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.

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.

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

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..

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.

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!

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

/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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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!

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

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

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....

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!

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

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).

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Tomas Lundqvist : Great analysis and thanks for sharing!

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

Pantelis Moralis : as a pilot and an owner of a GA plane , i say first the life , your plane you can rebuild it , your life is a present to you , you do not have the right to experiment with it.

John Mangiameli : I so badly wanted him to put that plane down on the runway.

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

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.

Chris R : What an incredible video!

Shared Knowledge : Sadly many aircraft engines are more closely related to an ancient lawnmower than something that's actually well engineered. For those who argue simplicity means more reliability you clearly don't have much experience with lawnmowers which couldn't be much more simple despite being far less reliable than your average car. The P51 is old but many newer small planes still have similarly crude, inefficient, polluting, and unreliable engines. It's amazing how crude they are from Rotax to Lycoming to Allison to Rolls Royce they all make a fraction of the horsepower per liter compared to an average motorcycle while burning more fuel and weighing more per HP as well. It's amazing aircraft engine technology is so crude and relatively unreliable. My friend's Cessna is harder to start than a 1950's diesel tractor on a cold day. It's the opposite of want you want when your life could depend on it. Aircraft engines are often fussy, often use ancient carburetor technology, high maintenance, and still produce far less power for their weight and burn more fuel than more modern designs. It's amazing there are not more engine out emergencies with these crude motors.

Ronald Marshall : Great video thanks for sharing.

James Bond : Excellent lesson. Thanks for posting.

PilotPhotog : This is almost a ground school for pilot decision making. Thanks for sharing and glad everyone was safe!

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.

johnny llooddte : well done