“The Only Way To Damage a Lancair Is To Leave It On The Ground So It Can’t Get Away” (July 2007)
Why does God hate Lancairs?
The Lancair Columbia 400 has dual ignition systems, dual electrical systems, dual batteries, dual generators, dual fuel pumps, dual flight display systems with a secondary backup of mechanical gages, dual flight-control linkages, is built like a TANK, is basically un-breakable, is certified to utility-category G-load, and has the sensors and databases and warning systems to keep you from hitting terrain by warning you verbally if you get too close to the ground, warning you verbally if you get too close to a radio tower or any other obstacle, warning you verbally if you get too close to ANY OTHER AIRPLANE IN FLIGHT, watching to make sure you get enough OXYGEN, and that there is no CO2 in the cockpit, presenting the entire national weather situation on-screen, and basically monitoring every element of the earth, the buildings and towers built on it, the weather outside the plane, the air traffic system around the plane, the airplane internal systems, and even the air quality inside the cockpit.
The airplane is basically impossible to knock out of the sky.
So why have I had TWO of them damaged?
Well, the answer is simple: The only way to LOSE this horse is to leave it locked in the stable where it can’t run like it needs to.
My first Lancair, secured by deposit, was N824X. This was a beautiful machine, but right after they made it, the biggest hailstorm in 100 years hit bend, OR, where the plane was parked, and pock-marked it like the face of the moon. Had the plane been in FLIGHT, this never would have happened: The flight displays would have shown the weather as a huge red area and the pilot, cruising along listening to techno as he watched the huge red blotch of weather approaching Oregon, with 250 miles per hour, 1200 miles of range, and a database of every airport on the planet, would simply have steered clear of the area. No harm done. But nobody was FLYING the airplane that day… it was sitting on the ramp, unable to put it’s myriad of safety systems to use… and could do nothing when the hailstorm hit.
The plane was damaged, and I had them build me another, N842X.
AMAZING bird. My favorite plane I have ever flown, by far. (And I have flown the Eclipse Jet)
Well, 2 hours ago I got a call from the airport manager saying (I am not making this up) “Austin, we had a microburst out here at the airport and it destroyed some hangars, yours included.”
OK so 30 minutes later I am out at the airport.
Here is what happened: A microburst came down from the heavens and obliterated everything within 50 feet of it’s touchdown.
Hangars, buildings, and airplanes 50 feet away were un-TOUCHED.
But, the 3 hangars in the state of South Carolina that fell within that 50-foot radius were crumpled sort of like spent beer-cans. Obviously, my hangar was the center one.
I was NOT allowed IN the hangar because the fire department was afraid it might collapse, but from the outside you could see that the hangar door had pushed clear off the rails right back into the airplane from the high-speed burst, peeled the roof right off the hangar like the skin off a banana, and pushed the airplane into the back of it’s T-hangar hard enough that the wings of the airplane pushed back the corrugated metal walls. Hold up a piece of notebook paper to the vertical (the back hangar wall) hold your hand horizontal (the wing of the airplane) and then karate-chop the paper to bend it back 45 degrees above and below you hand. That is what the wing of the plane did to the corrugated-metal hangar walls.
So, in a contest between a Lancair and metal hangar, the Lancair wins: The hangar is folded over like a cardboard shack, while the wing of the plane is fine with only damaged control surfaces (easy to replace) and one little notch taken out of the trailing edge aft of the rear spar. The Lancair is MUCH stronger. The flaps and ailerons will be replaced (no big deal) and the trailing edge of the wing will have it’s little gash fixed (easy comppsite repair) and no damage found it’s way to any spar or attach-point, so the damage is pretty stunningly minor compared to the way the hangar was folder up like a beer can.
Anyway, that’s my second damaged Lancair, and a further indication that the only way to damage one of these things is to tie it down in a bad place so it can’t escape and then walk away from it. Even if it’s stronger than a metal hangar.
PS: I don’t beleive in hull/collision insurance, so I don’t have any. (The plot thickens)
PPS: The plane was damaged or destroyed by the HANGAR OWNED BY THE AIRPORT, not the wind itself. (The plot thickens more.. would their liability insurance cover it? Does liability insurance cover such events? If your roof collapses on somebody, is your liability insurance not for that exact purpose? What if your roof is BLOWN down by something that actually appears to be a deliberate act of God? If you looked at the scene, it looks exactly like God dropped his index finger into the center of my hangar, leaving all around untouched!)
PPPS: The IMPROBABILITY of this is almost comical… I mean, you go to SOOOO much trouble to make a plane that is totally IMPOSSIBLE for nature to TOUCH, and it still happens… TWICE! To the SAME make and model of plane, under the SAME owner! But nature still gets you the only way she can with that plane: WHILE IT IS ON THE GROUND! You put the plane in a hangar to be SAFE, and it is still destroyed: BY THE HANGAR! Airplanes parked OUTSIDE the hangar, only 30 feet away, were NOT damaged! I mean, it was just WIND! Folks, WIND don’t hurt planes! Smashing huge hangar doors into them and knocking them around into walls… now THAT can do some damage! I have now gone through two new Lancairs in 6 months! How do you DO that???
PPPPS: With all the insanity in the world… the racism… the crime… the idiocy… the wasted lives… I really JUST DON’T CARE. How could anyone see the state of the world today and CARE about a silliness like this? It is just an interesting administrative issue to deal with.
OK now for pictures!
Approaching the airport, this is what you see of my hangar in the distance, and the temporary hangar which USED to be covered!
It is quite obvious from this photo that God wanted to touch my airplane, and sort of went through the hangar to get to it.
Hmm.. the whole thing is not exactly level, eh? 😉
Expensive ship in a cheap bottle: Lancair builds their planes to be strong. Whoever made this hangar did the job to be CHEAP. Quality shows.
The I-Beam in the background was never secured to the floor at all, so it was easily bent backwards by the wing of the Lancair.
Here you see where the wing pushed the hangar right back! You can see where the hangar wall USED to be, before the AIRPLANE moved the HANGAR!
But the airplane did not get off free! The control surfaces will be replaed (no big deal) and that teeny little break in the trailing edge will be fixed as well… the damage was all AFT of the aft spar, so there is no damage to the internal structure.
The flap is not very happy!