These photographs of one of the Fundacion Infante de Orleans Aircraft Collection based in Madrid, Spain website were taken on Saturday the 1st September 2007 during a flight from Aeropuerto de Cuatro Vientos to the West of Madrid by the small town of Quijorna.
My thanks again to the FIO President, D.Carlos Valle, for giving me another flight in one of the collection's great aircraft, a T6 Texan (shown on the right). Sadly during the flight the aircraft suffered an engine failure, the first time in 23 years to either T6 in the collection but thanks to the expert flying by the FIO pilot, D.Enrique 'Quique' Bueno, a safe wheels up landing was carried out by the 'Campo del Golf de Quijorna' at about 1345 hours, the T6 was dismantled and is now back with the FIO awaiting rebuild.
The FIO monthly air display (1st Sunday of each month except for January and August) is held at the Royal Aero Club of Spain's (Real Aero Club de Espana or 'RACE') historic club building which is situated at Aeropuerto de Cuatro Vientos, on the South West outskirts of Madrid by the M40 ring road. The FIO Museum is close by and is open to the public during the week.
During the flight in one of the Fundacion Infante de Orleans (FIO) North American T6 Texans '793*25' ex Spanish Air Force with the pilot, Enrique 'QuiQue' Bueno flying in close formation with the Museum's other T6, we suffered an engine failure in that all power was lost after we recovered from a loop. The first I became aware that something was wrong was when I heard the low oil pressure horn sounding and looked at the RPM gauge and oil pressure gauge to see if I could make out what was going on. As it happens my headphones were not working so I was not able to hear Enrique.
It soon became apparent that we would have to make a forced landing, this is the second aircraft incident I have been involved in, both single engine types but although the first one I had, in the UK a few years ago and nothing to do with the FIO, had left me shaken and very concerned, this one for me being in the expert hands of a great pilot who at all times until the very second he gently flew the aircraft to a smooth wheels up landing, well, no fear, no shakes and no concerns at any point in the emergency or afterwards. Flying with a competent pilot and extremely strong and well maintained aircraft, well, what a difference it made!
Back to the landing. Quique had immediately chosen a landing area when we lost the engine, I noticed him trying to restart the engine several times but then as we got lower he prepared for the landing by turning off the fuel cocks and magnetos, then he was free to concentrate 100% on the landing, at about 200 hundred feet we were still over trees but heading for an open area, we then descended to about 20 feet, speed still well up at 100 mph indicated, wind conditions luckily were calm, bright sun and good visibility, what had happened was that even at 500 feet the land looked flat but as we got down we could see it was rolling countryside, some fields were ploughed but all crops had been harvested. At 20 feet we levelled off to fly low over the ground, first we crossed over a terrace which must have been a metre or two high, followed the slope down and then up over a slight rise then down again and up the other side when Quique made a final correction to the right to be in the best position before a very gentle touch down, wheels up heading uphill on a gentle slope. There was plenty of noise as we ran straight along the ploughed field uphill slightly, then over the top of the rise into a level field which had just straw stalks in it, this after a run of about 50 metres, but just then within a few metres the nose dug in slightly, the tail must have risen a bit, the tail spun around to the left about 90-100% and we shot backwards for a metre or two. At that point it was very confusing and the gyrations were violent, plenty of soil and dust thrown up, I was thrown around the cockpit and put my arms up to protect my head which meant both my elbows hit the side of the canopy, my right elbow taking the biggest punishment. We were of course both tightly strapped in with a full harness and parachute. Then all quiet, Quique asked if I was OK, 'Yes, no problems' and we both un strapped ourselves and got out, Quique asked again if all was OK, I immediately thanked him and shook his hand saying all the best landings are the ones you walk away from.
Having flown with him before and known him for many years, I already knew he was an excellent pilot, now I have personal experience to be able to confirm that he is the best! At all times in the descent he was in control, he made the correct judgements needed all the time and even at the last second he was looking around so that we touched down in the best possible spot. If the nose had not dug in at the last moment the aircraft would only have received superficial damage, sadly the engine and bearers were quite badly bent, but both Pilot and passenger were safe and uninjured. An impressive display of airmanship by a highly qualified and experienced pilot, the hero of the day I announce to be: Commandante
Enrique Bueno, thank you from a true friend of the FIO.: Robin Norton
We had landed a few hundred metres from Quijorna Campo del Golf and an adjacent radio mast to the West of Madrid, I tidied up the aircraft, packed the parachutes away into their bags, closed the canopy while Quique went off to see if he could find out exactly where we were. The other T6 was circling overhead so was able to report back that we were safe and out of the aircraft. Quique of course had his mobile phone which he used to report back to base. The Dornier 27 belonging to the FIO arrived overhead and I found out later took some photographs, taken by the well known Spanish aviation photographer Javier Guerrero. We were both able to clean ourselves up in the Golf Club washroom and enjoy a cold lemon drink! After an hour or so the Guardia Civil turned up, checked we were both OK, then later the team from the FIO arrived, including the President Carlos Valle who made it clear he was very pleased to see us unhurt and to congratulate Quique on his safe landing. The T6 was loaded up that evening to be returned to the FIO and for rebuild. I found out the following day that the FIO has been operating the two T6 Texans for 23 years, this was the first time they had suffered an engine failure. A final confirmation to me, although something I already know, the FIO is well run by a highly professional team under the leadership of its President, Carlos Valle, the full time aircraft engineers are dedicated with expert knowledge and know what they are doing, each aircraft is prepared to the highest of standards before each flight and entrusted to one of the mainly ex military professional pilots who have been flying for many years. I would be happy and hope to be able to fly with the FIO in the future in any of their wonderful aircraft, I know I could not be in safer hands.