By Luke Kenton
This incredibly lucky pilot missed a potentially fatal crash, after the engine of his biplane cut out during a routine maneuver, sending the aircraft plummeting down to the ground head first, before turning it back on in the nick of time.
Practicing a series of spins and loops above the ground in Coral Springs, Florida, pilot Chad Barber quickly finds himself in a spin for a different reason, as a steep incline during an attempted ‘pull, push, humpty’ suddenly results in the deafening sound of a dead engine.
The 26-year-old aviation enthusiast – who was attempting to thrust the plane into a vertical line – was left in a state of disbelief when he saw the propeller had stopped spinning, as the aircraft began plummeting towards the ground nose first.
Admitting the engine of his ‘Pitts Plane’ has never cut out for him before, Chad begins to level the vessel in an attempt to buy some time and begin a process of troubleshooting to re-engage the engine.
After a series of attempts to no avail, Chad accepts his fate and begins to locate a potential crash landing spot, navigating away from the town below and towards a gravel dirt track.
Trying one last ditch attempt to restart the engine, Chad pulls furiously at the levers in front of him with the plane just a few feet above the ground.
Incredibly, the propeller begins to spin once more, allowing for just enough time for Chad to gain enough altitude to narrowly avoid a potentially fatal crash – an escape celebrated with a huge cheer.
A relieved Chad, the founder of www.barberaviation.aero, said: “I realised what had happened immediately at the top of the figure, as the engine began to splutter and quit.
“The bottom line is I’d lost too much fuel and the engine could no longer pick up the fuel line to scavenge enough from the tank to keep it running.
“My initial reaction was denial, because I heard the engine splutter before, but it’s never cut out.
“I was in disbelief thinking the engine would fire up again.
“When I finally accepted what was happening, I did what I always knew: Fly the plane first – everything after that is just a troubleshooting problem.
“I would like to say all my years of flying had prepared me for such an occasion, but you can’t realistically prepare for the unexpected, because it’s just that: Unexpected.
“Fortunately for me, I did remain calm, which really helped in my decision-making.
“I focused on flying and getting the plane in a suitable area to land.
“The Pitts glides like a flat rock, it’s short wing was not designed to glide or produce much lift, so time was very much limited.
“Thankfully – after several attempts before hand – my electric starter worked at the last minute.
“I felt extremely relieved, not lucky.
“I feel like my luck ran out that day. I think people can make their own luck and I ended up destroying mine that day.
“I hope it never happens to me, or anyone else – it made me realise the real risks you can take in all aspects of life.
“The incident happened in May 2017, but I’ve uploaded the video in the hope to show others how to be safer pilots.”
To visit Chris’ website, please visit: www.barberaviation.aero