More than 25 seconds after a departing Blackhawk Sikorsky UH-60 takes off from Runway 33 in Fort Collins, Colorado, a student pilot attempted to land a Cirrus SR20 and was tossed like a rag doll after descending through the massive rotor downwash.

A pilot is generally warned and trained to proceed with caution when landing after a large, fixed-wing aircraft due to the wing tip vortices that can cause smaller aircraft to flip over. According to the NSTB preliminary report, the pilot was concerned with possible turbulence and planned to land long to avoid the hazard.

The report also states that the weather at the time of the accident indicated a light, quartering tailwind which is generally the worst scenario when dealing with wake turbulence. Instead of drifting off the runway, the tailwind holds the invisible, twirling winds in place and in the path of approaching aircraft.

The pilot apparently attempted to abort the landing and go around for another try but the effort was in vain. The pilot was the sole occupant and fortunately survived but was hospitalized with severe injuries.


Chris is a pilot who loves airplanes and cars and his writing has been seen on Jalopnik. Contact him with questions or comments via twitter or email.