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Black Friday

Randy

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Nashville, Michigan
While you guys were standing in line at Wal-Mart at 4 am on "Black Friday" I was going for a ride with a friend who had gotten his license two weeks ago. We flew to South Haven, about an hr. trip right on the shore of Lake Michigan. We had a 12-14 kt. quartering left head wind with gusts off the lake. He made one go-around and was doing just fine on the 2nd approach until right at touch down when we got a good gust and we started to turn into the wind. We needed a little right rudder to get the tail behind us and a little left aileron to lower the left wing and we would have been fine. Instead the pilot turned the wheel full right!! We were immediately heading across the grass left wing high. Until we hit the ditch then we were on our back. Why did he turn the wheel right? Old habits are hard to break. In that split second of reaction time he made the wrong choice. He has been driving a car for 35 years. When the car skids to the left turning the wheel to the right will usually correct it!!
The NTSB recommended some additional cross wind training and another partial check ride. All in all they were a pleasure to deal with.
No injuries at all. We were very lucky. Remember the forum thread where we discussed emergency canopy release and always practicing emergency cockpit egress every time you climb aboard? You need to develope a habit that, in an emergency, you don't have to think about what you are going to do. He did what he was in the habit of doing. When things go wrong in an airplane they go wrong REALLY FAST!!
I learned a few things:
1) It is extremely hard to release a seatbelt with 225 lbs. hanging on it
2) When it does release you hit the ceiling really hard
3) The doors won't always be unjambed in a crash (we were really lucky)
4) You cannot get out of an upside down airplane fast enough!!
As the old saying goes: "You start with a full bag of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck."
The excitement ranks right up there with my first solo flight :))



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