Mid-Air collision at Duxford

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Tubthumper
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Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Tubthumper »

I don't have many details, but just a few photos I came across on a photographers' forum.
Big Beautiful Doll is a gonner, pilot bailed out ok, and the A-1 landed with a damaged wing.
Image

Image

Image
:!:
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Tubthumper »

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Big Pistons Forever
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Big Pistons Forever »

That formation break was a mess, and it was a miracle no one died........I wonder how qualified the pilots were.
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Blue Side Down »

Under-qualified in terms of skills? Doubtful.

The respective pilots were flying multi-million dollar, privately owned machines in close formation. They obviously had their act together well before accident.

Why situational awareness fell apart allowing lack of planning to bite them in the hindquarters is the bigger question. Not just in this case, but across the board in aviation in general. This is precisely why standard procedures are set in place when big money is on the line- to prevent oversight from causing a disaster.

The 'what if's' are clear:

What if more time was taken the night before by the flight leader to come up with a pre-flight briefing that covered all contingencies, such as loss of contact after break?

What if the briefing was started fifteen minutes earlier instead of using the last five minutes to rush through ten minutes of information?

What if it wasn't assumed that these accomplished, highly skilled drivers 'knew what they were doing', and redundant safety points were verbalized instead of passing silently as 'assumed general knowledge'. The worst thing a driver can do in a briefing is express a 'yes, yea, I know, I'm not an idiot' vibe and dig their heels in against reviewing redundant safety procedures for the third time to ensure everyone is visualizing what they should do if a loss of contact or other emergency arises.

What if more structure was used in the break to ensure spacing?

Same mistakes over and over again... because we think we know what we're doing... complacency is very dangerous. Don't get caught out.
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by warbirdpilot7 »

Big Pistons Forever wrote:That formation break was a mess, and it was a miracle no one died........I wonder how qualified the pilots were.
One has to remember that the pilots allowed to fly these airplanes are not Piper or Cessna "weekend warriors"

I do not know their formation qualifications so lets wait for the report.
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Big Pistons Forever »

Just because you can afford to buy a Mustang or Sky Raider doesn't mean you have the skills to fly it ........
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by warbirdpilot7 »

Big Pistons Forever wrote:Just because you can afford to buy a Mustang or Sky Raider doesn't mean you have the skills to fly it ........
Maybe, kinda, sorta....This is true of personel airplanes. The ones that fly for musuems of course this statement does not apply.

At Duxford, I can assure you the pilots that fly there have more then enough expierence.
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Big Pistons Forever
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Big Pistons Forever »

warbirdpilot7 wrote:
Big Pistons Forever wrote:Just because you can afford to buy a Mustang or Sky Raider doesn't mean you have the skills to fly it ........
Maybe, kinda, sorta....This is true of personel airplanes. The ones that fly for musuems of course this statement does not apply.

At Duxford, I can assure you the pilots that fly there have more then enough expierence.
All I can go by is what the video showed, which is not IMO what happens when very experienced pilots are flying a simple 3 plane formation. This is also far from the first accident at Duxford............
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by hz2p »

At Duxford, I can assure you the pilots that fly there have more then (sic) enough expierence (sic)
Evidence would suggest, not quite enough in formation flying. That was an awful break, and they quite didn't get away with it, that time.

I know some other people who had a bad experience with a pilot who had the right accent but not the right skills. It will happen again.
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Ref Plus 10 »

Having very little formation flying experience, would someone be able and willing to explain to me what it is the pilots were TRYING to do? Obviously it went wrong, but I'd like to grasp an understanding of the proper result of the maneuvers, also where either pilot went wrong resulting in the midair collision. Thanks

Ref
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Big Pistons Forever »

Ref Plus 10 wrote:Having very little formation flying experience, would someone be able and willing to explain to me what it is the pilots were TRYING to do? Obviously it went wrong, but I'd like to grasp an understanding of the proper result of the maneuvers, also where either pilot went wrong resulting in the midair collision. Thanks

Ref
Plane A = Mustang with checkerboard nose
Plane B = Skyraider
Plane C = Mustang with red striped tail

The formation started with lead (A) in the middle in position 1 and B in echelon left in position 2 (ie on a 30 to 45 degree angle aft of the wing and stepped slightly down) and C in echelon right in position 3. The collision manoever was a formation "break". The purpose of the break is to disassemble the formation, usually in preparation for landing. Each aircraft breaks off at a predetermined interval (1 to 3 seconds) starting with lead who does a 180 degee turn. After the break the formation should be in line astern (ie all flying one behind the other) at the proscibed interval. The conventional way to do this is for lead to adjust the formation so that everybody is in echelon ( ie all aircraft are on the same side of lead) and then lead, followed by each aircraft, breaks away from the formation in the opposite direction (ie away from the aircraft next to you and towards free airspace.

In this case lead could not turn for a break because he had an aircraft on both sides of him so he initiated a straight ahead pull up to get clear and then started a climbing turn. The other aircraft followed suit after a short interval. This manoever is easy to screw up because 2 and 3 can easily cross paths and there is not the guaranteed spacing that comes with a conventional break where during the time space between each aircraft breaking, they are travelling in opposite directions. In any case the number one rule of formation flying is DO NOT HIT THE LEAD. The skyraider pilot well and truely screwed the pooch
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by iflyforpie »

It looks like the A-1 was trying to turn inside the Mustang, which put him nearly knife edge and closed the gap. The only logical reason for doing that is that he couldn't see him. He should have kept straight and passed behind him. This should have been all briefed on the ground.
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by hz2p »

These guys were trying to break out of a vic formation. The Blue Angels do a nice break out of a diamond, but these guys were clearly nowhere near that skill level. It's actually not very hard to do, but ...

Conventionally, with left traffic, the formation is arranged in a right echelon. Lead turns level and sharply onto downwind, and #2 waits (eg 3 second) then breaks, then #3 waits (eg 3 second), etc.

What would have worked much, much better for these guys would have been to simplify the break to a conventional right echelon. If you absolutely must fly a vic to the overhead, then the easy way to do that is for the guy on the left to slide forward and take the lead, then see 2nd para above.

These guys had no idea of what they were doing, and they paid the price. That happens in aviation sometimes.
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by Ref Plus 10 »

Thanks Big Pistons Forever for the explanation, as well as iflyforpie and hz2p. It would almost seem to me as though they were breaking from the "vic" formation almost back in to a tight line astern formation? And that the A1 lost sight of lead and perhaps turned tighter than briefed (or not briefed at all...)
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Re: Mid-Air collision at Duxford

Post by lownslow »

What may not be immediately clear is that this wasn't the only flight of three aircraft in the fly-by. There were dozens of aircraft involved and the accident planes were around the middle of the pack. Having said that, when the P-51 broke off to join downwind, the Skyraider pilot became temporary lead of his element for a few seconds before his own break. In that time he was no longer watching the Mustang but looking ahead to give the #3 plane a good, steady reference. When it was time to break, it's possible he looked and saw a different P-51 (there was more than one there that day) on downwind, then pulled hard to catch up. It would have been interesting to sit in on the debrief and I hope any findings are publicized so we can all learn something.

LnS.
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