May 10,2013 Near Miss

It was a turkey buzzard that almost got me tonight.

I flew down to Georgetown to look at a few aircraft seats I might use for my simulator room being built downstairs. They smell musty, but I think can be cleaned up and refurbished for the sim. New foam and either clean or replace the covering over the frame.

I had to come back up north, as we have weddings to attend over the next two weeks.  Leaving Georgetown to return home, I was making a great climb rate of about 1500 fpm. Being alone and light on fuel makes a huge difference.

Climbing and turning from crosswind to downwind, I encountered a formation of buzzards in my flight path. I was already maneuvering, and there was no action taken on my part due to the lack of reaction time available.

Two of the birds on the outside of my right wing altered course to their left and gave me some margin. The third guy in executed a sharp climb to a near stall and went over my wing. Don’t know how he made it, but he did.

That left only one big turkey buzzard, and I knew I had an emergency only microseconds in my future. In that instant I had decided to wait for the impact, experience the severe vibration once the damage occurred, and then lower the nose on a straight course until I had the engine shut down and the damaged prop feathered.  No way I could miss him – he was lined up with my right engines flight path.

My attention was on him in this compressed time frame. He was going to die and I was going to be very excited for the next few minutes. Then I witnessed a surprise…..  the first agile and skilled aviator I have yet encountered in the turkey buzzard communitity.

In compressed time, I watched his right wing feathers – well – feather. The feathers flared up and dumped the air out from under his wings. Next he twisted his wing and caused an immediate stall. This allowed him to enter a spin to his right – with a steep entry. It saved his life and allowed me to keep using this engine.

There was nothing I could have done to avoid this. Four large birds, but with me in a climbing turn, there was no time to react.

It ended well. Looking forward to flying to Florida Monday morning for business, with a few seaplane rides in there too.

Today was one of those days where I rode the motorcycle to the airport, and got in my own airplane. It is hard to complain after a day that ends like that.