Sunday, June 11, 2006

Why Is It That.....

just when you decide not to blog interesting things start happening?

Yesterday morning I was out at the airport and watched a small plane crash on take-off. My husband and I were standing on the edge of one of the grass runways talking to a group of people when I heard the sound of a small aircraft engine behind me and turned around to find the plane attached to it in the sky above me about 20 feet off the ground. I followed it with my eyes as it flew over my head and then immediately dropped down toward the ground. From the sound the engine was making I could tell it never reached full take-off power and that the pilot was now trying to put the aircraft back on the ground before he ran out of runway. He didn't make it.

The plane was still off the ground when it was about ten yards from the end of the runway and I was shocked to see it kind of crab in the air to the right. The nose of the plane turn in that direction too as if the pilot was trying to bank the plane at the last second and hopefully miss the wire and post fence that was about ten feet past the runway. It didn't work. The aircraft went through that fence, through the second fence that was about five feet beyond it and on into the field on the other side. It then bounced high into the air twice; still moving at a fast pace. Its third bounce sent the tail high enough in the air to cause the plane to somersault forward and land on its roof. It was still moving so fast that when it hit the ground a huge plume of dirt and grass exploded into the air.

There was about five second of stunned silence and then people started running to the accident site. At the end of the runway we could see the tracks the landing gear wheels made when they hit the ground and followed them through what remained of the fences until they disappeared and then saw a large area of squashed grass where the upside down plane had first slammed down and then slid a few feet. From where the plane hit to where the plane ended up there were two small deep furrows leading up to the aircraft formed by the bent propeller blades digging into the ground.

The plane lay upside down in the grass looking slightly flattened. All the glass in the windows, including the windshield, had blown out on impact. The aircraft looked as if it was still in one piece but when I looked closer I could see that the tail was no longer connected to the fuselage. The pilot and his passenger had already crawled out of the wreckage and were sitting on one of the wings. Although both were banged-up with cuts and what would soon be bruises, neither was seriously hurt.

There is an old pilot saying, ANY LANDING YOU WALK AWAY FROM IS A GOOD LANDING. Someone has added this bit to that saying: But if You're Walking You Probably Broke the Airplane. I think that saying now has more meaning for the pilot of that airplane than it did before.

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