Airshow pilot Sean Tucker recently had a serious in-flight emergency. At about 100 feet off the ground, he heard a snap as his control stick broke free. Without elevator or aileron control, Sean managed to use just his trim and rudder to get the airplane climbed up to a safe altitude where he could try to troubleshoot the problem.
Unfortunately there was no way to save the airplane, which Sean was understandably very attached to after flying countless airshows together. In an interview after the incident, he called the airplane “the most magical piece of equipment I’ve ever gotten to fly in my life.” He was forced to bail out, and fortunately he came out without a scratch and no one on the ground was hurt. Sean had the presence of mind to burn off as much fuel as he could and consulted with his ground crew to find an uninhabited area to let the airplane crash.
Read the full story on AvWeb, including videos of Sean talking about the incident afterwards. Be sure to read and watch the hair-raising story of how he exited the airplane, got a big dent in his helmet and briefly was hung up on the airplane’s tail as they were in free-fall together.
Sean’s actions were exemplary, and are valuable lessons for all pilots on how to deal with an emergency. Sean kept his cool, analyzed his options, got help from folks on the ground and took decisive action.