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Thread: Pilot flying in Tiger Moth killed by large bird?

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    Default Pilot flying in Tiger Moth killed by large bird?

    During flying training in New Zealand in WWII an pilot sitting in the front seat of the Tiger Moth, was hit by a large bird similar to an albatross and killed.
    The pilot in rear seat had to land the aircraft on the beach.
    Is there any possibility that this story told to my father could be true?
    Cheers
    Motherbird

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    Hi Motherbird,
    an interesting story! I am really interested if anyone will be able to add more details if it is really true.
    But I can not imagine this myself - I think it is impossible that the bird will be able to fly through the propeller in front of the killed pilot - but it is possible that the body of killed bird was thrown in the direction of killed pilot?

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    No RNZAF pilot was killed by a bird while flying during the war. A bird may well have been hit and killed by an aircraft with some its remains striking the pilot (but certainly not killing him).

    Errol

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    Hi Errol, thanks for you comment I am of the same opinion as you stated.

    pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Motherbird,
    I think it was at RNZAF Station Ashburton (about 70 km south of Christchurch Christchurch where I live) where was based No. 2 EFTS, equipped with Tiger Moths. Legend has it (I heard this from a pupil pilot who passed through this school in about 1943 or '44) that there was an instructor on the staff who had a rather strong dislike of the native harrier hawk for some reason, and had a nasty habit of trying to kill them in flight during training sorties, with pupils on board! (pupil in a Tiger normally sat in rear cockpit). The executions were carried out by flying the aircraft into the hawk, catching it by the flying/landing wires out towards the wingtip, although such attacks were difficult to carry out as the bird was quite capable of sudden changes of direction when it felt itself under threat. This instructor claimed to have killed half a dozen or more in this way, but I would imagine this was an extremely foolish practice and could lead to some fairly messy damage at best, and it would be possible to hit an occupant if the bird swerved at the last moment. It is quite likely that this particular instructor would be warned not to carry out any more such 'attacks' had this habit become known to the engineer officer. You might be able to talk your way out of one or two accidental collisions, but any more than that would cause suspicions to arise about this pilot. Perhaps the said pilot had a couple of 'faithful assistants' among the ground staff who might have quietly cleaned up the affected aircraft and thus kept more senior staff in the dark for some considerable time, but you would think that the truth would eventually come out.
    David D

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    David D
    Thank you for this info. I will look through my records again and find out who passed the story onto my father.
    I had understood the NZ student pilot was John 'Wendy' Wendelken but his sons say there is no record of the incident in his Log Book.
    Maybe a case of keeping it quiet!
    Cheers Motherbird

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    'Wendy' was NZ417134 William John Wendelken (the only Wendelken in the WWII RNZAF). He enlisted at Levin as an AP u/t on 21 Dec 41. Upon completion of his EFTS training on 11 Apr 42 he embarked on the 'West Point' for SFTS training in Canada.

    Errol

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    Default Tiger Moths

    Quote Originally Posted by David Duxbury View Post
    Motherbird,
    "pupil in a Tiger normally sat in rear cockpit".
    David D
    A question (small correction?) from David's post?
    I thought the instructor on Tiger Moths sat in the rear?

    Ian

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    Hello All,

    It's not just one-way. Some years ago a TQF Andover (no Royals on board!) was bumbling its way over the Ethiopian Highlands (they go up to 14k feet!) on the way home when one of the local eagles decided that it was not going to have this piddling a/c intruding into its airspace. I think the Co was i/c. The report I heard was that the Co shouted "Birdstrike" as this damn great beast was observed - talons out and foremost - attacking the poor Andover. I don't know if it actually came through the windscreen - I think it did!!

    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Ian,
    I will have to throw this question open to other Board members for the ultimate answer, but my understanding is that, as the front seat occupant in a Tiger sat on the centre of gravity (more or less), it did not matter whether this seat was occupied or not, so this aircraft type is traditionally flown from the rear seat, and thus passengers are carried in the front seat (certainly in the flight I made). For this reason, the fullest set of controls is in the rear seat position. When the instructor decides that his latest pupil pilot was ready to go solo (after another instructional flight to cover all exercises necessary for a solo circuit), he would first remove his 'joy stick' - an old custom with some sound reasoning behind it - and then get out of the front cockpit, spring to the ground, then lean into the rear cockpit to advise the pupil that he should now take off alone, fly a nice, neat circuit, and land, just as he he been taught over the previous 2 or 3 weeks. Then the instructor would step back, joystick in hand, and nervously watch his pupil depart, the latter about to make his greatest flight to date. Because the centre of gravity effectively remained the same, there was no need to adjust anything else. Compare this with many other tandem seated training aircraft (such as the Harvard) where "solo ballast weights" had to be fitted for solo exercises, as these aircraft were normally flown from the front seat.
    David D

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