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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Midair collisions are survivable

What’s Up

By LeRoy Cook

 In a seeming unending progression of weather systems, the flying conditions varied from good to fair to impossible last week. Thunderstorms deter even the high performance jets, whose operating procedures call for maintaining a 20-mile spacing from storm cells. That means a 40-mile gap has to exist before airliners can penetrate a line. And those are nautical miles, so figure on 46 statute miles.

 The transient tally for the week included a Cessna-Centurion, a Cessna Skyhawk, a Piper Arrow and a Beech King Air FAA flight inspection airplane verifying instrument approaches. An RV-10 homebuilt passed through the airspace and a Beech Bonanza utilized the VOR/DME approach. The local aircraft making flights were Roy Conley’s Grumman Tr2 and my own 1946 Aeronca Champion. Flight Instructor Eric Eastland took the Cessna Skyhawk to Paola for lunch and he and I flew Cessna 150s to El Dorado Springs for service. Jeffery Adams flew a Cessna 150 to Ava, MO to visit family on Thursday.

 From Europe, we learn that Margit Waltz, experienced German ferry pilot who began moving airplanes across the ocean in 1976, recently made the 900th ferry flight of her career. She brought a Daher TBM 930 from the factory in southern France to a dealer in Muncie, Indiana. While the TBM is a fast, capable ride, it’s still a single-engine airplane and the North Atlantic is still wide and cold. Preparation is the key to survival over her many years of ferry flights.

 A lucky escape was made by four pilots flying in the Denver area last week. Their two airplanes collided in mid-air while attempting to land at Centennial airport, being vectored by approach control to the parallel runways at Centennial. The Swearingen Metroliner was on one frequency and the Cirrus SR-22 was on another. The Cirrus pilots evidently overflew their final approach course, striking the Metroliner’s aft fuselage. The bigger Swearingen landed successfully, but the Cirrus pilots had to fire their full-airplane parachute and wound up settled down into a residential park, unhurt.

 Small amounts of crosswind can make for a rough landing, if not taken into account during the touchdown. Pilots tend to ignore a few knots of wind blowing from only ten or twenty degrees off the runway direction, but one of two things will happen to spoil the landing. Either the airplane will be crabbed into the wind as it sits down, jerking straight as the wheels touch, or the pilot will straighten up to match the center stripe but drift sideways with the wind, again causing a screeching arrival. Even little winds need to be corrected with a little sideslip to negate their effect.

 The question from last week was about the source of the white streaks left by high-altitude airplanes flying over. Rodney Rom knew those are condensation trails, resulting from hot exhaust gases hitting the moist air’s frozen water crystals. Heated up briefly to become visible water, they refreeze into a cloud behind the airplane. Contrails can be left by piston engines as well, as World War II bomber crews knew. For next time, who was the American pilot who became a national hero by landing in Ireland back in 1936?You can send your answer tkochhaus1@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy airlive.net