Safety in Pre Flight checks

Skytrace have full records over the last 10 years covering accident Reports and Investigations within the U.S.S.R. One aspect we would like to point out in particular is attention to loose objects in the cockpit or fuselage. Over the last 8 years we have flown various Yaks in the UK. Some have been in pristine condition operated by conscientious Pilots who are aware of the dangers involved by loosing objects in the aircraft and what the consequences may lead to. Others are not so aware and for this reason we would like to focus everyone's attention on this point.

The following crash report is taken from an incident which have occurred in Russia in 1988. It has been chosen as we believe it is a salutary reminder to us all and in the hope that it emphasises the point we are trying to make about loose objects in the A aircraft. Wording has been taken without alteration from the original translations of the documents.

SMOLENSK Pilot Sportswoman.
Aircraft YAK 52 Aerobatic competition programme.
During flight (7th Minute) after two vertical figures the aircraft control was partly jammed. At a height of 700 - 750 Metres, speed 180 - 200 kph during the transition from diving to climbing flight. The Pilot tried to control the aircraft and did not bail out even though this command had been made by the controller on the ground. The aircraft made a slow right roll and started to descend from a height of 300 -400 metres. It increased the descending angle and came into collision with the ground at a diving angle of 80 degrees and at a speed of 355 kph. The Pilot died.
REASON: There was a part of a camera jammed in the fastening lever of the elevator balancing load. This had been lost by a Cameraman in the previous flight.

Unfortunately there are many more examples that can be added to this section but making mention for now about the type of pre flight checks that can be made on the Yak 52 could at sometime in the future avoid reoccurrence.

Before flight, check inside the cockpit visually, you never know someone else could have been looking inside the aircraft while it was parked and had inadvertently dropped something. Never fly with anything in unsealed pockets, loose change, car keys etc. Wear a flying suit they provide lots of secure pockets. If you know that you have dropped something, find it. Do not decide to fly and search afterwards, it could be too late.

During the pre flight checks slap the underside of the fuselage and listen for the vibration of any loose objects within. if you hear something bounce after you slap the underside, set about finding it. Don't rely on what you think it is i.e. Oh its only a small stone off our boots etc. You don't know until you find it. repeat this slapping process along both sides of the fuselage during your walk round inspection.

Not all loose objects can be heard. Remember that some forms of plastic or foam rubber can be quite strong and very quiet in their "return" of sound. Never allow passengers to fly with you unless you have checked their pockets. The favourite is to ask if they have remembered their comb when they are getting in, most people are so concerned about leaving their wallet somewhere safe that they can forget their comb which is often to be found in their opposite back pocket! Jewellery is another favourite. The controls would just love a nice 22 carat necklace to wrap around them for example. Of course any work you carry out inside the cockpit.

Check list your tools before you start work and check them out when you finish. make sure that you're not a ball of locking wire or a screwdriver short after you've finished work. If your passenger wants to take some photographs in flight, make sure to brief them thoroughly on lens caps, film containers, how to carry them in zip up pockets and make sure they can carry out any film changes safely by having things easily accessible while the aircraft is kept at straight and level. Also remind them of the A.N.O. about articles being dropped from aircraft should they decide that they can get a better shot with the canopy open. We can leave out the references to false teeth and other "unspeakables" for now, but needless to say, please check for loose objects before every flight and never hesitate to cancel any flight if you suspect that something is lost inside the aircraft. A lens cap can kill.