Warbird Accident

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by GregP, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #1 GregP, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
    Just got back from Joe Yancey’s shop and had to pass this along.

    A few years back we did an engine for a P-63. Another beautiful, pristine, freshly-overhauled Allison that went out the door. When I got there today, it was sitting there in a shipping crate and I noticed right way that the carburetor was missing and the intake was uncovered. I also noted there was dirt and even dried mud all over the engine. Standing out was the fact that none of the oil intakes or exits were capped off! The hoses had been cut and just left open!

    I asked Joe what had happened and he told me the most dis gusting story I’ve heard in a long time. Everyone shall remain nameless.

    Seems the owners of the P-63 got the engine and installed it in the P-63, but never contacted Joe about any issues that cropped up. They had never installed a line on one of the vent holes, so the water pump casing was covered in oil where it had simply run out and dripped onto the water pump. I assumed the rest was still in the P-63 airframe somewhere. Joe pointed out they had used Saran Wrap to close off the coolant lines(!) but had left all the oil intakes and exits uncapped (!) and had removed the spark plugs and left the holes open (!) and had not covered the intake where the carburetor used to be (!).

    So, there was dirt and mud in the intake going right into the supercharger impeller. I laughed and we both assume there is considerable dirt in the engine, along with considerable corrosion since nothing was ever capped off. He told me the story, as it was told to him.

    The pilot departed his home base for a destination and found out along the way that one fuel tank would not feed. Rather than abort and go home OR land and get it right, he elected to continue to the destination air show. But he never apparently recalculated his range with only half fuel, so he passed over 20+ airports and ran out of fuel a few miles short of his destination. Not bothering to follow the checklist, he apparently left the mags on and left the throttle at cruise setting! He then selected an off-airport landing area and started down. While on the final approach, he dropped the flaps and the ensuing nose down splashed some fuel into the intake area and the engine restarted at cruise power, causing him to considerably overshoot the intended landing area and coming down in a much less desirable area. The gear collapsed and all four prop blades were bent down while sliding on the belly.

    Apparently the destination had said they would fill up the tanks of the P-63 and rather than stop and add $100 worth of fuel to ensure he GOT there, the pilot flew it until it ran out of fuel just short of the destination. So … rather than spend an extra $100, they now have to spend an extra $200,000+ bucks to rebuild the P-63 yet AGAIN and then have to overhaul the Allison AGAIN while not even caring enough to cap off the cut oil lines leading into the engine internals or capping off the spark plug holes either!

    Naturally, this will be a much more involved rebuild because even old engines sitting in a farmer’s field have been capped off and usually don’t have sand inside.

    If this brings up any lessons they might be:

    1) If your engine quits and will not restart, configure it to stay that way. Turn the mags off, close the throttle, And pull the mixture to idle-cutoff so it doesn’t surprise you at the worst possible moment when landing.

    2) If you suddenly lose a large portion of your fuel supply, don’t overfly another airport without stopping to see if the problem can easily be corrected and also topping off the remaining tank(s). At LEAST recompute your possible range with intended reserves!

    3) When the plane is down and you are out of it and in the process of recovery, cap off any openings to the engine so the least possible damage is done … and don’t under any circumstances, rotate the engine to see if it is still free! It might have dirt, metal, or both in it. When you get the plane back and remove the engine, cap off any and ALL hoses and openings.

    4) When you get an engine you are not intimately familiar with to install in ANY aircraft, look in a manual and identify ALL openings to the engine. Account for all intakes, all exits and all vents with lines leading to appropriate places, but don’t leave a vent hole open. Any overflow just goes to the lowest spot and awaits ignition to burn your plane to the ground at some unexpected time later, possibly while you are airborne!
     
  2. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Name names, and then take it away from him before he completely destroys this valuable aircraft.

    Geo
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Not sure if names would be wise just now. If any of this shows up in the accident report, maybe then.
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Truly sad. :( I am glad no one was injured or worse.
     
  5. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    you play the fuel game you will lose....just a matter of time. sad to say.
     
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  6. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    That's the dumbest behaviour I read for a long time, many cars are treated better than this highly valuable rare old bird.
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I agree, Denniss! You can't explain some things.

    Sadly, MANY general aviation accidents are caused by trying to fly with air in the fuel tanks instead of fuel. I baffles me why that should be so, but it is so. Once you are into or very near reserves, you should land at the FIRST opportunity. So many people haven't ...

    When I was getting my private license I was flying out of Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. We had a de Havilland Dove fly from Minnesota to Arizona and run out of fuel less than 1 mile from the runway! To get there he passed over more than six airports with plenty of both runway and fuel available, all within the last 25 - 40 miles! I bet he thought less of himself than WE did when he hit the ground.
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    What an idiot(s).
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Wow that idiot does not deserve to own such an aircraft. Moron!
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Actually it is an organization, not an individual though, obviously, an individual was operating the aircraft at the time. Methinks they might revisit their pilot selection process, but the recovery guys did just as bad a job, probably causing over $30,000 in damages to the engine alone that otherwise might not have to be reworked ... I can't say from an exterior inspection.

    It would still have to be disassembled after a prop strike (gotta' magnaflux the crankshaft, as you know), but they let enough sand get in, after removal from the aircraft, so it could require anywhere from extensive rework to a new engine case and some new internal parts, too. Unbelievable when you see it in person. It's like it was recovered by someone with no knowledge of engines at all.
     
  11. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    You notice a fuel problem and still continue???????

    *looks at ground, shaking head*
     
  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I know, Njaco, it makes you wonder what he was thinking. Or at least, it makes ME wonder.

    Warbird ... no gliding capability, one fuel tank not feeding, what else might be wrong? Hey! Let's land and check it out! Ya' think?

    I'd do that in a Piper Cub. much less a rare P-63.
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    On Saturday my door latch came open in flight, and I aborted my flight. This guy had much more serious issues and he continued, a serious idiot he is. I think he had a problem with hazardous attitudes.
     
  14. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Amen. Out of curiosity, what sort of plane were you flying?

    I had that happen in a Piper once, but never a Cessna, where I had a window open once. It might have been dumb luck though, and not superior design.
     
  15. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    One can fly for hours, usually, with a door ajar. Had one come open on a V tail Dr killer Bonanza, had to fly to the next AP, about an hour. No prob.
    But not without fuel feed.
    Funny isn't it, the Individual will take stupid chances if he doesn't have a vested interest in the plane. If he Owned it, he woulda landed and taken care of it.
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I think that might be the case, too, but really don't know.

    Problems tend to compound and when you find one, HANDLE it and get down if it threatens safety. We had another semi-local case of a pilot who was just checked out in another P-63 take off for a planned flight and he continued when he noticed a problem. When he got back, he said the engine wasn't running quite right but he continued on anyway. Needless to say he is no longer a pilot for that aircraft. He was very clearly told that if anything as wrong, don't take off and don't continue. If in flight, and anything goes wrong, land ASAP as close as possible.

    Not following procedures is probably the first step toward disqualification for most warbird pilots. There has been more than one who simply didn't fly often enough to stay current with emergency systems and procedures, and sold the aircraft after a good scare that would have been routine a few years prior to the last emergency. Once you are not confident in your warbird technique, get OUT of any warbird or get training and get BACK confident. They are unforgiving in the extreme when handled incorrectly.
     
  17. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That was kind of my point. I stopped for sonething as minor as a broken door latch. This guy kept ignoring serious issues.
     
  19. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Lost for words, is it possible that some take risks to have a tale to tell in the bar on a night? I have met some numpties like that in the m/cycle scene.

    I used to plug the spark plug hole with a rag on my moped and that was kept under a tarpaulin in a garage. Running out of fuel in a car is a big enough ball ache, in a plane its playin with the grim reaper.
     
  20. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    unbelievable.....
     
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