08 September 2010

The Early Internet Sensation '405'

This wasn't a crash video as much as it was a computer generated online sensation. In 2000, years before YouTube, special effects artists Jeremy Hunt and Bruce Branit used home computers and consumer grade software and video equipment to create this humorous simulation of a DC-10 landing on the 405 Interstate highway in Los Angeles.

2001 Austin Chronicle story on '405'

08 June 2010

Vintage Stearman Biplane Crashes at Washington National Airport

8 June 2010; Arlington, VA; Boeing Stearman PT-17 - The airplane, which was built in 1943 as a World War II training aircraft, turned over as it was landing on Reagan National airport's main runway just after 10 a.m. local time. The plane was the second of eight Stearmans attempting a landing. The planes were publicizing the premiere of the 3-D IMAX film "Legends of Flight," which was to be held later that night at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Flying in from Manassas, VA, the accident aircraft touched down at and briefly rolled at about 70 mph before flipping on its back. Both the pilot and the passenger, the Washington Post's transportation reporter, Ashley Halsey III, were apparently unharmed.

The accident bent and curled two of the propeller's blades, and it damaged the plane's tail, rudder, vertical stabilizer, right wing and part of the engine. The NTSB is investigating the accident.

According to NTSB records, Stearmans have been involved in 16 fatal accidents in the US since 1966.

Video from the accident aircraft

Footage from a different vantage point

Boeing-Stearman Model 75

Boeing-Stearman Model 75

Boeing-Stearman Model 75

Photo Credit: cliff1066™

28 April 2010

Two Fatal Air Show Crashes of F-86 Sabrejets

According to NTSB data, there have been four fatal accidents of civilian-registered F-86 jets in the US. Two of them occurred during airshows and were caught on video. Below are those two videos, plus additional information from the NTSB investigation.

2 May 1993; El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, Santa Ana, CA:: A Canadair F-86E Mark 6, N3842J crashed during a solo air show routine. The accident pilot had planned to participate in a mock dogfighting routine with a MiG-15. The pilot of the second airplane did not feel well and canceled his participation in the demonstration. The pilot of the accident aircraft then planned to perform a solo aerobatic routine, but it was one that the pilot had not practiced.

Ground personnel working with the pilot reported that as the airplane taxied out from parking, the pilot's shoulder harness was observed lying back behind the seat back and unsecured. While waiting for takeoff, the pilot made a radio request for assistance with the airplane's canopy from his ground crew. A witness reported observing the pilot leaning far forward in the seat of the airplane on the right side of the airplane. Shortly thereafter, the pilot canceled any assistance from his ground crew and took off from runway 34L.

After departure, the pilot performed a right 90 degree climbing turn, followed by a left 270 degree descending turn. This positioned the airplane over runway 16R at about 75 feet above ground level (AGL). The pilot then began a loop with an aileron roll at the top of the maneuver. Following the descent at the bottom portion of the loop maneuver, the airplane descended in a near nose and wing level attitude until striking runway 16R about mid-field. An intense explosion occurred. Wreckage was scattered along the runway for about a quarter mile. The pilot was killed, but no spectators were injured.

Required and actual altitudes and airspeeds
The aircraft operator reported that the loop maneuver in the accident airplane required a minimum of 275 knots at the entry point, and a minimum altitude of 4,000 feet above ground level (AGL) at 125 knots at the top of the maneuver. The operator indicated to FAA personnel that he observed the accident airplane's maneuver. He reported that it appeared to him that the accident airplane did not have the minimum entry speed. The operator estimated that the maximum altitude gained at the top of the maneuver was about 2,500 feet and the airplane appeared to experience an accelerated stall at 100 to 200 feet AGL just prior to impact. Additionally, the operator indicated that it was normal for the pilot to wear a "G" suit during his aerobatic routine, but at the accident site, the FAA found that the accident pilot was not wearing a "G" suit.

Pilot's military training
The aircraft operator reported that the pilot portrayed himself as an ex-naval aviator and A-4 pilot. U.S. Naval Investigative Service personnel assisted Safety Board investigators in an inquiry of the pilot's military experience. According to the NIS, the pilot was terminated from the U.S. Navy advanced jet training curriculum, Pensacola, Florida, on May 19, 1976.

NTSB Probable Cause Determination
The NTSB identified the probable causes as the pilot's inadequate planning decision making concerning performance of an aerobatic maneuver and his failure to maintain adequate altitude and clearance above the runway during recovery from the maneuver. Another related factor was the pilot's lower tolerance to “G”s by not wearing a “G” suit.

NTSB Factual Report
NTSB Probable Cause

1 June 1997; Broomfield, CO:: A Canadair F-86E Mark 6, N3842J crashed during a solo air show routine. The pilot was performing a reverse half-Cuban eight. He flew down the runway at approximately 400 feet above ground level and pulled up using a 45-degree nose up attitude. At approximately 2,500 feet (AGL), the pilot rolled the aircraft inverted and pulled to a vertical nose down attitude. He failed to recover from the dive and the aircraft struck the ground in a 5-degree nose down attitude with a high sink rate. Ground speed at the time of impact was approximately 485 knots. The pilot was killed, and two airshow volunteers on the ground received minor injuries.

According to persons at the airshow who are aerobatics pilots, the maneuver being performed by this aircraft should be started no lower than 4,000 feet agl, and part of the altitude gain should be used to bleed off excess airspeed. Videos of the performance depict the speed brakes deployed, the vertical stabilizer moving up and down, and the leading edge devices deployed while the aircraft was in the dive.

Pilot experience
The accident pilot had 14 years of experience as a military pilot, including experience as a fighter pilot, and 24 years as an airline pilot. He held an airline transport pilot and was type rated in several airliner models. In addition, the pilot held a flight engineer certificate in turbo jet powered aircraft. A National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator witnessed the pilot's show performance the previous day.

Link to video of this crash

Probable cause
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of this accident was inadequate planning and decision making by the pilot in starting the aerobatic maneuver at an insufficient altitude to successfully complete the maneuver.

NTSB Factual Information
NTSB Probable Cause

21 February 2010

Midair Collision Between a Cirrus SR20 and a Glider Towplane

On February 6, 2010, a Cirrus SR20 airplane (N825BC) collided with a Piper PA-25-235 airplane (N8718L), while the Piper was conducting glider tow operations with , a Schweizer SGS 2-32 glider (N2472W), near Boulder, Colorado. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and all three aircraft were operating without flight plans. The pilot and sole occupant aboard the Piper was killed as was the pilot and passenger aboard the Cirrus.

The pilot of the glider saw the Cirrus approaching and was able to disengage the tow rope just prior to the collision. Although the glider pilot flew through a fireball caused by the collision, he was able to land without further incident. The glider was undamaged, and no one on board that aircraft was injured. The Piper and Schweizer departed Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU), Boulder, Colorado, as a glider tow flight approximately 1:15 pm, roughly 12 minutes before the accident. The Cirrus aircraft had departed Erie Municipal Airport (KEIK), Erie, Colorado, at approximately 12:45 pm.

According to a statement taken from the pilot of the glider, the tow plane and glider were in a climb attitude, on an approximate heading of west. The Cirrus was heading south.

Multiple witnesses heard the collision between the two airplanes and observed the post collision state of both airplanes. The Cirrus airplane was observed to descend under the canopy of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) while on fire. Debris from both airplanes was spread over a 1.5-mile area with components of the Piper at the north most end of the debris field and the main wreckage of the Cirrus at the southern most end of the debris field. Both airplanes were destroyed.

In the interview below from the Today Show, the pilot and two passengers from the glider provide a sense of just how close this was to being an accident involving three crashed aircraft. Also included are portions of witness videos that show the burning Cirrus descending to the ground by parachute.

According to the NTSB, the Cirrus series of aircraft have been involved in at least65 fatal crashes in the US and around the world between 1992 and the fatal crash in Boulder.

17 February 2010

Plane Crash Kills Several Tesla Motors Employees

17 February 2010
East Palo Alto, CA

A twin-engined Cessna 310R (N5225J) crashed in an East Palo Alto neighborhood shortly after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport. The aircraft, which was flying to the Los Angeles area, took off under a dense fog advisory with zero to one-quarter mile visibility. The aircraft reportedly struck an electrical transmission tower and power lines before crashing into a residential neighborhood less than a mile from the airport. Several buildings were hit, including one with a day care center. There were several people inside the building, including one child, and all escaped without injury.

As a result of the crash, power was knocked out for much of the Palo Alto area, leaving the headquarters of companies such as Stanford Hospital, Hewlett-Packard, and Facebook in the dark.

The three people killed were all high level employees of Tesla Motors, one of the companies run by Elon Musk, one of the founders of PayPal and also the head of the private rocket company SpaceX.

Sounds of Crash Captured by Security System
The city of East Palo Alto, where the crash occurred, uses an advanced audio detection system that allows police to quickly find the locations of gunshots. This ShotSpotter system recorded the sounds of the crash from two locations.

First there is the sound of a plane's engines. Then a crackling noise, as though the plane has hit a power line. Then, crashing sounds, as parts of the aircraft landed on homes; a loud bang as the plane impacted with the ground; and a few seconds after the crash, people screaming as the plane fuselage skidded down Beech Street and plowed into walls and cars in the neighborhood.

According to Joshua Cawthra, lead investigator for the NTSB, it is the first time in aviation history that such a recording will be used for forensic purposes. Recordings taken from two of the sensor locations initially have the sounds of the aircraft's engines, followed by the sounds of the aircraft hitting power lines, and finally the sounds of pieces hitting the ground and of residents reacting to the crash.

Sounds of plane crash alone

Sounds of plane crash plus screams of neighbors

The ShotSpotter sensors each contain a GPS receiver with a precision clock, providing the NTSB with a precise, millisecond-by-millisecond recording of the incident, as captured by five ShotSpotter sensors deployed throughout East Palo Alto. According to the East Palo Alto police, the sensors were located at various distances from the crash, the closest being just over 600 feet away and the furthest being roughly 1,500 feet away.

The photos below depict the damage at the building housing the day care center, as well as an overview of the area with the area of the crash circled, and the path of the power lines highlighted.

Additional Information
San Jose Mercury News
KGO Television
Stanford Daily

Photo Credits: KGO television, Nader Khouri, Google Earth

Photo Notes: Top photo is from 2001 and shows accident pilot Doug Bourn filling the tanks of the accident aircraft (N5225J)

06 February 2010

New Challenger Video Surfaces after 24 Years

The explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger was filmed and photographed from many angles, and over the last 24 years millions have seen these images. Recently, a new video emerged which until this year had not been seen by the general public.

On the day of Challenger's last launch, optometrist Dr. Jack Moss was in Winter Haven, Florida, a town southeast of Orlando and about 60 miles from the launch site, videotaping the launch. He donated his video to the Space Exploration Archive in Louisville, Kentucky last December, shortly before his death.

The video shows the disaster from a totally different perspective, both from the location from where the video was shot, to the reaction of Moss and his neighbors as they go from sensing something was unusual about the launch, to the realization that the shuttle had exploded.

Article from the Courier-Journal newspaper of Louisville, Kentucky

16 January 2010

Japanese Commentary on Narita FedEx Crash

While North American audiences have had many opportunities over the years to see breaking news stories about plane crashes that feature the running commentary of news anchors and aviation experts, Japanese audiences don't often have that experience. The crash last March of a FedEx MD-11 at Tokyo's Narita Airport provided that opportunity for Japan, as the video below shows.

Even if you don't understand Japanese, you can get a sense of the tone of the conversation and the emotions that some of those on camera may have been feeling.

No one at AirSafe.com can understand Japanese, so if any of you reading this can understand Japanese, feel free to leave a comment about the discussion in the video.

Original AirSafeNews.com article on this event
Other FedEx plane crashes
Other MD-11 plane crashes