Monday, June 21, 2010

Flying Across America

People who fly for fun or who work commercially out of little airports like I do know that new security regulations are made without regard to, and often without knowledge of the way little airplane operate. They are assumed to be toys, or only present during business hours, and the rules can make it difficult to operate.

A couple of pilots in an airplane just like the one we were ferrying start today on a sponsored trip across the US, trying to raise the profile of GA and demonstrate that it isn't necessarily a rich man's sport. I forwarded the website to my companion in the C150 and she was halfway between amused and irritated that these men were making such a big deal of flying this airplane across the country. "Look at all the airports they have down there and all the support they have! How is this a big deal. I'm not making a big deal out of flying my airplane. It's an airplane, it goes places."

She may have a point, that in making an event out of the simple act of flying an airplane across the country, they are effectively claiming that it is some kind of feat, as opposed to an everyday event. People do fly little airplanes across and between both of our countries all the time. Should we make noise about it? I don't know. It's both more fun and more challenging than driving. I would prefer that the challenges remain with the weather and terrain and not include getting permission to land, park and taxi at the only places where fuel is available.

There are some spectacular pictures here of a DC-3 crash in Germany. The first one looks like an airplane-on-a-stick monument, but keep going and you'll realize that it's a photo taken moments before impact. My German isn't good enough to decipher the nature of the malfunction (a problem with the Triebwerk), how many on board or the seriousness of their injuries. Unless "fest" means something totally different in German than English, I'm reading that there was some kind of photography event going on at the time.


TgardnerH said...

According to google translate, "Seven passengers and crew were fortunately only slightly injured," the co-pilot was evacuated by helicopter, and the aircraft had engine trouble. translated page

Vincent said...

Hi there,

let me help you with German. Triebwerk means engine.

Now, let me react on the rest of your post. I'm quite interested in that because I'm one of the two guys doing that noise around our flight across America.

The point is not to say that we do something difficult or extraordinary. Yes, aircraft do fly from place to place each and every day. We're not breaking any record or doing something particularly unusual.

Our point is to show what General Aviation is about, to promote some of its values, and bring some media attention on those values.

And to get media attention, we have to do something. We could surely continue blogging as we have been doing for years, but taking this flight is an opportunity to touch people more directly, to create an event, and in turn use this event to promote GA.

By the way, thanks for the link.

Colin said...

I have crossed the country about six times for far in our little plane. People are constantly surprised by it. No one is much surprised when a college student, or unemployed or newly-employed person, crossing the country in a car, but people act like we are bobbing across the Pacific in pool toys.

I always explain that it is the last frontier of freedom in the country and it is an incredibly adventure, not inconvenient, and a great way to show your children what is between the coasts.

Grant said...

A couple of years ago I flew from southern Ontario to St. Louis in a homebuilt aircraft and it reminded me of the great facilities our American cousins enjoy in support of general aviation. Much more so than we have in Canada with our sparsely settled regions, and widely scattered airports and weather reporting points.

Here's the story for anyone who cares:

Aviatrix said...

Yay! Keep the links to cross country flight stories coming!

I have heard that some people's comments are being deleted or not posting properly. The only comments I have deleted in months have been spam: pretty much anything with a link that is not relevant to the conversation at hand. If yours was a "real" comment, and vanished, it must be a problem with Blogger. I hope they fix the problem, because I love reading your comments.

Julien said...

In this sentence fest is the first half of the verb festhalten (to record), which is why it ends up at the end of the sentence (you have to love German grammar for that).

The first sentence can be translated as An eye-witness recorded this dramatic moment with his camera. You can tell fest is not a German noun because it is not capitalized.

Anonymous said...

In fact there was no crash at all.
The text reads "engine trouble nearly caused the crash of a "raisinbomber". The pilot saves the day. " (the name refers to the air dropping of sweetbread over Europe (and especially the Netherlands) in WW2 by allied aircraft to relieve famine, and later the Berlin airlift).

Paul B said...

When you look at the other pictures (like the one with the wheel fallen off, and the rather damaged rudder) I'm not sure the phrase "nearly caused a crash" is quite right. Looks like a crash to me.

If I do something non-normal with my car, and it ends up with a dented wing, then that was a "crash"!

Ok, so the crash wasn't disasterous, but this looks to be more than your typical "emergency landing"!

Sarah said...

Dramatic photos for sure. I'm glad the crew was (mostly) ok... looks like they lost power with a full load of candy. :)

Speaking of DC-3s, I am psyched about the DC3 gathering at Oshkosh this year. I guess there won't be a formation arrival, and there's been some unfortunate squabbling between EAA and the "last time" principals .. but most will probably be there, as will I.

D.B. said...

I fail to see why "engine trouble" could cause a wheels up landing, unless the point was to land in a very small space. Also, a DC3 should be able to fly on one engine, which is the whole point of having two!

My German is not very good, but I think "Triebwerk" can also be translated as "mechanical trouble". Perhaps a native speaker can confirm or deny....

Jürgen said...

I am a German native speaker, and the translation posted by "Tyler" is generally correct. The newspaper's article does not contain much information (most captions just describe what's shown in the pictures), but there's a very interesting post in an unrelated blog here that gives some background: The flight was a birthday present to a member of the German parliament, Stefan Kaufmann. He posted some "tweets" (I just hate that word...) about the crash, the first stating "Crash landing right after takeoff. Was lucky things didn't turn out worse... I'm fine. But this was surely the last flight of a "Rosinenbomber" in Europe" and the second "The plane is on fire. Dozens of fire trucks. Everybody's all right so far. The left engine failed right after takeoff". That's definitely an interesting use of Twitter here...

Mario in PY said...

German speaker here:

Crash landing - Raisinbomber had an accident

1. Problems with the engine nearly caused the Raisinbomber to fall out of the sky. The pilot saved the situation. The plane touched down sufficiantly skewed. One eyewitness captured emergency landing with his camera.

2. The pilot was unable to make it back to the airport. He has to put the machine down outside of the runway.

3. One eyewitness captures the dramatic moment with his camera. A hard crash, the Raisinbomber breaks through a construction fence, airplane parts fly around.

4. The airplane comes to a stop. Smoke rises from the cockpit.

5. It was supposed to be a normal sightseeing flight over Berlin. But shortly after takeoff the "Raisinbomber" lost controlled flight.

6. The pilot had to try an emergency landing.

7. The airplane stopped in a field beside a construction site access road.

8. Fortunately the air traffic at Schönefeld was not endangered during the emergency landing.

9. During the landing also one wheel broke of from the landing gear.

10. Several wrecked parts are disperesed around the heavily damaged airplane.

11. Metal parts of DC-3 flew for meters on impact.

12. Fire engines rushed to the crash site.

13. Aviation fuel had ignited, but the fire could be extinguished quickly.

14. Ambulances also arrived quickly, to care for the injured.

15. The copilot of the "Raisinbomber" was flown to a hospital with an ambulance helicopter.

16. Seven airplane ocupants fortunately recieved only minor injuries.

17. One of them is lifted into an ambulance.

18. The passengers where cared for at the Schönefeld airport.

19. Fortunately the crash turned out to be mild.

20. The town Selchow is located close to the crash site. The mashine crashe just a few hundred meters from the buildings.

21. Luck in adversity: The "Raisinbmober" did not errupt in flames.

22. The historical plane was badly damaged. It is unclear if it will ever fly again.

23. The owner business stated that the DC-3 was maintained with extra care.

24. Nummerous emergency vehicles were at the scene. Air traffic at Schönefeld was interrupted for only approximately fifteen minutes.

25. Now the cause of the accident has to be determined.

26. This was before the accident: Pilot Frank Hellberg checks the engine of the "Raisinbomber" of the type Douglas DC-3 Dakota at the airport Berlin-Schönefeld. The mashine was built in 1944 and is the only flight worthy Raisinbomber in Germany.

27. One day after the accident the crashed Raisinbomber is taken away.

28. The airplane was taken to a hanger at the Schönefeld airport.

29. A big crane raises the mashine.

30. The DC-3 has again raised the nose into the air. It is unsure if the historical airplane will ever take off again. However the owners are confident that they will be able to repair the mashine.

Hope this human translation helps.

Anonymous said...

Dear Aviatrix,

I heard about the flight across America trip a couple weeks ago on a pilot web board. My reaction was sort of a shoulder-shrug. My take is that its great that these young guys are doing this, but it seems like making a big deal out of it... a collection of C150 cross-country flights, one airport to the next.

When I was 18 I flew a C172 from the west coast to Oshkosh and back by myself. That was a great trip. I didn't really feel like I accomplished anything but its a memory I'll always cherish. The flight school where I learned to fly had the local small town news paper do a write up on me the year prior as I took my private pilot checkride on my 17th birthday. That was fun but again I did not view it as a particularly outstanding thing, only achieving what I wanted to do, and having the good fortune of the weather allowing me to finish training and get the checkride done on my birthday.

Have you heard of the book, Flight of Passage -- it discusses two slightly younger men making this trip, long ago, in a Piper Cub they had spent some time in rebuilding from the frame up. That's pretty cool. I don't want to discredit or discourage the young men making this trip now, and I wish them the best of luck... but I guess I see it as a trail well traveled.

PS: I'm hoping to fly to Oshkosh again this year, some 11 years after that first trip I made, this time in my own airplane :)

Michael5000 said...

It's interesting to me, a non-pilot, that there would be anything even arguably remarkable about people flying their private planes cross-country. I guess I assumed that it was as common, or more common, among airplane owners as the long-distance roadtrip is among car owners.

Sylvia said...

I was intrigued by the photographs you linked to and did some digging. The plane has an interesting history: Fear of Landing » The Raisin Bombers of Berlin.

Apparel said...

As a non-pilot, I find it intriguing that there could be anything remotely noteworthy about individuals flying their private planes cross-country. I had assumed it to be as commonplace, if not more so, among airplane owners, akin to the long-distance road trips for car owners.