Posts about pilot skills, knowledge, and judgment
The handsome, sharp-dressed, silver-haired man struck a supremely confident pose and flashed a million-dollar smile. The glossy picture on display at my local bookstore caught my eye, but what really grabbed my attention was the almost visceral feeling of disgust that shot through me.
At over 128,000 feet, veteran BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner rolled back the hatch of his high-tech balloon gondola, ran his final checklists, disconnected his umbilicals, and carefully edged his way onto the step outside. From his perch far above the Earth, and almost all of its atmosphere, Felix's voice betrayed the emotions running through him.
The vibration from the wheels suddenly stopped and I felt the unmistakable sensation of breaking contact with the ground. It was good to be back in the air—but seat 58G on a 747 is a far cry from the front-row seat I'm used to. OK, I'm spoiled.
"Did you all drive up together?" Dana asked as my friend Dave, my wife Janet, and I approached the welcome table at my high school reunion.
"We flew into Boonville and Dave picked us up there," I answered.
As I'm sure you've heard by now, the NTSB recently published its final report on last year's crash of Galloping Ghost, the highly modified P-51 flown by veteran racer Jimmy Leeward, which killed 11 people and injured more than 60. The report confirmed what many had suspected: the crash was precipitated by the flutter-induced failure of a trim-tab actuating mechanism. This caused the airplane to roll and pitch up uncontrollably, subjecting the pilot to approximately 17 G of acceleration and damaging the aircraft structure. At that point, with the pilot incapacitated and the aircraft out of control, the resulting crash was a foregone conclusion. The report's statement of probable cause includes the following: