Are Vintage Aircraft Rides Safe?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by JayFreddy, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    That's simply a great design. And so are these Stearmans.

    I know the B-17 has lots of rabid fans, but the amount of time and attention that went into the fundamental design was fairly minimal. Nobody in 1935 ever imagined we'd still be trying to fly around in these. And I still say, the way the product was put into such massive production emphasized readiness for war and not longevity. And Toto's Dad is right, when things go wrong and you lose power, you're in desperate trouble.

    If the men who did the preliminary design engineering on the B-17 could speak to us today, they would tell us "Look, we took it as a given that a certain number of these things would crash and everyone on board would probably die. But if we didn't move forward and get these planes into service, many more people would die and they'd be our citizenry. We did the best we could with the limited resources we had." IMO there was no amount of inspections, maintenance, etc. that the Collins people could have done that would make a B-17 anything close to the level of reliability and safety of American or Swedish planes constructed after say, 1980.

    In other words, if you applied the same metrics of the B-17 to the 737 Max models, those wouldn't be grounded at all. None of these 737s. Even if 8 of them had gone down, all on board lost, that was the calculation we were willing to make - and find acceptable.
     
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  2. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I think it's the same plane, the one in the recent tragic accident, that came here three or four years ago, along with a few other WWII aircraft.

    upload_2019-10-4_11-23-11.png

    A friend of mine got to ride in it. I didn't, but I would have without hesitation. These birds are beautifully restored and maintained, and the pilots are well trained and experienced.

    Something catastrophic happened. It will take the FAA some months to investigate and report, and until then all we have is speculation. I am very sorry for the victims and their families.
     
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  3. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    That chance I mentioned can be large percentage or low percentage. Problems that can happen anytime you fly can be due to metal fatigue, engine failure, wiring/electronics/computer failure, control failure(electronic for new aircraft), weather and plain old wind shear.
    Flying should never be taken for granted. Sure, many times can be boringly safe, but the carpet can be just as easily yanked out from under your feet.
     
  4. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    GS3A3624-Final-X2.jpg [​IMG]

    I've been on Nine-O-Nine twice. This picture is Nine-O-Nine's cockpit from 2016, my brother has a massive print of it hanging in his house. Both times I heavily debated whether to take the flight. I didn't give a lot of thought to danger because I am generally very rational and I'm very aware that I'm way more likely to die driving the car to the airport than I am flying. Mostly I never took the flight cause $350 for 30 minutes is really expensive!

    But I hadn't really thought carefully about the maintenance risks. I've been to the Collings Foundation HQ as well, they are a non-profit historic foundation, I don't think "greed" is a big factor here. But it is really really really hard to keep a B-17 flying in 2019. That makes it a lot less safe than a modern aircraft. They can't necessarily make engineering improvements for safety to a B-17 or they risk not being able to fly it. The regulations are complex and very difficult to deal with. Collings Foundation is trying to keep some examples of the F-4 Phantom flying and they are having an extremely hard time with that due to parts & regulations.

    I don't think it's at all fair to compare modern military aviation with WWII military aviation. Today's military flights are going to be VERY safe if they're doing a job as easy as shuttling people around. The modern planes have all the same extreme engineering as civilian planes, and the crews in our armed services are very likely the absolute most skilled/safest crews in the world. But military flying is not the same as civilian flying, they are operating much more dangerous missions. If I went to an Air Show today and the USAF was offering joy rides in a C-130 or C-5 or something I would not feel like that was dangerous at all. A Two seat F-16 ride might be a different thing cause an F-16 is indeed designed for a much more dangerous mission and operates in much more dangerous mechanical conditions. But I'd probably still take the ride cause that F-16 would be very likely to be one of the most well maintained craft on earth and the pilot would be one of the best trained pilots on earth.

    This is a really sad accident. It is very good to keep in mind B-17s were designed in a different era and safety tradeoffs are very different today. WWII was an existential threat. We have nothing like that today.
     
  5. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    My uncle was a waist gunner on a B-17 over Europe, got a couple wounds over the time he spent in one, but made it home without crashing. Most of the Bombers that did crash during War Time were due to enemy fire. After the war, many were used for weather planes, Coast Guard or Fire Fighting duties and served with great service records.
     
  6. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Military aircraft of any era have to be taken care of. The more complex the machine, the more draining the maintenance responsibilities. It just seems to me that no one but the government can afford the resources and manpower to maintain complex military machines. Eventually corners could be cut. I'm not sure what happened in this accident, but I could imagine a B-17 being a very difficult machine to keep healthy and happy.
     
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  7. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Non Combat losses were huge for planes back in WWII as well. Flying was super dangerous then compared to now.

    I think Nine-O-Nine did have some modern equipment/avionics for safety. Don't really remember what though. It had modern radios for sure, you can see them in my picture. There's a glass MFD on the pilots side too, that wasn't original!

    I would imagine this is the ends of the rides. But hopefully Collings Foundation can continue to do their tour. It is 100% worth a visit just to sit in the planes on the runway... I highly recommend visiting their tour if they come to your area.
     
  8. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Maintenance Hourse Per Flight Hour... always higher on military craft. Generally gets lower as time goes on and engineering improves. The Maintenance load on a B-17 is enormous.

    They know what they're doing but a B-17 will never be as safe as a modern plane.

    It's kind of a moot point.. there are very few flying B-17s left. There were 5 left that still had an FAA registration to fly, now there are 4. There are a few more with airworthiness certificates but that aren't registered. With Nine-o-Nine gone there might never be another chance for a civilian to ride in one. It's likely over and done with.
     
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  9. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    I didn't say greed was a common factor. I said that it could have been.

    It's pretty clear what happened with the 737 Max. It's not so clear what happened to 909. Please don't put words in my mouth.

    The two poles here, as I see them:

    "Everything is working fine. People die every day. You take a risk just getting out of bed in the morning. We don't need any new regulations."

    "Antique planes should be in a museum, not in the air."

    Personally, I'm somewhere between these views.

    I don't think a ban is appropriate, but I do think people need to be more aware of the potential risks.

    Having passengers sign a waiver of responsibility is meaningless if there is no way for them to calculate the risk relative to flying in a modern plane.

    Did you read the article?

    I didn't realize that the gas tanks weren't self sealing... Not a good way to die.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  10. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Holic

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    Are Vintage Aircraft Rides Safe?

    Yes indeed - even more safe in Airships ! o_Oo_Oo_O:confused:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    On this short original footage with soundtrack, you have the Graf Zeppelin starting a flight over Switzerland Alps. Listen to the 5 Mercedes-Benz motor starting after the commander bell signal... :cool:



    OK. I love Airships... :)

    A+!
     
  11. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

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    I read the article; engine problem reported, request to return to airport, touched down on airfield, and then drifted off runway to crash into de-icing complex. Sounds like the crash occurred AFTER touching down.
     
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  12. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I hope not because I still haven’t taken my ride in the Yankee Lady!
     
  13. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Before Wednesday's crash, vintage World War II-era bombers are listed as having been involved in 21 accidents investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board since 1982, when its database began. Three were B-17Gs. All those crashes killed 23 and injured one before the latest accident is included.

    To Jennifer Homendy, who is leading the NTSB crash-investigation team in Hartford, the toll was already too high — especiallysince her standard for a safe plane is zero incidents.

    "I think 21 incidents is tragic and 23 deaths is completely unacceptable," she said in an interview.


    This seems like a biased statement from the NTSB, and is troubling given that the investigation just started. These people were given a safety briefing and signed a waiver. There is no doubt that this particular type of flying has dangers. These people accepted the risk inherent in flying in military-grade aircraft maintained by civilian organizations. Holding private aviation to the same standards as commercial aviation seems like an overreach to me. IMO.
     
  14. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    That's a great cockpit shot.

    Good point. A lot of WWII planes weren't completely safe when they were new.

    - D
     
  15. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    If Germany did not have a restriction on acquiring Helium, aviation history would have been very different.
     
  16. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The pilots crashed it on the airport grounds.. NTSB has to worry about what happens if they crashed it into downtown Hartford.

    One of the WWII Bombers crashed into a skyscraper (in NYC?) back in the day in bad weather. It was not pretty.

    You could have a near 9/11 level accident with some of these planes.

    Also you gotta keep in mind the guys who are current to fly these planes are getting really old. To find someone new to fly it you pretty much have to find a pilot who is ex-military and then spent a ton of money to train them up. It is not easy.

    It is too bad cause all this stuff is really amazing from a historic standpoint. I really love going to airshows.

    The group that was flying this plane does amazing shows where they stage mock battles with WW2 tanks and stuff like that.

    A couple years ago we went to an event where they drove lots of old vintage cars around, including Al Capone's actual V-16 Caddilac, they staged a chase with a vintage Mass State Police cruiser. Awesome stuff.
     
  17. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    Right. I wouldn't even categorize it as an airborne incident. Be interesting to see the final, hopefully unbiased, report.
     
  18. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    A B-25 hit the Empire State Building.

    [​IMG]

    - D
     
  19. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Like I have always said, no pleasurecraft of any kind on vacations.

    The conveyance to get you to your destination?

    Why sure. Because you have to get there.

    And flying is statistically way safer than every time you get into your car.

    - But sightseeing the canyons of Hawaii in a helicopter?

    - An overnight sleep-aboard scuba trip on some “captain’s” boat?

    - A three hour tour on the SS minnow?

    - Flying around in a plane similar to the one my uncle died on in World War II?

    For fun ?

    Hell
    no on any of that noise.

    I don’t want to die two seconds after I was having fun and have my brain make that gigantic leap of - oh, I didn’t have to be here and now I’m gonna die.

    And plus - I don’t wanna die with a bunch of strangers ! Hear their histrionics and wailing , going on and on , the screaming, etc...

    Not for me...
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  20. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with your overall line of thinking, but nota bene that the B-17 was birthed in the 1930's, well before the War. The design was arguably obsolete already on 7 Dec 1941.
     
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