Viral video of Idaho crash

August 10, 2012 by Mike Collins

Some of you have seen the footage of a plane crash on YouTube that has gone viral on some of the social media networks. Although the three passengers apparently were not serious injuries, be advised that later in the video there are graphic images of the pilot’s more serious injuries.

The limited information accompanying the video says it took place in Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and that density altitude was an issue. As best as I can tell, this is the preliminary NTSB report, which doesn’t offer many details. Nevertheless, it’s a dramatic depiction of density altitude’s effects on an aircraft that does not appear to be lightly loaded.

I’d love to read a Never Again by the pilot in this accident. I’d also love to know what he thinks about the video posted by his passengers, who apparently all were videotaping the flight. At the time of this post, the video had 338,978 views.

25 Responses to “Viral video of Idaho crash”

  1. AUpilot2001 Says:

    It’s unfortunate that the pilot made the bad decision to overload an underpowered aircraft in an extremely high density altitude scenario. However, I think having a video that so vividly depicts what the results are will ultimately save lives. This should be mandatory viewing for all private pilot candidates.

  2. Kurt Kuhlmann Says:

    If you look closely, you can see the mixture is full rich

  3. MBADAY Says:

    Great video for training, glad to see everyone made it. Sure does remind you to check your W&B and D/A prior to take off.

  4. mooneyman Says:

    The pilot had plenty of oppurtunity to land the plane when it was obvious he was not going to gain any altitude. Instead he mushed along until the terrain rose up and struck his aircraft at full power. Even if he did a weight and balance and da calculation a plane not gaing altitude should be setting off alarm bells and should prompt an immediate emergency landing.

  5. David P. Says:

    This was difficult to watch….the hair was standing up on the back of my neck. I cannot imagine keeping any aircraft on the ground for that period of time during a takeoff roll. This was obviously a Stinson 108, maybe a Staton Wagon, low power and four adults aboard. I am sure that the pilot had time in this model, so why didn’t he recognize the fact that the airplane wasn’t flying. This is a great training video, the kind we use to see in the Navy. An interview with the pilot would be terrific from a narrative and thought process standpoint. I am glad that all survived and hope that the video may save some pilot’s life.

  6. Craig Hackler Says:

    This guy is nothing but one excuse after another. I agree with mooneyman that this guy had MORE than ample time and room to get the plane back on the ground. Did he really think that he was going to clear that terrain that was looming in his widshield past those trees? Since the description of the video said that he was heading to McCall, ID, it would be interesting to see what route he was planning on taking; direct is my guess. I nominate this guy for both a Stella and a Darwin Award. My other thought is that this guy is Harry Bliss’s son, and instead of loading his Bonanza with Indian pottery, he loaded it with four adults, and then hoped for the best. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3807755308729782543

  7. Slainte Says:

    AOPA must make this a training film with a pilot interview. I fly a Cessna 170B in the same mountains. I would like to know if he had shoulder belts. Please note that the pilot had no survival gear on his body, good thing they were close to the airport and crash was witnessed. Man was resqued by forest service firefighters.

  8. Mike Pastore Says:

    After watching this video several times and having experienced instances of power loss on takeoff several times during my flying career, I have decided that it would be a great idea to incorporate partial power takeoffs in my training syllabus for students (advanced and primary). Use of adequate runway length and application of well planned go/no-go decision points obviously is important in this maneuver. But, all should experience the “endless” roll of a problematic takeoff and use that experience to judge their own decision making process.

    We are all too often stuck in that “I know I can…I know I can” mentality when taking off. This myopia can really get us into trouble on that day when when “trouble” enevitably shows up at our front door….be it in the form of bad fuel, stuck valves, or high density altitude takeoffs.

  9. Jonathon Says:

    4 adult’s weight, warm afternoon, feild elevation 6370′, rising terrain, long t/o roll, mush back down to ground at 1:00… I noticed someone mentioned they would like to hear an interview of the pilot, I would as well. However, I think this crash illustrates Hazardous Attitudes and Pilot Decision Making are at the forefront of any flight being safe.

  10. Pilot Says:

    Painful to watch- but very informative. Not much more can be said- except- last month I had an inflight engine failure (single-VFR day @7500 AGL) and got safely on the ground. Within one hour, a non-pilot friend sent me the ATC recording for liveatc.net. No such thing as flying solo anymore. Its the curse of technology. However, that iPad this pilot was using could have been configured with a spreadsheet to do his DA/takeoff roll/ t/o over 50′, etc.

    For my plane, I have built a little spreadsheet that runs on my android phone… put in the weights at each station and it builds all the calcs — I have other apps for DA and pdf copies of the performance charts stored locally on my phone. I can do the whole thing in under 3 minutes- from the FBO, at the self serve fuel island, under the wing, from the front seat or back- its really brain dead. Its handy and not really that hard to put together.

  11. Dale Says:

    I think MOONEYMAN above got it right. This pilot was a passenger on board his own airplane. He needed to have a “Plan B” before he even advanced his throttle, and be willing to do something other than maintain runway heading. While the aircraft was in ground affect, an exceedingly shallow turn could have been executed to return to the runway before he got to the trees. I know, I have been there with 4 pax in a C-172 at 7200′ and 85F. The da was a little over 13,000′ I was also young and very lucky.

  12. Russn8r Says:

    Regarding comments on overweighting — seems true by definition — but the prelim ntsb report is is pretty sparse. Is info available about what the weight was, baggage plus people plus fuel? Also, seems like it was really loafing, more than just full rich would cause.

  13. Jimbo5300 Says:

    First time I watched this……I was screaming Abort…Abort..Abort at my computer. I agree with the others here….should definitely be made into a training video. If this video doesn’t drive home the idea that you should always have a “plan B” when things go wrong, I don’t know what will. Glad everyone survived….sad that a classic airplane got trashed.

  14. tom Says:

    I disagree with some of the posts claiming he should have aborted after takeoff. Prior to rotating, definitely because the roll seemed too long, but with zero hours in a Stinson how long is normal?

    After rotating and out of ground effect over the green swampy area the plane was climbing fine until it got to the trees. They continued to climb until it got to the burned trees. That’s when it appeared to sink or the terrain rose to smite them. Hard to tell. I haven’t looked at a topo map of the area to second guess that part. Has anyone else?

    Lets hear from a glider pilot here. Which has more thermal opportunity at 2 pm, grass and swamp, green trees or dead trees? In my experience close to the ground, green beats anything else for lift opportunities.

    For those who propose the pilot screwed up by not aborting: At what point on the video time counter would you have aborted? IMHO, all was well until he got to the dead trees, then the bottom fell out and the pilot did exactly what I would do: Keep flying until the last piece stops moving.

    For those claiming the engine wasn’t leaned: Look at time 0:0:23. I see knobs that are not at the firewall. GAMA didn’t standardize knob locations until 1967, so this is for 1947 Stinson pilots only: Which is the mixture knob? If it’s the black middle one, it is not at the firewall, suggesting leaning. We also don’t know if the pilot fine-tuned mixture during the roll or after takeoff, which is the preferred method vs setting mixture a full power runup over rocks and gravel, which on a tail dragger damages the elevator with debris.

    We also don’t know if the pilot took off with a tail wind explaining the long roll, or hit a tailwind over the dead trees, explaining the loss of altitude.

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  16. Garry Wing Says:

    Lots of good comments/armchair observations here. Easy to critique/second guess; hard to say what you might do until you’re in same/similar situation. I’m using this as an example with students; many things wrong here. I found Stinson 108 wt/balance and POH on-line. Appears to be overloaded (depending how much fuel he had on board (couldn’t have been full; no fuel available at U63). DA surely played a role; it was 81F at MYL at this day/time. In answer to “Tom”‘s question/point… as a glider pilot I can tell you on a hot June day the “darker” portions of earth (dirt, roads, etc.) create thermals/rising air… then, when he gets to the nice lush/green trees — not so much. That’s one (of many) things he didn’t consider/count on. Bottom line, POH says he’s gonna need 5,020′ of PAVED runway (based on tests with a NEW Stinson in 1948); he should have aborted when he didn’t have 70% of 80MPH required when he reached 1/2-way point of runway.

  17. Pokerman Says:

    After reviewing the slo-mo just before impact with the tree, I thought I noticed the pilot messing with an iPad. Going back to when he started his roll, it looks like the iPad is on the steering wheel. Also, I never hear him shout a warning or say anything before hitting the tree. Is it possible he was distracted by the iPad?

    I would like to know if anyone else sees the same thing. You have to look at the slo-mo clip that the right seat passenger gets. You will see it just before impact when the passenger quickly looks over to the pilot. There is only about three frames that show it. I swear I see him holding onto an iPad.

    Let me know if anyone else sees it too.

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  19. Puppy training books online Says:

    About responses upon overweighting — looks legitimate by means of meaning — even so the prelim ntsb report is actually is actually fairly sparse. Is usually data readily available with what your bodyweight ended up being, fat furthermore folks furthermore gas? Likewise, may seem like it had been definitely loafing, a lot more than only complete rich would certainly bring about.

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