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Old 11-14-2013, 09:09 PM
Chuck Hagerty Chuck Hagerty is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Posts: 105
Default You know its a bad landing when you're upside down!

Well, here?s something that I obviously hoped I would never be writing about? but it happened, so now I?m just trying to make something positive out of a bad situation. Maybe this will help someone else to evaluate their own skills a bit more closely. On June 15, 2013 my RV 7A was out of phase one with about 50 total hours on her. She was flying great and I had already taken up two different CFI friends of mine for several hours, so I knew how she would handle with the weight of two people. My son was visiting from Raleigh NC and he wanted to go flying in our new plane. The day was perfect? blue skies and calm. We made it to the airport around 8:30 am. By 9 the plane was out of the hangar, the preflight was complete, instructions had been given and we were ready to take off. Everything went well, with a great one hour scenic tour over the Blue Ridge Mountains and a smooth landing at the end. We both had a great time and he really enjoyed the RV.

Immediately after the flight I called my wife to let her know we were down safely, and that our son had to leave and return to Raleigh. She then suggested that, since the day was so nice, we fly up to PA to visit my folks like we had wanted to do the weekend before. Of course, with very little arm twisting, I agreed and proceeded to fuel the plane, and look over the airport diagram and radio frequencies for our destination airport. I also called 1-800-WXBRIEF just to make sure the weather would remain good.

She arrived at the airport (W24 in Lynchburg, VA) around 11:30 am and by 11:50 we were strapped in and feeling the rush of heading down runway 10. Takeoff was nice and within a few minutes we were at 4,500? and headed north. The view over the Appalachian Mountains was beautiful and the ride was just a little bit bumpy since the winds had picked up a bit from earlier that morning. My wife had been up for 3 short hops previously in the RV, so this was not her first time in this piece of metal that had taken shape in our shop over the last several years. We were both enjoying the flight and she was taking pictures.

Ten miles out from our destination airport (KAOO) I announced our location and our intention to land. Another pilot, who was taking off, announced that he was doing so on RWY 030. Of course, you would assume that the winds would be favoring 030, but I spoke with this fellow briefly just to confirm that that was indeed the case. Our northerly heading had us lined up with 030 for a direct final approach and since there was no other traffic at the time, that?s what I announced we would be doing. The wind had picked up to around 10 knots and there were some gusts coming toward us from an angle of around 2 or 3 o?clock, but we were doing fine? centerline and on speed. The runway is 100? wide and over 5,000? long, so compared to what I was used to landing on, this was a piece of cake (check out W24?they literally use it for soap box derby races in the summer). The time was around 1:15 pm according to my timekeeper wife. My flair was at the right height, flaps were 40 degrees down and airspeed was bleeding off nicely. The mains touched down and suddenly everything went very wrong.

The mains were on the ground for just a second and then we were back up in the air. Did I bounce it? I could have? I won?t say that?s never happened before in C172 flights. Did a combination of ground effect and gusting wind make enough lift to bring her back up? That?s what I thought initially. Either way, I came down hard and bent the front wheel. The bent wheel pulled us to the left and off the runway where we hit the soft dirt with just enough momentum to cause the plane to raise straight up onto the spinner and then flip over onto the canopy. Between the panic, the adrenaline, the injuries and the shock, it?s pretty hard to describe what it feels like to be upside down in a plane that just flipped.

Now, what?s the point I?m trying to make by telling this lengthy story? Like I said in the first paragraph, I hope this helps someone else to evaluate their skills more closely. Especially those of us who are low time pilots. With 18,000 readers on this site, we all can?t be like the guys who make long cross country?s look like a walk across the street and amazing aerobatics look like something they could do in their sleep. I am in awe of you guys who are just that good and I appreciate all of your input to this fantastic site. However, along with myself, there are probably at least a few of us out there who may love these RV planes but who also have only a couple hundred hours of total time PIC.

Take the time to read Doug's threads on safety, especially Van?s article on ?How to land an RV? ( Then find a CFI with RV experience who will spend as much time with you as needed. You?ll also want to look carefully at VAF contains so much more than just how to form the perfect rivet or hang an engine. The safety information here is invaluable.

I broke my neck in five places, had two complicated surgeries, wore a halo for 14 weeks, am still wearing a hard neck brace and have not been able to work or drive since June 15. My wife cracked two neck vertebrae, cracked three ribs and tore a rotator cuff in her shoulder. Thankfully she did not have to have any surgery. Hurting someone you love is much worse than hurting yourself. This is an embarrassing story to tell because even us low time guys like to think we?re good enough that something like this would never happen to us; but if sharing helps to keep someone else from getting hurt, then it?s worth being embarrassed.
Chuck Hagerty
Lynchburg, VA
RV-7A N954CH

First flight 1-29-13
Phase I complete 5-25-13

INVERTED: Looking Back on Walking Away
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:26 PM
ILikePike ILikePike is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Eatonton, GA
Posts: 219
Default Thanks for sharing.

I greatly respect your story. I am constantly amazed at the range of emotions involved in building and flying airplanes.

Let's be careful out there!
Jeff Green
2016 RV-8 #82985
1968 E33C Aerobatic Bonanza
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:32 PM
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DougJ DougJ is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Prather, CA
Posts: 191

Chuck, thanks for sharing this, I know that had to be hard to do. Sounds like some significant injuries, but it sounds like you're doing better. I understand your feelings relating to the injuries your wife suffered, that's got to be much harder to deal with.

I'm sure there will be many questions for you, although I'll ask none. Your willingness to share is a positive impact on safety for the rest of us, and you'll be able to take something positive away from it as well.

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Old 11-14-2013, 09:32 PM
MikeyDale's Avatar
MikeyDale MikeyDale is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Garden City Texas
Posts: 924

Wow! Sorry to hear all that. What about the plane?
Mike Hillger
Garden City, Texas
First Flight
Dues Paid
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:54 PM
60av8tor 60av8tor is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Harrisburg, Pa
Posts: 759

Thanks a lot for sharing. I am very glad to hear that, while tedious, it sounds like you both will make a full recovery. Regardless of time and experience, things can get out of hand in the blink of an eye.
RV-7A purchased flying - Sold 6/16
RV-10 empennage delivered 1/22/14 (325JT)

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Old 11-14-2013, 10:09 PM
rockwoodrv9 rockwoodrv9 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Meridian ID, Aspen CO, Okemos MI
Posts: 2,923

Chuck, like you, I am a low time pilot and have the same fears you had - and worry about the same thing. I will take your advice and do as much or more training in the 9A as I need to be comfortable - and then more lessons! Thanks for the story and best of luck with your and your wife's recovery. I have had 2 fusions in my neck and glad the doctors were able to fix me up!
Williamston MI
O-320 D2A
Flying N376E
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:11 PM
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DanH DanH is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 08A
Posts: 10,468

A double set of neck fractures? You may have some good information to share in that regard. Any thoughts on what allowed those injuries, or how to prevent them?
Dan Horton
Barrett IO-390
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:32 PM
jjhoneck jjhoneck is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 419

Wow. Thanks for sharing your terrifying and educational story. Glad you're healing, surely if slowly.
Jay Honeck
Port Aransas, TX
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:36 PM
Wayne Gillispie Wayne Gillispie is offline
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 1,499

Thank you for posting and hope you two recover quickly.

I set my personal limit at 25 kts direct xw in the -10. This past weekend we had 9G22 kts from 45 off the nose. I needed some xw experience, was solo and thought it would be easy. Those gusting winds are a whole different animal. I was juggling the stick, pedals and throttle for a bit and felt like newbie again. I have reassessed my personal gusty xw limits.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:37 PM
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L.Adamson L.Adamson is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: KSLC
Posts: 4,021

Like you, my mains went back into the air. My wife was also with me. I wish I knew exactly what happened. I didn't stall, and I'm not sure if it was a bit of inattention at the last second. I just don't know. We bounced about two feet high. It didn't even worry my wife. This event just followed one of my best landings ever.

Then it bounced again, about 2 1/2'. I should have just gave it some throttle on the first bounce. But it seemed so benign, especially comparing to some RV taildraggers I've seen land. Mine was a 6A.

Now it's like PIO, but the third bounce is very slow airspeed wise, and tail high. At that point, I just left the engine at idle. To do anymore, could have cartwheeled me off the runway. The nose gear tucked under, but we didn't flip over. Just sat there on the runway, tail high, with an engine still idling and a bent constant speed prop.

I don't know at what point, the gear bent. A piece of wood used as a damper was found farther back on the runway. I just would like to know exactly what transpired. And if I did know, I probably wouldn't have let it happen in the first place. Did I touch down nose first? Don't know...
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