Henry, Richard Mcfadden, Henry Caffeine discussed on There I Was...

There I Was...
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Podcast. I was pushing a negative G's upside down and all of a sudden I was soaked in gasoline when I was inverted at about 1500 feet. So I immediately looked the airplane right side up and when I did that, all the fuel went down through me and went down to the floorboard and the steel caught on fire inside the cockpit. Welcome to another edition of there I was. A podcast where we put you in the cockpit with pilots and demanding situations and we learn how to flew out of them. I'm your host Richard mcfadden. Today's guest is Henry caffeine, Henry's been flying for over 40 years and has got over 8000 hours all of it in general aviation flying. He's flown and owned everything from an ultra light up to a citation jet and currently he's a part owner in an albatross. Owns a cirrus, a pipistrel, a glider flyer. He's a commercial pilot with an instrument rating, a seaplane rating, a glider rating, and he holds a cessna 5 two 5 type rating. Henry also holds a surface level aerobatic waiver and is performed at airshows flying aerobatics in his edge 5 40 across the country. But today he's going to share a story with us of flying his edge 5 40 in an aerobatic routine when things went drastically wrong. Henry, thanks for joining us on the there I was podcast. Thank you very much for having me. Glad to be here. So Henry, you and I were introduced through our mutual friend Katie pribble and she told me the outline of your story, which was just fascinating so you mind share the story with our audience. No, sir, I'll be happy to tell you. So basically it happened a few days before Thanksgiving. I think maybe there's a little bit of a part of this puzzle that I might want to share with you as well. So the accident happened on November 24th and on October 19th, there was the massive floods down in South Texas and I had 16 feet of water go through my house and destroy my home. So I was living in San Antonio at the time because our house was being rebuilt and I had flown a team model bonanza over to a little small airfield outside of San Antonio where they found the movie the great Waldo pepper that's called zeal field, which is where they did steerman training back in the olden days and it's really close to Randolph Air Force Base. And that is where we had an aerobatic box. So I flew over there on a beautiful afternoon, a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Got into my edge by 40. And I had a pre fly the airplane, everything was great. It was perfect, perfect day. And I went out and started practicing what we call an aerobatics unknown maneuvers. I used to play advanced aerobatics for competition. And then I was working on a freestyle maneuver and then that freestyle maneuver, there is a negative G element within that sequence. And so I was pushing a negative G's upside down and all of a sudden I was soaked in gasoline when I was inverted at about 1500 feet. And so I immediately flipped the airplane right side up and when I did that, all the fuel went down through me and went down to the floorboard where we all have a plexiglass flow board so we can see aerobatic box and making sure that we're still within the parameters or where we are looking through for an air show. And the feel caught on fire inside the cockpit. At the time, I didn't know that the fire was only really inside the cockpit. And so I turned to magneto's off, nothing happened. I shipped a few off, nothing happened. By nothing happened, Henry, do you mean that the fire was still burning, so you were shutting all this stuff off and meanwhile. Can you give us a sense of so your right side up, but in your roughly 1500 feet somewhere in there, but you've got fire, is it all in the cockpit as in you can't even see out? Is it just in the floor? Can you help us? It's all in the cockpit. The whole cockpit. I had a pair of ray ban glasses on that actually melted. So I could only see out of the peripheral side of those old kind of Wayfair glasses. I could see out the sides. So yeah, the fire had soaked me in gasoline and then basically the whole fire was in the cockpit. So those edge 5 40 cockpits are pretty small and tight, so you're inside this cockpit and the whole thing is engulfed in flames. So you're sitting in the middle of this fireball basically. That's exactly right. And so not knowing that what was going on after shutting the magnetos, the feel, turning the key off, I knew that a problem we need to bail out. So in my particular airplane, it had a mechanism where you squeezed two metal rods together and that was supposed to release the Canopy and it would release and leave the aircraft. So I put the airplane in a dive at 1400 feet and I was having problems squeezing the getting it to release. Was it because the handle was so hot you couldn't grasp it and I'm also wondering, I'm just trying to picture myself sitting in this fireball with the intense heat that came all of a sudden and can you can you see your magnetos are all this is by feel and are you close on fire? Yeah. Yeah, everything's on fire when I landed on my clothes were burned pretty much off. I had a pair of no max shoes on and a no max helmet because I just gone from work a couple of days for Thanksgiving and I was in a short sleeve T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans and I had two nomads. I had golf gloves on. They were burned off to. So I could see fire. I couldn't see, you know, visually where I was in the space that I was in and certainly when I put the aircraft in a dive, the problem was opening the cockpit wasn't the heat, it was the pressure, the FAA said I was going somewhere around a 185 miles an hour when I was pointing the nose down. And so that became harder and harder to open the Canopy. But once the Canopy did open, they also said the doctor said that I inadvertently held my breath, which saved my lungs, I didn't know I did that, but evidently I did. And so when I got out of the airplane, I reached back for the D ring and it had melted away.

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