by jeff edwards
Today, as I write, the autumnal equinox passes. The weather here in the Midwest is beautiful. Like every fall in the Midwest, we are blessed with clear skies, light winds and low humidity. In other words, excellent flying weather, especially for my tailwheel friends. Harvest time is upon the area and soon the leaves will turn their glorious colors. I hope your summer season has been as safe and enjoyable as mine. Now is a good time to reflect on the past year as we prepare for winter.
Airventure was awesome! We had another fine banquet with over 125 attendees at the Best Western hotel in downtown Oshkosh. After dinner, record setting USAF U-2 pilot Alan Zwick regaled us with stories, pictures and video of his military flying adventures. Alan’s presentation was polished and professional; a real inspiration to all in attendance. Again, many thanks to Alan for making our evening special!
We have enjoyed many fine presentations over the years, at Airventure, Sun N Fun and at our own LOBO Landings. This year's Landing coincided with Lancair’s 30th Anniversary Homecoming at Redmond. There we were honored to have Charles "Charlie" J. Precourt (Colonel, USAF, Ret.), former NASA Shuttle commander and current EAA VP inform and entertain us with stories of Shuttle missions to resuppy Russia's Mir space station. Who knew that last minute schedule changes and off the cuff plans by ground controllers could have near disastrous results in orbit? What a great talk by Colonel Precourt! If you have missed these events in the past please plan to join us at Airventure or wherever our next LOBO Landing may be.
I was honored to fly with Charlie while at Redmond. I offered to take him up and let him fly Lancair’s latest design. We went over to Prineville to do some takeoffs and landings, where he quickly demonstrated why he was selected to be a shuttle pilot. What an awesome stick!
All in all, Lancair’s 30th Anniversary Homecoming was a real treat for those who attended. If you did not make it here are a few photos from the event (click for larger). Nearly 100 aircraft flew in and parked on the north ramp at Redmond where Lancair hosted a BBQ on Friday night.
Bob Pastusek, Sue Harrelson and I repeated our LOBO ground school event at Redmond on Thursday. Bob covered items related to getting ready for first flight of a homebuilt Lancair. In case you missed his presentation and you are getting ready for the first flight of your Lancair I recommend you call him and get a data dump from him.
We plan to post parts of his presentation on our website soon. Sue had a full class for flying companions. Her presentation was oriented towards presenting sometimes mystifying aeronautical information to non-pilot spouses and significant others who fly. In case you didn't know, Sue is an accomplished aviatrix and homebuilder herself.
Finally, I had assistance this year from Adam Molny who presented a talk on the building choices we make and the impact on the continued airworthiness and operational capabilities of our aircraft. Well done Adam! All attendees received credit toward FAA WINGS program, as well as credit towards your LOBO recurrent training.
Focus on Type Clubs
My focus this year at Redmond was on type club safety. I engaged our participants in a conversation about the efficacy of type clubs in reducing accident rates. I surveyed the attendees with questions like, “why did you join LOBO?” “have you belonged to other type clubs?” “what have you received from your type club association that benefits you?” and other questions such as those. Those answers will help LOBO going forward to sharpen our focus on how to best meet our organizational goals.
Not surprisingly most respondents said that “sharing information” was the most important aspect of belonging to a type club such as LOBO. What we get from an organization, like LOBO is directly related to what we give to it. Most of us want information to keep us safe, to assist in a repair, to save money on an expense or to connect with a member in a place far away from home. I am always amazed at the camaraderie of our members and their willingness to go out of their way to help others.
I was prompted to focus on type clubs this year for two reasons. One, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association published the results of some research they did in 2009 looking at how their member’s safety record was compared to non-members. The results were pleasantly surprising. In turn, I checked our safety statistics comparing LOBO member vs non-member accident records. From our founding in 2008 to today there have been 45 serious Lancair accidents with only six involving LOBO members. We currently have about 350 members and have been around the 300 member mark for the last few years. The FAA registry shows about 1000 flying Lancairs. Thus LOBO members account for about 14% of the fleet accidents with roughly 30% of the fleet. It appears that LOBO members are “safer” than non-members. Why? Hopefully, our survey and other research will shed some light on this crucial question.
Speaking of safety, recent Lancair accidents suggest an alarming rise in airworthiness related accidents.
- On October 18, 2014 a Legacy made a forced landing near Livingston, TX after the pilot, Alan Crawford, reported smoke in the cockpit. The pilot was seriously injured.
- Bob Wolstenholme’s Legacy, “Another Mistress” (Race #88), caught fire during the Reno air race forcing an off airport which damaged the aircraft. Bob is doing well, I am happy to report.
- A IV-P, N541EM, crashed on September 3, 2014 near Collegedale, TN after the loss of a propeller in flight. The pilot, who perished in the crash, reported oil on the windscreen before the accident.
- Another IV-P belonging to member Ralf Bronnemeier crashed near Findlay, Ohio on July 27, 2014. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft on fire before the crash.
- A IVPT crashed on June 7, 2014 in Lake Superior minutes after takeoff from Duluth, MN in low IMC. The new owner--with no Lancair training--was ferrying the aircraft to Germany from Redmond, Oregon. This was his second takeoff with a ferry tank in the rear seat. Witnesses reported that he had unresolved issues with his EFIS system and engine fuel control that he was unwilling to have fixed before departure.
- A Lancair Legacy crashed near Lolo, Idaho on July 28, 2014 while enroute from Richland, WA to Oshkosh for AirVenture. The pilot reported to ATC that he was losing oil pressure and was diverting at the time of the accident. The wife reported the pilot had been troubleshooting an oil leak before departing.
- A IV-PT crashed killing three in Hartsville, SC on March 8, 2014. The pilot reportedly had been troubleshooting landing gear issues the day before the accident and decided to check out the problem in the air.
- The pilot of a 360 was seriously injured in a forced landing on May 6, 2014 in Crivitz, Wisconsin after a fuel line became disconnected following a shop repair to a fuel quantity system.
The common theme of these accidents is “airworthiness.” Something was not working correctly, and in several cases it was known to the pilot before takeoff (oil leaking, landing gear not functioning correctly, etc.). If you have problem with your aircraft and cannot resolve it give us a call. We can help you troubleshoot the problem safely.
I flew down to Charleston SC recently for the Elite Pilot Services Evolution training weekend. David Robinson and the folks from EPS put on a very nice training/social event for ten or so Evolution pilots. Nice people, nice planes!For questions and comments contact Jeff at j.edwards [at] lancairowners.com.