Weather Report – Skyfall

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

As is the norm for the end of the year in continental Croatia, the weather had been up to its usual games lately, alternating between deep freeze and springtime, dull fog and depressing overcast – and naturally arid dryness and the full spectrum of winter precipitation :). Apart from the usual frost and freezing rain, the latter traditionally includes quite a bit of snow, which more often than not tends to fall suddenly and with a vengeance. True to character, the first week of December saw a short – but intense – burst of snowfall, which had dumped close to half a meter of snow in under 12 hours; an occurrence that hadn’t been recorded for more than half a century. It really did seem like the sky was falling down… 😀

The most visible manifestation of a particularly strong cold front that had passed through the area, this weather had ironically fully cleared the next day, resulting in beautifully calm, quiet and sunny conditions – the kind you see really on ski vacation posters. Inevitably – and though the roads still hadn’t been fully cleared – this turn of events had lured me to the airfield to see what had happened with the few planes still left there…

On some machines – notably military Gazelles – made out of titanium, the Fenestron’s high mass flow can make for some impressive handling (as the Gazelle itself demonstrates). Being smaller, the blades are also noticeably quieter and produce less vibration – but, due to their higher drag, tend to require more power to run and sap more energy from the main rotor during an engine-out autorotation
Vee One… Rotate! The weight of almost 50 cm of snow, pushing down onto the horizontal stabilizer’s long moment arm, had meant that virtually all of our birds had ended up on their tails overnight…
Despite the somewhat dramatic pose, the
However, contrary to appearances, this pose did not result in any damage to the aircraft itself. By the time enough weight had accumulated on the stabilizer, a cushion of snow several inches thick had already formed below it – so when the tail eventually did come down, its impact was quite gentle and uneventful
The snowfall had also added insult to injury for our resident Skymaster as well. Having already struck the ground with its nose on landing a decade or so back, it had now ended up striking it with its tail as well…
With its big stabilizer located further aft than it is on the Skyhawk – and its CG already well back due to a stripped interior and cannibalized front engine – D-ICEC had probably ended up on its tail quite quickly. Fortunately, its stabilizers normally overhang beyond the edge of the apron – above grass – so it too has probably suffered no (further) damage
Who would have thought that there's an airfield somewhere under here...
Who would have thought that there’s an airfield somewhere under here…

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