Flight Training - May 2021 - 14

PREFLIGHT FLIGHT LESSON

BY DAVID HENSLEY

JUMPERS AWAY

A PARACHUTIST LANDS JUST FEET AWAY FROM THE SPINNING PROP
WHAT HAPPENED

This was one of her early solo jumps,
and according to other skydivers she had
fixated on the Cherokee and landed right
toward it.

ON A BEAUTIFUL AUGUST MORNING IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE, WE

14  FLIGHT TRAINING MAY 2021

TAXI TIP

SPATIAL
AWARENESS
It's not just for flying
Keep your eyes up and
head on a swivel not
only while flying-but
also while taxiing.
Knowing where you are
in relation to runways,
taxiways, other aircraft,
pedestrians, and ground
vehicles will keep you
from swapping paint-
or worse.

LEFT: SARAH HANSON; ABOVE: STEVE KARP

decided to visit one of the nearby airport pancake breakfasts in
our 1967 Piper Cherokee 140.
An early start would help avoid the heat and humidity that
was sure to be prevalent as the day progressed. My co-owner
Steve and I met at Tullahoma Regional Airport (THA) to fly to
Guntersville Municipal (8A1) in Alabama, about a 40-minute
flight in our speedster.
The Tullahoma airport is a busy place on most weekends.
It's common to see skydivers, gliders, helicopter operations, and
other general aviation activity successfully sharing the airspace.
After the preflight, I checked the tetrahedron, and, although the
wind was minimal, it was pointing to the north. I heard a distant
Beechcraft Baron entering the area with intentions to land on
Runway 36, so I taxied out to do the runup.
I heard the Baron entering downwind for Runway 36, and I
heard the skydivers' jump plane pilot announce, " Jumpers away. "
The jumpers land in a large grassy area around the middle of the
field. I taxied short of the runway hold line and angled the airplane about 45 degrees into the wind. I completed the pre-takeoff
checklist, pulled the power back to 1,000 rpm, and stared out the
left window looking for the Baron pilot who had just called final.
Suddenly, our airplane shuddered, and the engine was stopping.
My first thought was that someone taxied into us from behind. As I
looked out front, my heart sank, and I remember saying, " Oh, no. "
There was the silky material of a parachute draped over the
propeller as it was slowly rotating to a stop. I thought someone had
just died or had been seriously maimed. Steve opened the door as I

turned off the magnetos and master switch.
I heard him talking to someone on the
ground, and I thought, That's a good sign.
The skydiver was a young woman,
about 20 years of age, and she was asking
if our airplane was OK. Steve told her not
to worry about the airplane. I was getting
out of the airplane and the skydiver was
trying to get to her feet. She looked to be in
shock, and who wouldn't be?
The skydiving ground crew soon
showed up and assisted the jumper back to
the hangar. Miraculously, she had no injuries. This was one of her early solo jumps,
and according to other skydivers she had
fixated on the Cherokee and landed right
toward it, like a moth to a flame. She had
landed just feet away from a moving propeller and was unscathed.
Steve and I got back in the Cherokee
and started it up. We ran the power up to
check for any unusual vibrations, and having found none, we had just about decided
to take it around the pattern when someone
called over the radio and told us there was
an airworthiness directive that prohibits
flight after a sudden engine stoppage until
the engine can be torn down and inspected.
I kept thinking about whether there
was anything I could have done differently
to avoid the situation. As disturbing as it
was, I could only be thankful for the way
things turned out.
After this episode I am more careful
when I hear the call, " Jumpers away over
Tullahoma, " whether on the ground or in
the air. Experience with the jumpers had
given me a false sense that they were not a
factor in routine operations at the airport,
but I will be more paranoid in the future.
The jumper missed her landing area by
about a half mile with plenty of room to
the left or right of us, but somehow she
ended up just feet from our propeller.



Flight Training - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - May 2021

Contents
Flight Training - May 2021 - Intro
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover1
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover2
Flight Training - May 2021 - Contents
Flight Training - May 2021 - 2
Flight Training - May 2021 - 3
Flight Training - May 2021 - 4
Flight Training - May 2021 - 5
Flight Training - May 2021 - 6
Flight Training - May 2021 - 7
Flight Training - May 2021 - 8
Flight Training - May 2021 - 9
Flight Training - May 2021 - 10
Flight Training - May 2021 - 11
Flight Training - May 2021 - 12
Flight Training - May 2021 - 13
Flight Training - May 2021 - 14
Flight Training - May 2021 - 15
Flight Training - May 2021 - 16
Flight Training - May 2021 - 17
Flight Training - May 2021 - 18
Flight Training - May 2021 - 19
Flight Training - May 2021 - 20
Flight Training - May 2021 - 21
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Flight Training - May 2021 - 24
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Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover3
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover4
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