Friday, March 06, 2015
Harrison Ford Is Han Solo.
When I looked at the wreckage of the Ryan PT-22 my first thought was, "wow, they should be able to rebuild that." After that I got that good feeling from knowing that pilot Harrison Ford found himself at a point where he had to make a very difficult decision and, unlike many before him, made the right call.
In the immediate wake of the crash there was no information on the cause but a look at the photo left no doubt it was engine failure on take off. One of the first lessons drummed into the brains of every student pilot is how to respond to this very situation. They're taught to resist the impulse to do a 180 and land on the runway they just left and, instead, look for some place more or less to the front to put the plane down.
The tower tape reveals that Ford, on declaring his engine out emergency, initially thought about a go around. That entails making a sharp turn at slow speed with no power. The usual result is a differential stall because the inside wing is going so much slower than the other and it loses lift. One side of the airplane still wants to fly after the other side has quit for the day.
But Ford didn't stall. Instead he spotted an opening on a golf course and was able to make a wings level deadstick landing. Both wings stayed on the plane. The fuselage and tail are largely intact. Han Solo, meanwhile, lived to fly another day.