Touch and No Go

So there may still be some things about me that you didn’t know. Like I was in a plane crash once. This story came up after my Dad recently had an opportunity go for a flight in a small plane with a new pilot. His flight ended a little more smoothly than the one in my story.

It all happened one Tuesday afternoon in June 2001 when I was doing a summer internship in Carroll, IA. One of the other interns had their pilot’s license so he rented a Piper PA28-151 (similar to the one pictured above) from the local airport and invited myself and two other interns to go for a flight. It sounded like a good idea at the time and although it was a bit humid, it was a nice summer day. After work we headed to the airport and the pilot went through his checklists. Actually one of the other interns also had his pilot’s license and it seemed like they knew what they were doing.

 We took off from the Carroll airport and flew about 30 miles to Jefferson where we were going to do a touch-n-go. The runway there was a little shorter than the airport in Carroll, but it was still paved so we aren’t talking small town grass strip here. I think that was what prompted the pilots to decided to add on a short-field technique. I remember bleeding off air speed and losing altitude rather quickly thinking that it was going to end badly. Then as the ground was quickly approaching; all of the sudden he hit the power and pulled it up and we gently kissed the ground. Wow what a relief. He powered back up to full power and we were cruising down the runway. And we were cruising down the runway. And… yeah, still on the runway. We had lots of speed but no lift. So at about half way or 3/4 down the runway the pilot called out “Abort, Abort”. In hindsight, the short-field technique designed to stop more quickly might not have been a good choice to combine with a touch-n-go where “go” is an key component.

The pilot was completely calm and focused. He killed the engine and kept the plane laser straight down the runway. And then there was a “thunk”. And I knew that was the light in the middle of the end of the runway which we took out as we rolled onto the grassy field. Turns out small planes don’t have much for brakes. Also the grass was a little wet so that didn’t help either. Now, during this time it well… seemed like there was a lot of time. Time to tighten my seat-belt. Time to find firm places for my feet to brace myself. Time to lean to the side a little bit so that when we “stopped” I wouldn’t bash my face into the seat in front of me.

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After about 200 meters (according to Google maps) of grass there was a big ditch. And then another ditch. Oh, and there is a highway in between. 235th street. Now I don’t think it has a lot of traffic, but I did notice a brown Suburban who saw us coming and stopped on the road waiting for us to ‘cross’. And cross we did. We went through the first ditch and that popped us up in the air so that we firmly nose planted into the far side of the opposite ditch. Time sped up a bit during that part. My headset went flying and cracked the windshield. I’m not sure how fast we were going, but I’d guess about 30 mph. (Don’t do any math on that I’m sure my estimate is accurate.) But right after we came to a stop; the pilot who was still calm and focused, pulled the key from the ignition, checked on all of us, and got us all out of the plane and up to the shoulder of the highway. Throughout the whole incident, the pilot was composed. Then he turned around and saw the plane. The wreckage actually. And he lost it. As I stood there smiling to myself saying, “Hey we didn’t die!”, the gravity of what just occurred hit him like a ton of bricks.

It seemed like it only took seconds for the highway patrol to arrive on scene as well as an ambulance. They took the pilot to the hospital in the ambulance to get checked out because he we a little emotional still. That left the three of us standing on the side of the road. One of the state troopers was gracious enough to give us a ride to the hospital. After a bit they released the pilot to us giving us careful instructions to watch him and check on him during the night. They were very adamant about it and didn’t seem to see any problem with putting the other three guys from plane crash in charge of the guy who may have gotten a concussion in said plane crash. That left only one problem. We were all interns who weren’t from the area and we had only been there for about a month. So we didn’t know anybody and we were 30 miles from home. I don’t remember how, but we eventually got a number for someone willing to come pick us up. Needless to say the next day at work was interesting.

So why did it happen? Well, the story I got was that there were several contributing factors. First, when fueling this plane there is full “to the tabs” and full “topped off full” and they had done the later so there was extra fuel weight. Next, the plane supposedly was ‘underpowered’ and with four average 20 year old guys it was close to being at gross weight. (I’m not sure how much I buy that.) Lastly, it was humid which meant that there was less lift. Scientifically this is true but I’m not sure how significant it was. I never saw an official report, until now that is. Yes, thanks to the internet I found it here. The short narrative is below, you can hit the link for the long narrative if this post isn’t long enough for you already.

The pilot was attempting a touch and go with three passengers in the airplane. When he rotated for liftoff, he felt the airplane did not feel right and initiated an aborted takeoff. He did not maintain directional control. The airplane exited the runway, traversed a grassy area, a roadway and impacted a ditch. The pilot said that this was the first time he had flown the airplane with three passengers. He also indicated that he had a total time in this make and model of airplane of 2.2 hours.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot’s lack of total experience in this type of aircraft and his failure to maintain directional control during an aborted takeoff. A factor was the ditch.

I found the probable causes interesting. I wonder if there is a difference between “lack of total experience” and “total lack of experience”. And I find it interesting that the ditch was called out as a factor. I believe that the ground is a significant factor in the majority of plane crashes.

In the end, the pilot kept his license. The plane was insured by the airport and even though he wasn’t legally obligated the pilot said he was going to repay the deductible. And I got a story out of it. I figure that since I’ve survived a plane crash the odds of me being in another crash are insanely low. I’m not sure since I slept through my statistics class. (True story but that is for another post.)

Good Night Jake

I stayed home with all four kids Friday night so that Jenny could go out with moms from school. I was finally able to get Jake to go to bed. It was quite an accomplishment so I decided to take a video of it. I always say, everything I need to know about parenting I learned from training dogs.

Yeah, kids and dogs… it’s kind of an Andrews thing.

Math Problems

Everyone is getting ready to crawl into their beds. It’s been a long day and due to Daylight Saving it is an hour later than usual.

Olivia: “But I want to go get my Care Bears from the living room.”

Jenny: “You have two seconds to go get them…. One. One and a quarter. One and a half. One and three quarters.”

Olivia: “Mommy, I don’t even know what fractions are!”

Busted! But now the mystery is how she actually knows what fractions are…

Jake at 7 Months

Jake is really coming into his own these days. He’s crawling all over the place and even stood up by himself next to a shelf. He also has two teeth, is eating solid food, and is always starving – or so he acts. We think he is a handsome little guy. Take a look for yourself.

Happy Birthday Violet!

For Violet’s birthday we decided to go down to SeaWorld in San Antonio for the day. First thing we had to do was buy a pass for her since only two and under are free :-(, but it was worth it. We got there about half an hour after they opened at 10:30 and went over to the dolphins. After putting on our sun screen it was time to feed the dolphins and boy were they happy. They let would have let us pet them even without fish to feed them, but they ate the fish anyway.

After that we went through the aquarium. Ate lunch. We had picked up Subway sandwiches on the way so we ate our picnic lunch on the benches outside the park. Then it was time for some rides, but first the height check…

So Livy and Molly could definitely ride the Shamu Express and they did.

Livy is already a “no hands” kind of rider. Molly went with it for a while. They loved it, but since Violet couldn’t ride we had to do something for her. So next was the carousel.

And of course she rode the purple pony. 🙂

After that, Jake needed a break so the little girls stayed with Mom at the sprinkler park while she feed him. Livy and I went off to find the “Journey to Atlantis”. I thought it was the huge “log ride” roller coaster which splashes down in water. Sure enough it was. Was she scared?

From Violet’s Birthday at SeaWorld

Needless to say she was not. She went no hands the very first time. And since there was no line we doubled-down and went twice. Then back to find the rest of the family. That was cool enough that we had to see if Molly was tall enough. From the original height check it looked questionable. We found them and Molly was game. Mom, well she had to be coaxed a little but eventually she said that if Molly went with me once, then she would go with them. And we were in luck, Molly was just tall enough. Jenny didn’t get a chance to go right then because we had wait for a boat (not ours) to get ‘unstuck’ at the top. That didn’t phase Molly at all though. She held on, but just like Livy, there was not a hint of fear; just screams of joy. (Sidenote: I love how kids have no fear. No doubt that they can do something unless someone tells them they can’t or they should be afraid. And that isn’t going to be me.)

Then it was time to hit the last Shamu show and we went all in and sat in the “splash zone” at eye level with the water. The show was wet, cold, and salty. Yeah, Shamu is serious about his splash zone. It was great. Then off to see the penguins, sea lions, and otters before circling back for Molly and Livy to take Mom on “Journey to Atlantis” a couple of times.

Then back home, but not before hitting Rudy’s for some bbq for dinner. Overall, Violet was very pleased with her birthday. At least it seemed like she had a better time than her birthday party at school.










A Walk in the Park

…as seen by Olivia the budding young photographer. But first the back story. I don’t remember when it started but Olivia had wanted a camera. At a friends house she had played with one of those durable kid cameras and put it on her wish list. The instant gratification of seeing the picture on the little screen had lured her in. But being the high tech geek, I just couldn’t swallow buying the toy which would only shoot 640×480 at best. We also had a Canon Rebel XTi DSLR which we used for most of our pictures and a Canon PowerShot SD1000 for videos primarily and time when we didn’t want to carry the larger Rebel. However, last summer Jenny and I got new Android phones which have decent cameras and can record higher quality video than SD1000 so we didn’t use it much. Then at Christmas at my parents house after opening all of their presents, Livy made the comment that she didn’t get the camera that she had wished for. She didn’t throw a fit, but she was disappointed. So I reached into the diaper bag, grabbed our “old” SD1000 and gave it to her. OK so I admit I did it in part just to see what my sister would do. Both Lisa and Livy, and Jenny, had confused faces for a second. Then Livy lit up. Yep, I was serious. That was her camera now. She was very happy and went around taking pictures. She picked up on how to run it pretty quickly and can review her pictures and switch between picture and video mode. Man can she fill up the memory card quick taking videos.

Now to the walk. Earlier this summer we decided to brave the heat and go for a little hike and feed some ducks at a nearby pond. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to take my camera and make it a photo walk. Livy thought that sounded like a good idea too, so she grabbed her camera. When we got back home before looking at her pictures, I figured I didn’t want all of her pictures cluttering up my Picasa on my account so I set her up with her own user account, logged in, and imported her pictures to her account. Low and behold she took some really nice photos. So nice that I figured I’d go ahead and set up an online account for her to show them off. So here is Olivia’s first photo walk portfolio. Note that I didn’t edit, crop, or delete any pictures. This is how Livy saw things and what she chose to take pictures of. Click on the picture below and then the slideshow button to enjoy the show.

A Walk In The Park


The other day we were out for mexican food, ok so it was really just Taco Bell, and Livy and Violet were playing a game with their Doritos. At first, you could “win” if you had the biggest chip which was Violet. Livy wanted to win too so she added that the person with the most chips was also a winner. She crushed one up just to make sure. Then Livy and Violet started brainstorming ways that Molly could also win. Molly wasn’t really into it but Livy reassured her, “Molly, everyone can win in this game.” Molly replied back without hesitation, “I don’t want to play games if everyone wins.” I swear I didn’t teach her that, she is just a natural Andrews. And we might be a little competitive.

Baby Status

Today is the day. We’re checked into the hospital and are just chillin’ until they get to us. They said that they had a run on delivers so they have been busy. Not sure what to make of Jenny watching “19 Kids and Count” while in Labor and Delivery. Nurse just came in so I guess we’ll be getting started.


We’re all set up and waiting for things to pick up. Everything going to plan so far. We’ve got two nursing students tagging along for the day which has helped pass the time.


Contractions are getting regular and more frequent. Jenny is still pretty comfortable which is good and bad but they are happy with how out is progressing. We requested a ‘heplock’ (sp?) which is an IV in the wrist, rather than one in the elbow since it make it easier to move around. She is sitting on her exercise ball comfortably for now.


They broke her water and things are starting to pick up so the updates will probably be less frequent. Still have a ways to go but not going to on the phone.


Final update on this post. Check out the news here.