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Old Sep 30, 2008, 12:03 PM
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United States, OR, Corvallis
Joined Nov 1998
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Video: Safe landing after wing falls off

On Saturday we had a Chili Feed and Fun Fly at the local club. I showed up and was hoping to fly my 1/3rd scale Cap 580 model. Unfortunately, I had a problem during the flight and was forced to abort after only a few moments in the air.

A friend, Keith Ellis, felt a little bad for my situation and offered to let me fly his Yak-54. That seemed fitting, since I fly Russian Thunder, so I jumped at the chance.

I've flown Keith's model previously and it is a nice flying airplane. He broke the wing somehow and recently fixed it. We went over the repair and everything seemed solid. Unfortunately, it didn't hold together as well as we had hoped.

I started out flying in a careful way but as the flight went on I became more comfortable with the airplane. I started doing knife edge passes and spins. I did a few tumbles. Everything felt good so I did a knife edge spin. I made some high speed circuits across the field. The plane was really grooving and I was enjoying myself.

But then I did a snap roll at full throttle at mid-field and the left wing abruptly departed the aircraft. There was no warning, and I don't remember hearing anything. It just came off and started fluttering down.

The aircraft bobbled a bit as I held in what seemed like the proper correction. After a few seconds I found the new centering position needed to keep the plane trimmed in stable knife edge flight. I coaxed it around the field, lined it up, and prepared to ditch it on its side off the runway, but instinct took over, I guess, and I put it on the runway right side up instead.

I think this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I've practiced the scenario on the RealFlight simulator many times, and I credit that experience with my ability to bring it in wheels down. I never thought I'd get a shot to do this in real life. Secretly, I've always hoped for it.

After the event we all sat and talked about it for quite awhile. We all agreed that it was pretty cool. Luckily, one of the club members, Mark Wilson, had a video camera running. Eric Olsen was there to take pictures.


Jim Bourke One Wing Landing (1 min 38 sec)
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