“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
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.
An encouraging update on Austin Hatch was recently posted on his CaringBridge page:
Friday July 1st
First of all, we would like to thank all of the press who have given the family space and time to rest and focus on Austin. We are encouraged by the progress Austin has made in this first week. He has remained stable, and notable improvements include movement to withdraw from pain and improved breathing function. Doctors have begun the gradual process of reducing his medications. As he slowly begins the "waking up" process, we ask for your continued prayers, and are grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Austin and the entire extended Hatch Family.
Also, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel reported that a memorial service will be held next Wednesday for his father and stepmother.
Press release posted at mgoblue.com:
Coach Beilein Issues Letter to U-M Fans, Supporters Regarding Hatch Family
June 28, 2011
To All Fans and Supporters of Michigan Athletics,
Our basketball program and the Michigan community were saddened to hear about the tragedy that affected the Hatch family late Friday evening. Austin needs as much support right now as possible and he continues to be in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
We are grateful that the NCAA has relaxed some of the contact restrictions currently in place to accommodate this unique set of circumstances for our coaches. We appreciate that they and Big Ten office are working with us throughout this situation. Both groups have been in communication with our compliance office and continue to provide valuable insight on a daily basis.
The outpouring of support from our Michigan faithful, coaches, administrators and fans across the country has been overwhelming. We are thankful for all the support that has been offered to the Hatch family. We appreciate that the NCAA will continue to work with us and act in the best interest of everyone involved.
Thanks for your continued prayers for Austin and the Hatch family.
For those who would like to send a note of support, the family has requested all well-wishers use the website -- http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/AustinHatch
Indiana's News Center has an item—Austin Hatch Still in a Coma but Sources Are Optimistic—that includes a statement from the Hatch family:
Munson Medical Center released the following statement on behalf of the Hatch family spokesperson:
“Austin remains in critical condition but is recovering. We ask that everyone respect our family’s privacy during this time of grief. We appreciate the prayers, concerns, and outpouring of sympathy. Expressions of support for Austin and the family may be directed to www.caringbridge.org/visit/AustinHatch.”
There is additional optimistic news in the article:
Sources say Austin's still in the medically induced coma doctor’s put him in after the plane crash. They say doctors are waiting on results of a CT Scan.
But sources tell us they have observed movement in all four of Austin’s extremities and they feel it's a positive sign.
. . .
"I'm sure he will be in a coma for a few more days as they continue to work on him. But they think he's out of the woods. They didn't know initially if he was going to make it but I think he will make it now and we're praising God for that," said [Blackhawk Teaching Pastor Steve] Webster.
PLEASE NOTE: As I mentioned in the earlier thread, from what Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub said on WTKA this morning, Michigan fans need to be careful about reaching out to Austin—perhaps even through that web page the family has set up. For example, if you wanted to send a card to him, they said you should be careful not to indicate any connection to Michigan, such as saying "looking forward to seeing you in Ann Arbor" or something like that. Even saying something like "Go Blue!" might be problematic. As I recall from the show, Ira had talked to Tom Wywrot at U-M, who had gotten some clarification on this issue from the NCAA. If anyone has heard anything further on what is and is not allowed, please post it here, and I'll be glad to revise this.