Text Box: WARBIRD NOTES # 23   8 May 98  (5)          BELLY LANDING – SOD OR PAVEMENT?This is another of those old wives' tales that surface – inevitably – every so often and, to my mind, are capable of a vast amount of personal injury and property damage if these aforementioned OWT’s are blindly adhered to without thought!  This procedure was also a subject of a discussion within the recent past on the AVSIG (Aviation Safety Information Group) computer forum.  I was just happily going along, reading comments on a rather un-related subject when this belief surfaced during the discussion.


Not very long ago I had occasion to observe the results of a Mustang’s landing with a gear problem at Oshkosh.  Later that evening I was seated on a park bench at a large gathering of warbird pilots.  Seated next to me were two “old timers” and I couldn't help but overhear their discussion of that afternoon’s event.  I don’t know whether they had personally observed the event, but they certainly had strongly held (and voiced) opinions on it!    

recent occurrence - death wish not


Piper’s experience with this

 From durden 


As part of the full scale g.a. crash tests NASA did in the '70s impacts were made on concrete and on relatively soft soil. With any kind of a descent angle/vector, the damage to the aircraft and projected injury to the occupants was far worse on soft soil than on more resistent surfaces. Concrete would not "give" when the vertical velocity was significant, and simply translated the impact to cause the airplane to slide...in some of the impacts the airplane damage was minor enough it could be rebuilt and crashed again. The same impact on soft soil resulted in the soil "giving" slightly, to form a crater, and then stopping the aircraft very fast, either within the crater or causing the airplane to flip over.

Unless I knew the sand was firm enough to land on (as they used to do at Daytona Beach), I think I'd put it in the water. My airplane is adequately insured, so I'll take the water just offshore and a high chance of survival versus the sand.

One of the nasty little things that has been learned from accident investigation is that pilots dealing with a forced landing have a very disturbing tendency to stall the airplane at about 5-10 feet above the ground, thus developing a heck of a sink rate, with the airplane out of control. The saying of "fly it all the way into the crash" is only too true. It's also another argument for selecting a surface that is not soft sand or dirt.


pile up of dirt


possibility of “dropping” and making a depression in the dirt’s surface


killed dick and ca skiles - 75,000 hours in cockpit 


R. L. Sohn    1998   ©

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