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King Air Jump Plane Stall Captured by SkydiverA Beechcraft C90 King Air stalled and entered a spin at 16,000' AGL while skydivers were preparing to jump. (www.youtube.com) More...
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The pilot's report was posted on Reddit with the video. The left engine was throttled back to reduce propwash so the jumpers wouldn't be blown off, the six jumpers created asymmetric drag to add to the asymmetric thrust, and masked airflow to the left elevator while the aircraft was slowed to allow them to jump. Their weight gave an aft CG that he could not overcome with the remaining control authority. When he hit the elevator stop he knew it was going to stall and spin. At that point the stall and spin was entered and the people departed. He pulled the right engine back to flight idle too, to cancel the asymmetric thrust, and performed a normal spin recovery. He pulled out gently to avoid over stressing the airframe. When he opened the throttles one engine recovered much sooner than the other, which caused the second unstable event and resulted in another skydiver leaving. The incident was reported to the CAA and the PASA (Parachute Association of South Africa). The club also had a meeting the next day and changed procedures for the King Air to only allow 5 simultaneous exits in the future and not to hang around on the outside longer than necessary. There have been no further similar events.
End result was a great show of how not to have it happen again since the first one ended because the pilot flew it till all was back in order like he should have.
This isn't the first time this has happened and been captured on video either. I found another much older one from the UK as well as several versions of this one. One posted by the last man towards the tail gives his account too.
The front floater (or 2) created most of the parasitic drag. The other 4 were mostly in the drag “shade” of the front 2. The biggest problem was aft CG for too long. Pilot ran out of elevator authority. There appeared to be a secondary stall with nose up input appearing to be too much and too soon. With airspeed at nearly nil, nose vertical (down) is fine initially. I would have had both throttles at idle and eased the nose up with decent airspeed and recovered as if flying the bottom half of a split-S. Two to three G’s all the way through level is fine with that airframe - could probably handle more. Anyway, no one got hurt, so lesson learned.
This happened to me back in the 90s when a very experienced jump plane/owner brought his newest B90 to Norman Oklahoma for a weekend of fun. It was the first time he had operated this aircraft and was still trying to find the sweet spot for jump runs with 5 or 6 "floaters" hanging on the left side of the aircraft. Well that time he found it and stalled it right before we jumpers exited. My position in the line up was right in the door and when she broke I was pinned to the floor and had to claw my way out of the aircraft. So I can relate with the last guy getting out in this video... not a lot of fun when the Gs have you pinned to the floor and your seeing the world and sky zipping by the door. Good times!
How many jumpsuits needed cleaning after that?