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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC] Final Words in Big Sky


Thread: [IAC] Final Words in Big Sky

Message: [IAC] Final Words in Big Sky

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From: Klein Gilhousen <kleing at>

Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 23:26:40 UTC


  The Big Sky of Montana wasn't big enough last Sunday for Jim Gier's little
airplane, a Pitts S2B.  Today Jim Gier was laid to rest.  We were able to
put together a missing man formation for his funeral consisting of my
Yak-54, an Extra 300L and two T-6's.  This mix of planes was certainly
appropriate to Jim's aviation interests.  I think it looked pretty  good
for a such a mixture of types.  We flew it as a diamond with the Yak in the
lead (the only position I was qualified to fly), the Extra in trail and a
T-6 on each wing.  The left wing T-6 soared into the sun as we flew over
the cemetery.  We were followed (at a decent interval) by a Cessna snapping
some pictures.  

The accident investigation is in the report writing stage now.  The remains
of the planes have been stored (for possible evidence in future litigation
(God I hope not needed)) as the FAA and NTSB are finished looking at them.
I suspect that it will come down to "pilot error, both pilots, i.e.,
failure to see and avoid."  

So what is to be learned from this?  We must always keep in mind that these
high performance airplanes with symmetrical airfoils cruise with a
significant nose up attitude making it difficult to see directly in front.
Biplanes and monoplanes are both subject to this visibility limitation.  So
what can we do?  Just keep that nose moving around, up and down and
s-turning all the time so you can see what's in front of you.  This also
has the advantage of making your airplane more visible to the other guy as
you will be creating glint opportunities that don't exist when you're
flying stably in straight and level attitude.   Moving around also gives
you a better chance to see in every direction, not just in front.  Moving
around also turns the view of your airplane into a moving dot, rather than
merely a growing dot to an airplane on collision course with you.  Yeah,
you go a little slower, but it's also more fun to enjoy the airplane's
maneuverability even in cruise flight.  I had been thinking about
installing an autopilot in my Yak but now I'm not so sure it's a good idea.  

To correct one earlier error, the other airplane involved in the mid-air
was a Cessna 206, not a 182.  

Klein Gilhousen
Chapter 110, The Big Sky Chapter 

p.s. Thanks to all those who have replied by phone or e-mail.  


© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn