The hazards of flying under wires

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pelmet
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The hazards of flying under wires

Post by pelmet » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:16 pm

Certainly an impressive feat getting back on the ground in one piece. I have heard of cropdusters going under the wires. Maybe it is normal practice. I am curious about the legality of it. Anyone?


"C-GMBZ, an Air Tractor AT-502B aircraft operated by Western Canadian Aerial Ltd., was engaged
in agricultural application approximately 8 nm WSW of Reston (CRP2), MB. The pilot had
conducted an inspection of the field and had identified adjacent hydro wires. The second pass to
the north was made beneath the hydro wires to limit chemical drift. The aircraft came into contact
with an unidentified earth cable that was strung at approximately 2/3 of the pole height. Damage
was sustained by the horizontal stabilizer that caused the elevator to become jammed in the
neutral position. The aircraft began an uncommanded climb. The pilot was able to regain level
flight by using the elevator trim control. The aircraft was flown back to the operating base. The
landing was conducted without elevator pitch control by using elevator trim and power. The aircraft
landed on the upslope portion of the runway and bounced. The aircraft impacted the runway and
sustained substantial damage to the propeller and landing gear. The pilot was uninjured."
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Last edited by pelmet on Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

fish4life
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Re: The hazards of flyimg under wires

Post by fish4life » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:05 pm

Holy F he is lucky, also well flown after the mistake by the sounds of it.
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Big Pistons Forever
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Big Pistons Forever » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:31 am

Power lines will often have an unmarked ground wire usually above or sometimes below the main power line. This will usually be unmarked as for practical reasons it is easier to put the balls on the main power cable. If the ground wire is above the cable the gap will depend on temperature and the electrical load on the main cable but can be substantial.

Bottom line wherever possible avoid flying under power lines and when flying over them give them a good berth and ideally fly over the end towers.

I realize for float operations flying under wires is sometimes necessary but I personally will only fly under major hydro installations that are marked on the chart. I will never fly under the small private power lines you often see across rivers or narrow channels
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pelmet
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by pelmet » Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:47 am

Thanks,

Very interesting. Still wondering about legality.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by C.W.E. » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:26 am

When I received my flight training for aerial application I was trained to never fly under wires and to pull up early and do a headland pass to finish the coverage.

I never ever flew under wires during the thirteen years I did aerial application.

Here is a question.

What advantage is there in flying under wires?
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by porcsord » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:29 am

C.W.E. wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:26 am
What advantage is there in flying under wires?
Well, I can think of a major disadvantage. You have to carry less chemicals in order to account for the weight of you massive steel balls.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Reload Return » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:26 pm

C.W.E. wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:26 am
When I received my flight training for aerial application I was trained to never fly under wires and to pull up early and do a headland pass to finish the coverage.

I never ever flew under wires during the thirteen years I did aerial application.

Here is a question.

What advantage is there in flying under wires?
I'd go back to whoever did your training and told you to never fly under wires and to pull up early and go over them and get your money back because they obviously don't have much of a clue about AG flying and have given you poor if not dangerous tuition.
If you have to ask what advantage there is to flying under a wire then you need to go get some real Ag training before you hurt yourself.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by ShakyJake » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:14 am

Does anyone remember flying into Bella Coola in the late 60s early 70s?
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by albertdesalvo » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:47 am

Reload Return wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:26 pm
you need to go get some real Ag training before you hurt yourself.
Oh boy, get the popcorn... naw, this has to be a troll. Chuck wouldn't fall for a troll, would he?
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by C.W.E. » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:57 am

Only a troll with some knowledge of the subject. :mrgreen:
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Aaron Sadler
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Aaron Sadler » Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:18 pm

You won’t see power lines marked with the balls other than close to airports or by waterways that float planes frequent. I’m not a float pilot so I won’t comment on the standard practices of float flying and wires, because I don’t know. I will comment on flying under wires in ag aircraft because I do know, it’s apart of my job. What’s the advantage of going under rather than over? Well, it’s safer, despite whatever you were told years ago. And nothing illegal about it. Why? Because you can see the wires. There’s a lot of risk involved in aerial application, no doubt about that. Part of the job is mitigating that risk and making sound operational decisions to ensure you come home at the end of the day. One may hear of a wire strike and just conclude that ag pilots are a bunch of cowboys with no regard for safety and that flying under wires is just a dangerous stunt. It’s not. You need to make a decision, and that decision starts with a survey of the field In identifying obstacles. You have a power line, next thing you have to decide is whether it’s safe to go under or not. If the line is staying in the same spot on on the windscreen or getting lower, you’re going to hit it. If it’s going up, you’re going to go under. Same logic when figuring out your landing area in a power off glide. But don’t stop there. Is there rising terrain on the other side, or under the line, or another obstacle after? If so you have to go over if you won’t fit. In an ideal, flat world with high lines and no obstacles it will always be safer to go under because you see the line. If you choose to go over, it’s simple, you lose sight of the line, so you better know when to start the pull up. If you feel unsafe going under, don’t go under, because you’re putting yourself into an bad situation. Take the extra time and do a clean up run if you must.

This specific situation, yeah they hit a smaller lower hanging wire. Some of those lines are near impossible to see until you’re about to hit them. Could they have seen it if they made an extra circle around? If they saw it, could they have adjusted and still gone under? Maybe, but I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Shit happens, and sometimes it happens to the best of us. The only thing that matters is they are still alive. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by C.W.E. » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:02 pm

What’s the advantage of going under rather than over? Well, it’s safer, despite whatever you were told years ago. And nothing illegal about it
We each have our own ideas of what we feel safer doing, almost all my Ag. flying was in southern Ontario in the tobacco fields which generally were fairly small and often had trees as well as wires.

Anyhow I was taught to fly over them rather that try and pass between the fences and the wires and I used the power poles as reference for when to pull up and safely miss the wires, the poles are always higher than the wires.

For sure we all have different ways of doing some things and flying over the wires worked for me as I never hit one.

For sure there is risk in Ag. flying but done properly it is relatively safe.

I did both fixed wing and rotary wing ag. flying and by far I preferred helicopters to fixed wing.

I also flew fire bombing for fifteen years and it also has its risk factor but like Ag. flying there are ways to reduce the risk.

The highest risk area of flying I did was low level aerobatics in the airshow circuit and once again it involves lots of training and knowing your limits and the airplane's limits.

Also to fly the airshow circuit one has to be licensed and pass yearly recurrent flight tests to demonstrate you have not developed any bad habits.

My unlimited airdisplay authority was issued in Europe and I held it for eight years.....

...For me it is no longer a concern as I retired in 2005 and I don't even hold a valid pilots license anymore. :)
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Last edited by C.W.E. on Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:32 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by C.W.E. » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:30 pm

Looking back I can still remember the feel and sound of a Stearman working in the early morning I think the Stearman would be my choice of a fun toy if I ever decide I need one.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Meatservo » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:10 am

Does anyone else have that bad dream where they're flying under some wires, and it turns out there are more wires and you can't go up, then suddenly there's a chance to go up over them so you do, only to get trapped under another set of wires, and now you're between two sets of wires?
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by GyvAir » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:28 am

I've been having that dream since before I really thought about actual aviation. As a kid, I'd be flying Superman style. As an adult, any manner of aircraft or mysterious forms of levitation might be involved. Occasionally the wires are replaced by towers, weather or other disconcerting obstacles that always become more problematic with every turn.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Heliian » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:31 am

The title of this post should read:

"The Hazards of not doing a proper site survey before commencing work"

Flying under wires is sometimes necessary and the risks can be mitigated by knowing what you're flying under. I'm sure most of these types of crashes are caused by someone just trying to get too much done in a day and doing a low circle first is obviously not good enough.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Reload Return » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:29 am

Aaron Sadler wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:18 pm
You won’t see power lines marked with the balls other than close to airports or by waterways that float planes frequent. I’m not a float pilot so I won’t comment on the standard practices of float flying and wires, because I don’t know. I will comment on flying under wires in ag aircraft because I do know, it’s apart of my job. What’s the advantage of going under rather than over? Well, it’s safer, despite whatever you were told years ago. And nothing illegal about it. Why? Because you can see the wires. There’s a lot of risk involved in aerial application, no doubt about that. Part of the job is mitigating that risk and making sound operational decisions to ensure you come home at the end of the day. One may hear of a wire strike and just conclude that ag pilots are a bunch of cowboys with no regard for safety and that flying under wires is just a dangerous stunt. It’s not. You need to make a decision, and that decision starts with a survey of the field In identifying obstacles. You have a power line, next thing you have to decide is whether it’s safe to go under or not. If the line is staying in the same spot on on the windscreen or getting lower, you’re going to hit it. If it’s going up, you’re going to go under. Same logic when figuring out your landing area in a power off glide. But don’t stop there. Is there rising terrain on the other side, or under the line, or another obstacle after? If so you have to go over if you won’t fit. In an ideal, flat world with high lines and no obstacles it will always be safer to go under because you see the line. If you choose to go over, it’s simple, you lose sight of the line, so you better know when to start the pull up. If you feel unsafe going under, don’t go under, because you’re putting yourself into an bad situation. Take the extra time and do a clean up run if you must.

This specific situation, yeah they hit a smaller lower hanging wire. Some of those lines are near impossible to see until you’re about to hit them. Could they have seen it if they made an extra circle around? If they saw it, could they have adjusted and still gone under? Maybe, but I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Shit happens, and sometimes it happens to the best of us. The only thing that matters is they are still alive. Just my 2 cents.
Hey Adam Oke this can't be our Aaron. He's sounding all grown up. What the heck happened.
As a side note this incident happened to one of my best mates and the level of skill and calm rational decision making under a great pressure saved his life.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by Adam Oke » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:58 pm

Reload Return wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:29 am
Hey Adam Oke this can't be our Aaron. He's sounding all grown up. What the heck happened.
As a side note this incident happened to one of my best mates and the level of skill and calm rational decision making under a great pressure saved his life.
:lol: No comment!

But I will comment on wires. Aaron gave a nice summary. If I ever heard a complaint that I'm not getting close enough, typically you would hear from me "Crops don't grow under power lines" or "hire a ground rig". I have not worked for a single operator that did not support my decision making regarding where an airplane will or will not fit.

There are times when it is much safer to fly under vs over wires. We could run through a number of scenarios (and there are many) but most of the times I went under lines it was an H-Line/high tension power line. Pulling up and over tall lines with a fully loaded spray plane on a hot and muggy day is less than ideal if the margin to go under the line is large. You are much better off flying your line on a nice stable path with the wire and poles completely visible until passage. Aerial Applicators require a high level of decision making that primarily involves risk management and mitigation. You get handed a work order and you put the chemical on target in the safest manner possible. It's not as simple as saying "never fly under power lines".

As for the comments about improper survey. Yes and No. Most guys that hit wires knew they were there. Spraying is tough work and the most mentally and physically fatiguing flying you probably can do. Sure you will see complacency throughout the industry, however keep in mind that we are human. You will never be able to see every obstacle, line, branch, fence, no matter how many times you circle around at 140 mph. If you throw yourself at the ground long enough, eventually you are going to tag something.
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pelmet
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by pelmet » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:34 am

C-GYNT, a Weatherly 620B operated by Fly'n Dutchman AG Ltd, was conducting a local aerial
application flight from Melfort/Miller Field (CJZ3), SK. During an application pass approximately 2
nm south of Armley, SK, the aircraft struck a power line causing substantial damage to the vertical
stabilizer. Subsequently, control of the aircraft was lost and during an attempt to land on a gravel
road, the aircraft collided with terrain adjacent to the road. The aircraft was substantially damaged.
The pilot, who was wearing a helmet and 5-point harness, was seriously injured but was able to
egress the aircraft. Local police and emergency services responded.
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Re: The hazards of flying under wires

Post by pelmet » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:09 pm

Adam Oke wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:58 pm
Reload Return wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:29 am
Hey Adam Oke this can't be our Aaron. He's sounding all grown up. What the heck happened.
As a side note this incident happened to one of my best mates and the level of skill and calm rational decision making under a great pressure saved his life.
:lol: No comment!

But I will comment on wires. Aaron gave a nice summary. If I ever heard a complaint that I'm not getting close enough, typically you would hear from me "Crops don't grow under power lines" or "hire a ground rig". I have not worked for a single operator that did not support my decision making regarding where an airplane will or will not fit.

There are times when it is much safer to fly under vs over wires. We could run through a number of scenarios (and there are many) but most of the times I went under lines it was an H-Line/high tension power line. Pulling up and over tall lines with a fully loaded spray plane on a hot and muggy day is less than ideal if the margin to go under the line is large. You are much better off flying your line on a nice stable path with the wire and poles completely visible until passage. Aerial Applicators require a high level of decision making that primarily involves risk management and mitigation. You get handed a work order and you put the chemical on target in the safest manner possible. It's not as simple as saying "never fly under power lines".

As for the comments about improper survey. Yes and No. Most guys that hit wires knew they were there. Spraying is tough work and the most mentally and physically fatiguing flying you probably can do. Sure you will see complacency throughout the industry, however keep in mind that we are human. You will never be able to see every obstacle, line, branch, fence, no matter how many times you circle around at 140 mph. If you throw yourself at the ground long enough, eventually you are going to tag something.
Thanks for the insight....

Another one here. Fortunately caught by the wire cutters.

"C-FDFK, an Air Tractor 502B operated by Tarrickfic Aerial Ltd., was conducting aerial application
operations on a field approximately 19 nm NW of Two Hills Airport (CEL6), AB with just the pilot on
board. Following completion of the first spray pass along the edge of the field, the aircraft struck a
single strand power line adjacent to the perimeter of the field. The aircraft was equipped with wire
cutters on the main landing gear legs and the wire was severed. The pilot returned to base and an
uneventful landing was completed. There were no injuries, and no damage to the aircraft."
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