Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In The Super Market

I've had some bad and some weird and some very rude experiences while shopping in the super market . I was standing in line at the check out counter and there was a woman ahead of me . Her items were on the counter being rung up by the cashier. A man hurried up and crowed in between the woman customer and me. He set a six pack of beer on the counter . Naive me, I thought he was with the woman customer and had gone back to pick up an item they had forgotten.

Not so , she paid for her purchases and left the store and the man was still there at the counter . I stood there with my mouth open in surprise as the guy who had rushed up and crowded in line paid for his beer and left the store. I mentioned the incident to the checker and she replied, " Oh, yeah, he does that all the time". What a shame that the checker didn't protect the rights of other customers by making the man wait his turn in line as he properly should .

Checkers and bag girls talking and not getting on with the business of checking out the merchandise really gets to me. I am not smart enough to let it go even if it takes an extra 15 minutes or more to get waited on while they carry on their conversation. I usually have to say something to the effect of , " please stop your visiting with each other and finish ringing up and bagging my groceries. That almost always gets me cracked eggs in the carton or an item or two that I've paid for left on the counter . That's the baggers retaliation for my speaking up .

The very worst thing that happened was the time I was the only person in the whole isle and I got touched by a jerk. I stood contemplating the items on the shelf and I heard fast foot steps approaching but I didn't look around. As he passed behind me I felt a hand drag across my posterior. I quickly turned around to see who had touched me and the guilty man was about 10 feet past me taking very long steps.

When I reached the check out stand the man was at the counter with several customers between him and me. He turned and looked at me just smirked. Oh, how I wanted to knock that smirk off his face ! But what could I do ? If I had made a complaint there were no witnesses to back me up . It would have been he said, she said. So I said nothing but I sure had some dark thoughts.

Till next time
Marion Springer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Analysis of A Gyro Accident

Recently Teddy Udala, an experienced gyro pilot of many years had an accident in his gyro. Teddy was badly bruised in the accident but had no broken bones. His gyro was destroyed.
There is a lesson to be learned in every accident and for that reason, Teddy asked me to write an account of his accident. he hopes his story will prevent someone else from making the same mistake.
The weather: Wind was from the west and variable from 10 to 20 mph.
The layout of the area where the accident occurred is this...the runway is an east-west dirt runway. Teddy's hangar is adjacent the runway and is about 400 feet from the east end of the runway. There is a power line that crosses the runway near the east end of the runway and a fence at the end of the runway. Beyond the fence to the east is the El Mirage dry lake.
The accident :
The PRA Chapter One meeting had just ended. There were several visitors who wanted to see a gyro fly. Teddy invited everyone to go to his hangar to see him fly. The group from the meeting went on to Teddy's hangar. I didn't go with the others instead, I pulled up a chair and sat in the shade of the meeting trailer.
After his take off Teddy flew past the place where I was sitting then he made a turn back toward the other end of the runway. I walked out a little ways to watch his descent and landing. When I saw him next, he had already made the turn toward final and was on the lake side of the fence and very low. He looked to me to be about 30 feet above the surface. The gyro was in a nose high attitude and was descending very fast. I could see that he was very near the fence and the power line and facing in that direction. Then there was a great pall of dust and I saw the flash of one rotor blade. I couldn't see the gyro contact the ground but from the rapid descent and the single blade flash, I knew he had crashed.
I quickly drove down to the area and to my great surprise saw Teddy helping pick up the scattered pieces of his crashed gyro. The photo at the top of page is Teddy and his crashed gyro just minutes after the accident. His gyro was destroyed. The redundant mast had broken in two. A shiny area of several inches of the mast showed that the metal had been stretched, indicating that one part of the mast had actually been pulled apart where the separation had occurred. One rotor blade had separated from the machine on contact with the ground and was found some distance from the main body of the wreckage.
Someone had videoed the flight and the crash. The video showed that shortly after take off, the gyro climbed to about 20 feet above the ground then suddenly it descended to what looked to be 3 feet above the ground. That indicated that the gyro didn't have enough airspeed to maintain level flight. He was behind the power curve, in other words. Then the gyro began climbing again. After climbing out he flew downwind and then he turned onto final .
The wind was slightly from the left of the runway, maybe about 15 degrees off. The video shows the gyro lined up into the wind and in a nose high attitude. The gyro dropped fast then Teddy made a slight turn to his left and then immediately he began a turn back toward the runway in an effort to line up with the wind, but he hit the ground at that point.
Teddy said he had turned slightly toward the lake looking for a clear area where he could land as he knew the power line and fence were immediately in front of him. Seeing no place to land, he then tried to turn back into the wind but it was all over by then. He came down approximately 100 feet from the fence and the power line. That he survived the crash is nothing short of a miracle.
My analysis of the accident:
I don't believe he ever reached adequate airspeed at any point during the brief flight. That was evident by the loss of altitude shortly after take off when the gyro descended from about 20 feet down to 3 feet from the ground.
Teddy says he was about 100 feet above the ground when he made the turn onto final , but no matter whether it was 100 or 30 feet, it was too low to make a turn so close to the fence and the power line.
Teddy says he wanted to hover, thus the nose-up attitude. Without enough airspeed to begin with, raising the nose of the gyro killed off what airspeed he had. At that point the gyro was in free fall as evidenced by the very rapid descent. The small turn out of the wind only hastened the descent to the ground.
Even if the fence and the power line had not been in close proximity , a hover so low to the ground with gusty wind is very dangerous because there is insufficient altitude between the the gyro and the ground to regain airspeed if the wind should let up as Teddy said it did in this case.
Several things indicate poor aviation decision making in the flight. First, I believe that spectators waiting in front of his hangar to see him fly put pressure on Teddy to the point he neglected to be mindful of airspeed, altitude, obstructions, etc. He says empathically that he only fly's for himself and no one else. But it is a fact that pressure from spectators can cause a pilot to become careless about all the things that go into a safe flight.
Turning onto final at such a low altitude and with low airspeed and with obstructions immediately ahead was poor judgment.
Teddy is generally a safe and cautious pilot and until this day had never had a gyro accident . It is my belief that he was distracted by the spectators wanting to see the gyro fly and he was lured into complacency as to safe piloting. The result was an accident due to failure to maintain airspeed, or pilot error, in other words.
Teddy is to be commended for wanting his story told in an effort to help other pilots.
Marion Springer , CFI Gyro, Ret.