Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

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drdehave
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Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby drdehave » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:42 pm

Until this morning, this was the greatest flying adventure of my short, 4-year flying career! I had just made my first off-airport landings and takeoffs--on a remote dry lake bed in northwest Nevada at 4700 feet, along with over 100 airplanes of every make and model imaginable. Our fall weather was stellar, the new friends from as far as Canada were outstanding, and the free food and scenery (and video-making) were priceless.

Nevertheless, a number of us from California and points north sensed some urgency to get going for home this morning, after observing the clear shift in pressures and winds in the form of our tents (and some airplanes) nearly being ripped from their tie-downs on the dusty playa, overnight.

About a dozen planes had already launched before the sun was fully up. Five more of us were in the warm-up area, waiting to launch from the 1400-foot "runway." I was in fifth place.

Just as my spot in the launch-line moved up to #3, I glanced up from an engine-temperature check to see a massive amount of aircraft debris descending from about 1,000 AGL in the downwind just to the northwest. From the number and small size of pieces, there had obviously been massive airframe destruction. A fireball erupted when the largest pieces hit the ground.

Dozens of people immediately responded from lake-bed campsites towards the crash site--on foot and in vehicles.

Initially, here is what is being reported: http://www.ktvn.com/story/26766189/plan ... -yerington

Condolences to the families.
Last edited by drdehave on Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby CTLSi » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:16 pm

......
Last edited by CTLSi on Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby drdehave » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:20 pm

This event was about 11 nmi northwest of Yerington, NV. The small dry lake there is easily seen on Google Earth and they immediately established (now deactivated) a TFR around the crash site (http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_4_5882.html).
Last edited by drdehave on Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby CTLSi » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:25 pm

......
Last edited by CTLSi on Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby designrs » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:36 pm

Further info for those with AOPA forum access:

http://forums.aopa.org/showthread.php?p ... ost1763900

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby drdehave » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:58 pm

*****
Last edited by drdehave on Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby langj » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:27 am

I have landed on that dry lake bed a few times. I never felt it was a dangerous place at all. I no longer land there though as my issuance agent informed me landing anywhere that is not established for aircraft will result in me not being covered. And I could not get them to charge me more for a waiver to allow it. Being I fly rental planes currently I am stuck to normal runways and occasional grass runways. I do know that that lake bed is online with the Carson airport runway. So you do have to look for any traffic before take off. There is also a private strip not to far away from it too.

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby CTLSi » Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:36 am

......
Last edited by CTLSi on Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby designrs » Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:55 am

So were both planes departing the event?
Or was one plane GA traffic not related to the event?

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby drdehave » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:10 am

"So were both planes departing the event?
Or was one plane GA traffic not related to the event?"


There was an East-West designated runway (marked with traffic cones), left traffic patterns for both, and a designated CTAF. Both deceased flyers were from Oregon and had been camping at the event for two days. One took off and the other soon followed; they were headed to Carson for fuel, traveling together. They collided in the left downwind, directly perpendicular to the run-up area for easterly departures. Both made a departure call on the radio. One or both made a fatal mistake somewhere in or around that left downwind departure zone.
Last edited by drdehave on Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby drdehave » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:06 am

October 21, 2014 Update:

1. The FAA finally got back to me yesterday. I gave them my statement and will be sending them the video files I have, which may or may not be of use to their investigation, today or tomorrow.

2. It is amazing how deeply witnessing such an event deeply affects one; I am still not functioning 100% nine days later.

3. Moreover, the day of the accident, things almost turned worse--a lot worse! I got back to the Central Valley, California (heading for home, Yolo County KDWA) only to be greeted by 30-40 knot surface winds (way more than predicted and much higher aloft!) and no where I felt I could safely land. Still highly shaken from seeing the accident, I was about ready to declare an emergency to get help for where to go, before my fuel reserve was depleted. Then, I found Runway 30 at Lodi (K1O3) to be doable, with gusts to only about 20-25 knots pretty much straight down the relatively small, 2,000 x 26-foot pavement (fair condition) normally used only by the skydiving service.

4. I got down Okay on Runway 30 and luckily found a buddy at his hangar, washing his airplane. He offered to loan me his pickup to drive home so I could return the next day for my airplane. We were talking, listening to weather on the radio and phone, and I was about to leave when we see four girls loading into a Cessna 172 with multiple suitcases and boxes. I walked over and offered my advice that I hoped they weren't heading north, where the winds were most severe. No, they were "heading to Santa Ana" and we surmised they were probably going back to college or something. What happened next was quite mind-blowing, though. They taxied to Runway 12, did their run-up, and then the pilot announced she was departing Runway 12--i.e., with the 20-25 knots still coming straight down the reciprocal 30 runway AT THEIR BACKS! My buddy grabbed the handheld from the table and gave the young pilot a firm but polite warning about what she was about to do. After silence of what seemed like minutes, the airplane turned around, taxied back to Runway 26, which is 3700 x 42-feet, and took off without incident.

Scientists have reported that when strong north winds blow in the Central Valley, people here do crazy things due to the highly ionized, pollen- and dust-laden air. The scientists are correct!
Last edited by drdehave on Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby CharlieTango » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:47 am

Chewing out a pilot, from your handheld, that is about to depart, with 3 passengers likely listening, is pretty severe.

From your description it sounds like your buddy saved 4 lives, a fully loaded skyhawk on a 2,000' runway taking off downwind > 20kts isn't going to make it. The latest abort point would be on her very quickly and you can bet she had no abort plan anyway.

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby designrs » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:59 am

That goes to show the value of having a handset at the airport.
It helps sometimes.

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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby SportPilot » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:24 pm

.......
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Re: Sad Ending to a Great High-Sierra Nevada Fly-In‏

Postby drseti » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:03 pm

SportPilot wrote:There will be lawsuits and your videos will probably be subpoenaed as will you.


That can only happen if anyone happens to know that the videos exist. I know no such thing! (Seems to me this would be a pretty good time for some posts to end up being deleted...)
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