For those following this project, the Bugatti 100P built by Scotty Wilson crashed yesterday.
A few links to news sites from here https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=189123
Pretty horrible and a real shame. The thing looked beautifully built. According to one news site I saw, this was meant to be the final flight, after which it would be put in a museum. Perhaps the design was just simply too ambitious and dangerous to fly?
Perhaps the design was just simply too ambitious and dangerous to fly?
That’s what I would guess as well. And we certainly haven’t been told the whole story (yet).
I have been following this project loosely and have been wondering about some strange things going on:
The first flight (August 2015) was intended to be a short hop along the runway. Why has the pilot done this as a rolling intersection takeoff (wasting quite some runway) instead of doing a static thrust takeoff using the whole length? I have never seen a maiden flight of anything being done that way. The result was a runway excursion after brake problems with the aeroplane ending on it’s nose.
After repairs completed, the second flight was performed two months later in October 2015. This looked a lot more like a “normal” test flight with the aircraft performing a wide traffic circuit. The gear was left extended as is common practice with early test flights. Everything looked perfectly normal, the pilot stated in interviews that the aircraft was stable and handled well.
Now comes the third flight after a break of almost one year – why, if all was going so well? At the same time, they announced that this will also be the last flight ever – but why? They spent tens of thousands of man-hours and huge amounts of money, including public funding through Kickstarter, to build a flying replica. A non-flying museum piece could have been built by a single person within a few month.
But instead of repeating the second flight – after a year has passed one would assume that it would be wise to start from where one has been before – they fix “several” GoPros to the outside of the aircraft (this can be seen in one of the many videos on the internet). This is an unproven aerodynamic design which has flown for a total time of three minutes. Why would one risk degrading the aerodynamics like that? I guess it was rather underpowered anyway (the engines installed in the replica had less than half the horsepower than the original design called for!), so why add drag with all those cameras? And then, right after getting airborne he raises the gear. Why not leave it outside as on every other test flight program, especially when he had ample runway in front to land back on? I understand the pilot was an experienced military jet pilot. Why would he do that then?
NB: And one more thing which already puzzled me on the maiden flight: Why would an experienced jet fighter pilot perform test flights of an unproven design in jeans and tee shirt? Even I have a fireproof nomex flight suit in my wardrobe that I bought from eBay for little money when I did some aerial work. And wearing a helmet is also pretty much standard on every test flight programme, isn’t it?
Yes, I thought about some of that. The intersection take-off for a first flight qualifies as crazy to me … but then: That was such an experienced guy, was there maybe some reason I don’t get?
And also, when you watch the video of the takeoff: The plane looks to be at least “nervous” if not unstable in the pitch axis.
That was such an experienced guy, was there maybe some reason I don’t get?
One is not supposed to talk badly of deceased and I really didn’t know the man. Yet to me, watching the videos on his website and on YouTube, he seems to be one of those “Sky Gods”. Emphasising all the time his 10.000 flying hours and 12 type ratings held, his previous fighter pilot experience and so on. On every other project of that scale – both in terms of volunteer man-hours and money – a professional test pilot would perform a professionally laid out test flight program. Not here, the boss had to do it himself. Not enough that he damaged the plane already on the first flight, nobody but him could continue test flying that beast. Sorry, I know one should not talk badly about deceased, but this is the impression I get.