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Old 06-24-2018, 01:05 PM
Sam Buchanan's Avatar
Sam Buchanan Sam Buchanan is offline
been here awhile
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 4,466
Default Alexander City, AL accident

Does anyone know whether or not an RV was involved in an accident Sunday morning in Alexander City, AL? The Twitter photos look like the aircraft might have been an RV:

Fortunately there were no serious injuries to the two individuals on the aircraft, they walked away before the fire erupted.

Sam Buchanan

Last edited by Sam Buchanan : 06-24-2018 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 06-24-2018, 01:40 PM
jabarr jabarr is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Fayetteville, Georgia
Posts: 222

It was 7A. Engine quit. Thankfully both OK.
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:36 PM
cccjbr6 cccjbr6 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 191
Chris Kimble
Birmingham Alabama
RV-6A Bluebird- Beautifully built by Bob Axsom, maintained by Vic and Nick Syracuse, powered by Thunderbolt
$10/month donation gratefully made (worth every penny and painless)
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:04 PM
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Sam Buchanan Sam Buchanan is offline
been here awhile
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 4,466

N19MM; RV-7A
Sam Buchanan
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Old 06-24-2018, 07:46 PM
rockwoodrv9 rockwoodrv9 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Meridian ID, Aspen CO, Okemos MI
Posts: 2,863
Default A little more info

Report says Grandfather and Grandson. Wow, that is close to home. I dream of being able to take my grandsons up with me. Glad they both got out ok.
Williamston MI
O-320 D2A
Flying N376E
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Old 06-25-2018, 12:29 PM
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donaziza donaziza is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 842

Gentlemen, (Not me personally, but rather the gentleman this happened to)

Thank you for all your support. I truly would like to have a debrief on this at the squadron someday to discuss lessons learned. I’ll buy the keg.

As to the specifics of the accident, I was flying with my grandson Luki to Thomas Russell Field in Alexander City. As I reduced power in the descent (approximately 5 miles northeast of ALX) the engine gave one sputter and began losing power. I raised the nose to pick up 80 knots, turned on the boost pump, switched tanks, checked fuel (11L/10R), went mixture full rich and toggled mags. The engine was unresponsive.

Now, one of my biggest mistakes and regrets is that I looked at that big long runway and said, “I think I can make that”. I pointed it to the end of the runway, feathered the prop, and told Luki we would be a full stop. As it became apparent that making the field would be questionable, if not impossible, I made a hard right turn to land in the grass/parking lot behind the Taco Bell. I expected to land in the first field and probably hit the fence between the two portions of the lots. I did not expect the power lines (which I did not see) on the other side of the trees.

To any of you guys congratulating me or saying “great job”, I would say we got very, very lucky. Instead of hitting just one of the power lines and flipping on our back, we had one wire above the spinner and one below. The airplane slowed remarkably smoothly (relatively speaking) as we continued to the ground. I expect many of you carrier pilots have had more rapid decelerations hitting the 3-wire. What would Greese, Bill, Don, Waldo, or most of the other great pilots in the squadron have done? They would have taken luck out of the equation and headed toward the soccer fields, or even directly toward the field I chose, without first fixating on a big long piece of concrete just out of reach. That would have given them time to do a short field approach, clearing any lines or obstacles. They probably would have even been able to re-use the airplane. As for other things I should have done (but didn’t); turn off the fuel selector valve or unlock the canopy. For the record, the pictures look much worse than it was immediately after touchdown. We climbed out unscathed being careful to avoid the power lines. The power lines, however, continued to spark and started the aircraft on fire shortly after we safely exited. The fire department was on site almost immediately, but would not approach the airplane until the power company confirmed the lines were cold, so we stood there and watched the airplane burn to the ground. I do not intend to imply that wasn’t the best call. It was. I’m just explaining why it looks as bad as it does.

The obvious unanswered question is “why did the engine quit”? I don’t know.

So, thank you for your kind words and support. I just thought you should all know the rest of the story.

Last edited by donaziza : 06-25-2018 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 06-27-2018, 09:50 AM
benburb benburb is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 46

A VERY important lesson to be learned: take it from a very high time hot air balloon pilot/instructor- with nearly every landing being off-airport, we learn the critical lesson: you will almost NEVER see the power lines. You may see the power poles, and always, always, assume there are power lines between them. If going over them requires stretching your glide (don't even try it), going under them, scary as it is, might be a better option (an option obviously not available to us balloon pilots.)
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Old 06-27-2018, 02:17 PM
jrs14855 jrs14855 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Lake Havasu City AZ
Posts: 2,643
Default Wires

Steve Wittman survived two off airport landings involving wires. The first time he saw the wires and elected to hit them with the nose of the airplane. He considered going under them but thought he would not have enough room to stop a high rate of descent. He was uninjured. The second time was in the Fond du Lac race, he caught the wire on the tailwheel and wound up upside down. He had some minor injuries in that one.
The pilot of the RV7 should not second guess or beat himself up over his decision making. He landed right side up and uninjured. That's all that counts.
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Old 06-27-2018, 02:34 PM
DHeal DHeal is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Windsor, California
Posts: 1,005

I have often found it easier to see the "shadows" of power poles rather than the poles themselves. Also, power poles tend to run parallel to roadway edges but not always -- lines crossing roadways seem to be the most difficult to see.
David Heal - Windsor, CA (near Santa Rosa)
EAA #23982 (circa 1965) - EAA Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor; CFI - A&I
RV-12 E-LSA #120496 (SV w/ AP and ADS-B 2020) - N124DH flying since March 2014 - 1,080+ hours (as of Oct 2021)!
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Old 06-27-2018, 03:12 PM
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RV7Guy RV7Guy is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Chandler, AZ
Posts: 3,000
Default Some thoughts

You did what you thought was correct and it worked out. The goal is to live and that was accomplished. The insurance company has a payout. It all worked. I'm sure it was frustrating to see the plane burn up with the FD standing there. But, safety first!!!

As a medical helicopter pilot, wires are always a concern. Day or night it is one of our biggest fears. As was mentioned, if there are poles assume there are wires. They are hard to see. We use NVG's and in some respects the wires are easier to see at night.

Technology is our friend. For many years I have used Google Earth to scout out any new or unfamiliar airports. You can even "slant" the view like you are doing an approach. This will give you a first hand look at potential problems. It is handy to do even with familiar airports. Just getting that big picture of the area is helpful.

Glad this worked out. Get that new kit on order or find a plane!!! Get back in the saddle. Thanks for the briefing!!
Darwin N. Barrie
Chandler AZ
RV-7 N717EE-Flying (Sold)
RV-7 N717AZ Painted and Complete
2021 Gold Lindy Grand Champion Kit Plane
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