Airplane Crash at Fairbanks Shown from 3 Onboard Cameras N334DH




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Published on May 17, 2013

This video is intended to show that you can walk away from a bad situation if you continue to fly the airplane until it stops. In this case the engine quit without warning at 200 feet above the ground and there were only 20 seconds for recognition, trouble-shooting, decision-making, and execution before ground contact.

Studies have shown that without at least 500 feet between the airplane and the ground at engine failure a complete turn-back is not possible and further an analysis by an Annapolis professor of aerodynamics concluded that in this case I had only a 90 degree arc on either side of the nose in which to turn and execute a landing. He figured that I used 85 degrees and had very little options left. As a learning point, he suggests making emergency turns at 45 degrees angle of bank in order to get the maximum amount of turn vs. altitude loss instead of the 28 degrees that I used if one needs to maximize the turn radius. Obviously this one put me where I needed to be.

To the Monday morning quarterbacks: Look carefully at the obstacles before deciding there was a better place to put the aircraft; there wasn't. Also, keep in mind that this is intended to show the short period of time after the engine failure, not the cause which has not been determined.

The NTSB was on scene within a few minutes of the crash because they were already at the airport where this happened writing up a report on a previous crash. The immediately checked fuel lines and tanks and found that the injected fuel lines were still pressurized and fuel was getting to the engine. The tanks were full and I had personally supervised refueling the evening before. The fuel was bright and clear and free from contaminants at pre-flight # 1 hour before the incident.

There was no "mud dauber" activity or any other build-up of outside sources. I had flown the airplane at least four hours for each of the previous five days, each after a thorough pre-flight inspection. All switches and selectors were in their proper positions upon landing, nothing half-way here or there. Ironically, I turned to the pilot not flying but occupying the right seat and told him to verify the position of every switch and selector because the FAA or the NTSB would surly ask; if not I joked that every pilot who saw the video would be full of ideas and it would be nice to be able to say with certaintay what was where.

I am an ATP rated in both airplanes and helicopters (single & multi-engine land and sea), am an instructor in (CFII/MEI Airplane & helicopter) and have 45 years of flying experience, many of it flying the far reaches of Alaska. My background includes retired military pilot (safety & instructor), former chief pilot for commercial 135 operations, for director of operations for same, and many years of aerial fire-fighting and other challenging flying jobs.

I hope this video is instructive in some way.


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