I had to wait some months to write this story due to some ‘insurance misunderstanding’.
It was a relaxed and calm sunny day last year on May 25. I liked to give, to our local kindly “tower girl operator” what we call the RV Grin. So at 3 pm local time we were in the air.
After a 30 minutes flight I was descending over the home field 3000 Ft. at 190 Kts and without seeing nothing I only heard a GREAT 'bang', really loud (something like shooting with a S&W 686 a .357 Magnum bullet w/o ears protection).
The condition of the windshield immediately gave me the idea of what happened. Fly the airplane, stay calm, reduce speed and power, deep breath was my automatic routine.
Fortunately the poor bird didn't enter into the cockpit. I preferred to declare a Mayday because I was worried about the structural effect of my broken plexy and concerned about my passenger; by the way she reacted in a really professional mode and this helped me a lot.
I was over the airport so it was not difficult to land safely despite a bloody windshield and poor visibility.
The propeller blade cut the bird into two pieces (you can clearly see that in the photos : the bird is in two parts and there are two impact spots on the windshield); this reduced the force so I saved my face. In my air-show routines I always wear my Gentex helmet but probably it's better having always it on.
Please let me to give tons of ‘THANK YOU’ to all the staff at Van’s in particular to Anne, Daryl, Gus and Rian; Jeff and Becky from Airplastic and Nicole from Catto Propellers. I really tested their patience and I had an incredible warm and positive feedback that gave me the energy to change the windshield very quickly (I have ‘The Pond’ factor) and to save the airshows season. On June, 23 I was ready to rejoin in flight with John Koehler and his RV-9; he was doing his Around The World adventure and stopped in my hangar for the oil change.
The windshield change process were standard, not so funny but doable (hey, we’re builders); maybe I’ll make a story with some photos.
Elena, the tower operator, had her RV Grin (before the bird strike) and she’s waiting another flight with a more peaceful landing.
The poor bird was an adult Common Buzzard (a couple were based in our airport area) only one remained for about one month, then it was lost to sight. Despite all it had more right than me to be in the air…. Making a research it could have a mass of about 3 lbs., this gives a Kinetic Energy of 4700 Joule (the energy of a 12 gauge shotgun).
Remember the hull insurance ? The german based agency denied me the damages of the broken windshield…..I tried everything believe me; now all my RV friends have another insurance company, me too.
Fly safe !