What the Heck Wednesday - Mid-Air Collision

This week on What the Heck Wednesday we have two giant warbirds trying to occupy the same airspace at the same time and it ends in one of the most spectacular crashes we've ever seen.

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What the Heck Happened?

This week on What the Heck Wednesday we have two giant warbirds trying to occupy the same airspace at the same time and it ends in one of the most spectacular crashes we've ever seen. The video below was captured at the Weston Park Model Air Show back in 2017. It shows a couple of Austrian WWII fighters putting on a great demonstration for the crowd. There's some really nice down on the deck passes with smoke on and everything is going great until it starts raining balsa and parts on the runway. These are obviously great pilots, but sometimes mistakes get the best of us. So what really happened?

Which planes caused the crash? Was it the low plane who pulled up or the high plane who drifted left? Break it down and tell us what you think went wrong on this flight?

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Oct 14, 2020, 08:37 AM
Multi-Platform Pilot
barracudahockey's Avatar
Ouch
Oct 14, 2020, 08:41 AM
I'd rather be Flying
davecee's Avatar
As the planes pass the center of the field the Corsair has a good lead and they appear to have at least some horizontal separation. As they progress to the right it appears the FW is faster, it's catching up to the Corsair and perhaps there is less horizontal separation. The FW starts a gentle pull up with the wings level, so we can assume it is staying on track (probably). The Corsair is somewhat out of sight for a second, but it appears to at least jink to it's right just a bit and then initiate a steeper climb than the FW, which has caught up to it by now. Thus the Corsair flies into the flight path of the FW. So, you could blame the pilot of the Corsair, but really it's just some guys zoomin'and boomin', there's no real blame to be placed.
In real RC life I personally feel mid-airs are just bad luck. I accept no responsibility and will give no compensation for a mid-air and cast no blame and expect nothing from any other participent of a mid-air to which I am party.

We have a saying at our field. "I don't want you to crash, but if you're gonna crash anyway. I sure as don't want to miss it!!
Last edited by davecee; Oct 14, 2020 at 09:00 AM.
Oct 14, 2020, 09:04 AM
Design Engineer
Mid-air collisions are always interesting. Watching back in slowmo, I have a couple thoughts.
First off, these pilots are clearly part of a demonstration team and are used to flying together. I'm sure they've run this formation a thousand times without a hitch. This just happened to be the last time for those two planes.
Second, I know that when I'm flying, I tend to get tunnel vision and focus solely on my plane. It gets hard to see other objects around my plane. Namely; other planes, trees, hillsides, the ground... I'm sure even professional pilots like these guys fall prey to this at times too.
Third, maybe its just me, but when I'm flying I tend to have a hard time with depth perception. As the plane is not in physical contact with anything, I find it hard to estimate exactly where it is in relation to objects around it. See the second note: trees, hill.
Now on to my thoughts of the crash. We have the Corsair in the lead followed up by the P-47 (I think. I'm probably wrong tho, so we'll call it "the second plane". Maybe its a F6F or F8F???).
The second plane is clearly flying much faster than the Corsair and comes up quickly on its tail. From the shadows we can see that the second plane is a few feet to the right of the Corsair, but as the planes prepare to come out of the low pass, the second plane creeps to the left and over the Corsair. The second plane then starts to pull up, I assume to avoid a collision with the Corsair. Looks like the Corsair pilot notices the potential issue and nosed down a bit to avoid coming up under the second plane. But once the Corsair looks to be clear of the second plane, the Corsair pilot begins to pull up and out of the low pass. The two planes clearly aren't as far apart as the pilots may have thought as we can see from the shower of balsa splinters.
So, who's to blame? Maybe both and neither? The pilot of the second plane was coming in too fast and got way too close to the Corsair, and the Corsair pulled out of the low pass while the second plane was still on top of it.
This is just one of the potential hazards of flying in a gaggle. While it looks amazing from a viewers standpoint, as a pilot, it is a constant struggle to not have a midair crash. Its funny, when you are in a combat gaggle, trying to hit others, it almost feels impossible. But when you are flying in formation, trying to not hit, it feels like you are constantly about to crash.
This is just how it goes. The flying was great, they just happened to get too close at the wrong moment.
Oct 14, 2020, 09:52 AM
Registered User
I find it hard to blame the Corsair pilot, he was overtaken and destroyed by the FW, who should have been watching where he was flying.
Oct 14, 2020, 09:52 AM
Team of ONE....or...Team Me
DeadTom's Avatar
I agree with what SavageX89 has stated. I will assert that the Focke Wolfe should have gone to the outside to avoid this from happening (Team Protocol). Most unfortunate for both pilots.
If this were an Air Race like Reno the overtaking plane must pass to the outside and higher than the overtaken plane.
Oct 14, 2020, 10:34 AM
AKA Terry Till
ex-racr's Avatar
So who gets the kill, the German or the Frenchman??
Oct 14, 2020, 12:34 PM
Registered User
Angelo's Avatar
When you fly formation type flights, this is always a possibility. Those who think this was avoidable aren't considering how fast this occurred, there was really no time to respond. Someone said the pilot should have been looking ahead. Which pilot? How far can you "look ahead" and still control your own plane? One plane is a little faster, one pulls up a fraction sooner, Boom! It's easy to armchair quarterback this, but if you do this kind of flying, you're going to have a midair sooner or later.

P.S. - Another reason I like cheap foamies. It must be gut-wrenching to have all the work put into these planes disappear in a second.
Oct 14, 2020, 02:54 PM
Registered User
DesolationAngels's Avatar
Negative Ghostrider.. the pattern is full.
That's what happens man.
Was the reward worth the risk?
All that time and money into these models.
Risk management.
Oct 14, 2020, 04:52 PM
Registered User
radfordc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SavageX89
Now on to my thoughts of the crash. We have the Corsair in the lead followed up by the P-47 (I think. I'm probably wrong tho, so we'll call it "the second plane". Maybe its a F6F or F8F???).
Man, you didn't even get close! Second plane was a FW-190
Latest blog entry: Assembling a Spandau kit.
Oct 14, 2020, 04:59 PM
Registered User
radfordc's Avatar
I don't think either of the accident planes was turning....they both looked wings level all the way. This means that they entered the fly by on converging paths that led to the collision. The only way to absolutely ensure that a mid-air never happens is to keep "blue sky" all around your plane. That means never having another plane and yours visually superimposed on each other. As long as you can see blue sky you can't be hit. But, of course that is very difficult when you fly in close formation like these two.

BTW, did you see how fast the P-47 that flew through the debris pitched up. I'm sure he needed a change of underwear.
Latest blog entry: Assembling a Spandau kit.
Oct 14, 2020, 07:08 PM
Registered User
That's why a good spotter is handy.

The Corsair pilot just needed to hear two words from their spotter... "stay low"

Fault wise, the pilot of the faster plane is usually looking ahead of their plane, more so than the pilot of the slower one looking behind their plane. So the FW shouldn't have flown over the top of the Corsair.
Oct 14, 2020, 07:55 PM
Old's Cool
The vehicle being passed always has the right of way in aviation, boating, auto racing, cycling, etc. Don't see where that would be any different here.
Oct 14, 2020, 08:09 PM
Entropy is happening!
Jim.Thompson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honjo
I find it hard to blame the Corsair pilot, he was overtaken and destroyed by the FW, who should have been watching where he was flying.
My thoughts too!
Oct 14, 2020, 10:24 PM
Modeling Retread
Warbird gaggles are not for the faint hearted. They’re all about thundering around at the highest speed you can maintain and thrilling the crowd. The action is super fast and these crashes happen routinely during these events. It’s definitely a sword or shield activity.

It’s easy to find fault with a slow motion or frame by frame analysis. Neither pilot is at fault, they’re just not lucky. Human depth perception is only good for 50 to 60 ft, beyond which everything is learned.
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