bushpilot
Posts: 1674
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:37 am

Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:53 am

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.
 
VC10DC10
Posts: 605
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:56 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:35 pm

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 avatar
TK787
Posts: 3102
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:43 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:55 pm

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.
 
iowaman
Posts: 3874
Joined: Thu May 20, 2004 2:29 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:46 pm

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.
 
User avatar
Ryan h
Posts: 1610
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2001 7:11 pm

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Wed Jan 10, 2007 4:56 pm

Sounds scary...

Probably put me off flying with that pilot for a while.
South Australian Spotter www.ryanhothersall.net
 
sulman
Posts: 1963
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 5:09 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:14 pm

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.
 
bushpilot
Posts: 1674
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:37 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:08 am

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.
 
ANCFlyer
Posts: 21391
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:51 pm

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:48 am

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.
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
bushpilot
Posts: 1674
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:37 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:00 am

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.
 
AA737-823
Posts: 4906
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

RE: Single Engine Nightmare, Life In Bush Alaska

Fri Jan 12, 2007 5:07 am

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...

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: atal17, Google Feedfetcher and 21 guests