Jan 28

11 Dead in Greek Plane Crash in Spain

A French serviceman who was severely injured when a plane crashed at a Spanish military air base on Monday died in hospital in Madrid on Tuesday, bringing the death toll from the accident to 11 people, a ministry of defense spokesman said.

“A French serviceman died this morning at La Paz Hospital,” said a spokesman.

The accident occurred at a base used for NATO training when a Greek F-16 fighter plane crashed after taking off in Albacete, Castilla-La Mancha, about 250 kilometers south-east of Madrid.

The plane hit French and Italian planes and service personnel in the parking area.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed condolences to the loved ones of the victims of Monday’s crash.

“This is a tragedy that affects the whole NATO family,” Stoltenberg said.

Jan 28

Pilot Robert Greig, killed in plane crash, could fly almost any aircraft: friend

Robert Greig died in a light-plane crash. Photo: Facebook

A pilot killed in a light-plane crash was highly experienced and versatile, and capable of flying almost any aircraft, a friend says.

Robert Greig, 57, died when his camouflage-coloured “home built-style” light aircraft crashed into thick bushland near Wollongong about 7.45pm on Tuesday.

His mobile phone helped police pinpoint his location on Wednesday morning after a widescale search by authorities in bad weather conditions. 

Killed: Pilot Robert Greig. Photo: Facebook

Mr Greig, from Balgownie, had four decades’ experience in flying and had amassed thousands of hours in the air.

He had left Wedderburn Airport, near Campbelltown, and was making his way to Albion Park when he ran into bad weather.

The father-of-two became separated from another plane with which he was flying and crashed in the rugged terrain.

The question of why he and the tandem pilot set out in Tuesday night’s “marginal” conditions, remains.

“That’s something that will be clearly subject to our investigations, Superintendent Kyle Stewart said.

“It would have been a very complex manoeuvre to have pilots flying in the conditions that they were flying in last night had they not been equipped appropriately to do so, and/or trained appropriately to do so.”

He said there was no sign the aircraft had structural problems.

Reeling from the loss of a club member and fellow aviator, Wedderburn Sport Aircraft Club president Bret Cavanagh said Mr Greig’s loss would be felt deeply throughout the close-knit community of pilots.

“Robert was widely known and widely liked, it’s a club of like-minded friends so he was a friend of everyone at the airfield and we’ll all obviously miss him,” he said.

He said Mr Greig was a highly experienced and versatile pilot.

“He was in fact a dual licensed pilot. He had a general aviation licence and a Recreational Aviation Australia licence as well,” he said.

“He has flown countless different aircraft over a long time; he was a highly competent pilot.”

Mr Greig’s passion for flying was “irrepressible” and his absence from the club would be noticed by all, Mr Cavanagh said.

Recreational Aviation Australia chief executive Michael Linke confirmed Mr Greig was flying an amateur built aircraft.

He said the RAA administered more than 3200 aircraft and had more than 10,000 members.

“One of the privileges of being a member of Recreational Aviation Australia includes the freedom to design and build your own aircraft. These amateur built aircraft comprise about a third of our fleet and are used for recreational private flying only.

“While members are free to build their own aircraft, there are processes of oversight to ensure safe standards are adhered to.

“In 2014 almost 30,000 hours and over 43,000 landings were flown in this category of aircraft across the country.

“All training is conducted in factory built, certified aircraft.”

The Illawarra Mercury

Jan 28

Bolt failure probable cause of June plane crash

The failure of two quarter-inch bolts were the probable cause of a June plane crash that left one Helena Valley resident with minor injuries, according to investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board released its findings earlier this month on the June 7, 2014 crash that flipped Jerry Maykuth’s Savannah VGW, causing extensive damage. Two bolts holding the nose wheel fork sheared during touch-and-go landings, causing the wheel to bend back and the plane to flip, the report said.

While he agrees that the bolts failed, Maykuth, who built the plane, said failure occurred due to overload rather than shearing, meaning they were undersized to withstand repeated use.

Regulations required that he only use hardware supplied by the manufacturer.

Maykuth was knocked unconscious but only required medical attention at the scene. The crash occurred on the seventh touch-and-go landing while testing the plane, he said.

“I had no sensation of anything,” Maykuth said, adding he has made more than 500 landings. “I came down and next thing I’m hanging upside down with a woman there but can’t get me out of the seat belt.”

Maykuth called it a miracle that the plane did not catch on fire because the plane slid upside down with the gas caps skidding across the turf.

“If there’d been a fire, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

Maykuth, 80 at the time of the crash, planned to fly the plane for a few years and then sell it. He is licensed both as an FAA aircraft power plant and airframe mechanic. Early in the design phase he had concerns about the plane’s structural integrity, he said.

Maykuth started building his plane in 2011 with a hanger to house it. His first flight was on Nov. 18, 2013. Early flights were aborted due to fuel pump issues. After getting the plane flying well, he then noticed what he believes was an improper bend in the landing gear.

“When I built the aircraft the wheels tilted out, indicating the gear wasn’t strong enough,” he said.

Some measurements of the landing gear also did not meet manufacturer specifications, he said.

Maykuth also expressed concerns to the manufacturer over the size of the bolts on the landing gear, which later caused the crash, the NTSB report said.

Those concerns were ignored, and the manufacturer never issued any bulletin warning of design issues, he said.

The Savannah VGW is manufactured by Italy-based I.C.P. Srl. Attempts to contact the company for comment were not returned.

Maykuth said he may consider filing legal action against the company.

The plane is classified as a light-sport aircraft in the U.S., but an ultra-light aircraft in Italy. Italy does not investigate ultra-light crashes, Maykuth said, leaving the number of potential European crashes unknown.

The FAA and NTSB do investigate light-sport crashes. The NTSB did not travel to inspect Maykuth’s plane in person, using photos to formulate the report.

Flying a light-sport aircraft is much different than other small aircraft, he said. Because of weight, the engine must be cut closer to the ground than other aircraft to land safely, he added.

In order to become proficient in light-sport, Maykuth took more than 12 hours of instruction, he said. He began flying in college in the early 1950s, he added.

The NTSB report eliminates pilot error as the probable cause of the crash, which Maykuth appreciates in the small community of Helena area pilots, he said.

“Building a plane is something I wanted to do for 10 years,” he said. “This has been a really emotional ordeal.”

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