"If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible."
-- R.A. "Bob" Hoover
As recently discussed in this post, my friend Steve Cavallo had occasion in late June to deposit his Cessna 210D behind the boardwalk in Robert Moses State Park on Long Island after a total engine failure. Here is a news photograph of the result:
|N3973Y - Photo (c) and courtesy of Fred Miller|
To me, that picture speaks volumes about airmanship of the highest order. The airplane is resting in a confined space, at the very end of the available run, gear wisely left up and with a minimum of bent metal. In one of the press reports of the incident, the helicopter-borne reporter takes breathless note of how close the airplane came to the boardwalk and parking lot. This amused me as I was thinking, "Ol' Steve put that bird just exactly where he wanted it."
The quote below is from Steve's contribution to NASA's Oral History Project:
"[NACA Langley] also had [circa 1943] a rocket testing facility at Wallops Island, Virginia that required transportation service. To get to Wallops, we needed to fly a Grumman Goose Amphibian into a creek. The creek was a body of water about 50 meters wide and 2500 meters long which ran parallel to the ocean and was about 150 meters from it. The sand strip between was where the testing facility was located.
I was checked out to fly into the creek and it became pretty much my specialty. I got very proficient at landing and taking off into that small area, in all kinds of wind and current conditions."
The whole interview makes for compelling reading. But for now, I think it's fascinating to note that while Steve was slipping that Grumman amphib into confined waters over 65 years ago, and putting it just exactly where he wanted it, he was building up the experience and airmanship that allowed him to survive a close call and walk away just two months ago.