This is by far the most encouraging CaringBridge update on Austin Hatch yet, complete with no fewer than two Michigan mentions:
Austin is well underway with his a-maize-ing comeback. Although his recovery will be long and difficult, his progress causes us to rejoice and hope. A few highlights from the past week are:
-So far Austin prefers chili rather than hamburger or ravioli
-Austin sang 'Hail to the Victors' with us
-Austin is working hard on his mobility skills
'Team Austin' includes a wonderful group of therapists who push him hard and all of us celebrate his success. Austin and his family are especially mindful of all his classmates and the entire Canterbury family as they returned to school today.
Story featured on the ESPN College Basketball front page about Austin Hatch.
I emailed the athletic department regarding Austin Hatch's teammates giving away (and accepting donations for) "Austin is my brother" wristbands:
Hello Mr. Ablauf,
I was unable to find a contact email for compliance on the athletics web site, so if this question is better suited for someone else, please feel free to forward it on.
AnnArbor.com posted a story (linked above) about Austin Hatch's high school teammates giving out wristbands in support of Austin. They are also accepting donations on his behalf. Myself and some friends would like to purchase (donate) in support of Austin, yet we are worried of potential NCAA violations. Would you have any information on whether or not there may be issues with donating to this cause, since Austin is a Michigan recruit?
BS, LSA '10
Dave Ablauf's response:
Thanks for the email. I wanted to respond to your email and hoped I would have been able to by now but we still haven’t heard back from the NCAA. Our compliance office is working with the NCAA to find out what we can do or tell our loyal supporters in regard to donating to a fund for Austin. We still don’t have an answer back from the NCAA at this point. I appreciate you contacting us to make sure you weren’t doing something that affecting the University. We will be in touch once we getting an interpretation from them.
David Ablauf | Associate Athletic Director | Public & Media Relations
University of Michigan Athletic Department
So right now it seems like we should probably wait and hope for a response from the NCAA.
Late Friday afternoon, the Hatch family posted their first CaringBridge update on Austin's condition since last Saturday:
Friday July 8thBy the grace of God, Austin James is showing improvements every day. He is comfortable and stable. He has begun opening his BIG BLUE EYES a little bit more! We understand that his healing will be a very slow and gradual process; we're not sure whether Austin has any awareness of what he sees yet.Thanks to Mimi, Grandpa Siwik, Aunt Mary Toth, and Cousin Dr. Dan O'Donnell who all stayed at Austin's side for the past few days. Nona came up and told Austin she's getting ready to make him some meatballs. We are comforted by all of your prayers, stories and words of inspiration. Although we grieve, our hearts are filled with hope and joy!
The Detroit News tonight posted a small story on the NTSB's preliminary report into the crash that killed Austin Hatch's father and step mother. You can find it here:
The story mentions that a flight instructor from Indianapolis is speculating that the cause could have been a stall following a missed approach. From my experience, this is as good an explanation at this point as any, though the NTSB will continue to examine all of the available evidence before issuing its final report. It may yet turn out to be something other than the CFI's best guess.
For those of you who are not pilots, a "missed approach" is a procedure, documented in what are called Standard Terminal Arrival Routes, or STARs, that a pilot follows when his initial attempt to land at an airport under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) is aborted due to weather, other traffic, etc. We'll often called these STARs "approach plates", because in printed form, they are about 5"x7" and fit a board (or "plate") that can be strapped to the leg of the pilot or mounted on the control yoke.
A stall occurs when the smooth ("laminar") flow of air begins to separate from the top of the wing, as shown below:
The angle between the "relative wind" and an imaginary line that runs from the wing's leading edge to its farthest back point is known as the "Angle of Attack". When the Critical Angle is reached, lift abruptly begins to decrease.
"Relative wind" is also important to understand, because it is the angle between the wing's imaginary front-to-back line (called the "chord") and the direction of the on-coming air relative to the wing.
So what does all of this mean for the instructor's speculated cause of the crash?
When a pilot executes a Missed Approach Procedure, she/he transitions from a descent to land to - usually - a climbing turn toward a fixed point called a "navigation fix". It is during this time, low and slow, that the pilot is vulnerable to a stall. That is because the Angle of Attack increases during a turn. Additionally, the aircraft is executing a climb, which also means a "nose-high" attitude and higher Angle of Attack. Assuming that Dr. Hatch executed the MAP successfully, later turns, possibly while descending, could have caused the same conditions.
When I learned to fly - both for my Private Pilot and, later, my Instrument rating - I, like all pilots, practiced stalls with both a clear view of the horizon and "under the hood" (the student's view of the world outside the aircraft obscured by special glasses or an adjustable hood that let me see the instrument panel, but nothing else). An experienced pilot, Dr. Hatch practiced them as well. It is essential for a pilot to recognize the onset of a stall and to correct the aircraft's pitch, roll, power and airspeed to avoid it.
All stall recoveries, though, take time at some loss of altitude. The standard by which pilots are judged during training is that not more than 50 ft. of altitude can be lost during a stall recovery. In "real world" IFR conditions and close to the ground, such as Dr. Hatch found himself last weekend, there just isn't much margin for error. He had to detect the onset (which is aided by a stall warning horn), mentally process the correct situation he was in, determine the appropriate response, and fly the recovery in a split second. Unless he had recently been practicing stalls, either on his own or with an instructor, chances are pretty good that his skills were rusty. That's not an indictment of his skills as a pilot. Most private pilots, myself included, are similarly one unfortunate chain of events from the same outcome.
I pointed out in an earlier thread that I am constantly aware that, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Hopefully, if anything positive can come from this, it is an increasing awareness among private pilots like me that we must remain vigilant and continue to practice, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.
The latest update on Austin Hatch from the Hatch family on the CaringBridge page is very encouraging:
Saturday July 2
Austin had another good and restful night. The concern regarding brain swelling has subsided and his condition continues to improve. We are encouraged by Austin's response to the excellent medical care he is receiving, a testament to his prior athletic training regimen. We will keep all of you posted with any meaningful changes in his condition.
God bless you all.