Crash at Plett airport (SF25 on 2 Dec 2019)

What your instructor never taught you. Continuing your education and learning from others. Flight safety topics and accident/incident discussions.

Moderator: Moderators

ESTLEC
Rolling
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:09 pm
Location: JHB
Has liked: 1 time
Been liked: 15 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by ESTLEC » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:59 am

I agree , there are far too many uneducated opinions on these forums, but we should learn from the BS as well.
I have a fair amount of time in a SF 25 owning a share in one for about 22 years, and I have flown one from Cape town to Springs.
If there is one thing that will catch you in a SF25 it is wind shear and the SF25 does not have the power to get out of trouble.
Not to mention you cant see wind shear either.
Chalky don't let these words on the screen get to you, we need you on these forums.
These users liked the author ESTLEC for the post (total 7):
jimdavisVoloGLSTEELPJLMadMacsAEH
TAKE OFF IS OPTIONAL ?
User avatar
117
Changing Underwear
Posts: 535
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 6:49 am
Has liked: 9 times
Been liked: 22 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by 117 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:32 am

Welcome to the convo Paperchaser.

I'm not bashing the pilot nor the craft, but merely trying to help establish why it went in.
paperchaser wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:32 am
There are many facts that with a tiny bit of effort are available on which speculation can be based - starting with the flight manual of the SF25B. Speculation on speculation will get us nowhere & leads to knowledgeable people getting out of the debate.

With a phone call or email one could find out more about the weather on the day at Plett. One could also very easily contact someone with a lot of experience flying the aircraft. The following might then be a base for constructive speculation:

1: The aircraft in question has/had a fixed pitch wooden propeller
2: There is an insignificant loss of height should one need to start it - turn on the ignition & hit the starter button - 2 to 3 seconds.
3: It is generaly difficult to drop a wing of a Falke from a gentle stall - it maintains good aileron authority even in a full stall. However, significant turbulence can change this.
4: It would appear as if the wind came up suddenly to 30kn after they had taken off - coastal low phenomena ?
5: In calm conditions, a glide approach from well above the glide slope at this airport is as safe as a powered approach. In turbulent conditions, power will give additional options. I believe that apart from the root close to the hub not much was left of the propeller.

In my opinion, Stewart flew into unexpectedly severe turbulence on final approach that the aircraft simply could not cope with.
1: Prop - yep, its fixed. This was merely confusion or innocent question by people not in the know of the aircraft. But ok, we have now established its fixed.

2: Insignificant loss of height starting the donkey - I disagree 1000% with you here. There IS significant loss of height when the craft is in "pure" gliding mode with the motor off. You are falling out the sky. Simple as that. Yes, you do not get an INCREASE in loss of height while trying to start it. Perhaps you meant this?

3: Sure, it stalls gently. But it also drops a wing when you least expect it, especially if you are breathing on the rudder. Besides, why in a complete stall would you use the ailerons? Its only going to help spin you in (long wings, forward sweep, big draggy aileron deflections, tiny tip chord etc). Perhaps its better to say that you have complete rudder control in the stall? Yes, turbulence can change and add to these conditions.
PS: I used to fail highly experienced pilots doing their renewals if they touched the ailerons during any stall in the 25... My favorite was to get them to stall or go incipient in a turn just to show how easily it drops the wing if they pick it up on an aileron - but I digress.

4: Dunno, I wasn't there, but see below in # 5

5: In turbulent conditions you do not have to have the motor running. Additional height can counter this when needed. A glide approach with motor off in calm conditions is a simple event. With turbulent conditions you would need to have a higher altitude to trade speed for penetration in rough air.
Ok, so the prop is destroyed? Maybe, just maybe there is an additional theory to this, and perhaps it will not be liked by even more people. But it is merely speculation on my part:
Perhaps, and I say perhaps, the gusting winds caught them out with a lack of height? In trying to start the motor in a hurry (you need 2 hands for this btw), the focus was shifted away from the unfolding ugly approach to start the motor. In doing this, they ended up on the wrong side of the curve and my previous description of events unfolded with the motor running when it went in.

If the motor was producing power all the way in the circuit and approach, then something else must of happened to create my theory of spinning in. I cant attribute it to turbulence alone.
These users liked the author 117 for the post (total 2):
BareMetalboneman
User avatar
jimdavis
10000 and still climbing
10000 and still climbing
Posts: 16643
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:46 am
Closest Airfield: FAGG
Location: Wilderness
Has liked: 714 times
Been liked: 858 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by jimdavis » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:51 am

ESTLEC wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:59 am
I agree , there are far too many uneducated opinions on these forums, but we should learn from the BS as well.
I have a fair amount of time in a SF 25 owning a share in one for about 22 years, and I have flown one from Cape town to Springs.
If there is one thing that will catch you in a SF25 it is wind shear and the SF25 does not have the power to get out of trouble.
Not to mention you cant see wind shear either.
Chalky don't let these words on the screen get to you, we need you on these forums.
BRILLIANT post ESTLEC =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

Brief, to the point, and backed by knowledge and experience =D> =D> =D>

jim
These users liked the author jimdavis for the post:
WagAero
"PPL Manual"
"Flight Tests"
"So Others May Live"
"Flying in Africa" Vol 1
"Flying in Africa" Vol 2
Look inside these books, or buy them at: www.jimdavis.co.za.
ESTLEC
Rolling
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:09 pm
Location: JHB
Has liked: 1 time
Been liked: 15 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by ESTLEC » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:03 am

Jim

Coming from you I consider it a compliment.

Thank you

The way I avoid this type of situation on landing is.

High angle of decent with full air brakes.
If rate of decent increases put the air brakes away as they are more effective in regenerating lift than the engine.
TAKE OFF IS OPTIONAL ?
Volo
1k poster
1k poster
Posts: 1745
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:39 pm
Closest Airfield: FAOR
Location: Kempton Park
Has liked: 112 times
Been liked: 205 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by Volo » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:19 am

ESTLEC wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:03 am
Jim

Coming from you I consider it a compliment.

Thank you

The way I avoid this type of situation on landing is.

High angle of decent with full air brakes.
If rate of decent increases put the air brakes away as they are more effective in regenerating lift than the engine.
...................
Really good advice Estlec - These aircraft with very slow approach speeds are very vulnerable to gusting wind conditions when a gust can approach their stall speeds - flying one second and stalled two seconds later . You cant have enough speed under these conditions .
User avatar
IcarusZulu
Engine full power confirmed
Posts: 185
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 7:20 pm
Closest Airfield: Magalies Gliding Club
Location: Fourways, Gauteng
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by IcarusZulu » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:29 am

I once had a flight there in that SF25 (as a pax i was not TMG rated). RIP Aviator.
On landing the engine was turned off and we landed no problem. That runway is 1.3km long and touchdown is mid way for a motor glider. Not like orient where you are trying to touch down just over the fence to stop close to the hangers. We came in high and at no point did I feel we were going to undershoot the Plett runway. I feel those guys knew what they were doing and ran a professional outfit IMHO. Something else must have gone wrong. Just my thoughts.
Engines who needs em anyhow?

ZS-GPD, ZS-GXA
ESTLEC
Rolling
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:09 pm
Location: JHB
Has liked: 1 time
Been liked: 15 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by ESTLEC » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:44 am

IcarusZulu wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:29 am
I once had a flight there in that SF25 (as a pax i was not TMG rated). RIP Aviator.
On landing the engine was turned off and we landed no problem. That runway is 1.3km long and touchdown is mid way for a motor glider.

Not like orient where you are trying to touch down just over the fence to stop close to the hangers.

We came in high and at no point did I feel we were going to undershoot the Plett runway. I feel those guys knew what they were doing and ran a professional outfit IMHO. Something else must have gone wrong. Just my thoughts.
A bit off topic but it is your choice to land close to the hangers.

One day at the old WGT club at Donaldson Dam myself and friend , who was a glider student and an ex Spitfire pilot, were watching a recently solo pilot land.
He landed in a Ka7, without any air brakes , about a 1.5 degree approach at about 40 km per hour ground speed.
Perfectly smooth touch down and stopped, probably 50 m from the threshold.
He got out and we went to help him push the glider off the runway, he had a great big smile on his face.
After parking the glider back on the start line,the Spit pilot said "You know it is much easier for us to push this glider 100 m up the runway back to the start line, than it is to pick up all the pieces at the threshold and rebuild the aircraft.
These users liked the author ESTLEC for the post (total 5):
liaanapollo11WagAeroDragonAEH
TAKE OFF IS OPTIONAL ?
User avatar
WagAero
1k poster
1k poster
Posts: 1274
Joined: Sun May 09, 2004 8:55 pm
Closest Airfield: FAGC
Location: Johannesburg
Has liked: 18 times
Been liked: 25 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by WagAero » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:30 am

Gees this is a shock - SL was one of the humblest guys I knew - I had a long chat about them getting the ops right for CAA inspection in Jan and did some aeros with him in the RV in previous visits.
I understand the emotional response to some of the arm chair posts, but we should just take into consideration the range of experience that makes up Avcom and take in what you want to from whence it comes and ignore what we think may be the BS. Armchair specialists should consider that accidents can sometime happen quickly, very very, very quickly and the reaction that saves or not cant wait for the next sip of beer and be pondered over.
Who was the pax/other pilot did I miss that

RIP - sometimes life just seems unfair to someone with such passion for aviation and ordinary folk in general
These users liked the author WagAero for the post (total 3):
ESTLEC4HolerZiggi
User avatar
Ugly Duckling
Seven Thousand
Seven Thousand
Posts: 7040
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:24 pm
Closest Airfield: Brakpan Benoni FABB
Location: Waterkloof
Has liked: 654 times
Been liked: 573 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by Ugly Duckling » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:35 am

Just to clear up any misconceptions of what may or may not be done in a MotorFalke
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
These users liked the author Ugly Duckling for the post (total 2):
VoloJean Crous
Paul Sabatier EAA Ch 575, SSSA, ERGC, ERFC, AeroClub
Long time Cygnet builder
The object is to fly, it does not matter what the object is!
User avatar
jimdavis
10000 and still climbing
10000 and still climbing
Posts: 16643
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:46 am
Closest Airfield: FAGG
Location: Wilderness
Has liked: 714 times
Been liked: 858 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by jimdavis » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:35 am

Folks, we have been down this 'speculation' road so many times. To me it is totally legitimate and desirable in a flight safety context.

Someone does a wheels-up in a Baron at Rand. There are at least half a dozen reasons why this can happen. Those not familiar with Barons, or with any other retractable aircraft, can learn a hell of a lot from the speculation even if it is all wrong in this case.

Please, guys and girls, do not underestimate the value of speculation on this forum.

jim
These users liked the author jimdavis for the post (total 10):
HJK 414Ugly Ducklingapollo11VoloRogerSteveTomLondonAlan RobertsonPJLHunter
"PPL Manual"
"Flight Tests"
"So Others May Live"
"Flying in Africa" Vol 1
"Flying in Africa" Vol 2
Look inside these books, or buy them at: www.jimdavis.co.za.
howzitt
Fuelling up
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:35 am
Closest Airfield: Glasgow EGPF
Location: Scotland
Has liked: 34 times
Been liked: 9 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by howzitt » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:49 am

Here's my tuppenceworth,just sheer rotten bad luck.
These users liked the author howzitt for the post:
paperchaser
User avatar
jimdavis
10000 and still climbing
10000 and still climbing
Posts: 16643
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:46 am
Closest Airfield: FAGG
Location: Wilderness
Has liked: 714 times
Been liked: 858 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by jimdavis » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:15 pm

And while I am in moan mode, I don't get this Swiss cheese argument that ALL accidents are a result of multiple causes - particularly with light aircraft.

One of the most common accidents - VFR into IMC, would seem to have only one main cause. To query why the pilot decided to push on into foul weather is not part of the Swiss cheese.

An undercarriage that collapses due to a worn part is caused by poor maintenance, or design. The fact that it may have failed during a hard landing is not part of the Swiss cheese - it was designed to take hard landings. The accident was caused by poor maintenance - full stop.

A guy runs out of fuel because he didn't visually check it during the preflight. The fact that many aircraft have poor fuel gauges has nothing to do with holes in cheese. There is one clear cause - they guy didn't check the fuel - full stop.

If a low hour, over-confident pilot flies into wires because he is low flying into the setting sun with a dirty windscreen while showing off to his pax, I don't see that as a multiple cause accident. To me it's a low flying accident. The guy deliberately pushed the boundaries. He knew that he was risking lives by flying low while he could see almost nothing ahead.

Certainly many accidents - particularly with more complex aircraft - DO indeed fit the Swiss cheese model. But it is far from a golden rule for all light aircraft accidents.

With this particular accident, I obviously don't know what happened. From the little we do know, I am speculating that the pilot was caught out at low level while approaching to land, by an unusual and extreme weather condition that was neither forecast nor visible.

I experienced that sane, sudden, very strong, gusty wind after a calm and balmy day. My first thought was 'where the hell did that come from?' Perhaps you can say it's a Swiss cheese thing because it happened at exactly the wrong moment. I won't argue about that.

jim
These users liked the author jimdavis for the post (total 3):
Orthin OpterMirageIIIInsane
"PPL Manual"
"Flight Tests"
"So Others May Live"
"Flying in Africa" Vol 1
"Flying in Africa" Vol 2
Look inside these books, or buy them at: www.jimdavis.co.za.
Volo
1k poster
1k poster
Posts: 1745
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:39 pm
Closest Airfield: FAOR
Location: Kempton Park
Has liked: 112 times
Been liked: 205 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by Volo » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:38 pm

jimdavis wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:15 pm
And while I am in moan mode, I don't get this Swiss cheese argument that ALL accidents are a result of multiple causes - particularly with light aircraft.

One of the most common accidents - VFR into IMC, would seem to have only one main cause. To query why the pilot decided to push on into foul weather is not part of the Swiss cheese.

An undercarriage that collapses due to a worn part is caused by poor maintenance, or design. The fact that it may have failed during a hard landing is not part of the Swiss cheese - it was designed to take hard landings. The accident was caused by poor maintenance - full stop.

A guy runs out of fuel because he didn't visually check it during the preflight. The fact that many aircraft have poor fuel gauges has nothing to do with holes in cheese. There is one clear cause - they guy didn't check the fuel - full stop.

If a low hour, over-confident pilot flies into wires because he is low flying into the setting sun with a dirty windscreen while showing off to his pax, I don't see that as a multiple cause accident. To me it's a low flying accident. The guy deliberately pushed the boundaries. He knew that he was risking lives by flying low while he could see almost nothing ahead.

Certainly many accidents - particularly with more complex aircraft - DO indeed fit the Swiss cheese model. But it is far from a golden rule for all light aircraft accidents.

With this particular accident, I obviously don't know what happened. From the little we do know, I am speculating that the pilot was caught out at low level while approaching to land, by an unusual and extreme weather condition that was neither forecast nor visible.

I experienced that sane, sudden, very strong, gusty wind after a calm and balmy day. My first thought was 'where the hell did that come from?' Perhaps you can say it's a Swiss cheese thing because it happened at exactly the wrong moment. I won't argue about that.

jim
.............................

I could not agree more with Jim's notion that this "Swiss Cheese " accident cause is not really accurate in describing accident causation .

Perhaps it more accurately describes how any one individual pilot makes multiple mistakes until one of them bites .

I must qualify this remark to say that in this particular accident I am not suggesting this to be the case at all.
Kobus Luttig
Wanna Fly
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun May 05, 2013 7:04 pm
Closest Airfield: FAUP
Location: Upington
Has liked: 33 times
Been liked: 6 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by Kobus Luttig » Wed Dec 04, 2019 5:00 pm

Chalkie wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:28 pm
Jack Welles wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:05 pm
I didn't know the fellow and didn't know the operation but it seems to me that an awful lot of emphasis is being placed on the paperwork being in order (which is important, of course). He was also really well qualified as a pilot with extensive experience.
I did know the man. You could not get a better, more conscientious, more qualified, more caring, more supporting, more competent pilot.

All the BS about licence is BS. They had to jump through many hoops for an extended time to gain their CAA approval.

I hereby resign from avcom.
I am Afrikaans but I will try my best.
Chalkie, please come back. I've learned more from AVCOM and all your guys in my 29 years of flying then all of my training combined.
I also enjoy all the other discussions. You have to ignore some of them, but its no big deal.
Please guys, can we please cool it a bit. Sometimes we take speculation too far and fast. If I am ever involved in an accident or incident please don't speculate. It will purely be because I was sleeping on the job.
:(
These users liked the author Kobus Luttig for the post (total 6):
Jean Crousapollo11paulwjimdavisZiggiAEH
User avatar
Steve
Fower Tousand
Fower Tousand
Posts: 4250
Joined: Mon May 02, 2005 8:17 am
Closest Airfield: Wings Park
Location: East London, South Africa
Has liked: 15 times
Been liked: 17 times

Re: Crash at Plett airport.

Unread post by Steve » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:22 pm

Understandable, emotions run high at times like these and tragedy remains tragedy, but one of the most important functions if the academy and flight safety section is to promote safety and learning for all aviators. It is not so important to discuss any accident to determine the exact cause of that accident as it is to discuss the accident itself as a trigger point to explore all possibilities using the variable suggested by the accident - the outcome being a heightened awareness to issues surrounding weather, structural considerations, human performance and so on. For this reason,speculation and debate has been highly encouraged and we have heard from any individuals how reading these type of topics has made them think twice or at least in greater depth about many circumstances relating to their own flying and safety. If you are uncertain as to what is intended by speculation is encouraged, then please read here: https://avcom.co.za/phpBB3/viewtopic.ph ... 3#p1397293

After an accident like this one, where a significant aviator is involved, we all get asked questions from many other like - "What happened" to "How could this have happened to such an experienced aviator?". Whilst the avcom community might never reach a final conclusion to these answers in each case, the discussion and speculation often provides several theories for what could be plausible.

We have to be brutally honest and agree that any of these tragic events is a result of one of two options:-

1) Mechanical / structural failure - and included in this section would be fuel contamination which most likely is out of the control of the pilot.
2) Human Error

In most cases, we see pretty quickly into which option the tragedy falls and when it is in the latter option, we see the pilot's community come out in huge defense stating just how good the individual was as a pilot, their massive experience, etc.... but that does not explain away the cause of the accident.

If weather (Gusty winds, sudden winds, wind shear, etc...) was the probable cause, then one has to accept that human error played a role - This would have started with the decision to fly after carefully considering the weather conditions and forecast. Should the pilot have been a low timer, then most would have no problem highlighting the probable cause and others would learn by example and think more carefully each time they decide to fly. Jim Davis mentioned earlier that often IMC conditions play a significant role in so many of the tragedies - which always is a result of Human Error (Poor judgement or lack of planning, etc..) and he also added some valuable opinions here: https://avcom.co.za/phpBB3/viewtopic.ph ... 9#p2084111

So if the possible cause points to Human Error, then let's call it what it is - the takeaway is the shocking truth that no matter how experienced or highly regarded the pilot is - making a mistake or misjudgment in aviation is usually fatal and yes, sometimes it is also as a result of an over confident pilot who get's complacent in his or her flying - a classic example of this was the recent crash of "Draco" piloted my popular youtube vlogger, Mark Patey, in the USA - a clear example by his own admission that he completely ignored the weather warning signs and huge cross wind component and attempted to take off in his highly modified Wilga - here is an example of a highly experienced pilot who holds several speed records, air racing titles, etc...etc... flies jets, helicopters, high performance composites and the list goes on. Thankfully his accident did not result in the loss in life, but had the outcome been different, then no doubt his fraternity would have come out strong in support of what a great pilot he was, etc...etc...

Bottom line is that we all need to accept that aviation has it's risks - but at the same time realize that how we as humans are vulnerable to error, complacency and misjudgement and as we all know the significant contributor to most GA accident is Human Error - that being the case, discussing all possibilities and speculating on them is not intended in any way of casting the pilot in bad light, but to rather celebrate humanity with an honest approach to the potential causes - the net result in stimulating thought and promoting safety for the wider aviation community.
These users liked the author Steve for the post (total 9):
HJK 414spokesOGapollo11DragonZiggirichard CDarrenRoger
Steve Onions

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein

Return to “Academy & Flight Safety”