This video post is a follow-on to the Arsenal of Democracy World War II Aircraft Flyover post that I featured in FlyBoyz last week.
This cockpit video shows the moment a pilot in a vintage WWII TBM Avenger bails out of his formation and heads for safety.
The flight was part of the May 8 flyover of the nation’s capital marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
In this video, you see the pilot open windows wider as dark smoke starts to fill his cockpit. “A 1500psi pinhole hydraulic leak vaporized in the cockpit, appeared like smoke, and prompted a decision to abort the flyover and land at Reagan DCA airport,” text accompanying the video says.
Flights were stopped at National Airport during the show and the airport was prepared for such emergency landings.
Organizers of the Arsenal of Democracy: World War II Victory Capitol Flyover said all but one plane, returned to airports in Culpeper and Manassas, Virginia, as planned after successfully maneuvering over the most restricted airspace in the country. Fifty-six vintage planes participated in the event.
“It was in perfect formation with everyone else, then it broke heavily,” said Andrew Shirley, who witnessed the emergency landing from Gravelly Point, a park at the end of the airport’s runway.
This video repeats and during the second run through, you will need to use Pause to read the accompanying text for the pilots Lessons Learned.
The Avenger pilot, Josh Wilson, describes the incident and video as follows:
This is the Emergency Landing at DCA, Reagan National, of the Military Aviation Museum TBM Avenger during the 70th anniversary of VE Day, Arsenal of Democracy flyover. A 1500psi pinhole hydraulic leak vaporized in the cockpit, appeared like smoke, and prompted a decision to abort the flyover and land at Reagan DCA airport.
The video is broken into two parts. The first is real time, the second breaks down my thoughts at the time and draws lessons learned for other pilots to learn from. The biggest lesson was how the leak presented itself in a vapor form. It moved and acted like smoke, combined with fluid heat on the legs of my passenger, it was mistaken for fire. The only differentiating feature from smoke from a fire is the smell. An electrical fire and engine fire have very distinct smells, this had the smell of hydraulic fluid. Hopefully this will help someone else recognize the difference in the future.
We were off the runway quickly and caused no delays for traffic at Reagan, fixed and flown out later that afternoon. Thank you to all who helped! American Airlines and Signature Aviation Mechanics found and fixed the problem in record time. The emergency was flown exactly as briefed for that segment of flight. To have a malfunction for that 2 mile segment when I had flown a thousand miles in the last few days and the last few years without any incidents at all is statistically impossible.
This event, especially on this day, gave a somber reminder to all those who didn’t have a runway conveniently aligned. To those who were hundreds of miles away from the nearest carrier, in enemy waters. To those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember.
A nickel on the grass.
Keep em’ Flying!
Perspective this Memorial Day.
4 June 1942
6 brand new TBF Avengers made their combat debut during the Battle of Midway. It was a fierce battle. 5 of 6 planes were lost and the 6th suffered one casualty with the other gunner and pilot injured. Now imagine that 20 year old pilot tending to his injuries, and the crewman in the back, also wounded, trying to save the life of their friend while bringing their crippled aircraft several hundred miles home. Imagine bullets ripping through the fuselage and battle damage causing similar emergencies and chaos in their wounded bird. Imagine the thoughts of the brave men who flew the next missions in the Avenger, knowing the fate of their brothers before, and the courage it took to step for that next sortie.
150 aircraft were lost and 307 men gave their lives for our flag from 4-7JUN1942 during a single battle. Several crewmen were shot down, captured, tortured and then thrown off of ships with kerosene cans tied to their feet and left to drown. Imagine half your office coworkers, all friends of yours, gone in a day.
This emergency was easy. We, The Fortunate Few, are caretakers of this living history lest we never forget.