Just a note to everyone. I am the accident pilot at Monument Valley. Been quiet for a while due to filling out lots of forms and not really feeling like seeing or talking about the accident. The FAA, NTSB both contacted me with PDF forms to fill out and I had to contact the insurance company about the loss and they had several PDF forms. I have finally gotten enough distance from the event to be able to edit a short video. It coordinates the tourist video with the video my under wing camera took. The tourist film gives a good idea of the overall context of events and the wing camera gives more of a pilot's view, which I think you will agree is compelling.
As to the piloting involved, I'll let you come to your own conclusions. Naturally I have relived that take off many many times (sometimes instead of sleeping), but my piloting skills come up short each time. First I agree wholeheartedly with FlyingMonkey that the best solution would be to go back in the cafe and have some coffee and watch for the wind sock to go slack. Second I agree with John Olav about how to handle a quartering tailwind take off. I made many mistakes that day, so from my viewpoint here they are. It started back at Page where I filled my empty tanks to the top. With 2 guys and no baggage we were near max gross for the day. I was ready to have a carefree day of out the window flying with the group. After about an hour of flying (5 gallons) planes began landing at Monument Valley and John said over the radio that he had reports of crosswinds gusting to 23 knots. I knew my CTLS had a demonstrated crosswind of 16 with a max total wind of 24, but I didn't think about that as the planes were landing. I should have passed on the landing, gone sightseeing and continued to Page. On landing I got a clue about what I would face later. We were pushed down hard by the wind over the threshold and landed 'firmly'. After breakfast I was enjoying being a tourist as we gathered and observed strong steady rear quartering tailwinds for the take off. Someone checked the Windy app and saw that very strong winds were forecast for later in the day. This caused a general desire to leave before it got any worse. The airport doesn't have any official weather, but it was clear the wind was steady at 10 or above, slightly from the rear. Again because I was in vacation mode, I didn't think about my max crosswind of 16 knots even though its on my checklist, which I abbreviated for the group take off. Also I didn't consider the physical situation: max gross, narrow short runway, altitude 6100 feet, density altitude 7100 feet, max crosswind and a prop that was set for cruise.
In short I was ready for a normal take off, but boy was I surprised. My worst sin that day I think was not preloading full right aileron, this allowed the strong crosswind to get under my right wing at rotation. Also you will notice my rotation point is just opposite the hangar and pilot lounge building which would have been putting a strong rotator across the runway there. John mentioned in his briefing that added take off speed would be advisable, he was so right. I should have glued the plane to the runway until 60 knots, but instead did a normal rotation at 50. The rest was just trying to control a plane at or below MCA. Anyhow I will leave it to the armchair quarterbacks to review the film.
I just want to take a second to thank all of you who were there and gave Rich and I every help and consideration. Even though I had trouble expressing it due to shock, I was moved by the heartwarming thoughtfulness of you all. Rich, my passenger, is my hero. You may be able to hear him in the video helping, guiding and even dragging me out of that twisted wreck, even though gasoline was pouring over us and the hot engine was practically in our laps, he kept trying until he got me free.
OK, I had to take a minute there. Now back to business. It looks like the insurance company will reimburse me for the full hull insurance of $90,000. I will take a loss on the recent ADS-B upgrade of $5,000 and probably the GPS696 (I left it up to them whether its portable or not). All in all though they have been fast, efficient and fair. The check should arrive next week. As for the Feds, they got their information and have been silent otherwise. As for me, my flying career is at an end. I have greatly enjoyed it and at times been terrified by it, but it was all I hoped for back in 2012 when I went for my sport license. I hoped for 5 good years of flying and beat that. To cap it off, the CT group here has been fabulous. It is loaded with good guys ready to help a newbie owner in any way. And of course there's Roger, a great guy and a bottomless resource for things technical, practical and real world.
I will check in from time to time to see what's shaking in CT land, but for now I have to look for a ground based hobby to fill those idle hours and drain my money. I'll be seeing you around .... Tom.
Monument Valley Accident.avi