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By Anon
#1362744
In the anon section for the P1/owner's privacy rather than my pride, mildly dented though it is.

Some of you will know who this really is but don't feel this should prevent you from offering further feedback! Lots could have been done better.

I'd been asked if I'd be willing to ride along with a friend who'd recently bought an aircraft similar to my own. They'd been checked out on it and were paperwork legal and safe but the combination of still unfamiliar aircraft and the moderately challenging strip at which we're both based had prompted them to want a bit of moral support on board.

A factor in this desire was that one previous excursion had resulted in an incident including a prop strike. This was the first flight after the inspector had had at it and declared all well after the repairs.

The plan was to fly over to a nearby airport with more runway options than the strip, the owner to do some circuits and me to mainly look out of the window and yelp a bit if they appeared to be doing anything I wouldn't do.

The main difference between this aircraft and my own is the engine fit. (This becomes relevant), but hey, it was only the handling that my input was even potentially wanted on, not the systems.

So off we went after a pretty clear chat about what was wanted from the trip and that I should feel free to be as blunt as I liked if anything happened that I didn't!

I'd flown that morning and it had been somewhat choppy in spite of a light wind which I'd put down to the bright sunshine after heavy showery rain and first really thermic day of the year, so I was happy to find it considerably calmed, by late afternoon when we took off.

Over to the 'big' neighbouring airport, a bit of a frown over the crackly radio but made ourselves heard, and we arrived just as the runway swapped ends entirely! A lot of eyes all over as we tried to spot everyone in the circuit reorganising themselves. The upshot was a highish approach.

"Not to worry" I said, "It's a draggy little thing like mine, it'll come down quick when you take the power off."

"But I have..."

I was a bit taken aback and felt for the throttle. Sure enough. Yet the rate of descent was far less that expected. Ahead of us the school trainer had just gone around off his approach. A lifty sort of day still then.

But, it was a long runway, that was part of the reason for coming here, so we continued and landed for a touch and go, a bit late in but with ample room.

We climbed away and were about 500 foot when we heard the first miss. We looked at each other, the radio was still crackling after all - had we misheard? But no, definitely missing and spluttering now. I looked at my elbow - I've been known to knock the throttle on mine. But no. Still missing, and we were now level instead of climbing and the crackling radio was not helping in communicating the problem between us.

"Is there definitely a problem, do you want me to take it?" I remember asking, though we had never specifically discussed emergencies and who'd fly.

This is one of the points I am a bit disappointed with myself because the tunnel vision descended in a big way and I did utterly zero troubleshooting. I don't even remember at what point I closed the throttle entirely. Only two things existed in my world, the airspeed and the end of the field that was the most obvious candidate.

I did make a mayday call, but had forgotten I was on a passenger headset with no link to the PTT so that went unheard. I knew it had as I heard the ongoing normal traffic for at least a few seconds afterwards but I had no focus spare to think of asking the owner to do it.

The field and the airspeed and the airspeed and the field and nothing else existed. It was two days later that I realised the parachute dropzone was the side I'd turned towards. I've no idea where they were at the time but not in the way anyway.

I also, in my tunnel vision failed to focus enough on the far end of the field as opposed to the near end and landed still slightly turning to try and get across the diagonal because I'd well overshot the first half of it.

We touched down several seconds before I thought we were about and I didn't have the time I thought I had to level back out and accept the far hedge. Instead we slewed through about 30 degrees, sideloaded the nosewheel until it broke then, what seemed like very very slowly, tipped up onto the nose.

The owner had been on the ball in terms of shutting the ignition off as we reached the field and now shut off fuel and everything else and was out very fast and encouraging me out. I was still trying to work how to release the four point harness from my present position without faceplanting the instrument panel. I wasn't sure my adrenaline shaky arms were going to support my own weight!

The smell of fuel dripping past my shoulder encouraged me to try and I climbed out of the opposite door which was 'uphill'.

Together by dint of some pushing we righted the poor thing and the fuel turned out to have been only overflowing the filler cap. I paced and spat a bit at seeing how much field was actually left - trashing the nosewheel and that turn had been entirely uneeded in fact.

The aircraft was recovered on a trailer and wouldn't you know it, ran when the engine was tried. Carb ice is the conclusion. Well it would be. And if I didn't feel silly already that about topped it! Long glide, sunny, dampish spring day. Even the most cursory checks once we knew there was a problem might have told us this and avoided the day being more than mildly interupted.

We live and learn I suppose and aeroplanes can be fixed. Neither of us had so much as a bruise.

Things that helped
While I'm mildly miffed about much of my (lack of) decision making there is one thing I'm glad did which was that I was in very recent practise for PFLs and had actually done EFATOs recently as well. (Prompted by a rather well publicised celeb incident! ). Didn't quite make me plan an approach as opposed to stuffing the nose at the nearest field but at least I reached it.

And I reached it still flying at the right speed, there was no way on the planet the airspeed was getting away from me.

I know the area and engine out options on those runways.

It happened there not at the strip which has far fewer options!

Things that hindered
I hadn't familiarised myself properly with the aircraft systems, the engine installation and carb heat is the main difference from mine and the thing I'd largely ignored.

Through coincidence this was the first flight after maintenance (apart from test flight) following a prop strike - I was at least a bit primed to assume the worst of any engine splutter.

Utter utter tunnel vision made me omit any sort of troubleshooting, even of a limited sort in the time available after choosing field and establishing glide.

We hadn't fully briefed who'd do what in the event of an emergency and were sorting it out over the din from the radio. I was told about the passenger headset but forgot in the moment. We could have decided beforehand who'd do mayday. engine management, handling.

Have I mentioned the utter, utterly unexpected, overwhelming mental tunnel vision and how hard it was to even think about anything other than flying the right speed, let alone act on it? I think the ASI at glide speed is burned into my retina. Is it something any amount of practice can overcome? Does prebriefing yourself help overcome it maybe? Experience? Steelyeyed skygodness? It's really truly hard to capture in words quite how all-absorbing it was.
User avatar
By Rob P
#1373152
Worked out much better than mine.

Well done

Rob P