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B-17 crash at Bradley Intl


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https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=100356

The NTSB released a docket on the accident a few days ago.

Credit to the CT ANG crew chief. He saved 3 or 4 lives according to his statement and the others.  A true hero.

The PAX statements are damning - the Collings Foundation will cease to exist when this is all over.  They'll have to liquidate everything and I don't think they'll come close to paying the lawsuits they are going to face.

 

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39 minutes ago, mightymighty said:

https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=100356

The NTSB released a docket on the accident a few days ago.

Credit to the CT ANG crew chief. He saved 3 or 4 lives according to his statement and the others.  A true hero.

The PAX statements are damning - the Collings Foundation will cease to exist when this is all over.  They'll have to liquidate everything and I don't think they'll come close to paying the lawsuits they are going to face.

 

Damning indeed.  Best part was the first passenger helping get the LM's leg loose and then he vanishes.  You can tell which statements were written with lawyer assistance. 

Edited by uhhello
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On 12/20/2020 at 8:11 PM, Prozac said:

 Guessing there will be a lot of FAA scrutiny on warbird operators after reading some of that. 

Oh, there's been plenty of that for some time.  

The whole thing amazes me.  When I knew some of the Collings folks, it seemed like they had a ton of money and a lot of good talent.  If corners were cut, how does this happen in an organization with the cash resources, and talent to avoid it?  

And finally:  training.  I have no idea the quality of training that many warbird pilots accomplish.  Actually, that goes for any pilot of any type of aircraft.  Do they have 5000 hours in type?  or 1 hour, 5000 times?  "Deliberate practice".  I've seen a lack of it in the military, and a lack of it in the GA world.  I have no idea if that was a problem at Collings, but a failure to constantly train will rear its ugly head many more times over the course of our aviation adventure.  

Fortunately, I've seen some great examples of how to continually step up your game in aviation, and I've learned a lot from those people.  Some of them are on this forum.  They have done everything in their power to avoid ending up as a debrief on Kathryn's Report.  

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On 12/21/2020 at 12:43 AM, HuggyU2 said:

And finally:  training.  I have no idea the quality of training that many warbird pilots accomplish.  Actually, that goes for any pilot of any type of aircraft.  Do they have 5000 hours in type?  or 1 hour, 5000 times?  "Deliberate practice".  I've seen a lack of it in the military, and a lack of it in the GA world.  I have no idea if that was a problem at Collings, but a failure to constantly train will rear its ugly head many more times over the course of our aviation adventure.  

The pilot in this incident had 7300 hours in this particular B-17. I think he was likely the most experienced B-17 pilot, ever.

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Extremely interesting reading. They’ve even got the B-17 -1 in there for reference. Damning testimony from the survivors, especially the one who happens to be an expert in 4-engine propeller TOLD and passenger handling with years of military leadership experience.

Limited budgets don’t make for great training environments.

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12 minutes ago, Disco_Nav963 said:

If the Foundation goes under... Odds someone else keeps their F-4 flying? Because if I ever found myself with $15K to blow I was definitely going to treat myself to a ride someday.

Hopefully; there’s a dude running around in a MiG-23, so someone is bound to be able to swing the F-4. 

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On 12/22/2020 at 9:52 AM, Stoker said:

The pilot in this incident had 7300 hours in this particular B-17. I think he was likely the most experienced high-time B-17 pilot, ever.

Yes, I was aware of his numerous hours.  Other than that, I know nothing about this pilot.  And as such, I'm unable to judge his "experience" level (hence my "correction" to your quote).  That will have to be explained by those that flew with him.  My opinion is that "hours" tells me very little as to how hard the pilot worked to become better after each flight.  I know pilots with 500 hours in type that are superior to others with 1500 hours in the same type.  

It goes back to what I stated previously:  do you have 5000 hours?  Or 1 hour, 5000 times? 

I'm speaking in generalities and not about this pilot or incident, since the accident report doesn't really shed enough light on how much quality proficiency training he had accomplished in the previous year.  

A good example I know of is Lee Lauderback.  Lee has logged more P-51 time than anyone in history. And Lee works very hard at his craft.... which is why most P-51 pilots go to Lee to learn the Mustang, or go through a recurrency course.  I'm told he makes you a much better pilot after every 1.0 hours in the aircraft.  The fact that he's also a great guy is just icing on the cake.  

Edited by HuggyU2
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The experience of these old timers is moot.  This is about these "it's a big effing club...and you ain't in it", "foundations" sub-culture getting that limited/experimental passenger for hire exemption to their airplane type certificate pulled. Which, just like it did for IFT in the USAF when they went to IFS, dries up the gig for these cabals overnight. That's what this is really about.

Everybody fly safe out there. Happy new year!

Edited by hindsight2020
Grammerz
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On 12/22/2020 at 12:52 PM, Stoker said:

The pilot in this incident had 7300 hours in this particular B-17. I think he was likely the most experienced B-17 pilot, ever.

I think we have to be skeptical of that number based on the evidence that is out there from the investigation. To wit:

Quote

On January 2, 2019, the captain reported total flight time of 14,500 hours on his FAA medical application when applying for his second-class physical. He reported flying 450 hours in the past 6 months and his total time represents 2000 flight hours since he last reported his flight time on his FAA medical evaluation form in January 2017.
On the FAA medical application dated December 28, 2012, it indicated 5,800 hours of total flight time with 200 hours in the past six months. One year later, on December 20, 2013 he reported 11,000 flight hours with 200 hours in the past six months. This was an increase in 5,200 flight hours in a one-year period.

It isn't outrageous for someone to claim 1,000 hours in a year; I know numerous airline guys who hit this number somewhat regularly. Definitely unusual for a non-military, non-airline guy to be getting that amount of hours, but I wouldn't find it impossible to believe.

It is, however, not possible that he flew 5,200 hours in one year. This would mean he was logging 14 hours of flight time per day, every day, for 365 days.  And since he reported only 200 hours of time during the "last 6 months" of that year...well, apparently Mac was logging augmented crew time while he was sleeping.

But, even that first number has to be taken in perspective of other evidence, like:

Quote

A review of the B-17 maintenance logbooks revealed it flew 838 hours over a three-year period.
• January 15, 2016 to January 18, 2017 = 286 hours
• January 18, 2017 to January 23, 2018 = 292 hours
• January 23, 2018 to January 16, 2019 = 260 hours

So, if the B-17 was flying under 300 hours per year total, even if you make the assumption that Mac was flying every single one of those hours (which we know he wasn't - I personally know people who flew 909 during that timeframe, and not with Mac in the seat), where were the other 700-ish hours per year coming from? This would require him to fly *double* the amount of hours he was theoretically getting in the B-17 in some other aircraft on the tour.

Remember, Mac was not a professional pilot at any point during his career and Collings was the only flying he was doing.

The evidence here shows that there was some amount of "Parker P-51" time going on here.  How much? Tough to say...but it could be a substantial amount based on the self-reporting from the FAA medicals. He had to understand that the hour report to the FAA on your medical is an official attestation of your flight experience.

I admit, I bought into the Mac mystique too. The way he was spoken about by other pilots, as well as the way he spoke and carried himself, I'd have thought he was some old 'Nam vet, or old fire-bomber pilot, or retired airline guy. I was surprised to learn in this report that he'd only had his multiengine rating since 1999, and that he'd never actually had a professional flying career.

The data here, as well as his actions during the emergency, give me many many questions about the authenticity of basically anything said about his credentials or experience.

Edited by Hacker
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On 12/24/2020 at 2:02 PM, hindsight2020 said:

This is about these "it's a big effing club...and you ain't in it", "foundations" sub-culture getting that limited/experimental passenger for hire exemption to their airplane type certificate pulled.

Do you have personal experience with trying to fly for Collings?  If so, I'm curious what the circumstances of that were.

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41 minutes ago, Hacker said:

I think we have to be skeptical of that number based on the evidence that is out there from the investigation.

That's very interesting. I guess it just goes to show that we are inclined to believe people who look and act the part (see: Elizabeth Holmes).

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There have already been positive ripple effects from this accident.

The warbird organization I fly with has twice in the last 12 months tightened up its training and qualification requirements, and changed its supervisory/oversight strategy and responsibilities. They have even implemented their plan to have Big Blue-style "no notice" on-site inspections of individual units' compliance with organizational and FAA regulations.

Of course, there are some key leadership positions in that organization who are retired USAF O-6s, and their solution to the problem (the problem of the FAA whipping out their speculum and hysteroscope to inspect other warbird ride operations) is to bring over the regulatory and supervisory mechanisms that "worked"(?) in the Air Force.

Personally, I don't mind; I'd rather deal with a little Big Blue-style bureaucracy than have the FAA go all full retard and basically stop most warbird flying like has happened in the UK and elsewhere.

The fact is, if the LHFE goes away a significant number of flying warbirds will never fly again. I know of several famous, rare warbirds that go barnstorming every summer that, without the money from rides or a Paul Allen-style benefactor will never fly again.

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19 hours ago, Hopefulflyer389 said:

Are there warbird sims that can be used for training/EP Sims/type ratings? 

Not that I'm aware of with the fidelity required to be of any value.

Most of the checkout and annual re-examination processes rely on actual butt-in-the-seat experience. We are actually somewhat fortunate that in the last 25 years there have been a bunch of fighters that have been modified into 2-seat, dual control versions which allow real hands-on instruction in them.

Before that, the traditional method of getting checked out to fly any of the big piston fighters involved a whole bunch of time flying the T-6, and a checkride where you takeoff, fly, and land the T-6 from the back seat. This was apparently supposed to provide such a poor view on takeoff and landing that it simulated the long nose of Mustangs, Corsairs, etc.  Even flying the T-6 itself is considered a "harder" airplane to fly than most of the pig piston fighters because of some of its bad habits both in flight and on takeoff/landing.  The joke in the warbird community is that to prepare yourself for flying the T-6, go get checked out in a Mustang or a Bearcat.

In the larger airplanes, the multiengine stuff, the key is still to have relevant taildragger experience prior to getting checked out....but you still need time in the seat with the engines running to actually get a checkout.

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On 12/24/2020 at 11:02 AM, hindsight2020 said:

The experience of these old timers is moot.  This is about these "it's a big effing club...and you ain't in it", "foundations" sub-culture getting that limited/experimental passenger for hire exemption to their airplane type certificate pulled. Which, just like it did for IFT in the USAF when they went to IFS, dries up the gig for these cabals overnight. That's what this is really about.

Everybody fly safe out there. Happy new year!

Perhaps I didn't ask the right question in my previous post, so let me ask from a different angle.

Is your comment is a criticism of the gatekeeping that exists (and has long existed) in the warbird community which is a barrier to new people getting involved, or a comment on the Collings organization, specifically, with respect to how they operated their Wings of Freedom Tour?

 

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38 minutes ago, Hacker said:

Perhaps I didn't ask the right question in my previous post, so let me ask from a different angle.

Is your comment is a criticism of the gatekeeping that exists (and has long existed) in the warbird community which is a barrier to new people getting involved, or a comment on the Collings organization, specifically, with respect to how they operated their Wings of Freedom Tour?

 

As to my specific comment, neither.

My comment was directed at the bad faith act of asking for an economic exemption, then running a shoddy mx operation as illustrated by the chicanery on display in the NTSB narrative et al. That's why I posted the old article that went into detail on what the for-revenue exemption allows a "it's a big ----g club, and you ain't in it" anointed sampling of certificate airplane holders to do, that other exp certificate holders are not afforded. Most pedestrians don't understand the limitations that come with an experimental AWC by statute. I think it's a critical aspect of the narrative. At the very least, it's the part that interests me as an unsubsidized aircraft owner who pays for the sins of the collective. It may be peanuts to these warbird operators, but it's my skin on the game nonetheless. In fairness, I make the same commentary on Boeing or the surgeon who morts himself single pilot in the Meridian.

Now, in regards to your second inference, I'm of course not privy to the specific maintenance practices/philosophy of other organizations, to make a statement that effectively singles out Collings. What I do know is that the latter lost the benefit of the doubt writ large as a consequence of the mx and operational details behind the accident narrative. If people feel that is an unfair or "singled out" representation of the Collings operation, well tough cookie. Don't crash a revenue-allowance experimental with public passengers on board next time, with all that dumpster fire of a ground ops and [uncovered] maintenance profiles. 

Lastly, regarding your first inference, that was not the impetus behind my comment, but you dang skippy I have a TON to say about that as well. But that wasn't germane to the thread. I do recognize I'm in mixed company here with folks who rub shoulders and partake in the flying activities of the warbird little fiefdom within OUR hobby. I'm not interested in the flame war that would likely start on the public forum by expanding on that topic, but I'm more than happy to discuss that angle offline or via PM. I just don't consider it germane to the thread.

Hope that clarifies my intent. Cheers!

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