More Oops

2013 F/A-18 crash: Out of fuel, out of time and one chance to land

A great write-up about a chain of events that led to the loss of a Hornet.

The aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower was finally in sight.

The pilot of the F/A-18 Super Hornet hurriedly flipped switches and pushed levers. The aviator in the backseat leaned forward, straining to see the flight deck floating in the distance. The jet’s right engine had locked up, its landing gear had jammed, and the main fuel tank was almost empty.

At nearly 350 mph, the Super Hornet hurtled over the warm waters of the North Arabian Sea last April. The pilot had made some tough decisions that day; several hadn’t gone his way.

Now he was out of options. He had one chance to land. 


H/T: Jeff

The Mighty J58

  From this. Wright Brothers 12 hp. engine.The Wright Brothers' Engine

To this.  The Sr-71’s J58 engine.


It took less than 50 years to go from the Wright flyer to the Sr-71.  Just think about that for a minute.  What will the next 50 years bring?  I’m still waiting for my flying car BTW.

I Suppose That Was You, V

There are a number of airports around the world where ferry pilots cross paths; Goose Bay, Labrador, Shannon, Ireland, Santa Maria, in the Azores, Narsarsuaq, Greenland, Reykjavik, Iceland and of course St. Johns, Newfoundland. If two or more pilots happen to be at the same airport when flight planning an ocean crossing they will often check each other’s navigation, thoughts on the weather and possible routes. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up on the latest gossip, flying stories and stupid things other pilots have done.

Sitting at the flight planning table in St. Johns I watched snow swirling on the icy ramp without really seeing it. My mind was far away thinking about the hundred little details involved in my flight to Santa Maria island that morning. My thoughts were interrupted when a pilot in didn’t know walked up and asked if I was taking one of the northern routes. The new ferry pilot had been directed to me by the director of operations as one of the more experienced ferry pilots around, a title I had never expected to obtain.

I knew the routes the young pilot was asking about; St. Johns to Goose Bay, Labrador, then on to Iceland with a stop in Greenland if needed or straight to Iceland from Newfoundland if you had favorable winds and enough fuel. Those routes could save a ferry pilot time and money but one of the first things Pete Demos taught me when I started flying for Orient Air was to stay away from the northern route in the winter. The brutal cold found near the Arctic Circle made flight operations difficult and dangerous. Oil congealed, making engines difficult to start, throttle and mixture cables froze and broke, batteries ran down and maintenance was expensive.

As bad as the flying was, it was nothing compared to the conditions you were flying over. Crashing on land during winter could mean hypothermia and frostbite, going down in the water meant almost certain death. If you found yourself in your life raft in the north Atlantic at that time of year it was unlikely you could survive the frigid temperatures long enough for a ship to reach you, especially if you got wet getting into your raft.

Just weeks before that I had heard about a pilot who had been rescued after going down in the ocean en-route to Iceland. In my opinion he was one lucky son of a bitch and I didn’t hesitate to add my opinion of him to my answer.

No, I’m not taking the northern route, not like that moron who went down last month.”

A voice spoke up from behind me, “And what moron would that be?”

I turned around in my seat and looked at the man standing there.

I suppose that was you.” I said, a little embarrassed.

Yep, that was me.”

Sorry,” I said sheepishly “what happened?”

The ferry pilot sat down on the edge of the table I was working on and told me his story.

He was flying a small single engine plane from the U.S. to England with the new owner along as a passenger. Personally I hated flying with the owner on a ferry trip or anyone else for that matter. When I’m alone on a trip I have no one to answer to, no one to argue with the decisions I make, no one to see my mistakes. When you have another pilot along they have a tendency to question everything you do and generally make a nuisance of themselves. They also use up precious supplies too fast if you end up in the raft. Although if worst came to worst you could always eat them.

The two of them were about three hours out from St. Johns on their way to Iceland when the pilot noticed the oil pressure dropping. Almost immediately rising oil temperature confirmed the problem, they were losing oil and losing it fast. The pilot immediately headed back toward St. Johns but it didn’t take long for the engine to start making a loud squealing noise followed by smoke coming into the cockpit. When they started losing power the pilot made a mayday call to Gander Control and gave them their position from the GPS as they descended into the thick cloud deck they’d been flying above.

The pilot told me that he almost screwed up big time by trying to stay in the air as long as he could because as the Mooney made its long shallow descent, flames started flickering under the cowling. Luckily by the time the engine fire started they were less than a thousand feet over the ocean and almost through the clouds.

To Be Continued:

More Oops

Swiss Pilot flying around the world forced to land in Indonesia arrested at gunpoint.

A Swiss pensioner flying around the world in an aircraft he built himself has been arrested in Indonesia after flying into the country's airspace illegally, according to an Air Force spokesman

Watch him boys!  He might be dangerous!

Apparently this retired airline pilot was on a 2 year around the world flight when he stumbled into Indonesian airspace and was forced down by Air Force fighters.  Now I’ve had poor receptions at various countries some included automatic weapons others just very angry airport managers or customs agents but never something as ridiculous as this.

  It is not clear whether Peier is being held by the Indonesian authorities, or whether he has been released

Gotta love the circular firing squad, very professional.

Read More:

I Suppose That Was You IV

Five or six hours later I was sitting sideways in the Seneca’s cockpit reading a book and munching on bridge mix when a desperate voice came in over the radio. It was the young upstart pilot in the 172. His GPS had lost the signal while he was flying in the rain and even though he was currently out of the rain he was still flying under a cloud layer and couldn’t get it to come up again.

I slapped my head; this was just what Pete and I were talking about! Without a working GPS or an ADF backup he was screwed! Pete got on the radio and told him to maintain the course and speed he had flight planned for while we tried to think of something.

Pete called Gander Control, told them what the situation was and asked for an updated forecast for the Azores. The original forecast called for clouds and rain with five miles of visibility. Gander came back with the bad news, the forecast was unchanged. Trying to find one of those islands visually in good conditions during the daytime would have been hard enough but hoping to spot the faint lights on one of them at night with only five miles of visibility would take a miracle. The lost pilot might be able to get close using his compass and the winds aloft forecast but close just wasn’t going to cut it.

At the time of his first mayday transmission the pilot of the 172 was approximately fifteen or twenty minutes ahead of Peter Borberg, who was the same distance ahead of Pete Demos who was maybe a half an hour ahead of me; however having the fastest plane in the bunch I was steadily closing the gap. We’d launched in that order, slowest to fastest, in order to not only arrive at Santa Maria about the same time but to be able to provide mutual support to each other along the way in case one of us had an emergency, like now.

But what could we do? We could talk to him on the radio for hours and hours until his fuel ran out and not do him any good. The only way the lost pilot was going to be able to find Santa Maria was for one of us to spot his plane and guide him in. That was easier said than done. Spotting another plane in flight is hard to do, just ask any pilot who is given a traffic advisory about another plane from Air Traffic Control but couldn’t spot the plane despite having been given the bearing, direction and altitude of the target. What we needed was a landmark to meet him at; unfortunately landmarks are few and far between over the Atlantic Ocean.

On my first trip Pete and I had met up over Flores Island in the Azores when he’d lost his vacuum pump. But that island was under the overcast that covered the area. I was looking at the various cloud buildups trying to see if one of them was distinct enough to use as a landmark before he entered the solid area of overcast when I had an idea. What if he held his course until he reached what he guessed was the limit of the clear area and waited for us there? We were all on the same course and altitude and should hit the area of overcast at approximately the same point. When each of us reached the limit of clear sky we could start flying back and forth along the face of the clouds and try and spot the little 172. If nothing else we would all be buzzing around the same general chunk of sky, maybe we’d get lucky. I got on the radio and outlined my plan to everybody and they said it was worth a shot.

A little while later the 172 pilot called and said he’d gone as far as he could go on his current heading and was starting to circle. I noted the time on my knee board and estimated I would be in his area in under an hour. Peter Bourberg, who was flying a Piper Cherokee far ahead of me, would be there in fifteen minutes. I sure hoped it worked because even though he was a cocky young know it all, I’d gotten to like him while waiting for the winds to change with him in St. Johns.

Fifteen minutes later Peter Bourberg radioed that he had reached the clouds and was going to head south for five minutes before turning back north. Pete reminded everyone to make sure all of their lights were turned on to help us see each other. The minutes ticked by as Peter searched south of his course. Then just before the five minutes were up an excited voice blared out in my headset.

I SEE YOU! I SEE YOU!” The 172 pilot yelled over the radio. “Rock your wings so I can tell that it’s you!” he said.

I shook my head at that one, who in the hell else would it be in the middle of the Atlantic? But I decided to cut the poor guy some slack, having just cheated death and all.

The lucky young man formed up on Peter’s plane and followed him all the way to Santa Maria. Later that night the four of us were having dinner at the hotel when one of us asked the 172 pilot why he wasn’t drinking.

Because as soon as I’m done eating I’m going back to the airport and heading off for France.” he replied.

Are you crazy?” Pete asked “You just got done flying a thirteen hour leg,”

That you almost didn’t make.” I interjected.

Exactly that, you almost didn’t make it. And now you want to leave on another leg without any sleep?”, Pete continued.

It’s just ten hours to France and I’ll be there first thing in the morning, de-tank the plane and be on the way home that afternoon.” he said in-between the bites of the Paella, he was shoveling down.

Didn’t you learn anything today?” asked Peter Borberg. “You almost died because you didn’t listen to more experienced pilots and now you want to take off for France in crappy conditions, fly all night when you’re tired and your GPS still isn’t working?”

Finding France is a little easier than finding Santa Maria. And I’ve flown all night before, I’ll be ok.” he announced.

The three of us spent the rest of the dinner trying to talk him out of it, but when he was done the 172 pilot thanked us for our help that day and headed for the airport. We just shook our heads and wished him luck, some guys you just can’t reach.

Warthaog On The Endangered Speices List

Click the link for a great write-up  about the Air Force and defense department’s decision to get rid of the A-10 Thunderbolt AKA the Warthog.  In a nutshell due to budget cuts the Air Force claims they can’t afford to keep the A-10 because it’s a “one trick pony” All it does is ground support.  That’s ALL?   Just ground support?  THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB THE AIR FORCE HAS!  Everything the Air Force does really boils down to supporting the ground troops.  The powers that be claim that the multi-role fighters can do the job of close air support just as well as the A-10 as well as other roles such as air superiority.  Well that’s just BULLSHIT!  The A-10 is the best there ever was and is the platform the troops call when they get in trouble.  I could go on and on but this writ-up does a much better job.  Also watch the embedded video about how they built the A-10, it’s worth the 5 minutes.

Airmen at odds with Air Force brass over future of beloved A-10 plane

Is the A-10 Warthog a Cold War relic, or a battlefield workhorse? U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg L. Davis Read More:

Tail Winds

The unfortunate loss of another very experienced ferry pilot.

– Rescue Mountain Rescue and 118 have reached the Piper dispersed in the Apennines and in the cabin they found the dead body of the pilot, the ‘ German man of 58 years who was at the controls . The recovery of the body is very difficult because the plane ended up on a steep ridge of the mountain. The National Agency for the safety of the flight ( ANSV ) opened a safety investigation to identify the cause of the accident at the Piper 30 went missing on Friday with only the pilot on board and found today in an inaccessible area of Mount Casarola . The ANSV also willing to send its own investigator on the spot ” to gather the first evidence useful investigative activities .” His name was Hardy Kalitzki , was 56 years old and lived in Berlin the pilot died . “It ‘ died on his birthday, he was born April 4 , 1958 ,” says Joseph Ottonello , a manager of Genoa who had sold the Piper crashed in the Apennines to an American businessman . The manager is the last person to have seen the German pilot alive Friday morning before taking off from the airport of Genoa and of the crash on the mountain. ” Hardy Kalitzki was a professional pilot , an expert , with assets of 12,000 hours flight 990 Atlantic crossings and well – says Ottonello – . Had flown all types of aircraft and boasted an impeccable resume .” “It was a ferry- flyes , as they say – adds the manager – he had the task of transporting the Piper in New York through the route used by these airplanes that have a flight range of about 5-6 hours. Had to get to the airport of Ebeswald near Berlin and then through airports in Scotland, Iceland , Greenland, Canada arrive at the final destination of New York. The plane had sold him a year ago. He had arrived in Genoa with a scheduled flight from Berlin and then Piper took off with the Friday ‘ morning. was quiet and safe , as always . “