April 2001 Issue

Demon Speeds

If you like having your wings and tail attached, donít fool with flutter

Judging from the NTSBís files, more than a few pilots have had the misfortune of encountering flutter. Whether induced by the pilotís actions or by improper maintenance procedures, flutter is a very serious problem that requires instant corrective action in flight. The stakes are high. Flutter can disfigure your airframe or even rip it apart.

I personally encountered flutter in flight a few years ago Ė and at a speed that greatly surprised me because it was relatively low.

I was in a sailplane working an afternoon thermal with my wife in the front seat. I was circling in the thermal at about 55 knots when the wing started to vibrate. It was enough that we definitely felt it in the coc...

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