P-51 Engine Out, Off-Airport Landing - full analysis

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FlightChops : So much to learn from this one! Thanks for sharing!

steveo1kinevo : With having to make a decision I think it would be easier to have a complete engine failure.

Donald Parlett jr : That is the truest comment "fly the airplane to the end"

Graham Aindow : We saw him very low on downwind, with flaps down, but no gear...and no power from the engine. I guessed he was gliding as he had not put the gear down due to the extra drag. I presumed he was going to put it down the other side of the M11. However, he banked steeply, put the gear down, which seemed to be dangling down but not locked. He was trying to line up with the runway, but realised he was too low and not going to make the necessary turn. He was now heading straight at all us spectators on the east pan near the ARC hangars. I just remember thinking...this is not going to end well! The pilot then did an incredibly brave thing. He banked very steeply to the right, so as not to hit the motorway or us spectators. Now, I'm not a pilot, but I have got a lot of hours in the back seats of Harvards, when my friends had them some years ago. I know enough to know that low, slow, with no engine, in a heavy lump like a P-51 does not allow for steep turns. The pilot was sacrificing himself to save all of us. He disappeared behind the ARC hangars and we all waited for the fireball. Thankfully there was no plume of smoke. Total silence from the spectators. A lot of very concerned faces. Then the announcement...'The pilot is out of the airplane and safe'. A HUGE cheer and round of applause from thousands of us spectators. Mark Levy deserves a case of beer from every spectator on that pan.

Archularal : "Wishing is not a strategy", that goes so far beyond aviation advice. Great video.

zap2002 : Great piece of advice for owner-pilots like myself. The airplane has let you down. Don't try to save it. Save yourself.

Joseph DuPont : I tell you what... next time your guys are flying a P-51 and lose an engine you can show him up....ok..

oldshumi : From the canopy camera angle I thought that he crashed really hard and probably rollover. But from helmet camera it looked pretty good Great job! Glad that pilot walked away

TWANGnBANG : My grandfather was one of only about a dozen men to fly both B17s and P51s in combat during WWII. He flew a complete combat tour in B17s in 1943, then returned in early 1945 as commander of a bomber scout squadron that flew P51s out in front of bomb missions to view the intended targets and feed recon to the bombers already in flight. After landing several B17s on fewer engines than he started with, he absolutely hated flying the single-engined P51s over the English Channel. In fact, the only losses his and a sister squadron ultimately had were due to engine failures because the Germans had so few fighter planes left that late in the war.

/M0ther_bra1ned/ : This is probably the most amazing thing I've ever watched on Youtube. A professional pilot, making life or death, spur of the moment decisions, and landing a P-51 on its belly in a field!

Josip Vrandecic : Without dramatization and waving hands, without raising the voice, it was useful to listen two smart people .... because after this interview , and I feel ''important and clever''.Thanks so much to Air Safety Institute.

Lotophagi : mmm... Easy to criticize. But as a glider pilot with maybe 50 or so forced outlandings the thing that strikes me is that the decision to make a forced landing needs to be made early. Not trying to squeeze it into the home field and begging for "another 100 feet". There looked like plenty of fields where a controlled landing could be made. Make the decision in good time, stick to it, and do a good approach. A good approach into a bad field is better than bad approach into a good field. Go over to the local gliding club (Cambridge for Duxford) and take a field landing exercise ride in a motor glider with an instructor - it may save your life.

Ace Pilto : If the engine fails, the plane belongs to the insurance company!

WeeBooBeep : What a great story, hell of a call to turn away from the airport when you're THAT close to the runway, 10/10 I would've stalled my ass onto the crowd just short of field

Gforce237 : 27:37 That stiff neck didn't come from the yaw, it came from the 300lb canopy doing a hand spring off the back of your head. 2:32

Gareth Williams : Great video and analysis! I had a partial engine failure on takeoff on Labor Day last year. Off airport landing in the dry river bed adjacent to the runway. FLY THE AIRPLANE as far into the crash as you can. I managed a perfect point landing (vs stall & spin). But I was in a Stearman, so couldn’t retract the gear :-). Nosed over on impact - no way to avoid that with all the brush and bamboo acting like the arrester wire on an aircraft carrier! Word to the wise...get as slow as possible...crash impact varies as the square of the speed. My big learning...landing upwind (I could have) at 40 mph would have been far preferable to downwind (at 70 mph). I’d still have nosed over and ended up hanging on the straps...but maybe I wouldn’t have broken my back! And for all the armchair critics out there who haven’t been through an engine failure...notice just how quickly everything happens in that last 20 seconds. The ground rushing up at you is scary...made the hairs on the back of my head stand up watching this. Since my engine failure was at 250ft into climb out, I estimate 20 seconds was all I had start-to-finish. Reactions have to instinctive and decisive...there’s no time to think and figure things out! I’m a fellow Brit who used to live near Duxford, by the way...proud of my fellow countryman!

Frank Anzalone : Can we get an update when we find out why the engine died

Doug Hanchard : Great interview. Good decision making and breakdown of sequence of events. The Merlin / Packard can be problematic with both the carburetor and ignition systems. The fuel pumps are pretty reliable. Very strange engine behavior. There are no indications of a bad cylinder, Magneto misfire, broken valve or supercharger failure. Air in the fuel line, vapour lock, clogged filter, fuel tank blockage do seem unlikely given the gentle turns and level flight envelope flown. Really couldn't ask for more than what Mark Levy explains. Good luck on your return to the cockpit of the P-51. Have a nice flight!

Paul Dalley : So glad he DIDN'T try for that turn from base onto final and the runway. As I was watching that I was thinking - dont push it dude, get it down, dont push it dude, get it down. He so made the right decession in NOT trying to reach the airport (and crossing over the car traffic) and instead landing in the field. My heart was in my mouth when I saw the runway from that base angle. So glad he accepted the situation he was in and dealt with it as it was and not as he wanted it to be. "Three's down and safe". Well done that man!

Kenneth André Hansen : Absolutely fantastic! This is by far the best aviation-related video I've seen on YouTube (and I've seen quite a few). The emergency landing is itself one hell of a ride to watch, but the discussion afterwards is what makes this video; so much knowledge passed on in such a short time is a feat in itself.

AJI DJI : 13:15 for the biggest lesson/killer in this entire video.

escarfangorn : When he talks about "chimp's brain" it's 1:1 the same as when riding a motorcycle and what Keith Code has been preaching for years. That's why I practice on my own whenever I have any time and go on a track at least twice a year to teach my chimp brain propper reactions. You can get oversaturated quickly on a motorcycle in a tight spot. :/

Dave Johnson : By the way, never land cross grain on a plowed field.

Robin White : Excellent discussion. My rule for an emergency landing is "No gear until the landing is assured." I don't care who is saying what in my headset. And you're totally correct: an intermittent failure is much harder to deal with. Your analytical, problem-solving side is having a tug of war with your natural instincts for hope. I had that happen (and interestingly enough, in my Navion), when I had an inflight engine failure at altitude over Connecticut. One moment everything was humming along. The next, sputtering, vibration, then silence. The engine had been newly overhauled (so of course it must be water in the fuel, right?). I traded airspeed for altitude until I hit best glide (90 MPH in the Navion at my weight), switched tanks (no change), hit the boost pump (no change), made sure the magnetos were on both (no change), then gave up and started downhill in the direction of the nearest airport (which I could see). Then, the engine restarted. Hope reared its head as I clawed back the altitude I'd lost. Water in the fuel after all! I turned away from the nearest airport towards my destination, just forty miles away. A few minutes later, it happened again. Rinse and repeat. I flew a sinusoidal, up and down wave pattern all the way home, passing many good landing options along the way. The engine running fine, then quitting. Running fine, then quitting. I landed at my home field (BAF), taxied to the FBO and the mechanic I knew would be on duty there., and shut down. He determined I had only one functioning cylinder (out of six), that the rings were coked with burned oil, and that oil getting by the stuck rings was shorting out the plugs, causing the engine to die. When the plugs dried a bit, the engine would relight. But there was no denying my newly-overhauled engine had cooked itself near to death. It turned out the overhaul facility in southern Ohio (since gone out of business) had not reinstalled my intercylinder cooling baffles, causing wonky airflow and overheating. There is no doubt I should have landed early and not pressed on for home. It was not "water in the fuel". Serious problems do not fix themselves. In other words, I was not smart. But I was lucky.

Fixer Upper : Awesome interview. Nobody could have done better without hindsight.

GR45 : It would have been close but probably could have made the airfield...but had he turned right out of the formation looking for speed and altitude on a direct path to the airport, he'd have made it easily...but like he said...the startle factor turns your brain off for just long enough to let you make a bad decision...thank god it turned out okay though

Nimrod Quimbus : Helmet fires can be a real big problem

John Kamm : Great video, should be a just see for every pilot..........fly the plane as far as possible.........thanks Bob Hoover !

outwiththem : Why popping that gear down when low and almost no power to reach the runway and a sharp turn to final is coming too. Gear is the last thing i needed at that moment. That could have been a great save. And for the critics, i had to do that same kind of approach for real on a Piper Aztec with one engine out and feathered. Put some flaps for the turn, but left the gear for the end, Made it with the trucks pointing the Foam Cannon to me (That cannon scared me more than the landing).

Mad Cat : All good decisions, the airfield was right there but the aircraft was not going to make it over the road losing energy in the turn so you overcame the "I gotta get there" response and flew the plane to touchdown in the field, as my instructors always said, Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Shame about the aircraft but that can be rebuilt. 👍

Michael Washington : My Lord, I need to buy him a beer!!!! Awesome video, very calm sir....

bob4jjjj : Mark you made the right choice, there is a lot of maybes but only one outcome. You survived and no one on that busy road saw a p-51 coming through their windscreen. Shame the engine didn't give one last burst of power on the turn, you might just have made it. You called it and made the right decision, no human casualties and one bent plane. Thanks to the camera I almost felt I was in the cockpit with you. Things are a lot easier to repair than human bodies. Good call. Safe flying. Hope to see you fly the p-51 some day.

GTiR23 : Could listen to these two talk all day, great save pilot.

SMOBY44 : 100 feet to stop! That's a number any bush pilot would love to make! Great pilot. I'd put my life in this mans hands any day in any plane!

peelreg : A friend lost an engine a couple minutes after take off. he as gliding into a nice field and put the gear down. The plane then sank quickly and he landed short, into the trees. A few years alter I lost an engine a couple miles from the airfield. I was set up to glide into the runway and remembered to delay the gear until I was over the threshold. This P-51 might have made the field if the gear had been left up. But remember the gear is a speed brake, so don't put it down while gliding on long final.

Brian A : A gold mine of great info. Thank you! I'm passing this on to my instructor and the aero club.

Finbar Sheehy : He's at a skill level far beyond mine, but the landing didn't have to be into wind, on the numbers. His altimeter is set to field elevation (it's zero just before touchdown). From the field patterns, at 1:40 he's 7,700 ft (about 30 seconds) from the the departure end of the runway, with 600 ft in the bank and a 200 fpm descent rate. If nothing changes he has the field made with 500 ft of height to spare for positioning turns. If the engine quit right then, with his 15:1 glide he would still have the field made, barely, but even landing diagonally the first obstacles are 2,000 ft away. At 1:47 he's 4,700 ft from the end of the runway, still at 500 ft, but starts to turn AWAY from it (i.e., to the right). At 1:54 he's abeam the departure end, at 500 ft and maintaining level flight, but displaced 3,500 ft laterally to the south of the runway. The turns make it tricky, now, but he could still make a left, then a right, and land with the full runway available - downwind. But, five seconds later, at 1:59, he turns AWAY from the field again, and now his options are running out fast. At 2:10 he has 2,500 ft of runway behind him, but with just 400 ft AGL, if he turns now and then bails out of the turn (as he ends up doing, from a lower start, farther downwind), he faces buildings to the north, so it's a tough call. None of this ever comes up in the discussion.

cemx86 : Notice at 2:55 that Mark still has his hand on the stick until the plane came to a stop. Which is an indication of "If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible." - Bob Hoover

Joe Smith : Being a non-pilot but aviation lover, that was very scary seeing that cockpit video after the plane landed. It would be nice to see a picture of the results. 100 feet from touchdown to stop! Wow! But best of all for this video: the information from a seasoned pilot describing his thought process and the critical evaluation of how to improve for next crisis. Phenomenal! It certainly also helps that the interviewer and the pilot both are superb communicators. This is why I love Youtube.

AirspotterUK : Well done, great decision to abort the final and turn away from motorway.

johnny llooddte : well done

mnpd3 : Lucky to pull that off, damned glad he did. Notice he gripped the stick until at a complete stop. He was going to fly the sonofabitch on the ground if a chance arose.

Roger Lund : That is a lot of good information. Anybody who has a bunch of hours and think you know something you need to listen to this guy because when it goes down it better be muscle memory or your lost

KELLASDA : Great interview! Especially liked the frank assessment of what he would have/should have done differently. Also the bits about denial, saturation, panic, and startle reflex were valuable points he made. I think these phenomena are how very experienced pilots sometimes do things that leave us scratching our heads.

Joseph DuPont : Excellent Video! I've done one off airport precautionary landing .. Survival of you , not the plane has to be your prime mission.

BazilRat : It took less time between first failure and stop than it takes to pour a pint of Guinness.

Brady Tribble : *standing ovation* absolutely flawless. Great job sir

Never Gonnatell : I imagine this doesn't really compare to having an engine out in P-51 in the middle of the pacific over an island with a bunch of angry Japanese that want to kill you.

Chris R : What an incredible video!

Ronald Marshall : Great video thanks for sharing.