Today we examine a YouTube video that shows a race plane losing a wing in flight and miraculously making a safe landing. We believe the video does not show a real event, but instead is a conscious effort to spread the brand of the KillaThrill sports apparel company via a viral video.
A successful viral video is a bit of a holy grail for advertisers. Imagine if you could entice people to voluntarily pass along your advertisement to their friends simply because the video is interesting. Free advertising doesn’t get any better than that.
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Here are 4.5 reasons why this video probably does not show a real event…
1. The plane approaches landing in a knife-edge pass and we expect to see the right horizontal stabilizer on the tail impact the ground first. Suddenly, some mysterious force simultaneously lifts the tail and rolls the airplane upright for landing. What was this force? The flight controls are less responsive at this slow speed, and the right aileron is gone, so we can rule out super-human piloting. The right horizontal stabilizer could not have bounced off the ground because there is clearly no damage to it. Some subtle video editing, not aerodynamics, must have played a part in this landing.
2. The plane doesn’t bounce correctly on landing. The plane makes a hard landing and bounces a few feet into the air. At this time, the airspeed is low, and the tail pitches up in response to the bounce. Every tail-wheel pilot knows what should happen next. There is nothing to stop the plane from impacting the ground with its lightweight tail high in the air, and its heavy nose plowing into the ground. As the propeller digs into the ground, the plane would flip over due to the sudden stop. But the airplane in the video makes an “amazing” soft landing based on video trickery, not physics.
3. The wing falls off during a routine low speed, low-G roll, yet holds up fine moments earlier during a four-G (at least) pull-up. Seems a bit odd.
4. AirRacer89 and MrMarodeur posted the same video on YouTube within two days of one another. Both videos have similar search tags. Both user profiles are based in Germany. As of this writing, both profiles have posted only one video: the one-wing landing. Both profiles list similar videos in their favorites. Here is a theory: maybe a guy at an ad agency posted the video first as MrMarodeur on October 25, and was disappointed with the low number of initial views, so he created the AirRacer89 profile on October 27 and posted the same video in order to spread the net a little wider.
4.5 Where did the race pylons go? At the beginning of the clip, you briefly can see the race plane zooming through Red-Bull style race pylons, but later when the airplane makes it's "amazing landing" the pylons are gone. This is only .5 of a reason because we don't see enough of the surrounding airport environment to tell for sure.
Bonus: RRRRUUUUUUUNNN ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
What do you think? Real or fake? Does it matter? Do you feel like buying KillaThrill sports apparel now?
The pilot, James Andersson, swears it's real. See his interview.