Saturday, March 26, 2011

That sinking feeling

In my list of little victories I am proud to have defeated my addiction to watching blog traffic statistics every day. To be fair, visits to this blog have become very predictable, with around forty visits per day, half of them coming from Google searches and the other half from aviation bloggers kind enough to link to some of my posts. I get an automatic notification when this blog receives more than a hundred visits in one day, which only happened a few times in the past when A-List aviation bloggers such as Aviatrix or Ben Sandilands linked to one of my stories.


One such spike occurred earlier this week, this time caused by Google searches. What search keywords drove visitors in (relative) droves to my blog? And why did most of them go read my $100 burger at Wollongong story? The answer was VH-NRF, the Archer we had flown on that day. And that's where the sinking feeling started.


A Google search on "vh-nrf" later I realised my story appeared as number 4, while the number 3 search results was an ATSB investigation report. The Daily Telegraph has the story with a few photos of VH-NRF upside-down on a suburban street in the suburb of Smithfield.


The Archer II suffered an engine failure while approaching Bankstown at the end of a flight from Ballina. It performed a forced landing on a street and both occupants and their dog walked away from the wreckage with only minor injuries. The incident happened 5 miles north west from Bankstown, which is consistent with using Prospect Reservoir as the entry point to Bankstown coming from the north. Congrats to the pilot, a forced landing in a populated area from a height of 1500ft at most is what many pilots' nightmares are made of.

12 comments:

Michael said...

I went to school with that guy (as in same grade, same school)! Crazy, i only heard about it the other week.

I think i only get about 20 hits a day on mine lol! Hopefully more soon, as my new plane is a fair bit bigger!

Mike

Brendan said...

'Populated area' is an understatement, if anything, given that it's an area of some of the most dense urban sprawl in Sydney. Not a whole lot of options in the event of a forced landing, and this would have to have been about the best result one could hope for, in a location that always makes me a bit unnerved whilst flying over.

Chris said...

My all time greatest spike was when I reported that Jennifer Hawkins skirt fell down at Westfield Miranda.

I think there's a lesson in that for all of us.

J said...

First, I agree, I'm sure they had to have quite a bit of skill as well as good luck to conduct a forced landing with such a positive outcome.

However, have there been any rumours as to the cause of the engine failure? If it is fuel exhaustion...then it's hard to know whether the pilot should be praised or not...

Brendan said...

J - There were lots of rumours over on pprune, nothing substantial though, and as per usual best left to the ATSB report...

Chris - Agree wholeheartedly.

Sylvia said...

I can totally imagine that sinking feeling when you saw what they were searching for.

The pictures on the Telegraph article are amazing.

Julien said...

Thanks all for the comments!

Actually, I didn't want to put forward my own theory on why this accident happened but since you guys mention it...

When I first read that this accident happened at the end of a flight from Ballina to Bankstown in an Archer, I also thought about fuel exhaustion and "get-there-itis" as possible causes.

When Chris and I flew from Sydney to Brisbane and back last year, also in an Archer, we refueled in Coffs Harbour on the way up and Armidale on the way back. I ran rough numbers, and Ballina to Bankstown is definitely do-able with full tanks within the legal reserves, but maybe a stronger-than-expected headwind brought them too close to the limit.

Problem is, there are not that many airfields for refueling north of Sydney along the coast apart from Cessnock (not exactly on the coast) and Taree (on the coast, but subject to someone being there and willing to start the pump for you), so it is quite easy to paint yourself in a corner if you are not super-conservative and refuel early.

JetAviator7 said...

Julien:

Remember any traffic is good traffic. I have been blogging for over 3 years now and get around 125 uniques a day now, so keep at it and you will make progress.

JetAviator7

All Things Aviation

Richard With said...

Anytime you see at plane wreck and no sign of fire, naturaly you think about fuel starvation. Looking at the picture in the article, the damages are severe, a post crash fire would not have been uncommon. Glad they're OK!

Check out and follow my aviation blog: http://planesnotrains.blogspot.com/

Dane B said...

Glad to hear that the occupants and their precious pooch walked away. Such a scary prospect for anyone who has flown an aircraft. A forced landing would be bad enough, let alone in a heavily built up area! Amazing job by the pilot :-)

CARs Deluxe said...

Agreed, miraculous that everyone walked away from this. Not all pilots could've manages such a feat, but I'm glad they're lives were in the hands of this one.

Jack Ross said...

Very interesting that you mention VH-NRF as I am the owners neighbor and have flown that plane too!