Pilot's tip of the week

Escaping a Box Canyon


Subscriber question:

 "What is the best way to get out of a narrow box canyon? Might a chandelle be an answer?" - Anonymous


“Of course, don’t get in a box canyon is the easy answer for this one, but that does not answer the question.

Box canyonWe are all aware of the accident over the East River in New York City wherein the pilot was unable to turn around in the available space and struck an apartment building. A sad and preventable accident.

Our first choice to get out of a box canyon, of course, is to climb out of it. And by the way, that was an option in the NYC accident. It would have resulted in a violation of airspace but would have been a lot better than the end result in that case.

If we can’t climb out of the canyon, then we need to complete a 180-degree turn in the shortest distance possible. To do that, we need to turn into the wind with as steep a bank and at the minimum safe airspeed as possible. By the way, in the NYC accident, the pilot turned downwind.

So how many pilots are really ready for that kind of maneuver? Steep bank, low airspeed…that’s not something we practice very often.

A chandelle as practiced for the commercial and CFI flight test would not be the answer as the turn is started at maneuvering speed (faster than necessary) and the bank is limited to 30 degrees.”

Next week’s tip: Ice warning from ATC?

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