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Re: Getting out after a crash

On Sun, 26 Jul 1998 12:31:22 -0700 Joe Stack <joestack@technologist.com>

>I'm left pondering a problem to which I haven't seen a good answer.  =
>This matter of getting out of the airplane after a forced landing has 
>me =


First, yes, both the gull wing and clam shell doors have a tendency to
open when the locking mechanisms are released. We do know that the
plane(s)  will continue to fly from an aerodynamic standpoint in both
cases. Use of a slide latch on the interior sides of the doors could
prevent them from opening with the locking pins retracted. However, that
would not have been any good in Hughs case. There are two large hinges
that would have to have been dealt with in Hughs accident. He was in a
marsh and the doors would not have swung open even if the door latches
were released.

Bill Richards had an off field landing that literally destroyed his
Velocity. He had a clam shell door that opened for him after the crash.
Velocity's own Jeff Baker had an off field landing damaging the
undercarriage and belly of the Elite but was able to open both gull wing
doors. (These are just two of several off field landings where occupants
egressed through the doors.) I personally think the idea of carrying some
means (what have we been talking about, $80 maximum investment?) to
overcome the rarer situation of not being able to open a door far
outweighs re-inventing a functional system that has demonstrated itself
as being operational in a greater number of adverse incidence than not
being operational. 

It is kind of like we know cars can and do catch fire in a percentage of
accidents...by a land slide majority we don't have manual or automatic
fire extinguishing equipment installed in them though, do we? Your cars
would definitely be in the minority if they are so equipped. 

If you feel the need, the drive and the desire to redesign the door lock
system to facilitate your personal design criteria, by all means, do it.
And if it is cost competitive with the current design plus the cost of an
ax, I'd consider incorporating it in my next airplane. Fair enough? This
'perplexing situation proposed for solution' ("problem")  has a simple
and inexpensive answer... along with your oil rag, screw driver and
pliers, carry a small ax.

I do not want to down-play your concerns. Forethought and proper planning
does more to prevent situations than anything else.  I'll accept the risk
of not being able to open the door with the handle. If I can't get out
that way, you better believe I'll pull out that trusty ax!
I may be a fool, but I have accepted the risk of being caught in a
burning car for 30 years. At least the plane has a fire extinguisher if I
am trapped in it on the ground. 

Safe and Speedy Construction,


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