Where have you been? What have you seen?
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By ADP
#720743
Afternoon all,

As a way of laying to rest the demons, for want of a better phrase, after my engine failure on takeoff and subsequent forced landing on the 4th November 2008 I wrote down my recollection of the incident, as well as my thoughts as far as I could remember them, for my non-flying girlfriend so that she could understand. I stumbled across the word file with this recollection in this afternoon, so although there is a lot of irrelevant rubbish in there I thought it might hopefully be of use to someone to show my thought process during the event :)

Standing here in this dreary muddy field just half a mile from the end of Runway 09 at Gloucestershire Airport on the morning of November 6th 2008, I still cannot bring myself to accept the events of two days past. Yet, suspended before me is the lifeless, battered corpse of ‘N770CP’; the aircraft I had force-landed in this field, writing it off in the process of doing so. ‘Seven Seventy’ used to be such a proud, powerful yet elegant aircraft; now engineers, investigators, fire crew and insurance loss adjustors swarm around, pulling, prodding, cutting into her like flies slowly consuming a dead body. As I watch I am not sure whether to feel elated that I walked with my life, angry that the engine failed in the first place, pity for such a lovely aircraft coming to an untimely end, relief that I thankfully didn’t injure anyone on the ground, or guilt that this accident happened whilst I was at the controls. Instead I feel a cold indifference, the empty numbness associated with shock. I cannot help but watch, and as I do so my mind drifts; for the thousandth time in the last forty-eight hours I am back in the cockpit of ‘Seven Seventy’ reliving that last flight.

‘November Seven Seven Zero Charlie Papa, at hold Charlie One, ready for departure’
I call over the radio. I am sitting in the right-seat of the company’s Cirrus SR-22 G3 Perspective demonstrator aircraft, positioned at the holding point and ready to line up on the runway, open the throttle and return to the skies. ‘Seven Seventy’ as we call her (every aircraft is female as far as male pilots are concerned!) has just been in for maintenance, her first one hundred hour check to be precise, in preparation for being sold on. Such a shame, for I truly enjoy the experience of flying with her, but despite being a mere infant of only six months she has already reached the end of her life as a demonstrator, thus it’s time for her to move on to a new home. Seated next to me in the left seat is Eddie, a fellow private pilot from my home aerodrome of Turweston, and who I knew had always been yearning to fly a Cirrus. I had asked him if he would like to come along earlier this morning, knowing full well he would jump at this rare opportunity. But then I think that most pilots would love to fly such a prestigious aircraft as a Cirrus; however, they are generally prohibitive in terms of insurance requirements, availability and cost. Thus whenever possible I like to take other pilots flying with me who would probably never get the opportunity to fly a Cirrus otherwise, for I know that I would never have been able to fly such a magnificent aircraft were it not for my job. Six months ago I couldn’t have even dreamed of flying such a modern, luxurious, powerful aircraft, yet not only am I at the controls of such an amazing machine right now, but it's actually part of my job! So many wonderful flights and experiences; for what must be the millionth time I can’t help but shake my head incredulously and think to myself how very lucky I am, not having the slightest idea that my luck was about to run out in spectacular fashion...

‘November Seven Seven Zero Charlie Papa, cleared for takeoff runway zero nine, wind zero-eight-zero at ten knots’
The reply from Gloucestershire Tower shakes me from my reverie. I have been cleared to return to my home territory, the skies of the United Kingdom. Marvellous! I am going to perform the takeoff and initial climb, and then hand control over to Eddie once we are at a safe height so that he can experience the crisp handling of the Cirrus.
‘Cleared for takeoff, November Seven Seven Zero Charlie Papa’ I call, acknowledging my takeoff clearance. I open the throttle slightly to start Seven Seventy moving towards the runway, eliciting a deep powerful purr from her Continental engine; she is as eager as I to return to her natural habitat. As we enter the runway and line up with the centreline I feel the familiar post-takeoff excitement that always envelopes me at this point; we are going flying! Once on the runway centreline I allow the aircraft to roll forward to align the nosewheel properly, and then bring her to a halt. I advance the throttle to increase the power to two-thousand RPM, and the purr grows into a steady growl. All feelings and irrelevant thoughts are now suppressed; time for my personal last-second checks, a quick scan around the cockpit: Temperatures and pressures; in the green, Alternators; engaged and charging, Trim; set correctly, Mixture; full rich set, flaps; takeoff set, parachute; armed – excellent, everything is working perfectly, and I can feel Seven Seventy rocking and straining on her brakes, alive, vibrant, full of energy and begging to be unleashed. I smile, release the brakes and open the throttle to full power, unleashing her full three hundred and ten horsepower. The growl becomes a deafening roar; she sprints forward from standstill and accelerates down the runway at an incredible pace. I barely have time to check to make sure that the engine is putting out full power, which it certainly is, before we reach the rotate speed of 65 knots. I pull back gently on the stick...and we are airbourne. What a liberating feeling it is to escape the clutches of the earth, to defy gravity and launch into the skies. We are rapidly accelerating, and passing through 85kts I raise the flaps and establish a climb at 100kts. At about 150ft above ground level I reach over to turn the fuel pump off and...

[i]Crump[/i]

The noise reverberates through every inch of my body; not a bang as such, but a metallic noise that I can most liken to a flak burst from a world war two movie: the chilling sound of an engine that has just died. Time seems to stop and yet accelerate tremendously all at once. The heavy whine as the engine drops from full power to nothing, the propeller windmilling uselessly in the airflow... [i]No, no, bloody hell no! This cannot be happening![/i] I glance in disbelief at the throttle and mixture levers, which I know that I am both holding fully forward anyway. Sheer terror grips me; [i]my God we’re only at 200ft and we’re going to crash![/i] I feel panic overwhelming me, then: [i]Get a f*cking grip man!!![/i] – the voice of training as it takes over my body; first thought: [i]pull the parachute? No, we’re too low. Right, we’re force landing[/i]; I look outside, two choices – the field immediately in front or the one beyond, with the M5 motorway running from right to left between them; [i]no chance of getting the aircraft down in the closer field without overrunning onto the motorway and killing God knows how many people; right, we’re going into the field the other side of the motorway; there’s a tree in the flight path at the beginning of the field, oh f*ck it I don’t know if we have enough height to clear the motorway anyway, can’t risk turning to avoid it, no choice - we’re flying into the bloody thing[/i]. Three seconds elapsed since engine failure. Without even consciously thinking I have set the aircraft up at best glide speed. [i]Right, looks like will just clear the motorway, put out a Mayday call[/i]. As I watch the tree growing ever larger in front of me, I hear myself saying in a calm and detached voice ‘Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, November Seven Seven Zero Charlie Papa, partial power loss, attempting force landing the other side of the M5...’ we pass over the motorway by barely twenty feet, and the tree blooms in the windshield; I catch a brief glance of the thick branches as they disappear underneath the windscreen, much more substantial than I had first thought; [i]oh bugger, this is going to hurt[/i] – a split second later, a horrendous, sickening bang; I am thrown hard forward against my straps as Seven Seventy impacts the tree at over one hundred miles an hour; [i]my God we’ve had it...wait, we’re clear and still flying! No, she’s stalled, we’re dropping in fast! Get the f*cking nose down now![/i] I try to force the aircraft’s nose down to unstall her, then pull back to flare and cushion the impact but the controls don’t respond; [i]we’re falling like a brick, dear God this is it...[/i]

[i]Am I alive? Did I just dream that? Am I dreaming now?[/i] Confusion envelopes me; I am sitting here in the right hand seat of November Seven Seven Zero Charlie Papa, everything is calm and peaceful, but wait...I can hear alarm bells? Suddenly I am overwhelmed with noise, high pitch alarms, someone crying out – [i]Eddie! My God I must have been knocked out – sh*t, what if this thing catches fire! The most terrible way to die, I have to get out of here bloody quickly![/i] Fear rears it’s ugly head again [i]Eddie sounds badly hurt, I need to get him out and away from the aircraft[/i]. Propelled by the fear of burning to death I unlatch myself, vacate the aircraft faster than I ever have done before and run around to the other side of the aircraft to pull Eddie out, only to find that he has already managed to crawl onto the wing. [i]Should I pull him completely clear? No, you don’t know what injuries he might have, he’s safer on the flat surface of wing for the time being, you can pull him clear at the first sign on fire. Bloody hell, that’s a point; I need to shut the aircraft down, turn everything off![/i] I turn off the master power switches but the power stays on – [i]oh bugger! [/i] i’m shaking uncontrollably; [i]oh God what have I just done? Why can’t I think straight?[/i] Common sense kicks in; [i]Get your bloody act together, Eddie needs help now[/i]. I dial 999 on my mobile phone and request the Ambulance service. [i]Why can’t I stop shaking?[/i] I can’t stand still, I have to walk around or else I feel like i’m going to pass out. A noise is growing louder and louder – a helicopter! It’s an R44 from the airport; I wave frantically at him, pointing to Eddie lying on the wing to try and summon help. The helicopter circles for a few minutes then departs back towards the airport. I look around Seven Seventy; the undercarriage has been torn off or is stuck in the mud underneath the aircraft, there are branches sticking out of the wings, the propeller blades are all bent backwards; [i]oh my lord what have I done? Nick (my boss) is going to kill me! Worst of all i’ve badly injured Eddie, this cannot be happening![/i] If I wasn’t in such deep shock I would have uncontrollably broken down in tears.

I sat with Eddie, holding his hand and apologising profusely until the first of the fire crew arrived from the airport. He told me that I did a brilliant job in getting us both down alive, that it wasn’t my fault, but it did nothing to lessen my feeling of guilt. Events unfolded in a blur from then on; more of the fire crew turned up, then paramedics, the local air ambulance, police and engineers from RGV to safe the parachute system. People tried talking to me, but I could do nothing but walk around aimlessly in disbelief and shock as the next fifteen minutes passed me by unnoticed. I only realised that I was missing a shoe when one of the fire crew handed it to me, which I had left in the aircraft upon my hasty exit. I watched with a sickening pang of guilt – [i]I put him there[/i] - Eddie being loaded onto the air ambulance, and then I myself was escorted off to a waiting ambulance by a Police officer. Once in the ambulance a chilling realisation dawned on me; [i]I should be dead – how in God’s name did I survive that?[/i]
Last edited by ADP on Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Adam
#720776
Phew!

Well done that man, I just hope that if it happens to me I could get the same outcome.
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By AndyR
#720784
Every take off I did from 09 last month I did thinking about you and Eddie. You did well getting it into that field. Like you say, shame about the damn tree :)
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By millermilla
#720868
Thanks for sharing that it must be very hard to put the emotions into words but it certainly gives a good idea of what it would be like.
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By Jim Jones
#720890
Very illuminatng account, especially how the emotions play.

If it had been me the write up would have been more like:-


Clunk!

*&&^ %$$£ O)(&
))()^
^^()
^^%$£E]

aaaaaaargh!

Phew!
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By G-BLEW
#720895
Adrian

Any news on the cause of the engine failure?

Ian
By Squawk6321
#720902
Mmmm,

Bit of a story!!!

Why by a height of 200ft AGL do you have the Flaps up and the fuel pump off?
What were you taught in your PPL? What were you taught in the Cirrus training?
I would fail you for that on a PPL skills test.

Why do you say you have a partial power loss, when it's clear according to you that the prop windmills uselessly?

If you were only at 200ft why did you not land back on the runway?
In an SR22 you could be at over 800ft crossing the other end of the runway at Gloucester with a standard takeoff and climb. At 100kts you'll be climbing at over 1500ft per minute.

Why does the prop have so much damage if the engine wasn't producing power?

Anyway, just a few comments of my maybe inexperienced thoughts on the subject!!
By Squawk6321
#720904
O yeah, Sorry forgot!!

Why are you in the Right hand seat?

Are you an instructor?
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By FlashPilot22
#720919
Hmmm....I'm gonna stick my neck out here and say "Well done Squawk 6321!!" because I think Squawk6321 has come out and asked the questions that a lot of people (especially experienced Cirrus pilots) have been wanting to ask from the beginning, myself included.

Dont get me wrong, I'm absolutely delighted that nobody was killed, very pleased that Adrian has continued flying after such a shock and I'm not sure how Eddie is doing (I hope he's recovering fast), but really, there are a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of which were asked by Squawk6321 above.

The field would not have been so hard to reach if the correct climbout procedure had been adhered to (a lightly loaded SR22 goes up like 'ell if you follow it) and I've seen 1000' + by the runway end at Gloucester on countless occasions in an SR22. I also suspect that the field would not have been so hard to reach if some flap had been deployed to extend the glide (instead of trying to stretch the glide). Dare I say this is basic stuff.

Of course, everything happens so quickly and it's hard to explain what goes through your mind in situations like that but, what plan was in mind, just before take off? You mention your own "checklist" you like to go through, mentioning the mixture and all that "Jazz", but there was no mention of planning for an EFATO. I'm guessing that you're fairly low time and therefore inexperienced, which of course isnt a fault, just a fact of the scenario. Personally, I plan for an engine failure before every take off and if I take off, without a problem, it's a bonus. The same applies to landing....I always plan to go around and, if I land, it's a bonus (a very wise ol' Captain instilled that in me)! The idea being to already have a decision made in the event of a problem, or in case of the unexpected.

It feels a little bit like everyone has jumped on the "Pat on the back" wagon, instead of the "What can we learn about this" wagon. I'll be interested to read the answers to Squawks questions as they were completely relative.

Nobody is pointing fingers.......but everyone deserves to learn from any mistakes, be it their own, or others.
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By ADP
#720934
G-BLEW - It sounds like we may have a cause, but i'm waiting to hear for definite

Squawk6321 & Flash - :roll: I did not post this to report to start another discussion on the crash, simply to give some insight to those who havn't experienced such an event (and hopefully never will!) about what it is like. It took me two whole months to accept that the EFATO wasn't my fault, much as a certain organisation at Gloucestershire told their customers that I pulled the mixture lever without a shed of proof :evil: But then i'm sure you know all about that :twisted: I will say this however - I am simply recalling events from memory, and filling in the gaps with information from people on the ground, thus some of what I remember is bound to be inaccurate, thus none of this can be taken as fact.

That is all I have to say on the matter. The point is that although it was quite an arrival, I didn't injure or kill anyone on the ground, and Eddie is making a full recovery so that's all that matters to me. Let the AAIB report make any suggestions or criticisms. Case closed.
By Squawk6321
#721007
I'm very pleased that you are safe.

Your account is very good, but very sensationalised. I just want to know the facts, not all the glorified stuff around it. (I was waiting for the Love scene!)

But still, whether we wait for the AAIB or not, why did you do the things you said on take off, Flaps up, fuel pump off.

This is not about this incident, it's about what you do in any aircraft. No major configuation changes that close to the ground.
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By Morley
#721013
Squawk6321 wrote:I'm very pleased that you are safe.

Your account is very good, but very sensationalised. I just want to know the facts, not all the glorified stuff around it. (I was waiting for the Love scene!)

But still, whether we wait for the AAIB or not, why did you do the things you said on take off, Flaps up, fuel pump off.

This is not about this incident, it's about what you do in any aircraft. No major configuation changes that close to the ground.

What is your agenda? You are a Cirrus instructor and a member of the 147 group if I recall. You know all the figures. Say what you mean.
By Squawk6321
#721014
I'm not a member of the 147 group.

I know the figures, but does ADP?
I never asked for any figures, I asked why he did what he did?
By Jowloo
#721016
Personally, I thought it was a very interesting account of an EFATO. The queries over the take off checks are best left to those with experience of the cirrus, though I am surprised that the aircraft was so low when fuel pumps and flaps were raised.

I am, however, interested in this quote: -

[quo[quotelso suspect that the field would not have been so hard to reach if some flap had been deployed to extend the glide (instead of trying to stretch the glide). Dare I say this is basic stuff.[/quote]

Er, extending flap doesn't normally extend the glide. The extra lift is counterbalanced, if not exceeded, by the extra drag. Therefore the approach with flaps is slower and steeper. Best glide is with a clean wing, isn't it? :?

J
By Squawk6321
#721021
Jowloo

Valid comment,

Yep the best glide is with flaps up, on the Cirrus at glide speed you can gain 100-200ft by selecting a stage of flap to help you extend the glide a bit.
They produce a lot of lift and then drag, so it can help to hop over an obstacle in the way.

Not always the case in other aircraft.

Difficult to make those decisions with little time available close to the ground.