Wake turbulence could happen to you!
John Lauby
1 Posts

I was departing  25 at Hatteras KHSE on a calm day in my Cherokee 235. An Osprey had landed on the start of the runway 25, then hovered for 3 minutes and departed at low level flight the entire  length of the runway turning left traffic out to the ocean. I back taxied 25 to depart to the west. Did mag checks before back taxi.  Turned around headed down 25 to fly home.  At between 60 to 80 feet I banked right to 270 degrees.  Instantly wake turbulence flipped left wing over to two o’clock. I thought the controls had broken as I was looking out windshield top at trees and ground. I pushed down elevator, full left rudder, then left aileron in that order thinking I would be a yard dart if controls are gone. It was about one second which seemed like three minutes and she began to roll back over and righted herself. I have over 1000 hours 800 in this Cherokee and still feel lucky to have lived through this. I’m telling this  story to let other pilots know wake or prop turbulence is a serious situation not to be taken lightly.  Hatteras is not controlled as ATC would have warned me. Before this I still would not have been concerned. I have a new respect for wake/prop turbulence.  There are many osprey flights here in NC. Just know on calm days turbulence remains around for a long time from those big props. John A Lauby base KFAY 
20 Replies
I have a less severe but still sobering wake turbulence story...  Was approaching Concord Regional (KJQF) in a C182.  The tower warns a Citation Jet is landing ahead and cautions for wake turbulence.  I slowed down considerably to wait for the vortices to clear.  Over the threshold, I started to pull back the power.  Instead of a nice smooth decent, it felt like the bottom fell out and the aircraft was descending much faster than normal.  I increased power and maintained altitude.  Then, I tried again.  Same result of feeling that sinking feeling towards the runway.  Added the power back in.  I thought. will try this one more time and then it is time to go around.  On the third time, the aircraft did a nice smooth decent to the runway.
Afterwards, I was so perplexed trying to think what happened.  Winds were calm and I went through everything that happened on approach trying to figure out what went wrong.  Only then did I realize that this was the result of wake turbulence.  Reading further confirmed my suspicion.  Wake vertices, as they fall, can cause this downward force. I was always thinking there would be a big upset but the results can be more subtle (and equally dangerous).
While certainly not as dramatic as others have experienced, it is another example of what the results can be from the wake of another aircraft.  
My grandkids live in Galveston, so I am visiting KGLS frequently.  Very nice tower controllers and nice FBO, and yes there is a lot of helo ops.
I am based at Galveston International Scholes.  KGLS a busy helicopter airfield for sure. Lots of movement  to and from the off shore oil rigs. Come visit and be aware of wake turbulence.
To set the stage.........It's a hot day in Northern California's Sacramento Valley (Redding) with smoke in the air.  I'm doing a pre flight on my Cessna 150 and watching the air tankers take off and land as there is a large fire to east.  I taxi out thinking I'll just wait until they clear the runway when the control tower says take off without delay and "caution for wake turbulence". Well let me tell you, wake turbulence is not your friend...........It was pure mush!
Beware the helicopters taxing parallel to the runway.

I've been cleared to land at airports hosting Nat Guard heilos.  They are often taxing BESIDE the area I will touch down on a parallel taxiway.  I always overfly them and land beyond them or go around if there will not be enough runway left to execute a safe landing.  "Tower - Going around to avoid wake turbulence from the taxiing helicopter" - usually gets their attention.  While keyed for wake turbulence if the aircraft is on the runway - controllers often forget the mayhem the taxiing helicopters are churning in the adjacent air NEXT to the runway.
Thanks to all for replying and sharing your encounters with wake turbulence. There are certainly some interesting, and frightful, encounters noted here. Good lessons learned and I thank you for sharing.

I will offer you two other encounters I have had, one as a student and one as an instructor:

I was soloing at a towered field, Martin State in Baltimore, as my instructor watched from the ground. MTN was home of the Maryland Air Guard and base to its fleet of C-130's. On my second orbit, the controller cleared me to land and said "caution, wake turbulence". I acknowledged and later thought 'what does that mean?' My instructor had yet to discuss that concept. No encounter was made, but the lesson was learned. Better late than never, but probably a good idea to teach this before your student hears it for the first time and thinks like I did.

I was approaching on final in a J3C Cub under calm wind. The Baron departing just ahead of my arrival sat on the runway and ran up to probably full power before brake release. Those two props sure stirred up a whole bunch of air as I settled into that wind storm. Control was not lost, but the lesson was learned - two O-520 Continentals beat a single A-65 any day!

Beware of wake turbulence, prop wash, and rotor wash, and fly safe!