Aviation Club loses second Zlin: young pilot lucky to escape crash alive

by Trevor Bailey

plane zlin
Photo: Sing Tao

Zlin 242L light aircraft have proved ill-fated for the Hong Kong Aviation Club. After the club’s first model of that type was crashed fatally about three years ago the club bought another one. Yesterday that aircraft was pranged too.
A 23-year-old pilot apparently lost control while practising aerobatics in the Plover Cove area, Taipo. An eyewitness said the aircraft spun into the ground. The young pilot was lucky as the plane landed in bushes and he has survived. Not many people crash during aerobatics and live. (However, the South China Morning Post is reporting he is in critical condition.)

Photos: Sing Tao News

What was such a young pilot with reportedly just three months of experience doing flying aerobatics solo? Under club rules he should have been checked out for the manoeuvres he was going to do by an aerobatics instructor. Plover Cove is the Civil Aviation Department-approved area for aerobatics.
Will the club buy a third Zlin?

zlin 2
The Aviation Club’s second ill-fated Zlin, crashed yesterday near Plover Cove Photo: Hong Kong Aviation Club

Experienced private pilots — the Zlin was flown by a BUZZ team member a few months ago — said don’t blame the aircraft. It is an impressive piece of kit, so ruggedly built it is agricultural. It is, or sadly was, fully aerobatic. With an inverted fuel and oil system it could fly upside down all day long, at least until it ran out of fuel.
The two Zlin crashes in Hong Kong — the first was tragically fatal as an instructor called MT lost his life — were almost certainly pilot error. When aerobatics go wrong at a low altitude and the aircraft is stalled, rapidly rotating towards the ground, the crash is only seconds away. Control inputs to break the stall and get the plane out of the spin have to be made in precisely the right order or the aircraft will not recover.
The Aviation Club has had a bad run. In about the past three years it has lost six aircraft in accidents. The Civil Aviation Department has been monitoring all aspects of its operations. Nevertheless critics perched on their stools in the Aero Bar will be saying operations are not as well managed as they were in the good old days. True. Under former Chief Flying Instructor Paul Clift there were no accidents worse than a dented wing for fourteen years. But in those days the club had no helicopters, which are by comparison with fixed wings are far more slippery beasts.

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