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Billy O'Farrell, a defrocked priest and aviator, dashes a
TBM (C-FAXS, Tanker B17) to bits on the forest floor near
In his own words Billy recounts the details of the result of an engine failure in flight at low altitude whilst doing a formation aerial application:
"Advised formation leader of situation but time element did not permit consultation about symptoms and remedial measures. Altitude and airspeed (tree tops and 100-105 KT) limited selection of landing area - turn not possible. Tried for area of new growth deciduous trees (Populus Balsamifera) - glide carried past - toward stand of evergreens (apparently Picea Rubens or Picea Glauca) averaging 40' in height - put flap lever to extend position (flap indicator bar not observed) - adjusted glide path to hit the larger trees about 20' from ground - cut off top of one Betula Papyrifera without noticeable degrading of control. Observed that largest of the Picea trees was in alignment with right wing root but considered avoiding action inappropriate -considerable noise attended contact with smaller trees at edge of stand - noise increased with penetration - right wing separated on contact with aforementioned Picea with immediate loss of aileron control - elevator and rudder control decayed, the aircraft yawed to the right and struck the ground in 20° nose down attitude. Contact with the ground produced a somewhat more remarkable negative acceleration than did the contact with the trees - the forest foliage and debris from falling trees had the effect of reducing visibility to a few feet during the latter stages of the landing but in the absence of control responses this did not exacerbate the situation. I turned the master switch off, observed a white cloud of condensed vapour rising from the starboard side forward - no odour of gasoline. I unharnessed and evacuated via the port wing, which was at ground level. Damage to the aircraft was substantial. Injury to self appears to be(pending medical opinion) a minor scratch and some bruises."
The lower crash scene is courtesy of Ian White.
Click Here to see some select photos of Billy's expedition to Gibraltar in October of 1986.