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Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, LeoBa Media, New York

Leo Suresh, Leoba Media

Farewell to the American Prince

 
  Investigation & Speculations

The wreckage is now laid out in a hanger in Cape Code. So far, any part malfunction before the plane hit the water or anything broke apart or any in flight fire was not detected. The main cause of the accident can be either weather conditions or pilot error or both.

Some speculations:

Hazy weather conditions and low visibility at night. With broken feet, he might not have been able to put the amount of weight at the crucial time on the rudder.

The wreckage in a concentrated area like a baseball sector, leads the conclusion that the high speed entry into water and it might not be broken in the air. He might have had too little time and very low altitude to pull it away from the water. That may be the reason, he never made even a distress call. Everything seemed O.K. until the last minute or he might used his radio to ask for vectors, route and altitude recommendations.

Ten seconds of distraction could be disastrous to veer the small plane. To stall this airplane and get it into a spin takes a lot. The pilot could get vertigo, not know which way is up or down. Night over water in a single engine aircraft without an instrument rating leave you have no option in an emergency.

Another aspect is that he might've traded fuel weight for luggage weight. He took off with passengers and luggage. Unlike the small engine Cessna, fuel is not drawn from both wing tanks simultaneously in Piper Saratoga. It used a switch in the cockpit to change tanks as one becomes empty. What happens if one is unaccustomed to requiring a change of fuel tank?

According to NTSB statistics, 83% of fatal accidents happened when new pilots fly in bad weather, lose their bearing and spiral to the ground, the so called 'graveyard spiral'. By definition, its a series of ever tightening turns that crock screw a plane towards the earth. By the time the force of gravity begin to warn the pilot, the plane is falling, the instinct to pull up only makes the spiral worse. "What you have to do is suspend all your instincts, figure out what the gauges are doing, then allow the airplane to continue to head towards the ground for few more seconds provided enough altitude but try to turn it, turn the rudder and the steering column to get it straight. Then with the presence of mind pull it back up," experts said. Very tough to do, tough to do in a plane hurtling towards earth more than 5000 ft/min, especially when the altitude is a meagre 1100 ft and in the dark.

 

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         Trivandrum, Kerala, Pattom, Pettah, Attingal                                          Leoba Media, New York