2007-03-12 We're given enormous freedom to risk our own necks—not others.
Generally speaking, we only risk ourselves when we fly. But we must
work to keep it that way. Continued self regulation depends on it. The incidents below
shows what's possible and what's at stake.
2016-Sept-14 I and many
other onlookers watched as our pilot began his launch. He started
running, brought the wing up then throttled up to go when the chips
hit the fan. Exploding propeller pieces shot out in all directions
taking two pieces of the aluminum radial arm that caused it all.
things stick out. One piece hit a nearby paramotor, whose pilot was
standing just beyond, with enough force to cut four pieces of cage
netting. That would have been no good for anyone's soft tissue. Second
was a piece of aluminum that landed over a hundred feet away, also in
the propeller disc plane. Of nearly equal interest was one piece of
propeller that stuck itself over four inches into the ground near the
pilot--deep enough that it was, apparently, hard to get out.
happens periodically but this time John Stovall spent some effort to
uncover what, how and where the biggest pieces went. It wasn't a
memorable failure, either, the aluminum arm apparently just came
unscrewed rather than flexing into the prop.
We should use this as a
reminder to consider where we do our runups and who we allow nearby
during runups and launch. The danger zone is shown below.
pilot whose machine was damaged adds:
aluminum rod had enough force after tearing through my net to put a
small dent on of the aluminum structural members of my Miniplane. It's
not large enough cause any structural issues, but it was a very sobering
illustration of what it would have done to my kneecap which was on the
opposite side of that motor.
I've been giving it
some thought, and while this has certainly encouraged my to be even more
vigilant about prop safety in the future, it's definitely an
illustration of how you can't really guarantee safety around a prop.
For the most part, I took reasonable
precautions, but they were compromised by what turned out in some ways
to be worst case scenario. When I realized the pilot in question was
about to take off I moved myself and my parameter back about 25-30 feet.
This put my about ten feet forward of the spectator line, and while I
should have move back the additional distance, I very much doubt that it
would have made a big difference in the impact speed of the aluminum. I
also took the precaution of standing well forward of the launch point so
that I would be exposed to the disk of danger for the briefest possible
period of time.
I think the following three things contributed
to this near miss:
The wind was parallel
to the runway during this time. This is a worst case scenario, because
it means that spectators can't get far enough away from pilots to get
out of the danger zone during takeoff. When winds are parallel to the
runway, it might be worth advising pilots to take off as far side of the
runway in order to maximize distance.
Maintenance; it was a
surprising failure, and it was an easy item to miss. I don't typically
check if the rods supporting my net have come unscrewed, but I will now.
At a crowded event, it may be worth an extra vigilant preflight check.
Lastly; luck. There was no warning of the
pilot slipping, and the wing was in good shape and was well out of the
power band by the time the launching pilot crossed me. It just goes to
show that a spinning prop can always be dangerous. It's not just when
the wing is getting pulled up or the launch is about the get blown.
PPG crashes into 2 on takeoff, seriously
This story told by Mike, a witness who was there with his
15 July 2006 On the USPPA incident database this
doesn't sound so bad. The detailed description below highlights what's at stake
our responsibility can never be minimized. We worry about losing sites
after annoying people with our noise, try chopping their faces off.
I've seen and read of some appalling risks taken with other people's
lives. Continuing a launch, motor screaming, to within inches of or even hitting
other people, doing stupid stunts with non-participants and other
dangerous actions. We
should collectively ratchet our tolerances to make sure we consider that
unacceptable. It's one thing when the parties are involved, quite another
when they don't know of the risks. Never mind the horror of injury/death,
this is probably the steepest slope to extinction or regulation we could
the brick patio is a 2 story public beach house with showers and toilets.
Being the first Saturday of a 3-day weekend (Monday is Umi no hi or Sea Day) there were many people at the beachfront
picnicking with BBQs and swimming.
PPGers were there when we arrived around 11AM. PPG
pilots had been using the open patio as a runway/takeoff point. Throughout the
day, the PPGs were taking off and flying overhead and along the beachfront
coastline on short flights. There was as few as one and as many as 4, all using the patio and beach as a take off point. Being the first time I had seen PPGs take off and land, I was
impressed at how quickly they could get off the ground.
the time of the incident, there were three PPGs in the area, 2 stationary and
one taking off. There was a light breeze coming from the South. The windsock
showed wind direction remained fairly constant all day.
PPG pilot attempted takeoff from the grass area, about 35 - 40meters in front of
people on the sand. He got a few feet (4-5?) off the ground and then quickly
lost altitude near the concrete wave break dragging his feet on the ground -
under power went straight into a group of 4. First hit was a young man (bumped
to the side) the PPG continued forward under power crashing through the coolers
and an umbrella set up. The young woman was struck. I saw the woman knocked back off her feet. At this point, the
wing fell from the sky and blocked my view. When the wing had come to rest on
the sand, I saw the woman again, her right arm convulsing. I was about 40 feet
away, on her left. I ran to see if I could help and saw that the prop had cut
the right side of her face. The right side of her face was open - like a book. I
yelled for my wife Marina (an M.D.) to help.
I have had quite a bit of First Aid
training but the extent of the injury was quite shocking. I did not know here to
begin, massive injuries, extensive bleeding, her face appeared to be coming
apart. My wife and I began first aid. She was unconscious and we could not find
a pulse. The engine had stopped. The PPG pilot was sitting in the sand, strapped
to the power unit staring at the young woman. The wood propeller had damage at
wife applied direct pressure holding the face together, I yelled to others who
had gathered, to call an ambulance. She began vomiting blood. I got a pulse and
held her hands telling her she would be all right. With the bleeding controlled,
she seemed to regain consciousness. She moved her head to the side (her
neck was OK!) and coughed. Ice was applied and we waited for the ambulance.
woman was taken by helicopter to Aichi Medical University Hospital in Nagoya–we are in communication with the doctors at the hospital, at this point she has
lost an eye, many teeth, cut tongue and palate, the sinus cavity seems to have
cushioned the brain. She will undergo a second surgery Thursday
to reconstruct her cheekbones.
some ways, she was lucky, a few millimeters up, down or to the left and things
might have been much worse.