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Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska  
User currently offlineBushpilot From South Africa, joined Jul 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3340 times:

Being a resident of rural Alaska where there are few roads, single engine air travel is the norm. The story that follows is entirely true. Abbreviations are as follows. DLG-Dillingham, Alaska my hometown, KEK-Ekwok, Alaska a small village about 66 miles from DLG population 300.

So I had to travel to KEK for work, I would be going with two co-workers for this trip. We were scheduled to leave in the morning on Monday, arriving at the landing strip at about 930am. There were two other people flying with us going to another village, but we were the first stop. Our plane was a Cessna 206, similar to this one
There was quite a bit of gear to be loaded into the back, so I was giving the pilot a hand loading gear in, and then he had the back four seats loaded with people. Just after he shut the back door, I looked over and watched the tail land right on the ground. It smacked hard! Apparently the plane was loaded a bit tail heavy!
I was a bit stunned. I have flown quite a bit but this was a first time for that sort of thing to happen to me. I was standing there slack-jawed gawking at the plane sitting on its tail and its nose wheel 4 feet off the ground. The pilot didnt think it was a big deal and told me to jump in the front seat.
I shook it off and climbed into the co-pilot seat. It was a stretch to get in there because of the angle the plane was sitting.
Once I got in I closed the door and asked the gal behind me to reach forward to flip the latch locking the door. I put my belt on and the pilot climbed in and said the nose would drop once we started the engine. So after giving a bit of throttle the nose came down and we taxied to the end of the runway.
We quickly started out take off roll. The pilot and I are both large guys, so when he reached down for the throttle between us I leaned over against the door to give him some extra room.
With the confusion surrounding the tail sitting on the ground and the weird angle and pitch of the aircraft while standing, the door did not get latched properly. This was simple human error.
So the door came open!!!
Here I find myself, the only thing holding me inside of an aircraft is a lap belt and shoulder strap, looking at the ground seeing the wheel rolling. I have had a few other slightly uncomfortable incidents flying in single engine airplanes, but this by far was the worst.
The pilot, noticing what happened, throttled down and grabbed me pulling me further into the cockpit, aborting the take off. I could tell he was more than a bit flustered about what just happened.
My co-workers in the back screamed when the door popped open as well, it made for a very stressful minute or so. Once the plane came to a stop due to the aborted take off, he checked to make sure the door was latched properly, and we turned around to taxi back to the end of the runway for another take off roll.
This time it was much less eventful, we managed to climb out and head toward our destination of KEK. We flew over the Wood River, at 200feet and 130kts. It was about 30minutes until we were banking to land on the short gravel runway in KEK. Marking the end of what to this point in my life has been the scariest aviation moment for me.

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineVC10DC10 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 1036 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3314 times:

Good grief! Wow! That's one exciting business trip.

I'm surprised the pilot wasn't worried about the heavy load in the rear of the aircraft. I've heard of instances when an unduly heavy load there disturbs the center of gravity so seriously that the aircraft is unsafe. But apparently he knew what he was doing, as you lived to tell the tale!  smile 


User currently offlineTK787 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4434 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3260 times:

Deja vu.
Almost exact same thing happened to me and 3 of my friends more than 15 years ago at DLG. We were flying to KKU (Ekuk) in late April to work as herring technicians. With all our gear, survival suits and all, and bunch of booze (Ekuk was a dry town then) the tail hit the ground. The pilot had to shift some weight to the front to compensate. It was very crowded inside but we made it. You gotta love Alaska for these kind of stories.


User currently offlineIowaman From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4401 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3237 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

Sounds a little dangerous with the weight and balance issues.

I've had a door come open on rotation, it's really isn't that uncommon or that unsafe really.



Next flights: WN DSM-LAS-PHX, US PHX-SJD. Return: US SJD-PHX, WN PHX-MDW-DSM
User currently offlineRyan h From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 1548 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3212 times:

Sounds scary...

Probably put me off flying with that pilot for a while.



South Australian Spotter
User currently offlineSulman From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 2035 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 3166 times:

Doors opening on C150 and C172 used to startle me (because it's an 'unusual' sound) but it's not that uncommon if they're not latched properly.

Far, far more dangerous is the seat not being properly locked!

James



It takes a big man to admit they are wrong, and I am not a big man.
User currently offlineBushpilot From South Africa, joined Jul 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3037 times:

Quoting TK787 (Reply 2):
With all our gear, survival suits and all, and bunch of booze (Ekuk was a dry town then) the tail hit the ground.

Ekuk is still dry, but only inhabited in the summer fishing season.

Quoting VC10DC10 (Reply 1):
I'm surprised the pilot wasn't worried about the heavy load in the rear of the aircraft.

It didnt seem to bother him to much, this guy has been a bushpilot for nearly 30 years, he was really cranking on the trim tab wheel after takeoff.

Quoting Ryan h (Reply 4):
Probably put me off flying with that pilot for a while

Yeah, I felt the same way, but when it was time to come home, guess who came to pick us up? Yeah. It was him. Uneventful flight on the way home though.

Quoting Sulman (Reply 5):
Far, far more dangerous is the seat not being properly locked!

This is something I check before I get into any small plane. I usually give it a few hard shakes to make sure it doesnt move around.

Quoting Iowaman (Reply 3):
I've had a door come open on rotation, it's really isn't that uncommon or that unsafe really.

Ill tell you, it was quite unnerving for me. Here we are at 40kts on take off roll and I find myself leaning out of the aircraft looking down at the runway and wheel. If it wasnt for my belt, I would have been on the ground.


User currently offlineANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2932 times:

Quoting Bushpilot (Thread starter):
It was a stretch to get in there because of the angle the plane was sitting.

Has nuthin to do with your very svelt self though, eh?  rotfl  duck 

I know, Pot Kettle Black!  wink 

Great story . . . flying in Bush Alaska is quite different than most folks realize.


User currently offlineBushpilot From South Africa, joined Jul 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2919 times:

Quoting ANCFlyer (Reply 7):
Has nuthin to do with your very svelt self though, eh?

Well that comes from nearly falling out of the damn thing. The pilot makes me look like a Chinese gymnast. But trying to balance on the footpeg when it is 3.5 feet of the ground didnt make me look like a gymnast at all.
You really should have seen the embarrased look on the face of one of my co-workers who is quite a large gal, it was her weight when she got in that caused the tail to drop in the first place.


User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5817 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (7 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 2771 times:

Hahaha... you've clearly never hung out of an open Cessna 206 door and dropped camping supplies to people on the ground that have paid you dearly to do so. Nevermind all their food containers popped open on impact...

Cessna doors come open ALL the time- it's really annoying!!!

Happy bush flying, I respect all you guys out there. I flew up to Bettles/Allakaket and Paradise Valley this summer. Tough stuff- the fresh mountain breezes were blowing our little Cessna 152 into steep turns... in rapid succession... stomach unhappy...


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