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Greg Young of Houston flew his RV-6 recently for the first time.  During the first flight his engine stopped, resulting in an off-field landing.  Fortunately, Greg is recovering.  He posted an update on the HoustonRVBuilders online community.  I'm reproducing it here in case you don't belong to those mailing lists.


From:  "Gregory Young"
Date:
  Sat Jul 14, 2001  7:30 pm

Subject:  First and Last Flight report

Contrary to local Houston news reports today, I have NOT slipped into
critical condition but am home and doing well, all things considered.
Physically I'm probably better than I have any right to be. I've got 2
broken ribs, a wrenched knee, a bunch of cuts and gouges, am awfully sore
and not moving too well. But overall, I'm just damn glad to be alive. When
you see pictures of the cockpit you'll understand just how lucky I was to
walk away. I only have a couple pictures from my camera before the batteries
ran out but I'll post them (HoustonRVBuilders group on Yahoo) and others
when I get them from friends.


The other news reports on the crash were surprisingly accurate. Around
3:30pm on Thursday I departed on the maiden flight of my new RV-6 from DWH.
I headed west toward Hempstead and Brenham for handling and systems checks.
For 30 minutes I had a glorious flight and was the happiest man in the air.
Returning to Hooks, when I turned on the boost pump the engine went rough.
After trying various combinations of boost on/off and leaning I thought the
engine was running smooth and planned for a high speed approach. On a close
base I went to add power but the engine was dead and just windmilling (C/S
so I had no rpm indication of a problem). I went through a quick restart
drill and assessed my options. There was nothing but trees between me and
the runway and I wasn't going to make the runway. The other way was a
trailer park, a thin row of trees and a pasture beyond that. My decent rate
ruled out the pasture so I went for the trailer park. I hoped to put it down
on the street and roll/slide between two trailers and into the trees beyond.


It almost worked as planned. Based on what memory I have and track marks I
found, I hit in the street but was headed for one of the trailers. I jammed
full left rudder (broke the stop and punctured the rudder with the elevator)
to change direction. That worked but then I hit a 6" dia. tree in front of
the trailer. It hit dead center in the right fuel tank, bent the spar
backward and tried to rip the fuselage from the wing. The wing turned almost
90 deg to the original track but the fuselage was only about 60 deg. When
everything stopped, I found myself twisted sideways in what was left of my
seat with both feet stuck through the right side of the fuselage. The right
tank burst from the tree impact and the left tank was punctured by the
fuselage/wing interaction. Fuel was everywhere - I was completely soaked and
there was a pool of gasoline on the floor (or whatever structure was there)
in front of me. My belt was jammed so tight in my gut I had trouble
releasing the latch. I also had some trouble extracting my feet from the
jagged opening. One of the residents helped pull me out and into her home to
await the Paramedics. I crawled out under the left canopy rail (fuselage
side was ripped wide open) and slid down the wing.

Random thoughts: The whole affair from decision point to extraction was less
than 1 minute. I called "Mayday,Mayday,Mayday" as I turned toward the
trailer park and I remember chuckling when the tower said "Try to make it to
the runway". Yeah, right! I hope he felt stupid after he said it. There was
no fire (thank God) but I don't know why not. The fuel spill killed the
grass in a 50 foot area. No one was injured on the ground and precious
little physical damage was done. This was helped by it being a weekday
afternoon with no cars at home and few kids playing. I traveled 100-125 feet
from touchdown/impact to stop. It wasn't slow and it wasn't pretty. I was
worried about maintaining speed during the turn and avoiding a stall/spin.
The descent rate was enormous with a windmilling CS prop. The arrival was
more like a splat-skid. In hindsight it probably helped dissipate energy. No
one picked up my ELT signal - if it triggered it had no antenna, it was
installed on the seat back bulkhead and the cable was severed. Seemingly
every piece of metal (except the VS) was bent. I had always wondered whether
the fuselage would buckle ahead of the shoulder strap attach points - it did
not and the shoulder straps did their job. I had a crotch strap and the lap
belt stayed low to do it's job (Pacific Aero harnesses). I added protection
to the glareshield (split reinforced fuel hose with foam pipe insulation
over that). I can't tell if I hit it or not... but then that's the whole
point. The canopy, that we all worry so much about cracking during
installation, remained latched and undamaged... go figure! They picked up
the wreckage this morning headed to Air Salvage of Dallas. I do not plan to
buy the salvage. Go for it - there's a Navaid, EIS4000, SL15, GX65, SL30
w/CDI G/S & SL70.

Second guessing: I've had 2 days to reflect and can come up with a million
woulda/coulda/shoulda's, particularly knowing the outcome of one branch of
the decision tree. While I was in the hospital, my RV buddies were beating
themselves up on what <they> should have done/said. Hindsight is wonderful!
While there may have been "better" choices, I'm comfortable (and I'm the one
that has to live with them)  that I made "reasonable" choices given the
circumstances at the time. Once I wound up in that coffin corner on base, I
think I made the "best" choices coupled with a lot of luck. I never once
thought of saving the aircraft. I traded my RV's life for mine - it was a
good trade. But I'll miss her - for 30 minutes it was the best time of my
life.

Several folks have asked about the cause of my engine stoppage. At this
point I don't know but will keep you informed if and when I find out. This
is what's happened so far. The FAA and NTSB did an on-scene investigation
and then released the aircraft to me. The FAA said they would look at it
further when it was removed. The insurance company did not want the plane
moved until their adjuster saw it but since it was obviously totaled, they
sent their preferred salvage company to retrieve it. They said the FAA would
assign someone from Dallas to look at it and that they would investigate it
as well (I presume to lay-off the damages).

I suspect that a non-fatal, one-of-a-kind accident is not going to get a lot
of time if the cause isn't obvious. Hopefully I'm wrong but fatalities and
exposure/volume seem to drive expenditures. With the plane in Dallas, and
once they write me a check, there's not much I can do. So there's a
possibility we may never know the cause. I'll keep you advised.
Regards,
Greg Young
RV-6 N6GY Houston (DWH) first flight/destroyed 7/12/2001

More pictures can be seen at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HoustonRVBuilders/files/N6GY/ 

July 19 update
I posted some close-up pictures of my crash that I just got from friends.
Please don't feel morbid viewing them. The amount of damage sustained, that
still let me walk away, is testimony to a great design. That's one hellava
airplane we're building. The pics are at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HoustonRVBuilders/files/N6GY/

Oh yeah, I'll be building again. I was leery of discussing future flying
with my wife after the emotional trauma she went through. But she actually
brought it up the other night and suggested "we" build another. What a gal!

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and messages. You can really
appreciate how much the RV community is an extended family when something
like this occurs.

Best Regards,
Greg Young
RV-6 N6GY Houston (DWH) first flight/destroyed 7/12/2001