A dramatic, stunning cockpit video has been released showing the emergency landing of a WWII II-era Avenger during a historic flyover above D.C. earlier this month and how the cockpit filled up with smoke.
On May 8, the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the planes flew in formations to represent the major battles of WWII – but about 30 minutes into the flyover, the Avenger was forced to make an emergency landing at Ronald Reagan National Airport because of mechanical problems.
The pilot himself wrote in the video description:
This is the Emergency Landing at DCA, Reagan National, of the Military Aviation Museum TBM Avenger during the 70th anniversary of VE Day, Arsenal of Democracy flyover. A 1500psi pinhole hydraulic leak vaporized in the cockpit, appeared like smoke, and prompted a decision to abort the flyover and land at Reagan DCA airport.
The video is broken into two parts. The first is real time, the second breaks down my thoughts at the time and draws lessons learned for other pilots to learn from. The biggest lesson was how the leak presented itself in a vapor form. It moved and acted like smoke, combined with fluid heat on the legs of my passenger, it was mistaken for fire. The only differentiating feature from smoke from a fire is the smell. An electrical fire and engine fire have very distinct smells, this had the smell of hydraulic fluid. Hopefully this will help someone else recognize the difference in the future.
We were off the runway quickly and caused no delays for traffic at Reagan, fixed and flown out later that afternoon. Thank you to all who helped! American Airlines and Signature Aviation Mechanics found and fixed the problem in record time. The emergency was flown exactly as briefed for that segment of flight. To have a malfunction for that 2 mile segment when I had flown a thousand miles in the last few days and the last few years without any incidents at all is statistically impossible.
This event, especially on this day, gave a somber reminder to all those who didn’t have a runway conveniently aligned. To those who were hundreds of miles away from the nearest carrier, in enemy waters. To those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember.
A nickel on the grass.