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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Monday, July 18, 2011 @ 01:02 PM  

http://picasaweb.google.com/brianjacare/SportairAndTheFourniers#5069519240192270786

http://picasaweb.google.com/brianjacare/SportairAndTheFourniers#5069519201537565090

http://picasaweb.google.com/brianjacare/SportairAndTheFourniers#5069519210127499698

I am sure those involved would be happy to tell their stories.

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 02:16 AM]

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jb92563
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Posted Monday, July 18, 2011 @ 04:36 PM  

Hmmmmm, no pictures!

or a RF4D buried in a snow drift
during a blizzard.

I think my RF4D is the only one that ever visited Alaska.

--------------------
Ray
RF4D #4057 N-1771 Rectimo 1400cc
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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 09:50 AM  

Hmmm.

I don't know why that didn't work, but it's all freely available here in Fournierland.
You only have to search a little.

Go to www.cfiamerica.com.
Click on the 'Fournier RF4D' tab.
Click on the 'RF4D World' tab.
Scroll down to 'Link to Sportair Scrapbook' and click on that.
Scroll down to Bembridge Air Race June' and 'Bob McGhee's Lucky Escape' and click on them for an enlarged version (although unfortunately the resolution is awfully low).

Yours, Bob

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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 10:14 AM  

Another spectacular crash was the time Neil Jensen hit the ground at the bottom of an airshow loop, sliding to a halt with a very short propeller, but very little other damage.

I don't even know which Fournier that was (probably mine, it's so bashed up).

Maybe somebody, somewhere has a photo, and I'm sure Neil would be happy to be interviewed about it under the cropped prop that still hangs in in his study today.

Yours, Bob

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Collin
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Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 11:41 AM  

Hi,

Here is a link to Sportair' Scrapbook. Lots a great pictures and early Fournier UK history.

https://picasaweb.google.com/116610528167001696241/SportairAndTheFourniers

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 01:12 PM  

Hi Guys,

I can slightly expand that reference to 'Bob McGhee's lucky escape' (see photo of RF5 tail).

Bob was a student on his third solo flight.
For reasons unknown, either his pitot or static was partially blocked, so that his ASI was seriously under-reading.
He went around from his first approach (at Biggin Hill) after floating all along the runway.
Keeping his nose down to coax a reasonable airspeed, he flew through trees at the upwind end of the runway.
The trees ripped off one half of his tailplane (horizontal stabilizer) and the other elevator (elevator).

Despite this serious damage and the ASI discrepancy, he managed to coax his airplane around the circuit and land safely.
The RF5 flew again just a couple of days later, after the hoizontal tail units were replaced.
About Bob himself, I don't know.
I would not be surprised if he quit flying after that!

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 06:37 PM]

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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 01:33 PM  

And there's an even bigger story regarding that 'Bembridge Air Race' headline.

This was one of the reasons Sportair became known colloquially as 'Splat-air'.

This is taken verbatim from Sportair's Newsletter No 25 (I think written by Neil Jensen, but maybe by Gordon Franks)...

"Isle of Wight Air Race 24th June 1972

"This, as you must surely know, proved to be something of a catastrophe for the club. Counting the HR100, we had six aircraft entered in the race. When approaching the pylon at The Needles for the first time in very severe turbulence, the RF5, G-AYBS, and the RF4 G-AWGO, collided without either pilot being aware of the close proximity of the other aircraft. Brian Stevens flying G-AYBS was lucky in that, finding himself without a propeller, he was able to make a straightforward ditching, and he and his passenger, Johnny Seccombe, were rescued by helicopter without even getting wet.

"On the other hand, Richard Ball in G-AWGO appears to have had his tail knocked off, and the fuselage severed by G-AYBS's propeller immediately in front of his instrument panel. The aircraft broke up in the air. Although Richard cannot recount how it happened, he appears to have inflated his life jacket and swum to the shore, in spite of a broken leg.

"The helicopter crew who rescued him should be congratulated on an extremely difficult rescue. He was taken to Ryde hospital, where he will remain for several weeks yet. One is aware that he is extremely lucky to be alive, but one also marvels at his strength and courage in extricating himself from the aircraft and reaching the shore.

"Although G-AYBS was largely un-damaged, she was in a pretty sorry state by the time the Lifeboat crew beached her at Yarmouth. She is now back at Biggin Hill, but it is not yet known whether she will fly again."

Neither airplane ever flew again.

Richard once recounted his story to me, and I learned the reason for the helicopter rescue being so difficult was that he was on a tiny beach right below high vertical cliffs. I also think his leg was badly gashed by the RF5's propeller, but I can't be sure.

I am sure your uncle can get more info direct from Richard.

Yours, Bob

[Edit by Bob Grimstead on Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 07:03 PM]

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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 02:21 AM  

My own (red) G-AWGN suffered a crash late one afternoon in August 1971.

Sportair’s Newsletter No 16, dated 26th August 1971 said it had met its demise ‘through what I can only describe as some diabolical airmanship’ (NCJ).

Neil later told me that Brian Stephens was called out of the bar to fly it back to Biggin Hill (and not necessarily in a straight line)

In the newsletter Neil suggested it was a write-off, but apparently it was repairable, dspite being seriously damaged and needing a replacement fuselage.

Yours, Bob

--------------------

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @ 07:19 AM  

Here is the document from the British CAA, which I requested in 2004:

sbeaver.com/Fournier/UK_Fournier_RF_Accidents.pdf.

This lists all recorded incidents and accidents to British Fourniers (RF3s, RF4Ds, RF5s and RF5Bs) between 8th May 1976 and 22nd July 2004.

It includes two cases of RF5 wings folding in flight, several cases of stall/spin accidents, many engine failures and very many instances of wheel-up landings, among many other things.

I think it will be educational to all Fournier fliers.

Yours, Bob

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jb92563
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Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @ 11:32 AM  

Bob, did the RF5 wing fold due to the wing folding mechanism not being secure/failing, or do you mean that it was a spar failure?

For documents storage online you could use docs.google.com

Its allows all kinds of documents like MS Word and Spreadsheets like Excel plus it allows you to set permissions so that other specific people can
edit them.
It's where I did the EAA article on Fourniers https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AW_PBsdamZ6gZGZxNWN4cmpfMTk0NHM0Y2s&hl=en_US

I use Youtube for video(although Vimeo does HD better once I have GoPro videos to show), Picassa for pictures and Google for documents.

--------------------
Ray
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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011 @ 04:29 AM  

Hi Ray,

Thanks for all that info.

My problem is that Compuswerve (taken over by AOL) no longer seems to accept files bigger than 1Mb.
I don't want to change, since everybody in the world (magazines, fliers, Fournicators, other friends) knows my Compuserve address.

I'll try opeing a Giggle account or something.

The in-flight RF5 wings folds (both of them -- one a fatality) were because the mechanism was not properly engaged, despite the cover plate being in place.
Be warned all you RF5 & RF5B guys.

It would be interesting to see all the FAA files on Fournier accidents too.

Yours, Bob

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Ron Smith
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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011 @ 11:14 AM  

I was at Bembridge on the day of the accident and was somewhat alarmed when the two Sportair aircraft did not complete the first lap. Shortly thereafter, the green and white Westland Wessex rescue helicopter took off (I have a photo of it doing so). At the time, I did not connect the two events, but it soon became clear that something had, indeed happened to the aircraft.

We got to know Brian pretty well, my brother Jim staying at his house on one occasion when they needed a couple of extra hands to work in the hangar at Biggin Hill. Brian drove (vigorously) a VW van that was registered SLEnnnP (I don't know the numbers represented by the 'n's), which Brian liked because the Dahlemer Binz factory was in Landkreis Schleiden, which meant the German car registration plates in that area also started with 'SLE'.

SteveBeaver
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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011 @ 12:52 PM    YIM

Far and away my favorite from Bob's document:

Pretitle :
Occurrence : D&D CELL REPORT PILOT LOST. POSN FIXED USING VHF/DF & FLT CONT VFR

Precis :
A/C WAS OVERHEAD AIRFIELD. PILOT SUSPECTED HIS COMPASS WAS FAULTY.

(D & D cell is the UK "Distress and Diversion" unit who help lost and distressed aviators)

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011 @ 01:42 PM  

Hi Steve, Guys,

Thanks for posting that link, Steve, and I've cut'n'pasted all your other internet advice for future reference.

Those accidents make interesting (and often slightly scary) reading.

One thing that impresses me time and time again is that there is one sure way to kill or very seriously hurt yourself in a Fournier, and that is making a low-level pull-up into a turn.

Fourniers may have very low drag, but they also have very low mass, and even the higher-capacity engines still have extremely low power.

And that excellent NACA23012/23015 aerofoil/wing section has a high lift/drag ratio, good C of G tolerance and surprisingly good inverted performance BUT it effectively gives no warning of the stall.

Combine that with a Fournier's very light elevator forces and effective pitch control, and it is so, so easy to find yourself turning at maybe 45-60 degrees of bank at 60-70mph and flicking into a low-level spin from which there can be no recovery.

Make no mistake, many, many Fournier pilots have died this way.

Mike Butow died that way only a couple of years ago.

The blood-stained rear fuselage of F-BMKC in my garage is a constant reminder of an anonymous Frenchman who went the same way.

Dave Bland similarly has the back end (cockpit-aft) of an RF4D that came to grief similarly, and there are many more where those came from.

Please guys, if you learn anything from those accidents, it is to make any 'low' passes at 500 feet, keep your engine at full power, keep your airspeed high and turn very gently afterwards.

The RF4 is one of the world's nicest-handling and most benign aeroplanes, but turn exuberantly at low level and it will bite you hard.

That's all I'm gonna say about that -- except maybe consider adding a second, louder horn to your stall warner light, so that you can hear it while looking outside. That's a dead-simple ten-minute mod that could well save your life.

Yours, Bob

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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 @ 10:46 AM  

Hi again Guys,

The British Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) have very kindly dredged this accident report from their archives.

Ref: W/G72/072

Aircraft: Fournier RF4 G-AWGO; RF5 G-AYBS

Date & Time: 24 June 1972 at 1242hrs GMT

Type of Flight: Private

Location: Near the Needles, Isle of Wight

Nature of Damage: Both extensive

The aircraft were taking part in the round-the-island air race. Immediately before the ‘Needles’ turning point G-AYBS had caught up with G-AWGO and was positioning for the Pylon Turn at a height of 350 feet and about 75 feet below ’GO. Both aircraft then encountered severe turbulence and the pilot of ’BS reported that he had difficulty in maintaining control and lost sight of ’GO. There was a crash as he came out of the turn and the aircraft spun. Recovery was effected after one and a half turns and the aircraft was ditched without injury to the two crew members.

The pilot of ’GO survived the collision and although severely injured swam to the shore.

Just the bare facts, but those are exciting enough!

Yours, Bob

--------------------

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 06:47 AM  

The easiest way to kill yourself in a Fournier...

Or any other aeroplane...

This is Peter Goldin’s verbatim account of what happened to Mike Butow.

Background.
Mike was a cautious flyer and in the 2 years that I flew with him he never did anything risky. We flew most of the time together and he didn’t do much aeros compared to myself. He stuck to the basics. Spins, wingovers and loops.
On that day we arranged to meet at 07.00 and go from there.
One can only surmize that Mike didn’t eat breakfast or drink anything/much.
If he did eat it would have been a spoomful of muesli at about 5.30-6.00.
We flew to Orient, leaving at 8ish and arriving at 9.
It was a hot day. We had a cup of black coffee with sugar at 9.30.
At 10 we decided to leave and I took off first, at 10.15
Mike took off 5-10 mins later and the rest is as below (its an extract of an email)
I surmise/guess that Mike was dehydrated and possibly hypoglycaemic (spelling?) and the black coffee and sugar may have triggered it and caused Mike to to become disorentated, because when he did the teardrop turn around he was low and slow according to eyewitnesses. Normally he would have a good turn of speed after takeoff if he was planning on a fly by.

His wife said he wasn’t an eater.

Sunday
Yesterday I went to fetch my plane, got a lift with Sam to Randburg, then with this guy Kobus to the airfield where he hangared my plane.

Met the guys there, nice bunch, and the guy that Mike and I had coffee with before he crashed - Gavin. He was one of the eyewitnesses and he described to me exactly what happened, which is not what I thought I remembered, except for the last part (3-5secs) which is accurate. Gavin said that Mike took off and then turned around in a teardrop manouevre which meant he came back from the direction in which he took off. He said he was low and slow at 200-300 feet, and then started a climb into a wingover at a low airspeed (which is what I saw from above) from which Mike just spun (1/2 turn) straight into the ground. Gavin said that the whole thing looked wrong from the outset. It sure was. He said it literally was 3 seconds or so from start to finish. That’s the part I actually saw. Gavin said I was very much higher than Mike at the time.
But it does clear up what actually happened, apart from the totally inexplicable out of character behaviour, except for a senior moment, for want of a better phrase.

I repeated what Mike did on my flight back to Springs approx 12 times at various entry speeds and kept tabs on height loss. What I found was that at 100mph one could easily recover with virtually no loss of height. At 80mph one got the half spin to vertical. The aircraft hit at 110mph indicated and 2200rpm, which means a low initial airspeed (as per witnesses) and no power which is consistent with what Mike and I would do in a tail chase where he would pull up and over, reduce throttle, let the nose fall through and off we'd go. But in the tail chases we would be flying high and quite fast.
So if Mike was behind the aircraft there was no chance at all.

Lessons? Look after yourself. Make sure you are hydrated and reasonably well fed, especially when you get a little older.
Mike would have been 60 on 17 Oct.
Fly well Mike.
Peter

Peter also said...
A previous friend who also had a Fournier learnt to do his aeros by following me, good formation flyer. Lost his life in an airshow at Swartkops flying an Extra 300. He inherited a pile of boodle and went and bought one, he was good too, but crashed doing a swoop by and turnaround manouevre in high winds, about 30+kts, something we used to do together and I nearly came short on. He did a pass in front of the crowd, into wind, pulled up and through 180, and sank into the ground level under full power. Another 20 feet.......

Take care out there guys.

Yours, Bob

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Bob Grimstead
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Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 10:48 AM  

Sadly Richard Ball, the pilot of 'WGO in the Isle of Wight Air Race crash died a couple of weeks ago.
Matt & I attended his funeral.
So I guess we'll now never have any more details.
Except that I do remember him saying that after the crash he always had a runny nose, and had to keep dabbing at it, consequent upon injuries sustained during that crash. I think the RF5's propeller chopped along WGO's upper fuselage, slashing down on Richard as it went, cutting his face and gashing and breaking his upper legs.

I also guess that Matt's uncle is never going to get around to writing that proposed book, despite the huge volume of info we've posted here, so this will probably end up being the repository of all Fournier history in the English-speaking world.

I do hope it's all backed-up at least twice somewhere, so we don't lose it!

Yours, Bob

--------------------

Bob Grimstead
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Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 11:02 AM  

I say above that the most common cause of fatal Fournier crashes is probably the low-level wing-over, but Matthew has another theory.

He has pointed out that, although the RF4D is very benign in the stall in most configurations, there is one in which it most definitely bites. At Matt's suggestion, I recently experimented, and he's quite right.

With the wheel up or down, the throttle closed (or propeller stopped) and spoilers fully extended, if you turn slightly out-of-balance, and then pull back the stick too far, it will flick into a spin.

This is even more pronounced if you happen to be slipping deliberately in this configuration.

You can catch it if you're expecting it as I was, but I suspect the unwary would lose several hundred feet in a stall/incipient spin like this off a turn on to final approach.

The favourite circumstances for encountering this would be one day when you're not quite on top form, so you forget to lower the wheel.
As you turn on to final approach, you discover that, despite having full spoiler, you're still high on the glidepath, so you add some rudder for a slip.
...and 'BANG' you're a (shallow) hole in the ground.

If you ever feel that your are oddly high on the approach, or gliding down final approach better than you expected CHECK THAT THE WHEEL IS DOWN!

As Forrest Gump would say, 'And that's all I'm gonna say about that'.

Yours, Bob

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Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 11:10 AM    YIM

Automatically backed up and emailed to me every Saturday night
Jorgen
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Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 05:01 PM  

Hi Fournieteers,
great thread! I've been out of town, working in Arvika a bit further north in Sweden, probably somewhere along your path between Dala-Järna and Rygge in Norway, Bob. Last winter I had spectacular ice sailing there and met Peter Adrian, a german gliderpilot that married himself into Sweden so to say. He flew RF 4s in the 70-ies out of Oerlinghausen, close to a wooded ridge; the "Teutoburger Wald". Last Sunday he told me about an incident were he stalled and almost killed himself flying slow on the downwind leg probably encountering severe mechanical turbulence from that ridge during a strong easterly wind.

I learned to fly in hanggliders, so I definetly agree with you Bob that low mass is something to consider if you want to avoid a stall close to ground. Close to ground is were you will encounter mechanical turbulence when it's windy. I've been lucky on a couple of occasions but I certainly have learned to bring some extra kinetic energy (=more speed) with me down into that turbulent ground layer!

May the 4's be with you/ Jörgen

P.S. Thanks Steve D.S.

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