encountered a windshear and stalled with a right wing drop shortly after takeoff. The aircraft struck the water in a nose-down attitude from about 50 ft. The pilot sustained serious head injuries when he was thrown through the windshield on impact. He had been wearing both shoulder and lap restraints, but had removed them before contact with the water to facilitate egress. Lap and shoulder restraints will only perform their function as designed if you use them. - Ed.

High-speed taxi test goes wrong - The pilot owner of a CIRCA Reproductions Nieuport 11 ultralight was doing a high speed taxi test on Runway 34 at the Nanaimo, B.C., airport, when the aircraft became airborne and crashed just east of the runway at mid-field. The pilot sustained fatal injury. High speed taxiing has its risks. Be aware of them. - Ed.

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