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NTSB: Wind A Factor In NYC Cirrus Crash  
User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5291 posts, RR: 23
Posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4467 times:

http://www.ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2006/061103.htm

I was actually on the FDR Drive right below the impact building immediately after it happened (the folks were running out of my apartment building and looking up at the Belaire Condominium that the plane hit), but wasn't aware of the crash itself when it happened as I was driving down the Drive in a car with the radio on.

At ground level, the wind was very noticeable, from east to west. The NTSB indicates that the aircraft would have been blown west (off the East River and into the mass of Manhattan buildings) unless it began and maintained a 53 degree bank angle and 1.3g loading all the way through the turn. If they didn't realize from the get-go that this turn would need to be this hard, then they would have had to make it even tighter as they realized the need, which is why they didn't. It's also probably why they didn't start the turn from a more Eastern point. It ain't no big deal to fly a little further East, over the easternmost bank of the river or even over a little of the western shore of Queens, before starting the turn.

Sad.

PS Looking across the street at the building that the plane hit, they still haven't fixed the facade or replaced the windows in the apartments into which the engine and propeller were injected. They have, however, done quite a bit to clean up the interior water damage that was caused by the Fire Department putting out the fire on the 30th Floor. (Water spilled in that kind of volume always finds its way down to the ground.)

[Edited 2006-11-03 21:21:44]

32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4441 times:

Thanks for posting that. I'm not surprised wind was a factor -- I remember that day, and it certainly seems like the East River corridor would have been a very challenging environment under those circumstances.

I'm a little surprised to read a couple things in this report, though. First, that winds were only six knots in Central Park at the time of the accident. It seemed windier than that, though possibly I'm recalling gusts on that day. Second, that this accident caused injuries on the ground. I don't remember that from the news -- does anyone happen to know the nature of these injuries?



New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5291 posts, RR: 23
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4399 times:

Quoting N844AA (Reply 1):
I'm a little surprised to read a couple things in this report, though. First, that winds were only six knots in Central Park at the time of the accident. It seemed windier than that, though possibly I'm recalling gusts on that day. Second, that this accident caused injuries on the ground. I don't remember that from the news -- does anyone happen to know the nature of these injuries?

It was definitely windy along the river, and of course storms moved in later in the day. It was raining and windy by the time the Police finally let me walk down 73rd street to the back door of my building. Central Park, at ground level, is often a heck of a lot less windy than the areas along the river. At altitude, 13 knots seems about right.

What they mean by "injuries on the ground" probably means "in the building" rather than "on the ground". There was a lady who was in the apartment and was burned, and I think at least one other person from the building was slightly injured. I don't think anybody was hit by debris from the plane, although I wouldn't be surprised to find that one of the minor injuries was the cabdriver whose cab I saw stopped just west of the turnaround at the end of 72nd st with a big section of the windshield mashed in, or that someone was hit with flying glass. When the Police allowed residents of the 72nd st buildings to walk along a small sliver of the sidewalk with police stationed every few feet along the barricades telling you to keep moving, one of the things that struck me was the enormous amount of broken glass sprayed all along the easternmost half of 72nd st to the building, so it appeared that the glass moved primarily to the west of the building, whereas the wreckage itself came down, it appears, in the street slightly to the east of the building's front door (at least I assume that the wreckage was what was under the white tent they erected in the street before letting us up the block).


User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4581 posts, RR: 18
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4399 times:

I'm not trying to start any kind of flame war or anything but it just looks more like a suicide and less like an accident. The plane hit 20 floors up. That seems like a very low altitude. Also I've looked around at some of the videos on youtube.com and there doesn't look to be much wind at all. Certainly nothing that would cause a crash like this.

Quoting N844AA (Reply 1):
First, that winds were only six knots in Central Park at the time of the accident.

Looking at the videos I found the winds of six knots seems accurate. Just seems odd that this happens a day or two after the Yankees get knocked out of the playoffs. I don't see how wind caused this.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineContnlEliteCMH From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 1465 posts, RR: 44
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4345 times:

So... if the pilot started the turn from the wrong point, and couldn't make the turn, and couldn't correct the situation either because of flight characteristics or a lack of situation awareness, there's only one conclusion that can come out of this investigation: pilot error.

Has there been any comment on a reported fuel system problem with the plane?



Christianity. Islam. Hinduism. Anthropogenic Global Warming. All are matters of faith!
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4345 times:

Quoting Wjcandee (Reply 2):
It was definitely windy along the river, and of course storms moved in later in the day. It was raining and windy by the time the Police finally let me walk down 73rd street to the back door of my building. Central Park, at ground level, is often a heck of a lot less windy than the areas along the river. At altitude, 13 knots seems about right.

What they mean by "injuries on the ground" probably means "in the building" rather than "on the ground". There was a lady who was in the apartment and was burned, and I think at least one other person from the building was slightly injured.

Sounds plausible on both counts. I tried to see the accident site from an elevated terrace on the UWS, so perhaps that's why I remember it being windier than the Central Park measurement. Thank you for your insights.

Quoting Indy (Reply 3):
Looking at the videos I found the winds of six knots seems accurate. Just seems odd that this happens a day or two after the Yankees get knocked out of the playoffs. I don't see how wind caused this.

Interesting. I haven't heard suicide alleged anywhere else, but like I said ... interesting. It's also interesting that, if this is correct, than Lidle committed a murder-suicide instead of, say, taking his plane out over the ocean and taking it down or deliberately running out of fuel.

However, I also recall reading that the altitude ceiling for uncontrolled flight along the East River is only 1500 ft. If that is in fact correct, doesn't the relatively low altitude become more explicable considering that it was at the tail end of a fairly tight turn? Also, if Lidle were prone to such tendencies, it seems like he might have killed himself during other tumultuous spots in his career, such as after his departure from the Phillies.



New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4581 posts, RR: 18
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4308 times:

Quoting N844AA (Reply 5):
However, I also recall reading that the altitude ceiling for uncontrolled flight along the East River is only 1500 ft.

He hit the building less than 400 feet from the ground. Also the building that the plane struck could be seen from a considerable distance. So visibility wouldn't be a factor. Looking at the videos you can basically eliminate visibility and wind as the cause.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4283 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 6):
He hit the building less than 400 feet from the ground. Also the building that the plane struck could be seen from a considerable distance. So visibility wouldn't be a factor. Looking at the videos you can basically eliminate visibility and wind as the cause.

Fair enough. But if wind had made the turn more difficult than it would have been otherwise -- and as I understand, it wasn't an easy maneuver to begin with -- couldn't the demands of piloting in those conditions have contributed to a lack of situational awareness that caused the crash, even if wind or visibility weren't proximate causes?

I'm not trying to argue with you or shoot down your theory. I'm just saying, from my uninformed perspective, the commonly accepted version of events seems plausible. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, though.



New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4581 posts, RR: 18
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4258 times:

Oh there is no doubt that on a windy day you can get knocked off course. And the wind tunnel effect created by the buildings only makes it worse. I just don't see where there were strong winds at the time. It is also possible that he wasn't paying attention. Maybe he was looking at something else. He could have been drifting off course a bit and it took only a small gust of wind to blow him into the building. I just don't know how on a day that appeared to have only relatively light winds that this happened. In any case this one looks to be fairly blamed on the pilot whether the crash was an accident or suicide. I hope it was just an accident. I know there have been a couple of copycats since 9/11. I hope this guy wasn't one.


Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineAirfoilsguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4227 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 6):
Looking at the videos

Can you provide a link?


User currently offlinePmg1704 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 162 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4205 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 3):
Just seems odd that this happens a day or two after the Yankees get knocked out of the playoffs.

Oh please. This guy was 8 years in the MLB on multiple teams. I can't imagine he was too broken up. Being out of the playoffs means more free time to go flying.

I lived in Tudor City near 42nd for a few years and those winds can be rough, certainly much harder than at Central Park.

This seems like another Thurman Munson story.


User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4197 times:

The NTSB update omitted some key information. The flight instructor had made only one previous flight up and down the East River, it was two years earlier and in a Cessna, his other flying experience was in Arizona. So you basically had two inexperienced pilots who weren't familiar with the terrain, winds, traffic, etc and they were probably sightseeing because that was the point of the trip, to look at the scenery. Nobody was flying, is my guess.

User currently offlineVref5 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4154 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 6):
Looking at the videos you can basically eliminate visibility and wind as the cause.

Well, visibility, maybe... but wind? No.

Here's what you do as an experiment: go and purchase a 'discovery flight' of perhaps 1/2 hour in length from a local FBO or flying club. Maybe USD $40 or so. Do this on a windy day. Could be light or moderate wind. Doesn't have to be strong.

Have the flight instructor fly the plane but NOT correct for the wind for a takeoff. Watch where you are relative to the ground during the takeoff roll and for a while post-takeoff.

On a day where there's any wind at all, you will see the plane actually drift off course -- not lined up straight with the runway extended centerline as you depart -- before you've even fully left the runway environment.

You can't really easily see the effect of wind on aircraft as a ground observer unless it's extremely severe... but from the air, you can most definitely see the effect if you're maintaining situational awareness.

Or perhaps put differently: I would take the NTSB's non-elimination of wind any day over your elimination of wind as a contributing factor. Sorry.

P.S. You can easily have days where you can see the sky from the ground, but you can't easily see the ground from the air in an airplane cockpit. I became familiar with this weather phenomenon in southern Texas near the Gulf coast on a hot summer day many years ago! (Serious haze, just barely above VFR minimums.)


User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5291 posts, RR: 23
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4150 times:

Indy: Respectfully, they were sightseeing at 500-600 ft MSL. I actually stood outside the Belaire this afternoon and counted the number of floors from 72nd St to the impact floor. I counted 30. That makes it actually about 33 floors off the river, as 72nd St at that end is about 35 feet higher than the river. The 30th floor of that building actually is about level with the 38th floor of mine; I think that it must have extra-high ceilings. So figure that the impact was about 350-410 feet MSL.

This was very unlikely to be a deliberate act. The guy was flying VFR North along the river with a flight instructor. He got to just short of the point at which he would have to contact LGA to get permission to enter their airspace, as the wedding cake goes to the ground at that point. He was flying on the far side of Roosevelt Island rather than nearest to the Manhattan buildings, which would indicate that he was preparing to make a turn and go back down the River. He started to and did indeed make a U turn, except that he missed making the turn entirely over the river by about 200 feet, and lost altitude of 100 to 200 feet. He was now facing South, and in a canyon of buildings. He navigated West of my building and hit the Belaire, which is one building-width west of mine and across the street. As best I can tell, you could liken it to coming up behind a truck in the right lane, pulling into the right shoulder to pass it, and finding a giant dumptruck parked in the shoulder immediately in front of you. Splat.

In short, it appears that they were maneuvering to avoid the buildings when they hit the Belaire. A little more altitude and they would have cleared it and had smooth sailing to climb out of harm's way. On a windless day, they would have made the turn entirely over the river. The NTSB indicates that the wind made a drift difference of about 400 feet east to west. So in calm winds, the same turn maneuver with the same bank angles as he used would have had him about 400 feet east of the building that he hit, or cleanly over the river, now heading South.


User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5291 posts, RR: 23
Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4140 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 8):
I just don't see where there were strong winds at the time.

"...the winds at 700 feet altitude were from 095 degrees at 13 knots."

"The prevailing wind from the east would have caused the airplane to drift 400 feet toward the building during the turn..."

http://www.ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2006/061103.htm


User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4581 posts, RR: 18
Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 4100 times:

Quoting Vref5 (Reply 12):
Here's what you do as an experiment: go and purchase a 'discovery flight' of perhaps 1/2 hour in length from a local FBO or flying club. Maybe USD $40 or so. Do this on a windy day. Could be light or moderate wind. Doesn't have to be strong.

I've done that. I've flown before. Nothing more enjoyable than fighting the thermals in Florida. My step dad had a plane and we'd go flying. I took a discovery flight a year or two ago here in Indiana and it was a very windy day. The instructor tried to confirm that I really wanted to go flying on a day like that. I did because it was no big deal.

This video has a map somewhere in the middle that shows where this building is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s87e67I5pGA

This video contains a distance shot of the crash.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFddG_DqOlo

This video shows no wind of significance. You can't see the trees moving or people being pushed around by wind where you would expect the wind tunnel effect to be the worst.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLw4Ja4lK9s

This story indicates the address was 524 E. 72nd St.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/11/plane.crash/

Google map of the building that was hit.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=524+E+...05721,0.013561&t=k&om=1&iwloc=addr

Maybe its the camera angles but the building doesn't look that far inland on the video. But in any case he would have been flying far too low and missed his mark by quite a distance to end up hitting that building. Just my opinion.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineRdwelch From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4065 times:

Even relatively light winds can be made more daunting given the canyon effect that a big city and it's buildings will cause. I would like to hear from someone on A.net that has had experience in wind dynamics and in using the terrain afforded by the buildings in the area come up with a model of the wind dynamics for that day.

We already have some of the important meteorological facts for that day, and if we can get a model of the terrain and flight parameters for that type of aircraft, I think with the available talent we have on this forum we might come to a ROUGH scenario. All for our enjoyment of course.

Gus.


User currently offlineSkibum9 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1229 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4065 times:

Quoting Wjcandee (Reply 13):
So figure that the impact was about 350-410 feet MSL.



Quoting Wjcandee (Reply 13):
In short, it appears that they were maneuvering to avoid the buildings when they hit the Belaire. A little more altitude and they would have cleared it and had smooth sailing to climb out of harm's way.

Wouldn't surprise me if they were actually flying a little higher. When they made the turn and realized they weren't going to make it, they pulled up and either stalled the plane or started a spin, which in turn caused them to lose some altitude before hitting the building. I can't believe that they started their turn and didn't see the building coming. And anyone in their right mind would have done something to avoid it, like pulling up or increasing bank angle, either which would have stalled the plane.



Tailwinds!!!
User currently offlineRdwelch From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4065 times:

And as an aside, in my opinion I highly doubt that he would have taken his life and that of his innocent flight instructor. Stranger things do occur in real life, but I don't get the vibe he would have done this intentionally.

Gus


User currently offlineClipper002 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 679 posts, RR: 13
Reply 19, posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3970 times:

Very interesting. Our local NBC station said " more news on this on the National coverage at 6:30", but not one word mentioned. I was really looking forward to their story and I wonder why they cancelled it at the last minute. Bill, as always, thank you for your insights.

Rgds,
Ed



Ed
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3950 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 3):
I'm not trying to start any kind of flame war or anything but it just looks more like a suicide and less like an accident.

There's an old saying that goes "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity", and I think in the case of this accident it would be modified to "Never attribute to suicide that which can be adequately explained by stupid and unforgiving aeronautical mistakes made by otherwise nice people".

Quoting Vref5 (Reply 12):
Or perhaps put differently: I would take the NTSB's non-elimination of wind any day over your elimination of wind as a contributing factor. Sorry.

Roger that; nor do I think this was a sucide or other intentional act...


User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4581 posts, RR: 18
Reply 21, posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3938 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 20):
There's an old saying that goes "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity", and I think in the case of this accident it would be modified to "Never attribute to suicide that which can be adequately explained by stupid and unforgiving aeronautical mistakes made by otherwise nice people".

True. It could have been a lack of attention that caused the crash. Like those idiots that flew into protected space around DC and nearly got shot down. Or he could have been severely depressed about losing in the playoffs and chose to end his life. Neither scenario is pleasant. You hope it was mechanical failure and not pilot error.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8341 posts, RR: 23
Reply 22, posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3932 times:

It's an airplane, of course wind is a factor. Gravity was a factor, too. Pilots live with wind, though. You're supposed to know what the wind is doing and obviously these guys didn't, although I wouldn't have tried that turn in a vacuum. Ignorance is the only real cause.


This Website Censors Me
User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3924 times:

Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 20):
nor do I think this was a sucide or other intentional act...

Depends on how you define suicide. They gambled their lives on their ability to make a u-turn in a 1700 ft width ... with the wind blowing the wrong way. They didn't have a Plan B. That's awfully close to suicide even if you argue it wasn't intentional. You can't put yourself in a situation where a u-turn is the only way out. They could have contacted ATC. They could have turned at a higher altitude giving themselves a bigger safety margin. Plus, the instructor never took his mandatory Cirrus training. He told the NY Times that anybody who can drive a bus can fly a plane. Overconfidence or suicide? How many thousands of other people have made this u-turn safely?


User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3891 times:

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 23):
He told the NY Times that anybody who can drive a bus can fly a plane. Overconfidence or suicide?

The former, in the forms of self-deception and reality-evasion.


25 Post contains links and images FlyboySMF2GFK : Hi Gus! I made a guess as to the scenario back on October 12 in this thread (reply 216) the downwind turn across the river was exactly my speculation
26 Post contains images FlyboySMF2GFK : Meh, the "LGA" image wouldn't take - here it is again under a different name: I wonder why that worked, oh well.
27 Bobster2 : I think that is incorrect. Wjcandee said they went west of his building, and that seems to make sense. Did you look at the NTSB radar tracks? Probabl
28 Charliejag1 : Agreed! I would have said suicide if he was alone in the plane, but he was with a friend/CFI. Also, if wind was the only issue, they would have woven
29 Veeref : From the looks of the flightpath a left hand 180 degree turn put the aircraft in a scenario of having a tailwind during most of the maneuver taking in
30 Post contains images FlyboySMF2GFK : It sure does. I did that flight path before hearing they went west of the bulding. Oh well, it's a general track, I guess working for the NTSB isn't
31 Bobster2 : The NY Times said yesterday they could have had their licenses suspended for flying over Manhattan, which could mean the loss the flight instructor's
32 FlyboySMF2GFK : Well, yeah, they would have violated LGA's surface class B without clearance. I'd say that doing the dance in front of an FAA inspector and giving th
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