Tuesday 21 May 2013 20:10 UTC
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I like to think I'm pretty careful in my pre-flight planning and in checking out the aircraft but today I nearly had an expensive mishap.
I checked out the plane inside the hangar and then some airfield friends helped me pull it out of the hangar and we left it parked on the grass outside, towbar still attached. Normally I take the towbar straight off but today I thought I might need to move the plane again so I left it on. I wandered off to help some other pilots pull their planes out. Then I spotted a friend land and taxy to the fuel pump so I went to chat to him.
Some time later I thought I'd go and refuel my aircraft whilst I waited for the other half to finish a flight in a different plane. Approached mine from behind, opened the gullwing doors and hopped in. As it's difficult to make myself heard shouting "clear prop" I normally have a very good look around and then start up. Today there were a couple of other aircraft in close proximity and people wandering about so I actually unlatched the door and shouted "clear prop". As I started to turn the mags key one of the most undemonstrative instructors on the airfield appeared in my field of vision, waving his arms and leaping up in the air. "Hm, I thought, Andrew's keen to speak to me for some reason." Took my fingers off the keys and unlatched the canopy.
"You've still got the towbar attached ........."
I was just so fortunate he happened to be passing, or it would have been a very noisy, expensive, dangerous mistake. Back to taking the towbar straight off after use for me in future!
Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
Our Arrow is just back in the air after 6 months down and £30k repairs when a group member carelessly took off with the towbar attached:
Same scenario as yours 'I left the towbar on as I thought I might need to move a/c again'.
I have dealt with the towbar problem for years by leaving the baggage compartment door fixed open till I'm ready to fly: It's physically challenging to climb on the wing with hatch open as hand hold is partially obscured.
Concentrates the mind a treat: 'Why is the baggage door still open and where's the towbar?'
Plus a 360 deg walkaround before climbing in : also allows one to check oleo symmetry, no leaks from fuel drains, tyres, pitot cover and general 'feel' of the a/c.
Beats the placard 'Towbar removed and stowed?' on the coaming which was overlooked in our case.
Edit to tone down!
Last edited by Pete S on Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Primum non nocere..
It is easy and understandable that people are upset when their pride and joy gets damaged and one's flying is curtailed as a result of that. However, we are all fallible and I doubt your group member went out of his way to have the unpleasant experience of taking off and having to land with the towbar.
I have never yet tried to start the engine or take-off with the towbar attached.
Little things, call them SOPs, like yours not to close the baggage door when the towbar is still attached do help, the only time I don't have my hand on the towbar is when it is standing against the wall. I never leave it attached to the aeroplane when I am not moving an aeroplane.
I do similar though with baggage doors, the key for them is on the same ring as the ignition key. I leave the keys in the baggage door lock until I close it. When unlocked the key is in the lock.
Both SOPs developed because I was lucky enough to learn from others not to have made the same mistake. I have made plenty, so far inconsequential ones, myself!
The great thing about these forums is that we can share our experiences and make our flying that little bit safer!
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Agreed re individual SOPs Frank:
In my case keys also have hangar padlock keys so need to remain on the person.
Interestingly when we discussed the baggage door 'indicator' idea one group member (not the same one) was unaware that the little fabric strap attached to the inside of baggage door plus stubby knob thing on fuselage are designed to hold baggage door wide open!
I still think a final 360 deg walk around immediately prior to closing the baggage door and clambering on the wing with the intention to aviate is the best deterrent.
Primum non nocere..
Mick---good idea--we have recently had to start using one to move plane to start. We also have" mobile phone--switch off "on check list--can be a pain particularly if they twitch when talking to ATC on landing.
Since your groups event, it has become my SOP to look over my shoulder before releasing the brakes to make sure I can see the towbar propped up against the kit box.
I know that leaves me vulnerable away from base, but it's a tool i have got in the habit of using.
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