View Full Version : Fixed Wing Ultralight Incidents
07-24-2004, 11:02 AM
I stumbled across a Pterodactyl web page. One of the pages is a history of accidents. I was amazed about the number and severity of the accidents. I think most of the crashes were caused through lack of training, lack of knowing you need training, exceeding envelope, bad pre flights and a lot of stupidly. The site is at www.geocities.com/pterodactylclub/Accidents.html (http://www.geocities.com/pterodactylclub/Accidents.html) if you are to check it out. With all the incidents recorded here make stories of PIO and PPO seem like nothing. The reason for my post here is that there was one I got a kick out of. It is pasted as I found it below. That fellow is one lucky dude.
A pilot was doing whipstalls in his Pfledge, lost control and completed a half-loop. He was not wearing his shoulder harness, fell out of the seat and landed on the bottom of the wing. When the aircraft recovered he was unable hold onto the wing and fell from the aircraft, landing in a bog. The pilot was uninjured.
07-24-2004, 03:05 PM
Damn, that's sad. However I was astonished by this one:
"A fatality occurred when an Ascender pilot took off and made a steep climb-out. He struck power lines and crashed. An autopsy revealed alcohol and drugs in the pilot's bloodstream."
Clearly a candidate for the Darwin Awards (http://www.darwinawards.com/).
07-24-2004, 03:23 PM
That was one of them I was thinking of when I mentioned stupidly. I think this model has been flying since the 70ís so there may have been a lot of them but I was shocked by the shear number of fatal crashes. Now falling in a bog and surviving was cool.
07-24-2004, 05:23 PM
Yeah, I'm still reading the page and only about half way through (and I'm a fast reader)... but I'm pausing frequently in sheer awe. Granted the machine was about as airworthy as a matchstick, but the level of "pilot" incompetence was astounding.
It's no wonder Gyro/Sport pilots are still living down the stigma of the word "ultralight." To the uninformed it's synonymous with 3 F-words: Frail, Faulty and Fatal.
That is why I'm so thankful for my journey to Mentone yesterday... Experiencing first hand the level of skill (builders, designers & pilots alike), the fanatical commitment to safety, and strict adherence to flight safety rules has given me a newfound respect for our sport; A sport I'd like to be part of. In particular the PRA. There's no barnstorming going on, and I was most impressed with the standing-room-only turnout (literally) during Friday's Gyro Stability Standards lecture.
Joe Swanton, whom I flew with there, was a pilot's pilot in every sense. From preflight to flight plan coordination with the flight director, to the flight itself, I aspire to be as skilled as him someday. The nature of our flight was somewhat unorthodox involving specialized camera equipment. Decades ago maybe nobody would have thought twice about a camera cord... until they read about it in an accident report where it was determined to have gotten inadvertently wrapped around the cyclic stick by wind, and 2 died. Well that didn't happen because Mr. Swanton and I did an exhaustive "dry run" of the whole process from the ground. We both agreed that if at any time a problem became evident, we'd abort the opreation. And in fact we addressed cable lengths and tied them off prior to flight. I was very relieved when the airport flight director was satisfied only after a demonstration of what we planned to do. (I was introduced but forgot his name. Great guy.)
That's the level of detail and safety I was hoping for before we arrived.
In short, witnessing what I did in those few short hours at Mentone has not only restored my faith in Sport Aviation, particularly Gyroplanes, it has given me a new respect for all those whom learn from history, and engineer safer systems as a result.
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