Experimenter

February 2013

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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L i g h t P l a n e Wor l d A trip through the weigh-in tent at Oshkosh '83 yielded an empty weight of 205 pounds for the prototype Sky Pup. impacted a cornfield, one wing dropped and the trike cart wheeled into the tall corn. Fortunately, sheriff's deputies were at the airport with a helicopter conducting an exercise for drug eradication. It was used to find the accident site, which could not be located at first because of the tall corn. A fire truck arrived and knocked down the corn so Jeff could be rescued. Jeff was still in the cockpit and wearing a full shoulder harness and helmet, but he was temporarily knocked unconscious by the accident. He had an open fracture of the right leg and a shear fracture of his sacrum and pelvis. He also had damage to an artery and said if the sheriff's helicopter had not been present to expedite the rescue, he might not have survived due to uncontrolled bleeding. Seven months after the accident he was walking again, but he has four plates and 16 screws in the leg and pelvis along with nerve damage in the leg. The damaged trike wing was sent out for repairs, and nothing was found that might have caused the crash. It's possible the pilot simply failed to maintain sufficient airspeed; however, trikes are generally hard to stall accidentally in normal flight modes because the control bar must be deliberately pushed well forward with both arms. 38 Vol.2 No.2 / February 2 013 The accident occurred at 9:40 a.m. When asked, Michael Theeke said he would never send a beginning student out to fly that late on a summer morning because of thermal turbulence. You can't learn to fly a trike when there is turbulence, and he felt it quite likely the pilot reacted too slowly, or perhaps had a momentary control reversal when the trike departed from normal level flight. Michael emphasized he had told the pair they should not attempt to fly until they received additional training. Ideally the instructor should be present at the day of the solo to test-fly the aircraft to ensure it is assembled properly. And finally, the instructor should be on the ground in radio contact with the pilot during the first solo flight. » Please send your comments and suggestions to dgrunloh@illicom.net. Dan Grunloh, EAA 173888, is a retired scientist who began flying ultralights and light planes in 1982. He won the 2002 and 2004 U.S. National Microlight Championships in a trike and flew with the U.S. World Team in two FAI World Microlight Championships. Photography by Dan Grunloh

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