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Mac Hodges B-29 Incident at Warbirds over Delaware

Mac Hodges loses a plane, but saves the crowd during B-29 crash.

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B-29 Takes a Dive

On July 10th at the Warbirds Over Delaware event, Mac Hodges was preparing to take off in his famous B-29 to put on a show for the crowd as he had done hundreds of times. Watch the video below, as the plane powers down the runway it veers off towards the crowd caused by some sort of mechanical failure. The B-29 had too much speed to stop and would not turn away from the crowd so Mac decides to yank it into the air to avoid running right into the crowd of spectators. The plane climbs out, appears to stall and nose dives into the tents behind the flight line.

Luckily most of the people were at the flight line waiting to see the show so the huge B-29 only hit a tent and no one was harmed in the accident. Macs quick thinking surely saved quite a few people from injury. It's also a great reminder to always control the plane. We've seen it before where something unexpected happens and the pilot just freezes not knowing what to do. Good thing Mac knew what to do by getting the plane up and over the crowd. It's better to sacrifice an airplane and avoid injuring others. It's sad to see the B-29 in so many pieces though. It's been a staple at many flying events, but we're hoping we get a see a 5th generation B-29 from Mr. Hodges soon.

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Old Jul 11, 2014, 11:19 AM
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United States, NE, Doniphan
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Good quick thinking Mac. Hate to see it all tore up, but at least he pulled it up and away from the spectators.

Laine
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 01:22 PM
KFC
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He made the right choice. Still hate to see this happen, though.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 01:37 PM
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Watch the takeoff roll and look at the left outboard engine; it's clearly not revving up.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 02:07 PM
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United States, FL, Mt Dora
Joined Feb 2007
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reving or not that craft did not have sufficient speed for that rate of climb. it barely got off the ground and the pilot should have aborted the take off before hand. this isn't what one calls a good save, I guarantee he had little to zero control of that STALL much less the direction of the crash.

pilot error all the way and sad to see it wrecked. was a beautiful plane.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 02:09 PM
Shut up and fly
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United States, CO, Firestone
Joined Jun 2008
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good call. you can see he was working that rudder but nothing was going to make her turn right.
sad to see. Mac Hodges quick thinking saved the people
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 02:30 PM
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United States, ID, Boise
Joined Jul 2013
93 Posts
Per the AMA guide on large model aircraft (520-A), LMA 2 is aircraft between 77.3 and 125 pounds. This plane is right at the upper limit.

Flying Site Standard (All sites must meet this standard for LMA-2 & LTMA rated airplanes)
a. The minimum distance between the take-off/landing path and the pilot line shall be 50 feet.
All other flying, including practice flights, shall be performed at a minimum
distance of 200 feet to any spectator.
b. Minimum set-back distances may be reduced at AMA sanctioned events if the
Contest Director determines that safety of participants and spectators is
maintained.
c. All other field layout and operation standards will be per the AMA Safety Code,
and Membership Manual recommendations.

There were dozens of spectators pushing the 50 foot pilot setback let alone the 200 foot mark. He should have had the room to abort the takeoff safely. The setback could have been shortened by the CD, but ultimately it is the pilots responsibility to maintain an appropriate safety margin. Considering he has had crashes with his B29's at air shows due to a engine failure, and also crashed into the runway very close to the pilot line, safety was not top priority here.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 03:34 PM
Rsetiegerd Uesr
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Everybody makes a bad judgement call from time to time. I, personally, think that Mac has plenty of good flights under his belt and the fact that this "oops" got caught on camera is not a good reason for us to crucify him. Just think if 10 people had a video camera rolling on EVERY flight you've ever made. I bet there would be a couple you weren't real proud of. I think this was really just a poor split second decision that could have ended very badly, but didn't.

It's a little disappointing to see RCG/Jason putting Mac up on a pedestal for this. Pulling the plane up in the air without enough speed to fly/have control was a poor decision. He got LUCKY that no one got hurt. Just luck, not skill. The plane had FULL right aileron and FULL right rudder on take-off. Mac was not flying the plane, it was just doing what it wanted.

Lots of us can look at the video and think what we would have done differently. It's good to discuss. It will help you react faster when you find yourself in a bad spot.

-J
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 03:39 PM
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United States, ID, Boise
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I can understand freezing at the controls. I am sure everyone has done it at least once. What I don't understand is the proximity of that many people to the flight line. Poor judgement by the officials as well as the pilot.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 03:41 PM
Shut up and fly
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United States, CO, Firestone
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really. people just can't be happy that no one got hurt. luck or wishful thinking doesn't matter. what real matters is his action caused no harm to any persons there
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papabatman View Post
really. people just can't be happy that no one got hurt. luck or wishful thinking doesn't matter. what real matters is his action caused no harm to any persons there
THANK YOU PAPABATMAN! People honestly accusations of pilot error, mechanical/electronic failure and protocol aside, every one walked away safe and sound he did what he saw fit. And because of what he did no injury was caused. Along with the fact that with a plane that size, in that situation, without a skilled set of hands on the sticks someone could have been killed. Point being he did the right thing in my opinion and hell I'd give him a medal if I could for his quick thinking and fast judgement in the face of danger.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 04:01 PM
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And they say FPV is dangerous? What a crock.

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Old Jul 11, 2014, 04:13 PM
Rsetiegerd Uesr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason W. View Post
THANK YOU PAPABATMAN! People honestly accusations of pilot error, mechanical/electronic failure and protocol aside, every one walked away safe and sound he did what he saw fit. And because of what he did no injury was caused. Along with the fact that with a plane that size, in that situation, without a skilled set of hands on the sticks someone could have been killed. Point being he did the right thing in my opinion and hell I'd give him a medal if I could for his quick thinking and fast judgement in the face of danger.
There's a reason that we don't allow criminal charges to come out of accident investigations in full scale aviation. It is vitally important to pick apart incidents in order to learn what happened and how they can be avoided later.

I am thrilled that no one got hurt. I also think Mac is a great pilot and, as I said previously, he should not be crucified for this crash.

But, that doesn't mean it isn't worth discussing the incident. Maybe the next funfly someone sees the crowd that close to the runway and they will think "Hey, I remember seeing a situation where that went badly, maybe we should fix it before we have a problem."

But for those who are saying how he saved the day.. watch the video again in slow motion. The rudder is far to the right and the ailerons are far to the right. All while the plane is crashing to the left in the tents. Mac was not flying that plane. Yes, he pulled it up over the crowd. And he got LUCKY that no one was back in the pits where it crashed. That is wonderful, but it was luck.

-J
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 04:21 PM
Shut up and fly
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United States, CO, Firestone
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so lets say he killed the engines and the plane stopped in the crowd hurting 1 person with a very minor cut. then you would be on here saying the same thing? he did save the day by inaction or luck or on purpose NO ONE WAS HURT. nothing wrong with picking it apart for next time. give the guy his due.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 04:40 PM
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The proximity of the crowd to the runway is truly absurd. Basically, everyone lucked out. going into the crowd MIGHT have been worse, but that take off and stall could have easily killed someone also. The pilot needed a longer run, and more lateral room, then maybe he might have realized, in time, that he did not have control of the aircraft. Everyone, regardless of talent level, screws the pooch sometimes, and the important thing is to PLAN on it happening. Much easier said than done, I'm well aware.
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