Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Engine failure in a P51 Mustang

Here's a very insightful video based around Mark Levy's engine failure in P51 Mustang 'Miss Velma' at the Duxford Air Show last year. Steve put it down in a field and walked away uninjured, and there are an awful lot of interesting lessons that came out of the incident.

This video not only shows the incident from the cockpit, but more interestingly includes a lengthy interview with Mark where he considers what he did right, what he might have done differently, and some fascinating observations on how human being react to sudden emergencies and some of the psychological effects that have to be overcome if the outcome is to be successful. One thing I learned from watching it is that as a pilot becomes 'task saturated' (no more brain capacity left free) the first sense that is lost is hearing. Thus people could be saying all sorts of things to him on the radio but he just won't hear them. When I had my partial engine failure on take off in the Chipmunk some years ago I remember afterwards transmitting that I was making an immediate return to land, but could not hear the reply. I put this down to the noise from the badly misfiring engine banging and farting and jumping about, but after seeing this video it was probably me becoming 'task saturated'.

Some of the points Mark makes are:

Partial engine failure can be much more difficult to deal with than a complete engine cut. When the engine quits completely, the decision making processes are simpler.

Check lists are not really relevant in these sort of single pilot aeroplanes - a left to right cockpit check is best. It's certainly what I used in the Chippy & the Yak.

The 'startle factor' when something unexpected happens, and the 'fight or flight' natural human reaction to DO SOMETHING immediately. That MUST be overcome and time taken to ensure that what you do next is the RIGHT thing. He calls it 'caging the chimp'.

As Bob Hoover said "no.1 is "FLY THE AEROPLANE!". Never don't do that! And just as important, keep on flying it as far into the crash as you can.

Gear-up for an off airfield landing, always. And a retractable with the gear up will stop VERY quickly. You don't need that massively long field to put it down in that you'd need in a fixed gear machine. This greatly increases your choice of suitable emergency landing fields.

The video is quite long, but well worth watching all the way through.


No comments:

Post a Comment