Aviation In Canada

Monday, February 07, 2005

Low Flying

One of my favorite ideas when I think of flying is flying low. I haven't yet done it. I was taught early on to be paranoid about the lone engine on the nose of my plane, and I believe rightly so. If it were to fail, I can't exactly pull over to the side of the road and wait for help. Without someplace to put down, trees, rocks, and maybe water make the "parking spot" a little more likely to cause a problem.

Apart from my paranoia of an engine failure and not having enough altitude to glide to a semi-decent place to "land", there are other issues. Obstacles that may be difficult to see from a distance through a lightly scratched windshield, high tension power lines, even a flock of birds scared by your engine noise as you approach who rise unsuspectingly out of the tree tops into your path. I've had a number of close calls with birds on take-off and landing and often wondered just how bad a windshield impact would be on a C172. The show "Mythbusters" took on that subject, and their whole test was stymied by the fact that their PA28's windshield wasn't even rated to stand up to anything, let alone a large bird. I found a website with some short items about wildlife strikes, which included incidents such as coyote strikes on the runways on take-off and landing, and other such issues. There are numerous bird strike reports, everything from "little airplanes" to B747s. They're an interesting read, and give an idea of how disastrous a bird strike could be. Could your windshield withstand the impact of a 5 pound seagull? Have a look at the link below for those reports, even if you just scan and see a couple.


A log entry from the military base at Edmonton/Namao's tower logbook reported on the effects of a C130 hitting a coyote on the runway:

"Coyote zigged when he should have zagged. Herc 1, coyote 0"