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  #1  
Old 11-12-2019, 11:21 PM
mbauer mbauer is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Nikiski, AK
Posts: 366
Default Sept. 14, 2019 Open Canopy

Sept 14, 2019 was a very nice day here in Kenai, Alaska. Temp was mid 60's, a great day for washing and waxing the RV6 before winter sets in.

A full day was spent at the tie-down. Finally finishing up around 1830 hours decided to take a short flight as it was still in the 60 deg F range.

Just washed and waxed, so had a great pre-flight completed for the controls/skins.

After moving my vehicle to the parking area, walked back and did a "quick" pre-flight, just in case.

Feeling a little tired, decided it would be a short flight. After attaching myself to the RV using my seatbelt/shoulder harness, grabbed the checklist and read through it.

Did not verify a couple of items, just read through the list......Was tired and wanting to fly, but ready to go home as well. Once again verified this would be a short flight, conditions were as perfect as you can get in Alaska this time of year, so lets get moving!

Called Ground and received taxi instructions. Run up and time to take the active. Tower cleared me for takeoff and away I went.

Smooth air no bumps, what a great day for flying. No clouds the view was excellent. Now where to go?

Flew North towards Nikiski where my home is, then decided to fly over and see if a friend was having a barbecue. Sure enough, a couple of friends were parked in his driveway, decided to get some speed up for a fly by.

A slight descent and soon was doing 200mph. BANG!

At first I thought the RV had exploded! Wind noise was present, just sat there thinking the plane was finished, it was very violent experience.

As the senses came back realized the canopy was open. How did that happen?

The RV was trying to dive rather abruptly. Applied normal back pressure on the elevator to correct. There was no pressure on the elevator, it did not work. That sensation created the urge to pull the stick all the way back "FAST".

While this was happening decided I had better make a call to the Kenai Tower and explain what was happening, loss of elevator effectiveness. Left finger on the push to talk, right hand reducing power.

Tower replied and cleared me to return to any runway.

I remember looking at the airspeed while in the nose tuck, it was extremely close to redline.

Approx. 2/3 of elevator pulled and the RV leveled and then started a climb. Once leveled I reached up with my right hand and grabbed the d-latch for the roll bar and pulled like crazy, it came way down and the elevator came back with a rush.

Now established in a climb, was able to almost close and re-latch the roll bar handle. As the airspeed dropped below 140mph, got the roll bar latch to close.

Now time to get scared. Looking around it was very obvious to see why the canopy opened.

Reading the checklist and not verifying that the side latch was closed, caused a very sobering lesson. Pay Attention to the checklist!

Being tired, fat dumb and happy is not a very good reason for reading a checklist and not checking physically what you are reading.

Good thing I had plenty of altitude for the flyby, main reason why was able to spend precious seconds wondering what had happened, during the nose tuck.

Was caught flat footed, head not in the airplane.

Interesting thing, I could hear each of the several instructors, from years past, who admonished to keep flying the airplane.

Boy did I get my head back into flying quickly, as everything was going downhill!

Rather embarrassed, when arriving at the runway with fire trucks and ambulance waiting for me. Even after calling to let them know the canopy was closed. The ambulance followed me to parking, after a short conversation all was good.

A week later received a call from the FAA located in Juneau. Not much to talk about, the caller said he had investigated a couple of fatal RV canopy open accidents, and was very happy to be able to talk with me.

One thing, was not able to latch the side lock. It just wouldn't close in flight, flew back at 80kts to ensure the roll bar stayed shut. Actually held it closed most of the way back!

Performing a post flight inspection, the struts were bent a little. No, problem as I have new ones ready for installation.

After an evening thinking about what had happened, decided to go back and do a very through post flight. The last I looked the airspeed was near redline, not sure if RV reached it, so decided to check everything with a flashlight and magnifying lens.

Besides the struts, found out that it warped the front edge of the aluminum canopy frame. Popped paint loose on the canopy frame, it was catching on the fuselage lip where the canopy rubber seal is. Using a screwdriver to re-shape the aluminum fixed the issue.

Been up several times since then. Each time before taking the active, verified that the yellow ball is LOCKED!

Best regards,
Mike Bauer
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Mike Bauer
N999SN 1998 Syd Nelson RV-6 (purchased 2017)
UTC -09:00 Alaska

Last edited by mbauer : 11-12-2019 at 11:27 PM. Reason: typos
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2019, 06:14 AM
kaweeka kaweeka is offline
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Roseville
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Thanks for posting and reminding me that complacency can kill. Glad you didn't end up a statistic.
David
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  #3  
Old 11-13-2019, 08:48 AM
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Snowflake Snowflake is offline
 
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Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbauer View Post
One thing, was not able to latch the side lock. It just wouldn't close in flight, flew back at 80kts to ensure the roll bar stayed shut. Actually held it closed most of the way back!
This was my experience as well when I took off without latching the side latch and realized it half-way to my destination when I was wondering where the extra wind was coming from, and found I could see daylight under the front corners of the canopy and over the forward half of the side rails.

At that point the D-handle was centered and secure, and the only thing holding it was the cotter pin at the top of the shaft on the D-handle. But it did hold until I got back on the ground.
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  #4  
Old 11-13-2019, 06:50 PM
nilberg nilberg is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Katy, TX
Posts: 217
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Thank you for sharing.
Prudent use of checklist is the first barrier, I also plan to install microswitches on both lock mechanism with a big red CANOPY OPEN light on my panel.
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  #5  
Old 11-13-2019, 07:00 PM
JohnD.TF4 JohnD.TF4 is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2
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Glad you are OK. Was this a tip up (forward) canopy?

I just heard of an RV-12 that had the canopy open on takeoff. The pitching moment threw the aircraft into the runway killing the pilot.

Thanks for sharing.
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  #6  
Old 11-13-2019, 09:30 PM
mbauer mbauer is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Nikiski, AK
Posts: 366
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Quote:
Thanks for posting and reminding me that complacency can kill. Glad you didn't end up a statistic.
David
Thank you for the kind words!

Quote:
This was my experience as well when I took off without latching the side latch and realized it half-way to my destination when I was wondering where the extra wind was coming from, and found I could see daylight under the front corners of the canopy and over the forward half of the side rails.
At that point the D-handle was centered and secure, and the only thing holding it was the cotter pin at the top of the shaft on the D-handle. But it did hold until I got back on the ground.Snowflake
Going to look at that cotter pin, haven't noticed it before, Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Quote:
Thank you for sharing.
Prudent use of checklist is the first barrier, I also plan to install microswitches on both lock mechanism with a big red CANOPY OPEN light on my panel. nilberg
Exactly what I'm thinking, some kind of warning switch would be great. Thinking back to my summer flight down south, it was hot and I cheated by taxiing with the canopy unlatched till runup was started at runway, now realize that I had set myself up for failure. Truly lucky didn't forget to close and lock... A warning light probably will help! Thank you for the suggestion!

Quote:
Glad you are OK. Was this a tip up (forward) canopy?
I just heard of an RV-12 that had the canopy open on takeoff. The pitching moment threw the aircraft into the runway killing the pilot.
Thanks for sharing. JohnD.TF4
A tip up. When it opened it rose about 6-inches. Must have blanked out some of the flow over the elevator, as the elevator was almost full back before it worked.

>>>

I have been reading more of the probable causes. Realize how very lucky my experience was/is.

Could only imagine what would happen if upside down doing a roll. Don't ever want to find out!

Thank you all for reading, hopefully it helps us all to check those latches!

I'm a pilot that has lots more to learn about these RV's, they are fun and give big smiles, but they can bite if not handled properly!

Best regards,
Mike Bauer
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N999SN 1998 Syd Nelson RV-6 (purchased 2017)
UTC -09:00 Alaska

Last edited by mbauer : 11-13-2019 at 09:32 PM. Reason: fix quote issue
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  #7  
Old 11-14-2019, 12:12 PM
jfogarty jfogarty is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 116
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Canopy is latched and locked, check three times before take-off! Thanks for sharing your experience.
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