Yes a real shame and if I recall correctly the engine had an issue once before and had been sent away for repair and the aircraft had only recently flown again. Such a shame, there are not many Centaurus powered Sea Furys flying now. There's a lot of oil along the sides . Well done by the pilot, I wonder why the undercarriage didn't lock down?
The Auster should be recognised for what it is: a gentleman's aerial touring carriage and a nice aeroplane.
Post by Dave Homewood on Aug 1, 2014 23:07:21 GMT 12
Two Fireflies? They have only ever flown one, WB271, which was destroyed in 2003. They have lost two Sea Furies to crashes, TF956 and WG655.
This is the Official RN statement:
A Royal Navy spokesperson said;
“We can confirm that an historic display aircraft at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose’s Air Day has carried out an unplanned but controlled landing. There are no injuries to the Royal Navy pilot nor to any members of the public in attendance. All relevant organisations have been informed and the investigation process has been initiated so it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Looking at the video, just as the starboard leg gets to the end of it's extension, you can see it wobble or bounce against the stop momentarily. This was probably just enough to prevent the downlock engaging in time. Rotten luck. Another few seconds of glide time before it touched and the aircraft would have just been happily rolling along the runway on all three wheels. I hope they can manage to raise the cash to get this awesome aircraft repaired.
Dave is correct there was only one Firefly, you may have been thinking of the RAN Historic Flight Firefly WD826 which was flown in the 1980s until it had an engine problem. Being restored to fly although i think she is not being worked on at present due to other work being carried out on other aircraft.
The Auster should be recognised for what it is: a gentleman's aerial touring carriage and a nice aeroplane.
Having looked at the footage a lot more, it seems to me lost power, but couldn't put the gear down straight away, too much drag and might not make the runway. So he delayed it and then used gravity to get the gear down at the last moment (I guess no hyd power left by then). Sadly one didn't lock so he held it up as long as he could, but when he felt the wing dig he raised the u/c to stop a possible cart wheel/flip. This also kept the Fury off the ground for a longer period, maybe saving it a bit of damage.
Too me, and this is just speculation based on the vid as I haven't chatted to Chris yet, amazing flying and quick thinking.
Last Edit: Aug 2, 2014 15:30:50 GMT 12 by machpants
On the approach the inner doors are visibly open between the flaps, looks like maybe the gear hung up and he tried to freefall it into place just before landing?
Edit - found this elsewhere on the web 'We were displaying at Culdrose just before the Sea Fury and had just landed and were watching it and spoke to the pilot afterwards.. we also bought him a beer.
He felt the engine go rough during his display so he closed the throttle, climbed and put the gear down. He put out a PAN call. Then as he headed for the runway he opened the throttle and nothing happened.
He then realised he wasn't going to make the runway so he raised the gear to improve the glide. He made it to the threshold and then put the gear down. Both wheels made it down and he landed on them right at the numbers. Unfortunately the right gear hadn't had time to lock and it collapsed on roll-out. which caused the right wing to hit the runway. This then made it slew round and it was then going sideways which caused the left gear to fail. It then went off onto the grass and stopped. The pilot go out unaided.
It was a fantastic piece of airmanship. Having the presence of mind raise the gear and then lower it saved it from being a much more serious incident. Obviously the engine was going to need looking at, the prop was wrecked but most of the airframe was saved.'
Last Edit: Aug 2, 2014 15:50:50 GMT 12 by lesterpk: added extra info
From what I've read the Sea Fury glides like the proverbial brick with the gear down. Not sure what was before the threshold but looking at Google Earth seems to be paddocks mostly with roads fairly close to both ends of the longest vector but I would say he knew what she could do with the gear up and could make the runway, but knew gear down it was a possible worse outcome for him and the aircraft.
He did better than Spencer Flack managed with his very similar accident in the Summer of 1981. G-FURY was basically destroyed when it was crash landed at Waddington on August 2 1981 (33 years ago today). The following pic is from the Culdrose incident but is eerily similar to what I saw at Waddington, on that day the aircraft had an engine issue and Spencer resorted to having to stretch the glide to make the runway. He was badly injured but fortunately for him the RAF station was a Vulcan QRA base and the crash crews were on hand within minutes. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just left an airshow at Humberside almost immediately after the Fury had departed. Google tells me it is 38 miles by road down the A15 to Waddington, I had a feeling the wreck was still be attended to as we drove past. I would be guessing at saying he would have been less than 300 metres from the runway, the wreck was about 200 metres on the left with the threshold just over our right shoulders. I believe the remains are in Australa and incorporated into another rebuild.
Yeah Cornish hedges are actually dry stone walls and covered with growth. The fields are very poor, putting in Culdrose itself, and it is a big base. I def wouldn't want to put down in the surrounding fields. I spent 6 odd years there +/- bits.
That man deserves a DB! Well done indeed, to keep thinking and flying and modifying the plan when things are going pear shaped is very difficult indeed. Also impressive to watch the control surface positions throughout the 'landing', I think it was Bob Hoover who said " when a mishap looks to be inevitable, fly it as far into the crash as you can! " Might be blasphemy in the UK, but perhaps they should consider the engine conversion for better reliability?
You're probably right Errol, although it would seem to defy common sense to have a less reliable ( less safe ) aircraft that complies with the 'regs' , rather than a more reliable/safe one that doesn't comply!
Mind you when has application of common sense had any place in the CAA!
Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, Lt Cdr Chris Götke Royal Navy displayed exemplary airmanship when the Fly Navy Heritage Trust historic Hawker Sea Fury T20 G-RNHF (VX281) lost power during a display manoeuvre at RNAS Culdrose Air Day on 31 July, forcing him to take swift action and carry out a dramatic emergency landing.
Lt Cdr Götke’s quick thinking and skilful handling of a complex and potentially highly dangerous situation averted disaster, not only putting the aircraft on the ground safely and avoiding injury to the 33,000 crowd – but undoubtedly saving the aircraft as well as himself.
A witness on the display line said “I have complete and utter respect for the pilot for being so professional. It was a text book forced landing in extremely difficult circumstances.”
“The aircraft lost power at a critical point in the display” said Commodore Bill Covington, a Trustee of the Fly Navy Heritage Trust. “Chris did a fantastic job. He only had 250-280 knots and couldn’t complete the manoeuvre as intended. He initially thought he would land in a nearby field but when he realised he didn’t have enough power to make it, he exercised superb judgment and landed the aircraft on the runway as soon as possible. Carrying out a successful forced landing in one of these heavy fast heritage aircraft is extremely difficult. It is hard enough to get it right even in practice – let alone from the middle of an air display. His quick reactions and calm decision-making protected the public and saved a rare and historically significant Navy Heritage aircraft.”
The aircraft, which is based at RNAS Yeovilton with the Royal Navy Historic Flight, landed with the gear down but one wheel didn’t lock in time causing the aircraft to collapse on its undercarriage and skid along the runway. The accident and emergency services at RNAS Culdrose were on the scene immediately and Lt Cdr Götke escaped injury and climbed out of the aircraft unhurt.
Speaking after the incident Mike Nixon, Chief Executive of the Fly Navy Heritage Trust said “The Sea Fury is a big, high performance aircraft and Lt Cdr Götke ably displayed his skills as a Navy Empire Test Pilot, quickly assessing the situation and controlling a fast, but impeccably gentle landing, ensuring minimum damage to the aircraft. We are very grateful for the professionalism and speed of response shown by everyone at RNAS Culdrose especially the Royal Navy Fire Crews, who were outstanding.”
A photographer who witnessed the crash said “I was filming the display when I noticed smoke billowing from the Sea Fury’s engine. The pilot diverted around the edge of the crowd and was obviously heading in to make a swift landing. Great skill and calm was shown by the pilot. There was an audible sigh of relief and a spontaneous round of applause when the pilot quickly emerged from the aircraft.”
An investigation is currently underway to establish the cause of the incident and the Trust is working closely with the Royal Navy and military investigators to piece together what happened and get her repaired and flying again as soon as possible.
An early assessment of the damage by the specialists at Weald Aviation who maintain the Sea Fury T20 is that she is eminently repairable. “We have the specialists and the spares to rebuild her and get her back in the air again as soon as possible” said Tim Manna. “The offers of help from Fly Navy Heritage Ambassadors and Supporters have been incredible. A beautiful historic aircraft like the Sea Fury needs to be flying - and as soon as the investigation is complete we will be devoting all resources to repairing and restoring her to full serviceability again.”
Lt Cdr Chris Götke (above) pictured with Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown CBE DSC AFC Royal Navy (95) the Royal Navy’s most decorated and distinguished Naval Test Pilot, in front of Sea Fury T20 just before he took off to fly to the Air Day at RNAS Culdrose. Captain Eric Brown who has flown 487 different aircraft types, more than any other pilot in the world and also holds the world record for carrier deck landings at 2407, said of Chris’ skilful emergency landing “it was a pretty amazing piece of flying. There couldn’t have been a better person at the controls and the entire Fleet Air Arm community salutes him!”