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B-25 ADVENTURE

B-25 ADVENTURE
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B-25 ADVENTURE

B-25 ADVENTURE

B-25 Adventure – Heavy rains forced the cancellation of Sunday’s performance for the mega weekend “Wings Over Houston” Airshow at Ellington Field (KEFD).  

The heavy deluge continued another two days which prevented most of the vintage warbird fleet from leaving.  

Indeed, the rains and resultant flooding were so bad that local animals started to line up 2 by 2 and I started looking for a guy named Noah.

On Wednesday morning the rain finally stopped, the clouds became scattered, and the wind became clam. 

It was at that time that I, along with our North American WWII PBJ crew made plans to fly our blue U.S. Marine gun nosed version of the Mitchell B-25 back to its home at Houston’s Hobby Airport (KHOU). 

Our plane was owned by a local air museum and we were its caretakers, protectors, financiers, and crew.  

We all loved our bird and treated her with great respect and love.  

Today I was to act as co-pilot, Billy was our pilot, and Mark was our flight engineer. 

Our preflight inspection was completed and nothing was found amiss.  

Because of the rains and the fact that our bird was forced to weather them unprotected while parked on the ramp, we performed our preflight and engine run up with extra care.  

Particular attention was given to draining the fuel tanks to be sure that there was no water contamination that might cause a loss of power or the loss of an engine.  

No water was found.

The two Wright R-2600s started without problem and our magneto and manifold power checks were within tolerance.  

The taxi to the runway was also uneventful.  

Our crew safety procedures included watching the exhaust stacks for excessive or off colored smoke as well as to listen to the sounds of our motors on start up, run up and during taxi to verify that all was well before taking the runway.  

Again, nothing appeared or sounded amiss.

As the co-pilot, as part of our crew coordination procedures, I was charged with the responsibility of working the radios. 

I asked for and received our tower to tower special clearance and our squawk.  

We were then immediately cleared for take off on runway 35 with a follow up an instruction to turn to a westerly heading of 220° after departure.

Hobby, our destination airport, is the second largest airport in Houston and is west/northwest of Ellington by only six miles.  

It has four sets of runways 30L/12R, 30R/12L, 35/17 and 4/22.  The airport is always busy with commercial and private traffic.  

Today, for traffic flow purposes, air traffic controllers were directing Hobby traffic from the east and southeast to fly southwest of the airport and then north for a right base to the parallel 12 runways.

Once on Ellington Field’s runway 35, Billy advanced the throttles to take off power and we began our roll.  

Engine temps, pressures, sights and sounds all looked and sounded normal until the gear was in transit and we were out of runway.  

It was at that time that the right engine began to loose power, started cutting out, and began puffing white smoke.

Both Billy and I reminded each other that above all we would first and foremost fly the airplane.  

As I raised the flaps, I then started to troubleshoot the problem as the old bomber struggled and clawed at the sky to gain altitude. 

The Mitchell weighs over 25,000 lbs. and its controls are mushy at slow speed.  

Moreover, although very capable of single engine flight, it must be flown with care to avoid loss of VMC.

Neither Billy nor I identified the problem as we leveled at 1000’, the minimum pattern altitude for Hobby.  

Geographically, we were now at the midway point between Hobby and Ellington with the difference being we had to do a 180° turn to go back to KEFD, but only a 90° left turn to go to KHOU – we elected to head to Hobby as it gave us a straight in approach for R22.  

It was here that Ellington tower acknowledged radar contact and instructed us to then contact Hobby tower.

I acknowledged the changeover and immediately contacted Hobby tower and informed the controller there of our poor performing engine and asked for a straight in landing clearance to runway 22.  

To my surprise the controller directed us to fly south of the field in a westerly direction to join the flow for the runway 12 parallels.  

Having heard the controller’s instructions, Billy flew a course that placed us in a left up wind for runway 22 at the numbers.  

Pinching myself in disbelief, I again explained to the controller that our miss-firing engine was a very real concern to us and that getting our bird safely on ground seemed like a good idea to us, just as it would to any sane and reasonable person.

The controller again gave us the same instructions as before and added, “what are your intentions?”  

I felt stupid at that time for not being more assertive because we missed the opportunity for a straight in safe and uneventful approach to 22.  

Remembering the old Chinese proverb of “fool me once, shame on you!  

Fool me twice, shame on me!”,  neither Billy nor I wanted to pass up the next closest way to a safe landing.  

Hearing the controller’s last question loud and clear, I responded “We are declaring an emergency and want runway 30L, the long one”  – Billy nodded in agreement.

Upon hearing our emergency declaration, the controller immediately cleared us for runway 30L and routed other traffic away.  

We elected 30L and not 30R because it was longer and our plan was to land 1/3 down the runway because we knew many engine out landing accidents occur because the pilot either undershoots or overruns the runway and this would give us an adequate margin of error in both respects.

The new clearance placed us in a perfect short right base for 30L.  

Turning to final, we dropped the gear and verified it was locked, went to ¼ flaps, completed our landing checklist, retarded the throttles, and glided under idle power to touchdown about 1/3 down the runway.  

Tower asked if we needed any assistance and I informed them that we did not.  

We were then switched to ground control where we were cleared to taxi back to our hanger with our two fire truck escorts.

After shutdown we thanked the fire department crews for just being there and they thanked us for not putting them to work.  

I next telephoned the tower to thank the controller for his hint to declare an emergency, i.e., “what are your intentions?”  

We were not required to write any reports about the incident, but I gladly would have as I believed our actions, albeit slow, were prudent and justifiable.

A subsequent mechanical investigation of the right engine revealed that the electrical harness was the culprit.  

Its wire insulation was old and brittle.  

That condition allowed the three days of rainwater to saturate the conduit within and thereafter shorted out our the mags.  

The harness was subsequently replaced and the engine ran as normal.

In hindsight, there is no question that I learned five flying lessons from this experience.  

First, I learned that insulation on wires gets old and needs to be closely inspected to insure it weather integrity.  

Second, I re-learned that, as per FAR §91.3, that although we call the person on the other side of the radio a “controller”, in an emergency it is the pilot in the airplane who is the real “controller of the situation” and has the last word. 

 Indeed, because it is the pilot who’s in the emergency, it is logical that he have the ultimate power to safely deal with the crisis at hand.  

Thirdly, what I learned first and foremost is not to delay declaring an emergency if you have one.

 The fourth lesson here is to remember to avoid making your situation worse by delaying the emergency declaration.  

Clearly, a quick declaration of an emergency may eliminate a written report whereas a delay, because the situation got worse, may require one.  

Lastly, what I learned was not to fear the report in the first place.

By J. GARY TRICHTER

J. Gary Trichter is a DWI lawyer who lives in Houston.  He is a 2000 hour pilot who holds an airplane CFI, CFII, MEI, LOA’s for a T-28 and a HA200 as well as a helicopter private pilot rating.

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Field Sobriety Test: The Walk and Turn

Drinking & Driving Houston
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The Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test

The Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test – Law enforcement has three tests that they depend upon to build a case against a driver that they suspect has been driving while intoxicated. 

The first one is the Eye Test, the second is the One-Leg Stand and the third test is called the Walk and Turn.

In the Walk and Turn test, the officer puts a person in a position to get instructions and asks them to put one foot in front of the other on a line. 

That line could be an imaginary line that only the officer can see. 

Then they ask the person to walk– heel to toe keeping arms by their side—nine steps up the line and nine steps back.  

Then they ask the person to count out loud and not stop walking once they have started the test.

Once the officer puts person in this instruction position, he becomes long-winded as he explains. 

Most people will step out of position to be comfortable while getting these instructions, but the officer interprets this move as clue towards being intoxicated. 

Then, in walking the line, if the person happens to have a space between his or her feet, they have just failed the test.  

If his arm goes out just six inches, he has just failed that test.  

The driver needs only two of the officer’s so-called clues to fail the test.

Needless to say, the Walk and Turn is an incredibly inaccurate test and no one needs to take a test that can incriminate them so falsely. 

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Field Sobriety Test: The Eye Test

Trichter & LeGrand DWI Lawyers
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FIELD SOBRIETY TEST:
THE EYE TEST

Field sobriety tests are one of the methods used by law enforcement to determine sobriety in suspected DWI or DUI cases. Understanding how this methodology works, what law enforcement considers a significant sign of intoxication, and how this might be applied to a DWI case is vital for building a proper defense.

Today, we’ll be looking at “The Eye Test”, also known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. It is one of three standardized field sobriety tests created by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), designed to identify drivers who have been operating their vehicles while under the influence.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is the lateral jerking movement of the eyeballs, akin to the movement of your eyes when you look sharply to the far sides of your peripheral vision. The term “nystagmus” is the technical term for rapid involuntary movement of the eyes, which can occur when there is some form of irregularity in the inner ear system of the person or driver in question.One stimuli that can cause this movement is alcohol, as it hinders your ability to fully control the mobility of your eye muscles. 

“The eye test” is conducted by a police officer, and is administered by the officer moving his penlight in front of the driver’s eyes about a foot away from a person’s face. The officer will ask the driver to follow the light with their eyes, and the officer will examine the pupils of the driver to see the angle at which their eyes are twitching. If the officer notices that your eyes twitch at a certain angle, this is considered a sign of potential intoxication or high blood alcohol level.

Accuracy of the DWI Eye Test

Compared to other standard or stereotypical sobriety tests, such as the one leg stand test, or the walk and turn test, the eye test is fairly new and tends to be more accurate.

Where the balance related tests are often designed to have a sort of pass-fail reading, which can be thrown off by a much wider range of issues beyond intoxication, the eye test is designed to actually examine involuntary bodily spasms that may be brought about by excess alcohol in the body.

Apart from having serious eye issues, there is no reason that a person who is reasonably healthy and otherwise capable of driving should have Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus at all. The stimuli that is measured by the eye test makes it one of the most accurate field sobriety tests, with an approximate 77 percent accuracing rating in detecting blood alcohol contents that exceed the legal limit.

Of course, one issue remains. In spite of the perceived accuracy rating, the administration of the eye test still relies on the discretion of the police officers administering the test. That means that while the test itself is fairly accurate, the officer performing the test may read the results differently on a case by case basis.

Why Is This A Problem?


In most cases, officers will be trained to perform these field sobriety tests in order to obtain the most accurate results possible. However, human error is always a factor, and there are plenty of circumstances that can impact the reading of a test that relies on such slight physical responses.

When facing a potential DWI charge, the impact on a person’s life is immense, from the potential fines and punitive measures to the loss of your driver’s license. Relying on a test that may provide unreliable results due to human error isn’t always a comforting experience for people whose future hangs on the results. That’s why there is an increasing and ongoing need for skilled Houston DWI lawyers to protect those wrongfully accused.

If you or a loved one has been subjected to a field sobriety test, taken the eye test, or have any general questions about field sobriety testing, eye tests, or other DWI detection processes, contact Trichter & LeGrand today for a free consultation. You can speak with one of our expert criminal defense attorneys in Houston, and learn all about the various sobriety tests and other DWI detection methods that may be used and defended against in court.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Field Sobriety Test: The One Leg Stand

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FIELD SOBRIETY TEST:
THE ONE LEG STAND

The “one leg stand” test is one of three standardized field sobriety tests implemented and sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

The test is designed to measure the body’s response and reflex to certain stimuli that are believed to manifest as a result of consuming alcoholic beverages.

Police officers administer this test by having a driver stand on one foot approximately six inches above the ground with their toe pointed forward. 

Then, the police officer asks the driver to keep their foot off the ground and count by one-thousands for 30 seconds. 

While doing this, the driver must keep their arms to their side and look down at their foot.

The way that this test is administered is innately flawed as many people who are sober are unable to keep proper balance when on one foot. 

The requested actions that make up the “one leg stand” are counter-intuitive to creating balance. 

This leads to many improper readings and could trigger an unwarranted DUI, requiring the necessity of a Houston DWI lawyer.

While you are performing the test, the administering police officer will be observing your movements to determine whether your are exhibiting any loss of balance considered to be indicative of impairment. 

The police officer will also be keeping an eye for specific indicators that are also considered to be indicative of impairment; these movements include but are not limited to:

  • Swaying while attempting to maintain balance
  • Constant hopping while trying to maintain your balance
  • Putting your foot down before the test is completed
  • Using your arms in any way to maintain your balance

The Problem with the One Leg Stand Test

The problem with the indicators used in the one leg stand test, are that they are perfectly normal reflexes when attempting to maintain balance even without the consumption of alcohol. 

It is this very reason that the test is seen as innately flawed and is designed to make people fail. 

The test also fails to accommodate for those who are elderly, have back or leg problems, people who are overweight or people who generally have poor balance.

Moreover, there is no way to really “pass” this test. 

Police officers generally overestimate the level of intoxication for drivers who voluntarily submit to the field sobriety test. 

Due to the fact that a driver is pulled over and made to prove their sober nature to a police officer, it is a given than the ordinary individual will be extremely nervous.

The fact that you don’t know how long the test is going to be is going to cause a driver to be even more nervous. 

A nervous feeling is usually accompanied by many physical manifestations such as shaking, loss of balance and sweating, all potential red flags to a police officer.

If you or a loved one has been subjected to a field sobriety test and have taken the one leg stand test, or you have any general questions about field sobriety tests, contact Trichter & LeGrand today for a free consultation with one of our expert DWI attorneys in Houston, TX.

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Attorneys on-call 24/7. Form Submissions have a fast response time. The use of this form does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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Do I have a choice to refuse to perform police field sobriety testing?

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Do I have a choice to refuse to perform police field sobriety testing?

police-breathalyzer

Yes, you can refuse the police field sobriety tests. Police officers have many tools that they use to help them determine whether a person is intoxicated for DWI purposes.

Field Sobriety Tests: Tools of the trade

Many of these tools are the subject of great debate as to whether or not they are accurate and/or reliable indicators of intoxication. 

The favorite roadside tools of the officer are the portable breath test (PBT) device and standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). 

There is no “implied consent” statute that requires you to submit to either a PBT or SFSTs, so you may decline the invitation to take them.

Refusing Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty

Many innocent drivers do refuse to submit to a PBT because the specimen given is not preserved and the devices are generally not accepted in the scientific community as being accurate or reliable. 

Further, many innocent drivers refuse to submit to the SFSTs because they feel they are uncoordinated and are very nervous so any test results will not accurately reflect their sobriety.

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You're Just One Step Away!

Attorneys on-call 24/7. Form Submissions have a fast response time. The use of this form does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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