Sweeps at Sun ‘N Fun, Cont’d

The Sweeps plane the day after the supercell—no damage!

The claw held!

My post yesterday was rudely interrupted by the massive supercell thunderstorm complex that rolled through the Sun ‘N Fun grounds. As I was typing, a gust of wind blew open the back of AOPA’s tent–right behind me. Now I had an in-person view of the torrential rain and monumental winds. And a thorough soaking. Then a gust blew down a stack of water bottles, so I was surrounded by oh, maybe four dozen 24-packs of “Silver Springs” water. Then the power went out. So I disconnected and evacuated to the Florida Air Museum with other AOPA staff.

Now, back to the Crossover Classic’s fate. The good news is: NO DAMAGE! (There is no bad news). I watched the airplane from the tent for a while, and it rocked a good bit, but the tiedowns held. Those tiedowns–known as “The Claw”–are held into the ground by three angled pins. And they worked. Many other airplanes on the field didn’t fare as well, as I’m sure you’ve seen in the coverage on AOPA’s website. So bravo for The Claw. And good luck played a big part, too, I’m sure.

The inside of the sweeps plane.

I also credit our good fate to the strength of our new tent, and the blocking effect it–and Pilot Mall store behind us–exerted on the damaging wind flows from the west. All’s well that ends well!

I’m sending along some iPhone snapshots of the 182’s interior–and one of The Claw tiedown points–because several of you asked to get a glimpse. Sorry about the quality. Better photography will follow!
For the record, the Lakeland Linder Airport experienced a confirmed EF-1 tornado. The “EF” stands for “enhanced Fujita,” and the “1” is a damage designator. According to the EF scale, an EF-1 tornado will cause “moderate damage. Rooves can be snapped, mobile homes overturned, exterior doors lost, and windows and other glass broken.” The National Weather Service might also add, “tied-down airplanes flipped, torn loose of their moorings, and light airplanes crushed.” Storm winds in an EF-1 tornado run from 86-110 mph. The NWS recorded a downburst gust yesterday at 75 mph. Well above takeoff speed for most of the airplanes on display here.

Sweep's Seat!

  • Pat G.

    Thanks for the pics, and the update on no damage to the “CC”. I am glad to see that you all faired well, with that storm. Kind of crazy to say, but I miss the storms you get in FL. That kind of stuff doens’t happen out here on the Oregon coast!!

  • Scott W.

    Glad to hear that my new plane came through the storm o.k. Saw other photos yesterday of planes tied down in a similar fashion that made it through. The interior pics look great so far. Really looking forward to the new paint job. Glad the AOPA tent and staff made it through ok. Oh, and I like the additions to the NWS EF scale for tornados.

  • Chad

    Thanks for posting some interior pics! Given the events so far, I’m glad that I’m tuning in from the comfort of my home!

  • Rae

    The picture of the Sweeps plane tied down at Sun ‘N Fun after the tornado stands in stark contrast to that of an experimental aircraft flipped over on the nose of a jet with a dog tiedown dangling from its wing. Perhaps this will encourage aircraft owners at other venues to properly tie their planes down in the future.

  • E. Bashta

    My plane is coming along nicely….Seats and interior look fantastic….. Glad the tie downs held properly….I’m getting everything ready, but August should work out nicely for me to take delivery… Take care of her.

  • http://www.finalflight.info David Reinhart

    Some shots show “claw” tiedowns dangling from tie-down ropes still attached to the aircraft, so I’m really glad the ‘sweeps plane wasn’t damaged. Anybody know if anybody was using the “Flyties” system and how those fared?

  • Ron Schreck

    To be fair, all types of tie-downs were pulled from the ground by the EF-1 tornado, including the screw-type “dog” tie-downs and the “claw”. The cast aluminum legs of many “claw” tie-downs broke off during the storm. I was lucky. Planes parked on both sides of mine were overturned. Moral of the story: all bets are off when a tornado hits but good insurance coverage can ease the pain.

  • Steven R. Russell

    “Luck” and “fate” had nothing to do with it. We learn from the Old Testament book of Job in the Bible, that God is on His throne, and that Satan must approach God and obtain permission to cause such destruction.

    I do believe that with all the problems in America and around the world today, that God is trying to get America to wake up and acknowledge Him.

    • Steven

      Dear Steven,

      Did you not notice that this an aviation related web site? I personally believe the Tooth Fairy is causing all the problems around the world, but I don’t post my belief on totally unrelated sites. Neither should you.

      • Tired of the Religions

        Thank you sir. Your sanity and clarity is most welcome.

        • Bernie

          I believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the responsible deity here. All Hail Pasta!

          • Jon

            Russell according to the bible only angels have wings and can fly. Therefore Me + 172 = Angel. YAY!!!

  • Bill Polits

    I’m thrilled the AOPA’s sharp Skylane survived! Nice shots of the beautiful interior – but I didn’t see a fire extinguisher. With all the press about inflight fires lately (e.g., http://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/AVwebInsider_Fireblog_204261-1.html), I trust you’ll be installing a halon fire extinguisher if you haven’t already!

  • PapaMilano

    Rooves? I had to look that one up. Such a word doesn’t exist. Anyway, glad to hear most everyone was uninjured.

  • Bill Velie

    Glad the beautiful sweepstakes 182 survived the storm, great interior. Keep up the good work