Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Railfan General Discussion
NEW! - DIRECTLY POST YOUR RAILFAN PICTURES! For discussion and comments of any railroad related topic. No politics except as relates to railroading.

Moderators: othermoderator, moderator

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3411
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby Mark D » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:48 am

I'd bet that everyone that comes into this forum knows what happened to that B-17 nine-o-nine a few days ago. The cause of the wreck has not yet been released, but I can tell you what I think and why.
The take off was apparently normal until they started to climb out and the #4 engine started acting up. Normally that would be no big deal. That B-17 could easily fly on only two engines if there is one on each side. If two engines on one side will still keep it in the air, but it's a handful to handle the thing.
But after the #4 (outer engine, right wing) started acting up, the other three did the same thing. They basically had three operating engines that could not provide enough power to keep it in the air. They were popping and backfiring and probably not even enough power produced to taxie on the ground.
When the crew, doing all they could to get it back on the ground in the best way possible with what they had to work with, wound up running out of air space before they got to open land, thus landing inside a building at the airport, the aircraft was torn apart from the wreck. That caused a massive fuel spill and a major fire started. Most people have seen that thick black smoke that covered the area for a time. Gasoline doesn't make thick smoke like that. Nothing on that airplane could make smoke like that. And, nothing in that building would have had some ingredient that would make that smoke, Just winter chemicals (similar to antifreeze) that don't burn.
So, what caused the wreck? That airplane burns gas. An airport attendant with a fuel truck had just topped off the tanks on the B-17. Since this moron didn't know the difference between one large aircraft and another, drove over to the airplane and filled 'er up with JET-A fuel!!!!!!!!!!! There was enough gasoline in the system (large fuel lines (those big round motors don't skimp on gas) valves, carburetor's, and whatever else that I'm missing. Assuming they started #4 that morning - They always rotate the starting of the engines in order to keep the running hours similar. #4 was the first to show a problem. The pilot said he had to go back. But by the time he had said that to the tower the other four engines were doing the same thing.
Jet-A doesn't do well in a gasoline burning engine. When Jet-A gets loose in an open fire, such as a ripped fuel tank on an airplane, there will be huge plumes of black smoke. Gasoline doesn't do that.
You be the judge....


Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Fitz
Conductor
Posts: 965
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:58 pm
Location: Waldport, OR, USA
Contact:

Re: Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby Fitz » Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:53 pm

Mark, when I saw the TV coverage I questioned the "dreaded three engine approach" thing. Should have been no problem at all with three of the four functioning. Very young pilots with very little training brought B-17s back from bomb runs over Germany, all shot up and many with one or more engines out. I think you have hit upon the cause. Great sleuthing.
Image

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3411
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby Mark D » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:06 am

Those B-17's could make it home easily on only two engines if they threw a bit of 'cargo' overboard. (Bombs, witch are usually all dropped before an engine or two might fail, usually to enemy fire. Those engines are actually very reliable as long as they're properly maintained and aren't shot up with enemy fire. Even then, sometimes an engine might make it all the way home with a cylinder or two shot up.
But they can't handle Jet-A. What's sort of strange, jet engines can handle Avgas (100LL - 100 octane low lead) for a short time, like 600 hours on some of the smaller jet engines. Don't know about what you'd find on a 747. But they never do that because after that it does require a teardown of the engines to clean the blades. I doubt a Blackbird would be able to handle it at all.
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

tom c
Conductor
Posts: 376
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 11:14 pm
Location: near the Windy City
Contact:

Re: Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby tom c » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:25 pm

The fuel was checked and no jet fuel was in the wing tank

The NTSB confirmed the surviving wing tank had 110 octane av gas in it and there is no evidence yet to support the wrong fuel was put into the tanks.

Tom C.
tom_at_srclry_com
Lost somewhere in Michigan instead of Colorado!

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3411
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby Mark D » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:27 am

I know, I read the same. However, without chemical analysis it would be difficult to tell if there was Jet-A mixed with 100LL. Jet is clear. 100LL is colored. That color would still show 100LL even if contaminated with Jet-A.
Going the other way around, if a jet were filled with 100-LL it could still fly safely, but the engine/s would need an early - very early- overhaul. Gasoline engines cannot tolerate Jet-A. IF Jet-A were to be introduced into the tanks of Nine-O-Nine, it wouldn't be noticed until the engines starting puking and snorting.
I could be totally wrong about my thoughts, but remember - the first thing the NTSB checked was the fuel. But from what I read they just checked color. That, by itself, is not enough to clear the thoughts of bad gas.

But, if not gas, what could it be? All four engines going down within a minute of each other can't have many causes. I can only narrow it down to one. Fuel. That's why they went for the gas first thing.
Now they need chemical analysis of the fuel before they an be sure.

It's a mystery and I'm waiting on pins and needles to see what it turns out to be, if not fuel. They said yesterday or the day before that they hope to have a preliminary determination on the probable cause in about ten days, give or take.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Fitz
Conductor
Posts: 965
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:58 pm
Location: Waldport, OR, USA
Contact:

Re: Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby Fitz » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:13 pm

I am not familiar with the details of the B-17 cockpit. I hope there is not a single fuel On-Off control for all four engines. I know they have single controls otherwise they couldn't shut down a single one. You can get pretty far in a light airplane with the fuel shut off, I know, I have done it.
Image

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3411
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Of Topic but Those Who Like Railroading Usually Like Airplanes

Postby Mark D » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:56 am

The B-17 has as many tanks as engines. Each tank feeds an engine. However, there is a myriad of piping so that any tank can be used by any engine or all engines on one tank or any combination you can think of. That was done so that in war time if an engine were shot out and had to be shut down, the other three engines would be working harder, thus burning more gas.
But in any case, I think when this airplane went down it was running with the standard setup - one tank per engine.
The above might not be totally correct because I'm not all that versed on it.
The pilot had 7000 hours to his log book and several hundred hours in type. I doubt he would make a mistake like that. The second officer (co-pilot) also was well versed in the type, but I don't know how many hours. But he, too, was old enough to have had quite a bit of flight time overall. That doesn't mean someone can make a mistake. Even I made a mistake once, but I can't remember what that mistake was......
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve


Return to “General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests