Before the crash...

Pilot, horses all fine after emergency landing
By Diana Rugg
Posted: Sunday, Sep. 13, 2009

A second plane in two days experienced engine trouble – but this time, the ending was much happier.

As Jim Smiley headed for Mocksville Saturday in his home-built Ragwing RW-6, his engine lost power about a thousand feet in the air. The lightweight plane – just 600 pounds, including the pilot and fuel – won’t just “glide” to the ground.

“I made an effort to restart,” said Smiley, “and it restarted, but it did not stay.”

But because Smiley has about 50 years of piloting experience, he knew what to do.

“One of the things that you do when you fly light airplanes like this, is you’re constantly looking for a place to land if the engine quits,” said Smiley.

That’s when he spotted the horse pasture at the Lazy 5 Ranch. The exotic animal ranch in Rowan County is a favorite stop for school trips and families, boasting on its Web site about its 750 animals from six continents.

Thankfully for Smiley, only horses populated the nearly-empty pasture. He chuckled as he described bringing the plane down in a way that would avoid hitting any of them. The aircraft landed and rolled across the field on its landing gear – up to a point.

“I was in good shape until I ran up on this high ramp right here,” he said, as he pointed to some hilly terrain in the gently-sloping pasture. “And the airplane became airborne and fell right back in here.”

Smiley pointed to the landing gear which snapped off as the plane skidded to a stop. He walked away uninjured, but the plane is another story.

The fixed-wing aircraft he spent four years building and another two years flying without incident, looked like it had seen its last flight.

Still, he’s happy it all worked out – and that he learned something new about how to make an emergency landing in a lightweight, home-built plane.

“I did discover today that, when the engine stops turning it stops flying,” said Smiley with a laugh. “Actually, that’s not true. It continues flying all the way to the ground. It just gets there a little sooner than you planned on, maybe.”

Landing gear failed after hitting bump and becoming airborne for one last moment before coming down hard.

From the Yahoo Ragwing List
…the first flight was November 20,2007. It has rotax 503 for power and has a empty weight of 332 pounds. It has electric start and carries a total of 11 gallons of fuel in two tanks. As of September 12….the BAD DAY…I had flown it 78.6 hours and made 123 landings.
This is a very light airplane….It responds to every breath of wind….up, down ,left, right, or any combination. Cross wind take off or landings can be very exciting.
The plane has very low inertia and high drag and it seems to have the glide angle of the space shuttle, reduce power and you come down, when the prop stops you come down in a hurry.
My normal cruse speed is 55 mph, I have seen 68 mph with wide open throttle, these are indicated speeds, the stall is about 28. I have a GPS and it kind of agrees.
Approach is flown at near cruise speed all the way to the runway.
The best flight time is late afternoon in calm air…you can throttle back and fly at 40 and look at the top of cows and such.
Best of all …. I built it my self and IT FLIES…
Jim Smiley
RW6 N2305J
Mocksville NC


Not a Ragwing, but an interesting video of an underpowered minimax going splat.