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From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: I Just Dead Sticked the RV-6 Into the Desert!
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 20:31:02 GMT

I don't have a ton of time right now to talk but I just had an engine
failure in Karl Strom's RV-6.  I had to make an emergency landing in
the desert about 9am this morning.  The flight was a check out for a
CFI to take over the rest of the flight training of both Karl and
Stefan.  We were doing simple steep turns about 10 miles north of town
at about 3000 AGL when the cockpit filled with blue smoke.  I pulled
the power to determine if I was on fire and a lot of the smoke
subsided.  At that point I became PIC from the right seat and headed
for I-95 in case I had to stick it.  Within 10 seconds oil was gushing
all over the front window and I had basically no forward visibility.
My thoughts were to just watch the oil pressure and see if I could
limp all the way back to the airport.  At about 8 miles north the oil
pressure dropped through 60 psi, then 50, then 40, then 30, then 20.
I had her back to flight idle so I wouldn't seize her up and was
pretty much a glider pilot at that time.  I thought, "shit, I hope I
don't hit a car but I have to dead-stick this baby on the highway.'

I got lucky, however, there is a flash flood water retention basin at
about 6 miles north and to the west a bit.  I radioed the tower and
told them I had an engine failure, call the police, send the emergency
medical people, I had 2 souls on board and 40 gallons of fuel.  There
was some confusion as to where I was so I squawked 7700.  I know that
lit up every radar scope from here to San Francisco so there was no
problem figuring out exactly where I was going down.  Well, to make a
long story short (I'll write more later) I dead sticked it into the
desert.  I tore up the nice wheel pants on the big rocks and caught
the trailing edge of the right aileron on a rock sitting up  on a
small burm.   I had no brakes in the right seat so I was yelling at
Tim to get on the brake to minimize the ground roll as we went
careening through the rocks, bushes and desert.  At the very moment we
came to a stop I looked over at Tim and got a big smile on my face. I
extended a shaking right hand as he did and we congratulated each
other for still being alive.  Later I was to see that there was a rock
about 15 inches in diameter only 18 inches in front of where the right
wheel came to rest.

Fourteen minutes later the Metro helicopter was there as were the fire
dept. and the EMT's.  Early on, I did relay to an over flying aircraft
to tell the tower that there were no medical injuries, we were fine
and needed absolutely no medical assistance.  Next came every news
reporter on Earth and a bunch of other people including other police
helicopters, news helicopters, newspaper people etc.  All I could
think of is that no one was hurt, there was no significant damage and
there would be no law suits so I gave them all an interview of what

Karl and Stefan showed up and we pulled the cowling to find the
problem.  It was the wonderful Lycoming engine Karl paid $25,000
(including accessories).  The front oil seal behind the prop flange
and blown forward on one side and allowed our oil to blow out.  We
pulled the dip stick and there was still a trace on the very tip.  I
pulled the engine through before we removed the prop and compression
was still just fine.  Also the oil on the stick looked fine, no signs
of over-temp.  I think I saved the engine.  We took a ton of pictures
of it.  I'll get a copy of them later today and load them up on my
webpage for all to see in the morning.

Looks like I lived to fly another day...

So goes test flight!

Badwater Bill

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Emergencies and the FAA
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 20:17:11 GMT

I'm standing there in the desert yesterday next to the machine and
this asshole from the FAA walks up to me.  It was about a half hour
after the engine failure and the off-field landing. He flew in, in the
police helicopter.  He says,  "Okay, who's the pilot in command?"

"That's me," I replied.

"Let me see your license and your medical."  Spouted the government

"Ah, well, I must have left it in my truck at the airport because I
don't seem to have my wallet on me."

He comes back in this loud and authorative voice,  "Oh man, are you
deep shit!  Do you even know the numbers on them?"

"Of course,  my ATP certificate number is 199822 and my medical was
last November and it's a second class from Dr. Dudek.  Is that all you

"Well, let's hope so.  You know, I'll have to see those certificates
by the end of today NO MATTER WHAT!"

I reply, "No problem."

So, this is the standard bull shit you have to put up with from the
local FSDO and the ego maniacs who work there.  Here I sit in the
desert at 110 degrees next to a $60,000 machine that I just saved
after a catastrophic engine failure and all this little puke has to do
in life is try and intimidate me because I can't produce my
certificate on the spot.  It turned out that I was a little rattled
and my wallet WAS in the airplane.  I'd stowed it when I first got in
since I didn't want to sit on it.

The little puke never ran me down later to see it either.  Too lazy no
doubt.  The guy never evaluated the hazards of the situation and what
had just happened.  He didn't have anything to say about both Tim and
I being alive after blowing every drop of oil out of our engine.  The
ONLY thought he had was some way to ding someone.  Some way to find an
imperfection so he could write a good report to his f***king boss and
look cool.

This is what I pay federal taxes for.

Today the same asshole shows up while we are taking the wings off and
ready to tow the thing back to town.  He comes on strong wanting to do
a compression check in the desert before he releases the airplane.
Well, we didn't have a differential compression tester and the airport
would be a more likely place to find one.  We finally convinced him
that we weren't going to FLY the airplane out so he wasn't really
required to "Release" anything.  We were towing it like a trailer back
to the airport.

Unbelievable.  He really was going to try to make us leave the
airplane in the desert until he got the compression checked in order
to try and figure out why we blew the front seal.  And, it's about 113
degrees out there right now.

This is what I pay taxes for.

Badwater Bill

From: (Ronald James Wanttaja)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Emergencies and the FAA
Date: 15 Jul 1998 17:34:32 -0700

In article <>,
Badwater Bill <> wrote:

>Today the same asshole shows up while we are taking the wings off and
>ready to tow the thing back to town.  He comes on strong wanting to do
>a compression check in the desert before he releases the airplane.
>Well, we didn't have a differential compression tester and the airport
>would be a more likely place to find one.  We finally convinced him
>that we weren't going to FLY the airplane out so he wasn't really
>required to "Release" anything.  We were towing it like a trailer back
>to the airport.

You didn't have the opportunity in your case, but there are folks here
in the Northwest who have displayed great ingenuity in dodging the FAA.

One story I heard (it was before my time here) concerned one of the
participants in this group, who I won't identify other than by the
initials "Roger Mellema."  Seems there was an EAA picnic happening at
the pilot's home field.  He went to take off in his homebuilt only to
have the engine quit just as the plane breaks ground (fuel

He gets it back on the ground, but wipes the gear off it groundlooping
to keep from going over a bank.

As it happens, a) the pilot's house is close to the end where the plane
ended up, and b) his yard/hangar is all full of fellow EAA members.
They grab wrenches and a trailer, and have the plane carted off and
stowed in the hangar before the cops show up.  "What airplane

Another accident, more recently, happened to a homebuilt doing taxi
testing.  The cops and the FAA show up.  However, the owner points out
that a) The accident occured during taxi testing, on a taxiway, and b)
the vehicle had not yet been registered.  Therefore, they request the
cops tell the FAA to butt out...and they did so.

Finally, a couple of years back, a guy I know had an in-flight control
failure (some observers said a Cessna knocked his rudder off!) and
crumped into some trees a mile or so from his house.  The owner wasn't
badly banged up, and started working his way through the brush.  The way
I heard the story, there was a TV news crew waiting when he emerged from
the brush.  "Don't know anything about an airplane accident," he told
them, and kept heading for his house to get a trailer and some

BTW, aircraft #1 and #3 are flying again....

Ron Wanttaja

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: I Just Dead Sticked the RV-6 Into the Desert!
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 06:19:21 GMT

You are very astute.  You ask great questions.  In fact I asked ALL of
these questions you have mentioned when I was on my way down

When the cockpit filled with smoke the first thing I did was put my
hand on the fuel selector valve to turn the damn thing off, should I
be on fire.  The next thing I did was put my hand on the canopy latch
so I could open it and hold on to it since I'd slowed down from about
200 to 120.  If the smoke had persisted, and it didn't, I would have
opened the canopy at the point.  So it didn't take my tail off I would
have held onto it.  My hand was securely on that latch for a long
time, believe me.

On final to the ditch I couldn't see anything out the front.  Oil had
blanked the front wind-screen completely.  The only way I could gauge
my approach was to S-turn and look out the side of the canopy.  Of
course I arrived high as I always do.  You don't want to be low.  Be
high and have to bleed energy using flaps, spoilers, slips, landing
gear lowering, etc.    About 100 feet above the ground I opened the
canopy.  You don't want to flip inverted on impact and have a closed
canopy.  You need a way out once everything is mangled and you are
inverted on the ground with fuel pouring all over you.  I learned this
flying the Grand Canyon years ago.  If you have to ditch in water,
open the doors.  Once you hit, things warp so much you will have a
hard time getting anything to work.  All of the people who died in the
lake years ago were people who couldn't get out once they hit the
water.  Hell, they had about 5 minutes before they sank but the
airplane was so warped that they couldn't get out.

Yep!  Open every damn thing you can to assure you more options for
escape in an emergency landing.  If I were in a Cessna and had to
stick it into the desert, I'd open all the doors before I impacted.
It's routine planning.

You asked great questions.  Good for you.  You are thinking.


>Without forward visibility, how do you carry out a forced landing (apart
>from "with difficulty")? I'm guessing by the time you pull back the power to
>idle/nil, the engine stops pumping it all over your windscreen, and the
>slipstream clears it a little, yes? Or do you sideslip all the way in?  In
>the RV's, the canopy should not be opened in flight, so I'm assuming that's
>out of the equation, or should it be considered? In a sliding canopy, I
>guess that could make a bad situation (flying without power) into a *really*
>bad situation (not flying at all cos you popped a huge "drag chute")
>Hoping to promote discussion and learn something...

Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 12:29:14 -0700
From: Bill Berle <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: I Just Dead Sticked the RV-6 Into the Desert!

Badwater Bill wrote:

> When the cockpit filled with smoke the first thing I did was put my
> hand on the fuel selector valve to turn the damn thing off, should I
> be on fire.  The next thing I did was put my hand on the canopy latch
> so I could open it and hold on to it since I'd slowed down from about
> 200 to 120.  If the smoke had persisted, and it didn't, I would have
> opened the canopy at the point.  So it didn't take my tail off I would
> have held onto it.  My hand was securely on that latch for a long
> time, believe me.

I once had a remotely similar experience in an RV-3. There was no fire
or threat of fire in my experience, but I did lose half of a propeller
blade suddenly and all hell broke loose. I agree with BWB's actions and
thought process. When the prop came apart on my airplane, I first
reached for the throttle and yanked it back to idle, which made the
vibration a little worse actually. I thought to myself that there was no
safety cable holding the engine onto the airframe, and so if the engine
broke the mount, it would depart the airplane and put me in a very bad
situation. Based on the fact that the airplane was controllable but
vibrating badly, and the probability that it would not be controllable
if the engine went off the airplane, I made the decision to shut down
the engine. If there had been smoke in my airplane like what seems to
have happened to Bill, I would have shut the fuel off first too. As it
was, I shut off the ignition to stop the vibration because that was the
biggest threat. But the fuel valve was shut off the very next second,
since fuel supply to a stopped engine is useless.

>  About 100 feet above the ground I opened the
> canopy.  You don't want to flip inverted on impact and have a closed
> canopy.  You need a way out once everything is mangled and you are
> inverted on the ground with fuel pouring all over you.

AMEN! I recall that the Cessna 150 emergency procedures call for opening
the doors as well, and I suspect that is the case in most aircraft
manuals for the exact reason Bill says. I opened the canopy of the RV-3
before landing it that day, as luckily it was the sliding version. At
that point I was far less concerned with it coming off than sitting
inverted with it closed, but the -3 canopy is smaller and less likely to
take the tail off than the -6 canopy. I have not seen the place where
BWB landed the 6, but I was very lucky to have had a large man-made
sandy riverbed within range. I believe both BWB's experience and my own
were made a lot easier by the fact that the RV's are very sweet flying
airplanes power on or power off. Many airplanes are much more of a
handful with no power, much less maneuverable, nose-heavy, sluggish,
etc. Fortunately not the RV's.

So, Bill, are you gonna log this one as an "off field landing in a
self-launch sailplane", or a powerplane emergency ? Personally, I think
the highest level of personal style and good taste would be maintained
if it were referred to as "a precautionary landing due to reaching the
recommended 25 hour oil change mark while inflight, saving AOG downtime
by draining the oil while on final to the field maintenance depot".

Can't wait to see the pics!

Bill Berle

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: I Just Dead Sticked the RV-6 Into the Desert!
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 02:07:53 GMT

I'm going to take your advice and log it as a precautionary landing
since the temps and oil burn had subsided to the point I needed to put
AeroShell 100 ashless dispersant in it, and I had to pee.  The fact
that the oil was released on final simply precludes us from having to
catch it in a bucket and dispose of it in accordance with EPA
guidelines.  I've never seen a reg on oil discharge in flight.  Have
you?  If so, please inform me and I won't do this again.


>So, Bill, are you gonna log this one as an "off field landing in a
>self-launch sailplane", or a powerplane emergency ? Personally, I think
>the highest level of personal style and good taste would be maintained
>if it were referred to as "a precautionary landing due to reaching the
>recommended 25 hour oil change mark while inflight, saving AOG downtime
>by draining the oil while on final to the field maintenance depot".
>Can't wait to see the pics!
>Bill Berle

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Emergencies and the FAA
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 06:32:05 GMT

That's exacly what I thought, "You crumby little bureaucrat.  Just
think.  If I'd have screwed the pooch here and bought the farm, you'd
have paperwork to do for the next month."

That dumn shit.


>Just think how much trouble you'd be in with that petty FAA bureaucrat
>if you'd crashed and killed yourself.  Why the paperwork alone . . .
>- John (I am not a bureaucrat) Ousterhout -

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Advice to a Young Man Contemplating a Fatal Flying Accident
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 20:32:30 GMT

That's only if you do have people on the ground who do depend upon
you.  I have no one other than a beautiful wife who would find another
man in a Texas heartbeat.

I don't feel a bit guilty when I push the envelope.  I would if I had
kids who needed me in order to eat or go to school.

I've never lived my life safely.  I've played with nuclear weapons,
flown on all kinds of helicopters and goofy airplanes my whole life in
the process of carrying out government missions of one sort or
another.  And, I wouldn't trade any of it.  None of the memories are
for sale or trade.  I've lived life to it's fullest extent and I've
looked the beast of death in the eye, dead on, many times.

I could sit here all day telling hairy stories of even flying simple
machines like hot air balloons.  The last time I flew one of those
damn things I had to have surgery and I have a commercial and CFI in
balloons with 500 hours of PIC.

I know one thing for sure.  No matter what you fly, if you do fly, you
will get the livin' shit scared out of you a few times in each 500
hour increment of pilotage.  If you are a pansy about how you handle
the emergency situation then you get to die.

In some cases it's your fault too.  So, I will repeat my famous quote:

"You press on and if you get to live, you modify your outlook on life
through long periods of deep meditation about how stupid you are!"

-----Badwater Bill (Posted 1997 while test flying the RV-6a with the
Chevy engine conversion)

I was on a routine check out of a CFI in an RV-6 last summer when the
cockpit filled with smoke burning my eyes and the oil pressure went to
zero.  What do you think I did Brian?  If I followed your proclamation
I'd have done this:

BWB:   "Oh, shit, we're on fire!"

Tim:  "Jesus, the wings aren't burning it must be firewall forward."

BWB:  "I don't want to think about it Tim.  You take the controls.
I'm going to say a prayer and suck my thumb.  I have to avoid problems
like this because I have a, well, a sort of, feminine nature about the
way I like to fly and this situation is outside of my envelope!"

Tim:  "Jesus Christ Phillips, you are the one with 400 hours in RV's.
This is my first flight in one.  Take the controls and bail us out.
If we land out here we will surely die.  It's 120 degrees down there."

BWB:  "Oh, Tim you just have to pull yourself together now and count
me out.  I just can't face another emergency.  People only have just
so many emergencies they can deal with in one life and I've exceeded
my limit."

Tim:  "You pansy.  If we live through this I'm going to kick you
around the block."

BWB:  "Don't worry, we won't live.  I'm avoiding facing this all
together.  See you at the funeral.:


BWB:  "We're on fire.  I got it Tim, I've got the most time in this
type and I'm PIC from now on.  Please help me as we go.  If the smoke
gets worse I'm jettisoning the canope but I'm worried about doing that
if there are open flames.  I want to get this son of a bitch down if
we're on fire but there's nothing below to land on."

Tim:  "You got it Bill. Fuel is off."

BWB:  Pulling 3 g's in a turn to put us in line with a vector to that
highway. "Okay Tim.  The smoke has subsided quite a bit with that
reduction of power and it smells like oil rather than burning

Tim:  "Yeah.  Look at the windshield.  It's starting to get covered."

BWB:  "Thank God.  At least we aren't going to burn to death."

Tim"  "Where you gonna stick it?"

BWB:  "I may not have to.  Let's nurse it back to the airport if we
can at about 17 inches and a long slow descent.  If we lose oil
pressure I'll have to stick it on the highway.  I'll tell ATC what's
up now and declare an emergency."

Tim:  "Oh shit, there goes the oil pressure."

BWB:  "Yep, and we're still 10 miles out.  I'll fry this engine if I
don't shut it down. Turn the fuel off Tim, then the mags but leave the
master on while I talk with ATC."

Tim: "OFF and OFF.'

BWB:  "Thanks, ATC can't figure out where we are so leave the master
on while I squawk 7700 and they get a bead on us.  Well, we're glider
pilots NOW!"

Tim:  "Done.  Hey Bill, what about that flood control basin over

BWB:  "Great call Tim.  There's some rocks in there as big as a car
tire but at least we won't have to take our chances with the cars on
the road.  And as we get closer to town the car-density increases.
Let's go for the basin."


BWB:  "I've got to piss off a bit of altitude.  I want to land on the
north end of that thing because I fly my RC airplanes out of there.  I
know there aren't any big rocks that will kill us."


BWB:  "I wish to hell I could see out of this damn thing.  Look Tim,
pop the slider and give me a gap of about one foot.  Hang on to the
damn thing or it'll come off and take our tail with it."

Tim:  "Rodger that.  I'll hang on tight."

BWB:  "Ahh.  I can see now but the damn oil just fogged up my


BWB:  "I can't see worth a shit but it's better than looking through
that oiled up window.  Okay Timmy, here goes."


BWB:  "Tim.  Get on the God damn brakes.  I have no brakes over here
on the right side."

Tim: "Jesus, I'm too short to get much leverage but I'm trying."


BWB: "Well, hell, we made it.  Guess we'll get to fly again one day."

Badwater Bill

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Advice to a Young Man Contemplating a Fatal Flying Accident
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 03:24:05 GMT

Sorry Brian.  If I had to fly like that I'd quit flying.  It may get
me someday but so what?  When I go, I will have gone with a great deal
of happiness behind me for flying like a wild man most of my life.

I'm safe when I take passengers, but when I fly alone, I'm DANGEROUS.
And I love it.  I wouldn't have it any other way and I've been around
for 37 years and 6000 hours after my first solo flight.  I have
achieved 13 ratings which include 6 CFI's and I'm working on my 14th
as we speak.  I hang my ass out all the time and so do every one of
you folks. Don't kid yourself.  Every take-off is a situation where
you depend on that engine for a few seconds where you pass through
never-never land until you get enough altitude to bail it out if she

 If you fly like women and think you are safe out there, you are
stupid.  There is no such thing as safe in an airplane or any other
moving vehicle.  Once you are in motion, your danger increases even if
it's on a bicycle.  Period.  Don't give me this crap about flying like
a wimp.  I've been in IFR situations where I'd be dead now if I ran
from the problem.  The way to be safe is to meet death head on.  Fight
the problem and conquer it.  If you run, you die like a lamb taken to
slaughter.   Your post is about the biggest bunch of bull shit I've
read in months.


>Leave your balls at home and fly like your little sister would.
>Live long and prosper thereby.
>Brian Whatcott    Altus OK

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.rotorcraft
Subject: Re: Thoughts on death
Date: Tue, 05 Jan 1999 04:12:07 GMT

You and Bill Sykes are just very profound and astute people.  Great
posts.  I thought I would think back and tell you all of my first
encounter with death and flying.

When I was in high school I was dirt poor.  I washed cars mowed lawns,
worked my butt off to try and make $10.00 a week. In the 1960's you
got a buck for mowing a lawn and  50 cents for washing a car.  I also
played the piano and organ real well and had a small band.  I'd make
another $10 a week playing for high school dances.  Of course I had
other expenses but I'd try to fly an hour every week or two when I was
a senior in high school.  I soloed (legally) in 1967 and worked
pumping gas at the airport the summer after my graduation while I
waited to go to college.

The lead guitar player in our band (Chuck Baker) also worked at the
local airport that summer.  I got him a job as a line-boy too.  Well,
I soloed and I was poor.  So, one evening I told Chuck if he would pay
the $10 /hr on the Cessna 150 I'd take him flying after dark.  He was
very excited and he had 3 hours of dual himself by that time.

We met at the airport about 9 p.m. on a night at about the end of
August.  I took him up for an hour.  We flew over Hoover Dam, over Las
Vegas, then back to Boulder City where we lived.  The runway in those
days started downhill  on the outskirts of town but ran right at the
city and terminated at a grocery store just at the beginning of
dense-pack homes. There were big transmission lines there too.  It was
a dangerous airport.  You landed uphill and took off downhill. This
night,  I wanted to plant the airplane on the end of the runway in the
dark, let Chuck out, and then taxi up the runway toward the city where
we all parked.  I blew it and came either too high or too hot.  I
can't remember.  So, I punched it and went around.  It was one of
those darker-than-hell nights too, but I made it around okay.  I
landed, let Chuck out then continued up the hill toward town to park
the ship.  Everything went fine.

Two weeks later I was out flying during the day.  When I got back I
was roaring around in my taxi to get it into the parking place as fast
as I could and shut off the Hobbs meter.  Hell, every 10th was another
buck, and equated to  two car washings or a lawn mowing.  Bad move!  I
swung into the parking place to close to my old 1953 Chevy Pickup and
smacked the wingtip on the cab of my truck.

After shutting down and looking at the damage, I destroyed the spar.
It was bent at the root and the leading edge of the tip from the
fiberglass tip cover in about 2 feet was flattened.  I was in deep
shit.  I wrote a note on a big piece of white paper that said. "Do not
fly this airplane.  Damage to wingtip" and I placed it on the top of
the instrument panel.  I was sick.  I figured I'd have to wash cars
for 50 years to pay for this.  I called the flying club president and
told him about it but I didn't tell my dad.  My dad was a maniac.
He's have come unglued and kicked my butt.  So, I went home that night
(Friday) and prayed all night long for something to come along which
would get me out of this mess.  I really did too.  I prayed, I
meditated, I asked for help from God.  I was pretty religious in those
days and I did transcendental meditation too which I thought at the
time might give me an edge with the Universe!  Ha Ha!

On Saturday night (the next day) all the power in the entire city went
out at about 9:30.  It was the first week in September 1967 and I was
worrying about registration at the University on Monday morning plus I
was dirt poor and knew I'd have a big bill to pay for this stunt and
would eventually have to tell my father who was a maniac. The power
stayed out for some reason.  So I jumped on my motor scooter  (Cushman
Eagle) and went for a ride (cheaper gas per mile).  I ended up
following some fire trucks to some sort of incident.  There was a road
block set up by the police at a gateway to a trailer park inside of a
6 foot wall.  I parked my scooter and started walking toward the wall.
I could see lights on the other side and a lot of activity.  I can't
remember what I said but I ran into my high school physics teacher in
the street and said something sort of funny about there being a fire
or something.  John Milburn, my high school physics teacher said,
"Bill, you might want to not go over there so excited and joking
because there are two guys who crashed an airplane."

I looked over the wall and 30 feet away there was the C-150 completely
destroyed.  It had burned, the wings were evaporated where they
attached to the fuselage as was all of the other superstructure around
the two bodies.  I could hardly tell that those were human bodies
there because they were burned beyond recognition.  My eyes went to
the N-number as rapidly as I could and it was the C-150 where I had
trashed wing.

I was panic stricken.  I started yelling at the police that I'd put a
message in that airplane not to fly it.  It had damage to the
structure.  No one seemed to listen much.  Then I said, "Who is it?
Who are those two people there that look like something that's been on
a rotisserie for 8 hours."  Someone responded that it was Chuck Baker.
It was Chuck alright.  The guy I'd spent all of high school with
playing in a band and chasing girls.  The only child of a couple great
people.  I KNEW I'D KILLED HIM.  The other kid was named Bill Cerros
who was also one of my  buddies but not as close as Chuck.

Chuck had been accepted to a big university and was just waiting like
me to leave in a couple days.  He'd been at a party and was drinking.
He was bragging about being a pilot to some of them and they all said,
"Yeah, right Chuck.  What a bunch of bull shit."  The challenges got
stronger and Bill Cerros told him he'd pay for the flight if Chuck
would prove he was a pilot.  Many gathered at the airport to watch the
big man pilot (with three hours logged) steal and airplane and take a
passenger.  They always kept the key in the glove box.

I thought they'd taken off uphill toward the city and crashed because
the wing was damaged and they probably couldn't climb.  It turns out
that was not the case.  They had been flying for about 30 minutes and
were coming back in the dark.  They were landing uphill toward the
city.  They had made three go-arounds and on the final one they struck
the 240,000 volt transmission lines, burst into flames and flat spun
into a trailer park...dying.

Well, I was fraught with mental misery about what might have actually
occurred.  Were they fine and found the note I'd left while flying?
Then panic-stricken tried to milk it back to the airport?   Had the
wing come off?  Was the wing damaged enough that it adversely affected
the flight characteristics of the machine?

It was a time of turmoil.  The Viet Nam war was blazing strong.  I had
no money and was on a scholarship or I'd have to go to war.  I didn't
understand why we were killing people in Asia and it worried me.  My
buddy just died in that airplane.  My dad was an ass hole and figured
anyone who went to college was just avoiding getting up and going to
work.  I didn't have a girl friend, I wasn't that smart and had to
study about 50 hours a week outside of class to make reasonable
grades.  It was all tumbling in my head.  Almost none of it made any
sense.  I was in hard core Chemistry, Calculus, Physics, English 101,
PE, Psychology.  Jesus, there was no break. My head spins thinking
about it now.  It was a miserable period in my life.

I wandered around for a couple months wondering how or if I had
anything to do with his death.  The guilt was strong but not
overwhelming.  Finally I just had to let it go.  There was nothing I
could do to affect the outcome of that flight 2 months after the fact.
I may have had some responsibility with those deaths but I couldn't
let it ruin my life. And, I didn't, even as a young man.  It is what
it is.  The best we can do when a buddy like Gil Armbruster goes away
is to help their family deal with the grief and get on with the rest
of our lives.

Chuck Baker was only the first.  There were more.  And, if I live
another 20 years, there will be more that I know, like Gil and Allen.
It's just the way it is.  In flight, you press on and if you are lucky
you get to live.  As you contemplate your mistakes and your
experiences you spend many hours in meditation about how stupid you
really are!  But, people like me were born to fly.  I have to fly.  I
have no choice.  I never did.  When I was 4 years old I had a pedal
airplane not a car.  I was flying 1/2 A models on U-control strings
when I was 8 years old.  If I'd have been born rich I'd have done a
lot more when I was young but that was not the case.  Now, at almost
50 years old I flew a helicopter today solo in a manner that cannot
even be described.  It was spiritual.  It was the ultimate freedom.  I
landed on a mountain, shut down and sat on a rock for an hour...but
that's another story.

Many of us didn't pick this.  It is what we are.  It is who we are.  I
for one had no choice.  It's like being born a male.  I had nothing to
do with it.  I had to fly.  I was driven.  I am driven.  I must fly
and I do.

Badwater Bill

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Advice to a Young Man Contemplating a Fatal Flying Accident
Date: Sat, 02 Jan 1999 04:16:29 GMT

>>A superior pilot uses superior judgement to avoid situations that require
>superior skill.

I'd like to add one more thing to this quote Dave.

  "A superior pilot uses superior judgement to avoid situations that
require superior skill if he has the choice."

>To which Badwater Bill replied:
>> You don't have enough time under your belt to disagree

Well, I was in one of my smart ass moods as usual Dave.  I want to
tell the group here too that Dave and I are friends.  We've met in
real-life several times and Dave built and RV-6 so he's one of the
coolest guys on the planet!  The guy's a good pilot and a level head.
His philosophy of life is just a little bit different than mine.  I
have to say too that we are both red headed pricks.

No, scratch that last remark.  We are both red heads.  Yeah, that's
what I wanted to say.


>"The laws of aerodynamics are unforgiving and the ground is hard." (Michael

The laws of driving motorcycles in traffic are unforgiving.  The laws
of dirt bike riding are unforgiving.  The laws of hang gliding have
absolutely no forgiveness.  The laws of flying experimental
helicopters and testflying RV-6's built by others is unforgiving.
None of this crap is forgiving.  You better be alert and if the shit
hits the fan you usually only have one opportunity to bail it out or
you screw the pooch.  Sometimes you don't even get that "One"
opportunity, so you have to make your own...which is always outside of
about 10 envelopes.

I don't know if you read my story about how a 2000 hour Bonanza pilot
almost killed Carl Johansson and me about 4 weeks ago on a go-around
at Corona.  There was nothing I could do as we were sinking into the
damn runway at full throttle after the PIC selected "Gear Up" and lost
us about 7 knots.  So, I dropped the flaps from 20 to 30 degrees,
praying that the manual was wrong about everything over 20 degrees
being drag rather than lift.  I won!  I'm sitting here writing about
it now.

>As I sat there on the floor of his hangar a few weeks later playing with his
>3-year-old son, I kept thinking that Ryan would never again get to play with
>his daddy.  He would never be able to be able to see his dad's look of
>encouragement at little league practice.  He would never be able to avail
>himself of his father's advice and counsel, as so many of us need during our
>early years.  Doug's family needed him, he had a *responsibility* to be alive
>for them. He selfishly let them down.

He could have gotten killed in a car too Dave.  In my case, nobody
needs me other than my beautiful wife.  She'd replace me in a
heartbeat.  I have no heirs.  And besides, I think Zoom hates me and
so does Dennis Fetters.  I go to bed each night and cry about that!
BBBooooo  HOoooooo  Hooooo!


>I went home that day, looked my own son in the eyes, and changed my approach
>to risk-taking forever.  Yes, I still take risks.  Christ, just getting out of
>bed in the morning has risk. Flying entails risk, but the pure joy and freedom
>it offers is far too powerful a narcotic to give up.  The risks in flying
>*can* be minimized however, and are almost always under our own control.

How do you know that?  This is where I question you because of your
lack of time.  I think you are a safe pilot but you put too much faith
in thinking most of this is under our control.  Sure you built that
RV-6 and that's actually the best of the best.  I don't worry a bit in
my Minimax because I know it's perfect on the inside.  But when I fly
some damn Cessna or Piper, I have no idea what's coming next.  I'm on
edge all the time.  I'm just waiting for something to let go.  It's
not under my control at all.  I can survive almost anything that comes
up other than a structural failure.  How in the hell do I get out of
that one, I've asked myself many times.  Well, the answer

You need luck.  I'm probably not making my point as I'd like too.
But, there are people who have had all the stick and rudder skills but
who were unlucky.  I get unlucky once in a while myself.  I hate it
when that happens.

>  I
>realized the possible cost to my wife and son of taking those unnecessary
>risks: scud-running when I really *didn't* have to; the low-level acro; the
>buzz-jobs with little margin for error. Some risks are unavoidable.  I strive
>to minimize or manage those risks.  Flying dangerously is an avoidable risk.
>My responsibility to my loved ones means that I avoid that kind of risk.

You bet it is.  Don't scud run...take the airliner.  Don't ever do low
level acro in that six.  I never do anything under 5000 agl in my six
other than fly right side up.  I do buzz a whore house occasionally
but that's not dangerous.  That's not acro.  They are out in the
middle of nowhere too.  So, if you puke an engine at low level you
don't take out people on the ground.  You just land in the desert and
waste your own ass.

>If you think about it, You probably have a lot of people depending upon you
>too. Your wife, your children, and perhaps even your colleagues who are
>depending upon you to get the next product out so they will have continued
>employment.  You have a responsibility to those people to stay alive.  Don't
>be selfish and let them down.

Not me.  Most people hate me.  And, I hate people myself.  Most people
could give a shit less if I punched in.  Only my wife would grieve.

You and I are different Dave. You do have responsibilities.  I have
none to anyone other than my wife.  And, she's a beautiful, rich,
intelligent and lovely person.  I have no worries about her after I'm
gone and I know she will be just fine!

>I can hear you now, saying "But I'm old and retired.  My kids are all grown
>and gone, and my wife would cry for all of three minutes until the insurance
>check arrived.". That's fine, but there is a *second* responsibility we all
>have.  A certain magazine editor/publisher has been vilified here for making
>statements that have directly or indirectly caused the deaths of innocent
>people. (I specifically am thinking of comments made concerning looping a
>certain ultralight, followed shortly thereafter by the deaths of two young
>pilots who read the article then actually tried it.) There has been a lot of
>discussion in this thread about 'dangerous' flying and low-level aerobatics.
>Do you think that young, impressionable, budding aviators read only US
>Aviator?  Don't we have a *responsibility* to those who may consider us as
>role models? Don't you think we have a *responsibility* to be cautious in what
>we say and do?

I agree with you here Dave.  We do have that responsibility.  But we
have it to the younger people in ANY endeavor in which we participate.
I ride dirt bikes, fly ultralites, airplanes, helicopters,
experimental helicopters and airplanes,  motorcycles, fly RC's,, on
and on and on.  It's imperative that we impart a psychological
attitude to the young to be careful.  They are our future and they are
our responsibility.  They are our future gene pool. That's very
important.  But I'm out of the gene pool, what I do by myself in my
RV-6 or the R-22 helicopter when I'm out in the desert is my own
business.  And, believe me, you wouldn't want to ride with me.

>Finally, there is a third responsibility we pilots have: to each other.
>Ernest K. Gann once referred to pilots as a 'Band of Brothers'.  I believe
>that most pilots think that's true to at least some degree. Another
>brotherhood, the United States Marine Corps, teaches recruits to never
>dishonor the Corps. Similarly, we should take no action that would dishonor
>our flying brothers.

Yep!  And if you do, make your smoking hole somewhere where you don't
hurt people on the ground.

>Why is it that the majority of the American public view the major air carriers
>as a safe form of transportation, but yet view travel by private plane as
>hazardous and risky?  We all use the same air.  We all conform to the same
>laws of aerodynamics.  Could it be that we are our own worst enemy?  Could it
>be that the public views the 747 captain as a professional and views us
>Cessna/Piper/Beechcraft/RV/Glassair pilots as cowboys?

With all due respect here Dave your lack of experience is showing
again.  I doubt that it has much to do with using the same air.  It's
a matter of  your equipment.  I have an ATP.  I can fly through a
hurricane if I want to.  I have the skills to keep the airplane
upright.  The problem is that the airplane doesn't have the capacity
to remain upright no matter what control inputs I make.  The real deal
here is that you MUST have the correct equipment to fly through
various levels of storm situations.  If someone called me tonight and
told me they wanted me to fly through a storm-front to Seattle in the
dark, I'd say, "Well, okay.  What airplane are we using?"  If they
told me it was a P-210 I'd tell them I'd had three beers already and
just forgot about it until this minute.  If they said, "Oh, well, we
thought we'd take the Grumman G-3."  I'd say, "Meet you at the airport
in one hour."

Just because you can fly the airplane in any condition has nothing to
do with the ability of the airplane to make it through that situation.
Your equipment is MUCH more important than your skills. The skills are
easy to obtain and keep current.  They are actually Monkey skills in
many ways.

> Have you considered
>that each time one of us screws the pooch while performing low-level
>aerobatics that we have reinforced the public's opinion of *all* general
>aviation pilots?  Don't we owe it to *each other* to conduct ourselves in a
>professional manner?

Yep!  Low level aerobatics is just plain stupid behavior.  We have a
great privilege here in the USA to fly homemade airplanes.  Most
places on Earth regulate this like the Gestapo.  We must do everything
we can to promote professionallity among our group of homebuilders.
Anything less hurts us all.  That's why I worry about some of the
products that are available to us that have poor statistical records.

I worry about our Mini-500 helicopter.  It's got to be just about the
most beautiful thing I've seen in my life. I've wanted one for 6 years
now.   It sits on my back patio just waiting and beckoning for me to
take it aloft.  I have the skills to do that but I wonder if the
machine can withstand the flight conditions over a long period of
time...or even a short period of time.   I don't think of myself as an
unnecessary  risk-taker and I test fly all kinds of strange stuff.
For a few reasons this helicopter has got me spooked .  I haven't
flown it in two weeks now and I'm pondering what to do with it.   I
didn't spend 50 years making money and getting to the top of the food
chain to get screwed by a structural failure.  Maybe it wouldn't ever
fail on me but I think it might.

So, it's just like taking the Cessna P-210 through and ice storm or
flying over it in the G-3.  You have to have the right equipment.
Equipment that will withstand the abuse, or you will fail and you will
leave a smoking hole.

Badwater Bill

>Best Regards,
>Dave Barnhart

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Kennedy...Some speculation
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 15:48:18 GMT

Although the data is only partially in I see that many have speculated
on the cause of the Kennedy crash.  This is a bit dangerous since we
really don't know what happened.  We can only guess at various
scenarios.  Of course all of us try to put together what we think may
have happened from the little data we have.  I relate to one of my
experiences in an attempt to put together a scenario in my own mind.

In about 1980 I was at FL140 at the MEA on an airway between Los
Angeles and Vegas at about midnight. We were "hard" IFR...that's an
old term for being in IMC.   I had the autopilot on and was listening
to some good classical music when my passenger (a private pilot in the
right seat) said, "Bill, we are losing altitude."

I looked down at the VSI and saw the needle hanging straight down at
about the 1000 fpm mark.  I next looked at the attitude indicator and
it looked fine.  My heading was fine too and my CDI on the VOR was on
the money.  I did all of this in about one second.  My next scan was
the altimeter and it was unwinding.  Since I was sitting there on my
ass listening to music and not paying attention, this kind of
contradictory information sort of panicked me.  I was pretty low time
then, about 1000 hours or so and panicked easily.  I pulled back on
the wheel and NOTHING happened.  It was locked up.  My next guess was
that I'd had a structural failure of some kind because the airplane
was just not responding to any control input in pitch.  I turned
around and looked out the back window of the T-210 to see if the tail
was still on.  I pulled harder to stop the decent but the airplane
would just not respond.  Now I'd lost about 1500 feet and was breaking
out in a sweat.  The directional gyro was rotating too.  I was in a
turn to the left and was getting off the airway.

I somehow finally realized that the autopilot was fighting me and I
binged it off pulled the nose up and started back up to my hard
assigned altitude.  I was still in a fog about what was going on
though when I saw the attitude indicator showing a pitch up indication
of about 25 degrees.  I knew that couldn't be correct since my
airspeed was stable at 120 knots indicated, the VSI was indicating a
700 fpm climb and the altimeter was responding appropriately.  Then I
figured it out.  I'd lost vacuum.  My eyes darted at the suction gauge
for verification which proved the point as it hung on ZERO pressure.
"Okay, don't panic, you've done a lot of partial panel work, just
pretend you are under the hood on a partial panel x-country and you'll
be okay," I thought to myself.  Then the damn attitude indicator
started wobbling all over the place, back and forth, up and down as it
spun down.  I grabbed a piece of scratch paper off my clipboard,
wadded it up and pried the plastic panel housing around the instrument
open just enough that I could wedge in the yellow paper to cover the
instrument.  Although I was only seeing it peripherally, it was giving
me vertigo just sitting there wobbling around in all directions.  Once
I covered it up things settled down in my mind and my scan came up to
speed.  The damn music was still blaring in my ears too and that was
distracting as hell.  I finally had enough of a small break in my
workload to switch that thing off and it was like I got an extra 20%
more free brain time when I did.

I called center and told them what had happened.  They responded that
they had been trying to call me since I'd busted 2000 feet of altitude
and they had to vector another target, who was moving in the opposite
direction, around me.  Once back and stable at FL140 I finally began
to relax and then we popped out of the clouds somewhere about 100
south of Vegas.

So, what did I learn?  What can you learn?  And, what really happened
to JFK?  I can only speculate about his accident from my own
experiences.  First of all, for 15 years after that experience, I
NEVER used the autopilot when I was hard IFR.  To this day I always
hand fly it while entering IMC.  There are times I put it on to copy a
clearance or do some bookwork but when those interludes are over, I
bing it off and hand fly it.  What happened to me the night I had the
vacuum failure caused me to be way behind the airplane.  I was going
200 knots in a high performance airplane, on top of the world, cocky,
listening to good jazz and pretty much feeling good about myself and
life in general.  The next thing I know, the airplane is doing
something out of whack, I can't figure it out, and I'm dropping out of
the sky like a rock.  My inputs don't work, nothing in front of me
makes sense.  I've been off in some thought about pussy or something
instead of flying the damn machine.  Andthings are unwinding fast.
It took me 30 seconds to get my scan up to speed, analyze what the
ambivalent instrument indications were telling me, get control over
the airplane and start to make corrections to cure the problem.
That's way too long.

What had happened was that the gyro was spinning down since there was
no vacuum to drive it.  The autopilot keeps the wings level and the
coarse-pitch command comes from that gyro.  Fine adjustments in
altitude while in the ALT hold mode come from pitch-trim changes only.
Primary pitch control is from the gyro and as the gyro spun down it
was commanding a pitch down trim to the system.  As I pulled on the
wheel to try and overcome it, all the airplane did was TRIM AGAINST ME
and make things worse until I realized the autopilot was fighting me.

So, let me give you a possible scenario about the Kennedy accident.
I'm not saying this is what happened.  I am only imagining that this
COULD have happened.  First of all, I suspect that he had a hard
failure of something.  I don't know what it was but something took a
dump on him.  At 100 hours with his wife on board, the last thing he
probably wanted to do in marginal VFR is hand fly the machine.  I
suspect they were listening to some nice music, the autopilot was on
and everything was running smoothly.  Something happened (like a
vacuum failure) and he lost a few hundred feet pretty rapidly.  He
recognized it and gained it back.  I wonder if he was fighting the
autopilot trimming against him to do it?  Who knows what the
instruments were telling him but I suspect something was wrong.  Hell,
a bug could have flown into his pitot tube, shut his ASI down, he
could have had a vacuum failure and no real pitch indications from the
attitude indicator and got real slow.  He could have panicked at all
of this and pulled hard against the autopilot trimming against him
then realized what was going on, binged it off and with the loss of
that pitch-pressure, pulled the nose way up and stalled.  In my mind,
I think something made him stall.  He wasn't in a tight spiral and
pulled the wings off.  His radar indications showed that his decent
was right at about 60 miles per hour.  That's not in freefall which is
about 140mph.  He was in a spin.  Even if his nose was pointed
severely down I doubt he could get that decent rate up to 5000 fpm
like it was without making some corrective action.  I doubt he'd ride
it all the way down like that.

Now, think about this.  Here he is at 100 hours with no instrument
rating in MVFR at night and something takes a dump on him.  I might
have even been the engine.  He might have forgotten to switch tanks or
something and lost the engine.  I don't know.  BUT, something went
wrong and he had to go on instruments with no experience.  I can
imagine it.  First he notices he's lost some altitude, or his engine
sputtered in need of a fuel tank change and he lost it.  Then he gets
the engine running again, pulls the nose up to get back on his
altitude.  He either got out of whack doing that and stalled it or
something else failed which gave him an incorrect indication of
reality.  I've told my students for years that one thing usually
doesn't get you.  You can usually deal with one problem.  But, if you
get two things out of whack, you better get real sharp and get things
together fast because if you get three problems all at once, even in
VMC that's what normally kills you.  I suspect that Kennedy had at
least three things happen to him that were mechanically related to his
flight control system, instrument system or even the engine.  This
resulted in a stall and a spin.  Once he was in the spin, everything
on earth in that panel was rotating at high speeds.  All the gyros
were spinning, the altimeter was spinning, the turn coordinator was
pegged.  In that case he had no idea what the hell was going on.  I'll
even go one step further and speculate that he froze up on the wheel
and with nothing else to do that made any sense at all in this
situation, he pulled it straight back into his chest trying to get the
nose up and as we all know, this just kept the spin going.

That's my guess.  I think he spun in from some systems or engine
problem initially that triggered the wrong inputs and things went to
hell in a hurry.


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