This plane crash shows what not to do when you lose an engine
Another Nightmare Aircraft Engine Failure is doing the rounds on aviation social media. This time the pilot flying doesn’t have much altitude or airspeed to work with. It’s almost a worst-case scenario, but luckily everyone survives and the video serves as a lesson in handling emergencies.
This crash of a Cessna T210M come on August 7, 2020, but it went viral again. This landed on the desk from Boeing 747 pilot Kelsey, who runs the 74 Gear YouTube channel. Kelsey’s channel is all about aviation and educating people to fly. It also breaks down aerial incidents and bad TikToks. This time a video from the Mikesell Family YouTube channel watch watch pilot Shadrach Feild handled an engine problem with a full six-person plane.
The video begins by showing the family heading out for a fun day of flying through the Uinta Mountains in Utah. Their day would take a turn as Feild flew low and slow over Moon Lake, a reservoir at 8,100 feet at mean sea level (msl).
Feild gave a breakdown in his own video, where he explains that he first lowered the landing gear and extended the flaps to help slow the Cessna for its descent over the lake. During the descent, the aircraft flew into a strong headwind and Feild responded by applying throttle. Unfortunately, the motor did not respond.
As Kelsey notes, Feild was now in a tough spot. In the event of an engine-out emergency, you can swap speed and altitude to allow you to land safely. You can also swipe long enough to give yourself time to come up with a plan and checklist. But Feild had no speed or altitude to work with.
The lake, a beach, and sagebrush all provided places to land. Feild explains that there were people on the beach and he was worried the plane might flip over in the sand. He therefore briefly retracted the flaps and equipment and then aimed for the sagebrush.
To get there, Feild says he slowed the plane until the stall horn sounded, then drove that horn to the ground. The aircraft entered a stall just over brush and crashed. Feild says the plane left only 10 feet of skid marks behind, illustrating how the plane fell like a rock.
Feild and his front passenger Gentry Mikesell were both seriously injured. Mikesell had the worst, receiving a list of injuries including back, pelvis and face. Feild also suffered a broken back. The other passengers also had broken bones. Fortunately, everyone survived and recovered.
Kelsey is right that this pilot only had seconds to react, and it’s easy to judge from an armchair. Instead, it’s a time for pilots to learn. And even though the plane crashed, everyone made it out alive. So, kudos to Feild for giving everyone a largely happy ending.
One thing you are constantly taught in training is how to handle an engine failure situation. Your instructor and learning resources will tell you to pitch the aircraft for its best glide speed. To do this, you will adjust the nose down, don’t pull up and roll close to a stall. It seems scary, but it will net you the best distance for the elevation you have left.
This graph gives a good illustration of why you want to pitch to get the best glide out of your aircraft.
And it’s not just the distance. Raise the stall horn and you may not be able to roll on landing to stop your high vertical speed.
The pilot’s operating manual for this aircraft recommends an emergency landing approach speed of 80 knots and be prepared for soft or rough terrain.
In this scenario, the Cessna was flying much slower than recommended. And worse, as Kelsey notes, the plane was tilting a few feet from the ground. Leaning reduces lift, which is something you don’t want to lose when you’re already going so slow, so low.
It should also be noted that none of the front seat occupants were wearing shoulder belts, which aggravated their injuries. Seat belts and shoulder straps are pre-take-off checklist items (and even appear twice on my own checklist)so they should have been belted. Federal Aviation Administration keep on going to investigate the accident.
The point to remember here is that if you find yourself in a terrible situation like this, launch the plane for its best glide. You also want to make sure everyone is buckled up properly. And yet, even if you miss a few things in the limited time you have to react, you can still survive what seems like a worst-case scenario.