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April 2015. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if
1. Colin Bishop's Verner Engine Failure
failure. Nice big field Colin, well done!
The weekend had been booked, with Phil Parmiter and I spending it at the Woodsprings model show nr Bristol, where Phil would have been showing off his skills with the larger scale models. Woodsprings is one of the best model shows in the country with an equal mix of models large and small; mixed with a smattering of full size to spice up the weekend. But a phone call from the organisers the week before, informing us that the site was under water, made us change our plans.
We had been planning an overnight stop for months so when the weather forecast looked good for the Saturday and part of Sunday we thought about a trip to Bodmin, stop over and come back the next morning. I had been having trouble with my radio and didn't want to fly without, so whilst I spent the morning re-installing my Lynx interface into Skyranger G-MARO, Will Gillam and Phil flew up to Henstridge in Rans G-CBOS. I had just had the interface back from Lynx so I was confident that I would have it installed by the time they returned.
So I was not happy when I tried the radio out only to find that I could not contact anyone. I waited until Phil & Will came back and we put the planes at each end of the runway. Whilst I could hear Will all he got was white noise!!!! By this time I had had enough so we decided to contact Jim Greenshields and ask for advice. Jim very kindly suggested I bring both of my radios up and we would try them out.
Any excuse for a flight - so we took both planes up to Dunkeswell. Lovely flight with no problems. Jim and Big Al were up with students, so a cup of coffee with Val and little Jim was called for. When Jim returned he thought the quickest way to check things out was to put one of his Icom units in G-MARO and see what the result would be. We thought the safest way to test the radio would be for Phil to take G-CBOS back to Bridport and after leaving the circuit change to the Microlight channel [129.825] so as not to interfere with traffic at Dunkeswell. The only thing it confirmed was that the interface was still faulty so it would have to come out yet again (all those bloody cable ties so lovingly fitted)!!!
All I could do was go back to Bridport without a radio and spend the afternoon ripping out the interface. I started up, all seemed fine and I taxied up to the café for the trip down 23. I stopped at the end of the new taxi way and did my checks. All was in the green, power run up and mag check was no problem. I taxied out for an immediate take off and lifted off in the usual short run and all seemed fine until I reached the threshold at 350ft. I thought I must have knocked the throttle with my knee as the engine suddenly lost revs. But I soon found I had more of a problem than that.
The engine was surging and I was losing power- so what were my options:
• Pray for divine intervention
• Kiss my ass goodbye
• Look for a field quick
Well - what I did was what Al had trained me to do, Al had nagged me so many times about looking out for a landing spot that one of the first fields he had ever cut the throttle on and told me to land in was the one that presented itself. I was, I thought,a bit high but the option was landing in the trees over the ridge. I pushed the nose down to keep the speed up and rapidly lost height. The result was that I was coming in very fast! “No problem it's a big field” went through my mind, but it's amazing how you quickly run out of ground.
On the ground I was so close to the trees I thought ‘Oh S---! This is it', but a hard right rudder and some brake pulled her around. Phew!!!!!!!!!!! What had happened? It's amazing that after a close shave like that you realize it must be your lucky day. I taxied away from the trees, passed some shocked cows and tried to work out what was wrong. The engine hadn't stopped and I appeared to have throttle control. I gave the plane a full throttle run up without a blip. At this point, with the adrenalin going to my head, I wasn't thinking straight. My first thought was I need to get out of this field and back home, so after a fast taxi across the field I tried again. Every thing seemed fine: she kept full throttle into the climb out over the farm and then it went again. It was at this point a wise man would have said, ‘Silly XXXXXX! you should have waited until you found the problem' -(well, Al did later).
The trouble this time was that I was a lot lower and had fewer options to land in. Luckily, by this time, I was flying downwind so a gentle bank brought me back into wind in the same field, with the cows thinking ‘What the hell is this silly bugger playing at!'. The second landing was far gentler than the first and this time common sense prevailed and I stopped and turned off.
A moment's reflection on my actions; get out; kiss the ground and check the state of my underpants, then a quick phone call to Val at Somerset Microlights. I had heard Al on the radio telling Dukeswell I was down safe the first time, so I knew everyone was aware of my situation and Val confirmed that and asked if I was OK. ‘Yes' was the reply and the plane was in one piece as well. Val told me to sit still, help would be along soon. I then phoned Phil Parmiter who was relieved to find I was ok - he said he would grab some tools and come up to Dunks.
While I waited I tried to work out what was wrong! It had to be fuel so I removed the bowl on the carb, no mess there. Carb icing - no couldn't be that, both carb heaters were on. So what else could it be?
By this time help had started to arrive in the guise of Mike Hawkins and a more welcome face I couldn't have wanted to see. Mike climbed over the fence and came to see what could be done. At this point there was no chance of me flying out, so a trailer was the obvious next move. Mike went off to find a gate that we could get out of and that was the last I saw of Mike for an hour and half. I think he drove around most of the area and knocked on doors until he found the right farmer with a key. (Sorry about the cow muck, Mike.)
By this time Jim had returned and was trying to sort out a rescue plan. He and Al decided to hop over in the school's C42 to see if they could fix the problem on the spot. So fifteen minutes later a very welcome sight came in over the hedge, did a low circuit and landed. An examination of the fuel system showed ingress of air, at full power, into the fuel line which was causing the problem and after an engine run Jim felt that by not using full power he could hop G-MARO back to the airfield. I jumped in with Al in the C42 and Jim shot over the field, lifted off and took her back into the airfield.
When we got back to Jim's a close examination showed that the squeeze bulb on the fuel line was allowing air into the fuel line at max revs. So a new filter and length of piping minus the squeeze bulb solved the problem. By this time the Tracy Island guys had come over and the general feeling was that I should do a tight circuit and then Colin and Peter Bishop would be my wing men back to Bridport.
So off I went, with a little trepidation, but I needn't have worried. Full power down the strip and away climb without a problem, I kept the climb shallow in case I had to return to my favourite field! Once around the circuit, which I did without any problems, the engine singing like normal, I was quickly joined by the Bishop Brothers and I headed for home very happy to have some company.
So,on reflection, what have I learned from this is:-
1. My Skyranger is a wonderful aircraft and can handle all I throw at her.
2. Don't ever take a take-off for granted.
3. After engine trouble don't take off till you know what caused it!!!
Now its time to give some much deserved thanks:-
First to Mike Hawkins who was first to my rescue and a very welcome sight. I hope he has cleared the cow mess off his trousers and out of his car.
To Val whose voice helped relieve the worry.
To Jim and Al, whose training gave me the skill to do an emergency landing not once but twice, and whose speedy action got the plane sorted and got me back home.
To all the guys from Tracy Island for moral support and to Colin and Peter for stewarding me home. And last to my good friend Phil Parmiter whose moral support got me through it all.
by ‘Dances with Cows'
The AAIB report tells the tale - www.aaib.gov.uk/cms_resources/Flight%20Design%20CT2K,%20G-CCNP%2011-08.pdf
4. Touch and Go - Incipient Spin
A second or two staring at the piece of field you are about to crash into really concentrates the mind!
I'd been practicing cross-wind circuits in my Thruster TST at Dunkeswell, doing 'touch and goes' onto runway 22. The cross-wind was from the right. I was using the 'wing down' method in both the approach and landing phases, and so right stick and left rudder were applied. Landings were 'wheelers' rather than 3-points.
After several successful circuits, I was climbing out again following a landing when the right wing tilted up. Thinking that it had been lifted by a gust, I applied right stick to try and bring it level. However, the control input seemed ineffective. The wing just rose further and the aircraft banked round to the left. More stick only seemed to produce the opposite of the expected control response - the aircraft banked ever further left as right stick was dialled in!
It was at this point that I found myself at 90 degrees from the runway, at a height of about 200 feet, losing altitude and staring at a patch of ground I would certainly hit if things continued as they were.
Having briefly considered a fault with the aileron control system, I realised, not before time, that I was in an incipient spin. Thus using right stick was only stalling the left wing deeper. The answer was airspeed. I lowered the nose, and instantly proper control authority was restored. The aircraft was put back on track and I breathed again.
I don't remember looking at the ASI. I was all eyes outside the cockpit.
Here's to many more! Fly safe.
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