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Sherlock Ohms

Preflight Inspection Averted Crash

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Elizabeth M
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Close attention pays off
Elizabeth M   7/17/2013 6:31:11 AM
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Your attention not only to the innerworkings of your plane but also to others' experiences in the field probably saved your life, Jake. It's good that you had a reference point for what you heard when you lifted that fuel cap. It's also a good reminder for anyone flying their own planes to keep up with inspections and maintenance!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Close attention pays off
Rob Spiegel   7/17/2013 10:23:12 AM
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Good point, Elizabeth. This is an instance when the Sherlock Ohms in Jake make a major difference. When he sent in his Sherlock Ohms story, he titled it, "A Sherlock Ohms story that "doesn't suck." He is certainly correct.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/17/2013 12:57:37 PM
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Your comment reminds me about paying attention to engine and other under-hood sounds in one's own car. Since I don't have formal auto mechanics training, sounds in my car tell me things about its condition but not a lot: mostly "happy," "unhappy," or "danger!" On several occasions, this has saved me from an accident or worse while driving, including brakes starting to fail (more than once) and the radiator fan coming off. (Those were the days before I scheduled more frequent service and maintenance appointments.) Anyway, it pays to listen to our machines, especially if they operate in the air.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Close attention pays off
Elizabeth M   7/18/2013 5:41:38 AM
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I know what you mean, Ann. I am not so great about paying attention to my car--or at least historically I have not been so great. But these days I do try to listen carefully to the messages my vehicle is trying to send me to avert accidents or major breakdowns before they happen. It's a good lesson to learn!

far911
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Re: Close attention pays off
far911   7/18/2013 6:15:59 AM
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@Eliizabeth - Cars are more forgiving in this regard since there's no danger of them falling off the sky. The consequences of not paying attention to car maintenance are much less severe. That said, it doesn't mean one should completely ignore the ordeal. It's alright if you skip a monthly maintenance check. 

jfowkes
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Re: Close attention pays off
jfowkes   7/18/2013 9:16:31 AM
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@far911 "Cars are more forgiving in this regard since there's no danger of them falling off the sky. The consequences of not paying attention to car maintenance are much less severe."

That's not necessarily true. If the engine had stopped in mid-air, the pilot would (almost certainly, unless they were very unlucky or were flying too low) have time to glide to a suitable site for a forced landing.

Conversely, imagine a badly maintained tyre exploding on a busy, wet motorway. You only have seconds to keep control of the vehicle before you might hit something solid.

WA4WZP
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Re: Close attention pays off
WA4WZP   7/18/2013 9:34:41 AM
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Obviously this writer is not a pilot...or maybe a pilot that has never had an engine stop in mid-flight. I have! An automobile tire exploding (I have), even in busy traffic, is not even in the same 'world' as an airplane engine stopping in flight, or on take off, or on landing!

NWPilot
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Re: Close attention pays off
NWPilot   7/18/2013 11:25:43 AM
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Unlucky or flying too low?  How about the flight I have planned for tomorrow afternoon across the Cascades in the state of Washington?  There are a few minutes of that flight where, if the engine quits, my wife and I are going to have a very tense time.  We might even survive.  Not every place on the planet has a suitable landing spot within gliding range.  And I will be significantly above the ground the whole time.

Catching that plugged vent line was a good catch.  Inspecting the vent has been a standard part of my pre-flight routine since the first lesson on pre-flights when I was a student pilot many years ago. 

Flying isn't inherently dangerous, but you have to pay attention all the time.  That third dimension for travel adds a fair amount of complexity to the process.

Oh, and tomorrow's 2+ hour flight beats the heck out of a 5 1/2 hour drive.  :-)

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2013 1:27:59 PM
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I've had a tire explode on a highway at 65 mph. I've also lost my brakes three times on long, windy mountain roads; the second and third times were after I started doing regular service/maintenance. Fortunately, I have fast reflexes, remembered what to do, and didn't panic. But I'd still rather be on the ground and not in the air if the machine I'm driving has a failure.

KGround
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Re: Close attention pays off
KGround   7/18/2013 1:34:32 PM
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That's why we also ALWAYS carefully check things after any significant maintenance.  Many planes, even those with complex multiple source fuel systems, have crashed on the first flight after coming out of the paint shop because of paint blocking the fuel vents.  A plugged up pitot tube is usually not much more than an inconvenience, but crossed control cables have killed more than a few pilots.  If the ailerons are crossed a reasonably skilled pilot might survive, but if the elevator cables are crossed you are pretty much doomed.  i never carry passengers on the first flight after any major maintenance.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2013 1:38:51 PM
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If automobile drivers paid as much attention to their cars as pilots do to their planes, perhaps there'd be somewhat fewer accidents. If drivers even just knew more about their cars and how they work, that might help, too. But the trend seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

ervin0072002
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Re: Close attention pays off
ervin0072002   7/18/2013 3:22:13 PM
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You are correct Ann R. Thryft, and the scary part about it is that aviation is moving toward the same mentality. i know technicians that are certified are so behind in scientific knowledge and just barely know "replace this if this occurs" kind of training.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2013 3:48:33 PM
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ervin0072002, I'm sad to hear that about aviation. Pilots have always had to be a lot more than drivers of their planes, even if they were small planes, not 747s. I get the impression that when cars were a new phenomenon, drivers also were a lot more knowledgeable about how they worked, because they had to be.

KGround
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Re: Close attention pays off
KGround   7/18/2013 3:35:38 PM
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i don't blame the end user for the trend toward not knowing how things work. It seems to me that the manufacturers, especially of cars and computers do not want the end user to know how things work, or for them to be easy to service.  This has been pretty well known about the auto industry for decades, since a major source of revenue for the dealers is service work and for the manufacturers it is spare parts sales. Witness the fact that even with built in electronic diagnostics the manufacturers steadfastly refuse to allow publication of the meaning of many of the maintenance codes. And of course anyone who has tried to work  on a modern automobile soon comes to realize that 1) many parts are assembled onto the engine before it is put into the car, with no concern for the dififculty of servicing those parts later and 2) what the manufacturer really wants is to make major serivce so expensive (once the warranty runs out) that you will just discard that vehicle and buy a new one in a few years. 

I have no idea why computer software and OS manufacturers intentionally obscure the internal workings of their systems, except that recent revelations by the patriot Snowden pointing to collusion between Microsoft and NSA may well have a lot to do with it. Consider that with each Microsoft operating system upgrade it becomes ever more difficult for a user to even put their files where they want on the hard drive. Now with Windows 7 and 8 we are forced to use Microsoft's 'libraries' or suffer massive difficulties finding or opening our files. Personally, as a literate computer user, I preferred DOS, where all of the files associateed with a particular application travel with that application instead of being scattered all over the file library and controlled by various obscure registry entries. We knew what programs were running on the computer and if one of them was communicating with the outside world we knew which one it was and why. Not so with today's equipment. Yes, perhaps it is easy for illiterate users to get some results, but at the penalty of greatly enhanced difficulty for the literate user or one who wants to do something a little out of the ordinary (like running an industrial control system) with their PC.  Even changing the font in a word processor document is made difficult. Why is it that Bill Gates so obviously prefers the Times New Roman font ? Does he get a commissionon every keystroke or something ? I start a document and 'select all' then change the font to my personal preference, Arial, and before you know it, usually as soon as each new paragraph is started, it is back to TNR.  Who exactly does this benefit ? Certainly not this user.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2013 4:52:13 PM
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KGround, I also get the impression that some manufacturers of cars and other machines don't want consumers messing with them. That often makes sense, since so few seem to know what they're doing. But it's also frustrating for those us who either do, or are capable of learning how. I actually understand how my car works, both in principle and in most systems. But I don't have formal auto mechanic training so I can't always say "Gee that sounds like the [Part A] is coming loose from the [Part B]." But I can fix several parts of it--fewer as time goes on and they are electronically controlled. I'm not fond of software, but before Mac OS X I could even fix my Mac's software glitches almost all the time. But now the OS is so complicated it makes no sense to me. My husband, who thinks Unix is a logical, sensible architecture, is now the IT guy for those computers. BTW, I also dislike Times Roman. Palatino is much elegant and readable. I've made it my "Normal" font whenever possible.

William K.
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Re: Close attention pays off
William K.   7/18/2013 8:51:42 PM
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KGround, MS almost never upgrades their products: sometimes they fix bugs and often they add useless features, but mostly they just make changes in order to force people to buy new products. The lie is usually that it is an improvement that "all users" wanted, while the reality is that some very small focus group thought that some oddball feature would be "cool", and so things got changed on us.

As for making things simple and easy, that was abandoned about DOS 5. After that and the whole windows thing it has only been about selling new product by making the previous one unworkable through the removal of support, and changing file formats of the new programs.

As for the preflight inspections, the list of items to be checked can be developed by those familiar with a given plane type doing an FMEA. And those do not need to be such huge ordeals if, and only if, the folks involved actually do understand and are familiar with the actual system. An FMEA done by a team unfamiliar with the product is just a huge waste of time, and unable to produce adequate results, even if they could spend years on the project.So the pilot checks a bunch of things that are understood to be critical for all planes, based on the experience of a lot of people. And if you want to observe a serious inspection, check the one done for carrier launched planes.

William K.
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Re: Close attention pays off
William K.   7/18/2013 8:34:37 PM
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Ann, you are correct in your assertion, but I would go a bit farther and make an understanding of basic kinematics a non-negotiable requirement for obtaining driving privaleges. What I mean is that folks who don't understand inertia and related forces should never drive cars because they lack the understanding of how they move. And for the liberals who will scream about that, just too bad! There are a whole lot of people driving who should never be allowed to drive. My constitutional right to "life, liberty, and..." states that I should not have some fool crash into me because they don't know about driving. That is the part about being entitled to life.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/19/2013 12:33:43 PM
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William, I used to agree with liberals that driving is a right, but at this stage in my life, I find myself agreeing that driving is a privilege. Although I also think if we hadn't made cars so comfy that people would behave more intelligently when driving. I also think that a lot more should be required of the in-car driving tests to get a license, such as the understanding of kinematics you mention.

KGround
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Re: Close attention pays off
KGround   7/19/2013 2:23:19 PM
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Since we are telling flying stories here I have two more examples of when a perfectly functional airplane can become dangerous.

The first time I flew a plane with multiple fuel tanks I had of course studied the flight manual in detail.  Things like not selecting auxiliary tanks before running an hour of fuel out of the mains (because excess fuel returns to the main tank regardless of the source and will just be blown overboard if there isn't room for it), not attempting to land or take off on the aux tanks (because there is no backup electric fuel pump on those tanks and because the fuel inlet may not be submerged at all flight attitudes). So off I go, fly an hour into my cross country trip, flip both fuel selectors over to 'Aux' and fly along for another two hours until an engine begins to falter. No problem, just switch back to themain tank and tickle the electric boost pump a little and all will be well. As I reached up to switch tanks the second engine quit too.  Since I had put both engines to Aux at the same time they both ran out at the same time.  Exciting for a few moments, but since this happened at cruising altitude not a big deal. You can believe that I won't do that again.

I had brought that plane back from the dead - when /I got it it had been sitting more or less abandoned for several years. So before the first flight it had a very thorough going over both by myself and by a very good  mechanic authorized by the FAA to perform annual inspections.  We checked everything we could think of and ran the airplane up and down the runway almost up to takeoff speed several times. On the first actual flight just about the time the wheels broke ground and the speed was picking up a bit to around 120 or so a fist sized live wasp nest, wasps included, blew out of one of the air vents and landed in my lap. fortunately it was pretty cold that day and the wasps were both slow and just as confused and disoriented as I was by all this, so I missed getting stung. 

KGround
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Re: Close attention pays off
KGround   7/19/2013 2:32:09 PM
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In my experience if you are hiring a mechanic to diagnose a problem and are not certain of the cause it is much better to avoid saying something like "it sounds like the xyz is loose".  Much better to just describe the symptoms as you perceive them. Making a stamement like the former will prejudice the troubleshooting process of even the best mechanic toward xyz being the fault. 

There has been some discussion here about driver competence and who should an shouldn't have licenses to drive.  Soon we won't have to worry about that becasue we will have cars that drive themselves. 

(And back in the 1960s the science magazines were all saying that by now we would all have flying cars.)

Personally I can't wait to see the fun when hackers get at those self driving cars and when the initial software bugs are exposed the hard way...    

William K.
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Re: Close attention pays off
William K.   9/1/2013 10:39:16 PM
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KGround, there is a fundamental fatal flaw in the very concept of self driving cars not needing attentive and competent drivers, which is that those smart cars will never be able to handle all possible exceptions. Instead, they will do stupid and unsafe things, like stop in the fast lane at night, or swerve to miss a suitcase that falls into the road, and right into a slowwer moving truck. So a self driving car might make the poor driver a bit less agravating some of the time, and possibly safer much of the time, but NEVER both all of the time.

John E
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Re: Close attention pays off
John E   7/22/2013 10:23:40 AM
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A few pilot friends of mine have a very simple rule for the checkout flight after a any maintenance; the mechanic comes with them.  THis gives the mechanic a little extra incentive to to get it right, as well as the oportunity to verify a few things he might not otherwise be able to check.

AREV
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Re: Close attention pays off
AREV   7/18/2013 9:24:16 AM
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After 11 years my my Walker mower w/ Kawasaki engine would start, perform okay for about 2 minutes, die and require about 5 minutes, repeat. Luckily my dealer knew that there was a vent in a brass plug that could not be seen through even when clean. The instructions were remove the plug, soak it in gas over night, blow on it  and run the engine another 11 year bnd hope we remember how to fix it again. That's a lawn mower. I would think an air plane would engineer that issue out or have a sensor to detect vaccuum or pressure in the tank.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Close attention pays off
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2013 1:20:42 PM
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I was surprised to find out how much someone like me who is untutored in auto mechanics could detect just by listening for sounds that are unusual or seem to represent a strain of some kind. As well as learning by experience.

RICKZ28
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Re: Close attention pays off
RICKZ28   7/18/2013 8:02:57 PM
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For those who ride motorcycles, they know that it's very important to inspect the bike each day before riding.  

In California, licensed fork truck drivers know that it's required to inspect the fork truck each day before operating, including maintaining an inspection log.  Cal-OSHA requires a fork truck license before one operates a fork truck, good for three years before re-licensing is required.

As with aircraft, bad things can happen with mechanical failures on motorcycles and fork trucks.  I'm licensed in California for both motorcycles and fork trucks.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Close attention pays off
Elizabeth M   7/22/2013 8:55:01 AM
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Indeed, RICKZ28, we should carefully inspect any vehicle we own as much as possible, even if it's not the type, like a plane or a motorcycle, where the slightest malfunction can cause deaths. I think we take our automobiles for granted sometimes because generally they are safe enough that small malfunctions aren't the difference between life and death. But sometimes even in cars, they are, so we should all be more careful, even amid our busy lives.

j-allen
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Re: Close attention pays off
j-allen   7/18/2013 9:16:57 AM
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A good friend of mine also had a mud dauber clog in the pitot tube of the air speed indicator.  (I think it was on a Curtiss Robin.)  Fortunately he was a skillful enough pilor to make a "seat of the pants" landing but it was scary. 

 

Another critter that causes clogs is the spider that forms cotton ball like webs inside small openings.  They frequently block up the venturi tubes of outdoor gas grills.

Charles Murray
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Re: Close attention pays off
Charles Murray   7/17/2013 7:15:23 PM
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Wow. What an amazing story. It would be too easy to feel that puff of air, wonder if something's wrong, and then forget about it. As Rob said, the Sherlock Ohms in the author probably saved his life.

mrmikel
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Re: Close attention pays off
mrmikel   7/18/2013 9:01:43 AM
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A great reminder that routine checks can be anything but routine.  Reminds me of Sherlock Holmes...you see but you do not observe.


The author did both and prevented a crash.

ab3a
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Fuel Systems
ab3a   7/17/2013 12:40:53 PM
Basically, we stay vigilant because flying is such a gift that we can't imagine losing the privilege or the ability to keep doing it.

So, yes, we read gory details from the near misses and accidents of others.  We review NTSB reports, we discuss ASRS Callback information, and we pay attention to the condition of the aircraft we fly.

We do this because when things do go wrong, there isn't much room to screw up. That's how a friend and I who were flying IFR at night managed to survive the precursors to an engine failure without damaging the aircraft or hurting anyone. We caught the rising oil temperature and dropping oil pressure at 4000' over Modena (MXE) VORTAC (west of Philadelphia) and made a proper precautionary landing. It turned out that the number 3 cylinder had cracked, and hot exhaust gasses were blowing right through the oil cooler.  I'm not sure how much longer that engine would have kept running, but I'm glad that we caught it when we did.

Aircraft are designed to perform to exact specifications, and it is important to realize that there isn't much margin for screw-ups. 

 

Jake Brodsky

 

 

far911
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Re: Fuel Systems
far911   7/18/2013 6:12:06 AM
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Great post Jake. I'd like to ask how often environmental variations like these botch up airplaces to create hindrances in flights? 

ab3a
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Re: Fuel Systems
ab3a   7/18/2013 1:08:24 PM
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I have seen birds make nests in aircraft in as little as three hours. Favorite places for many birds include the engine cowl and the tail cone. The engine cowl is bad because it will affect the engine's ability to stay cool. The tail cone is bad because it can prevent one from being able to move the rudder or elevator across the full range of movement.  

One year on annual inspection, we found debris and the like from a birds nest inside the stabliator of the Cessna Cardinal I used to own. We had to remove the skin of the stabilator to extract and clean out the droppings and nest.

I have learned since my student pilot days to clean the frost off of the wings, lest they cause the stall speed to increase so much that I don't get off the ground. 

I have landed in places where the density altitude changed enough that I couldn't leave right away until the temperature cooled off.

And once, during my student pilot days, I was flying solo to practice my check ride maneuvers during some extreme cold weather. At altitude it was a low as -30 F.  The heater was running full blast and that got the temperature near my feet to near freezing.  After about 45 minutes of flight time, I started to get stiff and I had to return to the airport.  I was so stiff I could hardly operate the rudder pedals when I got stopped. 

Environmental factors are always a concern. It is very important to know your airplane's limitations as well as your own.

ragtoplvr
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Re: Fuel Systems
ragtoplvr   7/18/2013 8:50:43 AM
I had a similar problem on my boat.  It would idle just fine but had no power.  The hub of the propeller where the exhaust flows was packed almost completley full of mud dauber wasp nests. 

 

Another time the tell tail water indicator, that indicates the water pump is working did not discharge any water.  It had a different species of wasp build nest in the tube. 

 

Last, there were the wasps that built nest in the hollow tube of the trailer. 

 

That one got me stung

Rod

bob from maine
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Re: Fuel Systems
bob from maine   7/18/2013 10:11:03 AM
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As a 15 year old student pilot I was frequently 'tested' to be sure I paid suitable attention to all aspects of flying. My instructor would occasionally shut off the fuel at the selector valve (which was between the seats and not in my field of view). The engine would lose power and then die. I had to do the standard 'engine-out' routine, determine a suitable landing spot, wind direction, speed, identify local hazards, prepare to notify the local tower that I was landing. As soon as I had completed all the necessary tasks he would turn the fuel back on and we would continue - or not, once. You ignore anomolies at your peril. The fan is not the most important thing on an aircraft, the pilot is. Good story!

NWPilot
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Re: Fuel Systems
NWPilot   7/18/2013 11:27:57 AM
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An instructor would shut off my fuel exactly once, and then he'd be a former instructor for me.  There is NO reason to create a situation in training that could easily become a real emergency.  What if the engine didn't re-start once you turned the fuel back on?  Pulling the throttle to idle is adequate for this purpose.

bob from maine
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Re: Fuel Systems
bob from maine   7/18/2013 12:10:29 PM
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As a 15 year old, I was pretty cocky and occasionally behaved as though I was immortal (didn't we all?). Renting a Cessna 150 Aerobatic was one method of letting me stretch my wings, slower but every so much more fun than a 180. Occasional real and feigned emergencies were his way of preparing me for whatever may happen. One time the engine didn't re-start and we ended up landing dead-stick. Subsequent training was somewhat less intense. Good luck on your flight.

kenish
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Re: Fuel Systems
kenish   7/22/2013 7:00:11 PM
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The throttle control on most single engine piston planes is a polished shaft with a knob on the end.  It goes through a panel fitting with an adjustable friction lock.  The "working end" is connected to the carb linkage via a cable inside a sheath.

At the local airport, a flight instructor pulled the power to idle on climb-out to check the student's reaction.   The cable broke and the knob, shaft, and part of the cable pulled out of the instrument panel.   The carb linkage is spring-loaded to go full-throttle if the cable breaks....but in this case the end of the cable snagged the sheath and held the throttle closed.   Fortunately they were able to land on a golf course past the end of the runway.  The only damage was furrows in a few hundred feet of turf.

I heard that was the last time the instructor simulated an engine failure at low altitude.

bobjengr
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Re: Fuel Systems
bobjengr   7/19/2013 10:16:38 AM
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Hello Bob from Main--This is Bob from Tennessee.  I also had, as a young student pilot, an instructor with the very best interest of his students at heart.  R.C. MacAbee was his name--retired Navy pilot.  After about 20 hours of flight instruction, R.C. would "pull" instructional tricks such as the one you mentioned in your post. I got my pilot's license in a Piper Tri-Pacer, fabric covered with fuel tanks in the right and left wings. Between the seats was a fuel selector switch allowing the pilot to toggle between the left and right tanks.  Unfortunately, there was an "off" position.  (Your know where I'm going with this one.)  The first time he turned the switch to the off position I sat there like a bump on a log.  "Fly the plane" was his very first statement. "Look for a landing site" was his second statement. "Then try to  re-start the engine."  Another "trick" was pulling full power on takeoff. He insisted on 10 hours of VFR night instruction and 2 hours of aerobatics.  We checked, on a regular basis, FAA notices relative to our aircraft.  He felt these could be life-savers. 

 

bob from maine
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Re: Fuel Systems
bob from maine   7/19/2013 11:06:41 AM
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Subsequent flight instructors both military and civilian, as well as German sailplane instructors all shared the opinion that any damned fool can fly a working airplane, however it takes a pilot to fly one in an emergency. Funnay how that sounds the same in both English and German. Preflight inspections are a pilots way of assuring to the best of their ability that the airplane is in working condition before they try and fly; the minimum inspection is described in the manual, most pilots do more. Regarding flight instruction vs driving instruction; Flight instruction teaches you to prepare for emergencies by actually creating "emergencies" in controlled conditions in order to prepare for when one actually occures. Driving instruction simply teaches you the rules of the road and how to operate a car; it is up to the student to learn the limits and what to do when you have exceeded them. Small wonder so many drivers have wrecks when they try to exceed the limits of the automobile. I took my kids out in rain and snow in a really large parking lot and made them drive in a large figure-8 at the highest possible speed to see what happens when you overdrive the conditions. For most of us, preflight inspections of our cars involve verifying the key fits in the ignition.

kenish
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Re: Fuel Systems
kenish   7/22/2013 7:17:49 PM
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"Subsequent flight instructors both military and civilian, as well as German sailplane instructors all shared the opinion that any damned fool can fly a working airplane, however it takes a pilot to fly one in an emergency."

Reminds me of the Air Canada 767 that ran out of fuel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider

and a very similar incident years later on Air Transat:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transat_Flight_236

Random bad luck they were both Canadian airlines...not picking on our friends to the north :)

Charles Murray
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Re: Fuel Systems
Charles Murray   7/23/2013 5:16:17 PM
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I like that saying, kenish. Sometimes, though, even the best of pilots can't overcome the emergency. When I was in college, I worked as a custodian for a building full of doctors' offices. The building was owned by a major airline captain with 30 years commercial experience, who eventually died while piloting his own private plane.

kenish
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Re: Fuel Systems
kenish   7/23/2013 5:39:41 PM
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I liked the saying too, but it was from another, earlier post.  I don't want to steal credit for it....

Charles Murray
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Re: Fuel Systems
Charles Murray   7/25/2013 9:01:58 PM
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It's a great saying, kenish, whoever came up with it.

jpratch
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Re: Fuel Systems
jpratch   7/19/2013 4:01:01 PM
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I, too had a thorough instructor who took me up on days when it was marginal VFR, gusty cross winds and just lousy flying weather in Maryland. He would say "you won't solo today, but you will become a better pilot, I'd rather you see this stuff first time with me in the right seat". He regularly put me "under the hood" and gave me "unusual attitudes" to recover from. On my long cross country flight, as I was completing the flight, I was caught in an unforecast snow storm as I flew the end of the trip over Annapolis to Fort Meade. visibility fell from seven miles to four miles within minutes and then just minutes from landing, it became to true IFR. At 1100 feet, I could see the ground about well enough to navigate "in the present" not the future. But Bob had put me through enough lousy weather that I could fly the plane on the gauges AND still talk to Tipton Tower at the same time. With a little help from Baltimore approach, I spotted TAF and landed without incident. When I called my instructor and told him about it, he said "good experience" and "you were prepared". And for only 28 hours total time, I was and did not become a statistic.

During my FAA check ride, as we returned to Freeway Airpark, the examiner tore a flight plan into two circles which he placed over air speed and altimeter gauges. He said you'll get this from a plugged pitot tube ten times before you'll have an engine quit. Now go land. I landed the plane; it was not the prettiest or the smoothest but he said "you pass".

There is an old saying that "If you eat a toad first thing in the morning, it will be the worst thing to happen to you all day long". With flying, the preparation, the checking and inspecting before flight is often a pain, but it should be the worst thing to happen to you until long after you land.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Fuel Systems
bobjengr   7/19/2013 4:42:31 PM
NO RATINGS
My instructor had a long flying career with the only accident; stepping on empty oil can, falling and breaking a leg.   He had several expressions that were real keepers:

·         You always want to be down here wishing you were up there and never up there wishing you were down here.  This was in reference to weather conditions.

·         There are old pilots and bold pilots but not too many old bold pilots.

·         My favorite--If blood's brown--- I'm dying.   (This was in reference to a cabin fire on a cross-country flight.) He obviously survived but indicated that even during his Navy career, this was the most harrowing event.   

Like most of your instructors, he was a solid proponent of adequate pre-flight procedures.  We even developed our own checklist   --completely over and above Piper recommendations.  These were based upon his experiences and those safety "rules" he wanted to impart to rookies like me.  I certainly agree a "pre-flight" is absolutely necessary when taking trip in our automobiles.  I have a mechanic I go to every 3,000 miles. Oil change, lube up the rotating joings, air cleaner, etc etc.  An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.

NWPilot
User Rank
Iron
Re: Fuel Systems
NWPilot   7/22/2013 11:18:56 AM
NO RATINGS
Your examiner was half right.  A plugged pitot tube will mess with your ASI, but it will have no impact on the altimeter.  That runs off your static vent.  Oh, and the planes I fly have an alternate static source, so even having that plugged would be no big deal.

 

And I agree about the pre-flight.  A pain, takes a few minutes, but can save you from further pain later in the day.  I've grounded planes more tha once because they failed something during pre-flight.

 

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Excellent Find
tekochip   7/17/2013 12:48:14 PM
NO RATINGS
Excellent find.  If you hadn't have found the problem, I doubt that the NTSB would have been able to find the cause while combing through your wreckage.


TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Vents can't be skipped
TJ McDermott   7/18/2013 12:35:38 AM
NO RATINGS
BRAVO on a rapid and correct deduction of the problem.  Fuel vents are absolutely necessary.  This link shows what happens just on the ground:

http://www.c141heaven.info/dotcom/61/pic_61_2778.php

Go down about 1/3 of the way, to the yellow background entry.  It describes what happens to a C141 with plugs installed in the vent lines.  The pictures that follow the yellow entries speak volumes.

 

 

a.saji
User Rank
Silver
Re: Vents can't be skipped
a.saji   7/18/2013 4:56:41 AM
NO RATINGS
@McDermot: Yes indeed and the picture expresses more than 1000 words than it been expressed in words for sure.     

far911
User Rank
Silver
Re: Vents can't be skipped
far911   7/18/2013 6:18:04 AM
NO RATINGS
@TJ McDermott - That's a very informative post. Thanks for sharing. 

rrietz
User Rank
Iron
Re: Vents can't be skipped
rrietz   7/18/2013 11:04:38 AM
NO RATINGS
One wonders about why maintenance workers were working 20 hour days.  That is just flat unsafe.

Also, about the person breaking a leg walking on a fuel spill...  That stuff is very slick.

ab3a
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Vents can't be skipped
ab3a   8/19/2013 8:08:30 AM
NO RATINGS
In one of the newslettter reports I had been reading, the tank wall and aircraft skin were one and the same. The tank imploded in flight, changing the shape of the edge of the wing, and seriously affecting aerodynamics of the aircraft. An emergency landing was made and the pilot walked away from the event, perhaps with soiled pants, but otherwise unharmed. 

The cause was later found to be a blocked fuel vent.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Vents can't be skipped
Cabe Atwell   8/27/2013 2:04:19 PM
NO RATINGS
After watching a ton of Air Disasters episodes, it's not uncommon for the tiniest of issues to become full-fledged problems. Even a faulty indicator light has brought down aircraft, which is frightening.

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Wasps brought down 757
Battar   7/18/2013 9:03:04 AM
NO RATINGS
Check this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birgenair_Flight_301

A Turkish Boeing 757 was brought down by wasps in the speed sensing pitot tube, with the loss of all 189 people on board.

btlbcc
User Rank
Gold
Vacuum in fuel tank
btlbcc   7/18/2013 10:22:15 AM
NO RATINGS
I once had an old Mercedes-Benz 190D car (which I bought for $60) that burned almost more motor oil than diesel fuel (about a quart every 30 miles).  Otherwise a great car.  But at some point in the car's history, the vent hole in the fuel filler cap had gotten plugged.  The Bosch fuel injection pump is a no-nonsense piece of equipment, and it managed to collapse the (steel) fuel tank so that it's capacity was halved, and the fuel gauge didn't read correctly.  I doubt that a typical gasoline car fuel pump could manage that feat, but with the advent of fuel injection, I am not so sure...

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Clogged lines.... an interesting point!
OLD_CURMUDGEON   7/18/2013 10:51:07 AM
NO RATINGS
This blog brings up several thoughts.  In the northern climes, the vent stack for the DWV plumbing in a building is usually a minimum of 4" nominal dia. pipe.  This has been mandated for decades to eliminate the probability that the vent line will become frozen over w/ ice, since the water vapor escaping is warm, meeting the cold ambient temps.  Here in the south, these vent lines are usually 2" pipe since the frequency of extreme freezing temps is non-existent.  However, because of the almost never-ending "summer" season, air conditioning is a constant commodity.  And, with A/C units there IS condensation which must be piped away from the evaporator source.  Add to that, our friendly little "lizards" which really enjoy traveling up these tubes, only to get stuck & die, and now you have a blocked drain line.  While this is usually NEVER a life-threatening event, if the evaporator is mounted in the crawl space attic area, an overflowing drip pan will cause stain damage to one's ceiling.  NOT GOOD!

So, my question becomes, WHY can't this drain line be a larger pipe size so that it will be less likely to get clogged?  And, a similar question applies to the vent on the fuel tank of the airplane.  Why can't the designers make the vent pipe a larger pipe size to accommodate ice build-up, especially knowing full well that airplanes travel at altitudes in which the air is cold, at freezing or below, even in the warm months of the year?  This seems like a no-brainer, but there MUST be a legitimate reason other than economics. 

sgspeed
User Rank
Iron
Flight Instructers
sgspeed   7/18/2013 12:02:10 PM
NO RATINGS
Simulation by flight instructors should have a limit. I worked as one for a while and we had a guy who was a cowboy. He had an airline transport rating so I guess he thought that made him special. Things he did.

When I was a student pilot, he asked me to get a DF steer, but did not want me to inform the controller that it was practice.

One day he took a guy up to give him a ride to check if he was qualified to rent one of our planes. He took one of our new planes, a leaseback. He simulated an engine out emergency, shut off the engine and stopped the prop. He waited a while to restart and when he did, the engine had cooled off and quit as soon as they applied the power. To low and too late, he had to put the plane down in a canefield. When it hit the freshly plowed field it flipped nose over. The plane a brand new 172, was seriously screwed.

To me, an engine out emergency should be at idle.

 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Scary stuff
Charles Murray   7/18/2013 6:21:39 PM
NO RATINGS
What this story and these comments really drive home is the danger of being an oblivious small plane pilot. Wasps and birds' nests inside the breather tube and stabilator sound scary to me. Reading these comments, I would hesitate to fly with someone who I don't trust. I'm certainly not a pilot, but it sounds to me like you need someone who's very smart and detail-oriented to do pre-flight inspections.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Hibernation
tekochip   7/19/2013 2:52:34 PM
NO RATINGS
OK, I have an aircraft story too.
 
I bought a 172M from upstate Ney York.  The poor hangar queen had been sitting outside for decades and hadn't seen much air time.  I gave the old girl a thorough preflight before taking her home to my unheated hangar and then a few days later I flew her to be painted.  It was January and darn cold as I flew the hour and a half from Chicago to the Wisconsin Dells, but the plane was, and is, a dream to fly.
 
A couple months later I picked the plane up from the paint shop, and upon entering the hangar I saw the hangar floor covered with bees and hornets.  As the plane was pulled into the hangar and warmed up for painting hundreds of bees and hornets woke up from their Winter resting homes and started buzzing around the hangar.  The greatest number of nests were inside the air vents.  Of course it had been too cold for me to open the vents during my two Winter flights, and also far too cold for the critters to wake up and explore.  I paid a lot for that paint job, but it was worth every nickel to have the painter be my exterminator.  Had they woken up in flight I might have had a little trouble navigating.


JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hibernation
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   7/21/2013 11:29:57 PM
NO RATINGS
Is that the same Cessna as in your profile picture-? ,,,,I cannot imagine the trauma you may have suffered had those bees and wasps gotten stirred-up and vented into the cabin.  You could've been killed; stung to death before losing control and crashing.  And I thought birds were hazardous to jet intakes!  This is a brand-new threat to me, seeing how many moderators have direct experience with hornets!  

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hibernation
tekochip   7/22/2013 9:58:03 PM
NO RATINGS
Yup, that's my girl.  Painted gold, my wife named her "Gold Digger", because she's taking all the money from a middle-aged man.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hibernation
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   7/23/2013 10:36:48 AM
NO RATINGS
 ! * !  --- Thanks for the laugh !

wbswenberg
User Rank
Gold
Boat Will Not Turn Over
wbswenberg   8/2/2013 7:49:41 PM
NO RATINGS
My Blue Water boat with Mercury 3.7 L engine would not turn over.  Further more I could not turn it over by hand.  Drained the fluids and took off the head, intake and exhaust.  The fourth cylinder the closest to the sea had the exhaust clogged with salt and the piston was frozen - stuck. I got a hydraulic ram and supported the bottom of the boat.  Still could not get it to move.

Getting the pan off was a real thrill also.  I lined the cylinder with newspaper and added dry ice and then tried the ram.  In between I also tried WD-40 and other penitrants - nogo.

Finally the piston moved.  Took the head in for rework and the machinist found cracks radiating around a couple of valve guides.  (he recognized a big Ford head - Mercury has their own foundry and builds engines for others) Got a new head and started reassembly.  Noticed a pin hole in the riser of the exhaust.  Got a new riser. Finished assembly.  Ran the engine in the driveway with water.  Ran good and strong up to full throttle.  Took the boat out to the lake and half way around it stumbled and quit.  Back on the kicker.

Disassembled engine again and hoping not for a valve clash.  Only a little smile on the piston and a stuck valve.  Took the head back to the machinist who cussed me out on sticking with such a poor design (steel head on aluminum block).  Hey I had $3K into it and the WIFE was not buying a new boat.  The guides were too tight.  I had understood from Mercury that the head was ready to install.  Guess you need to check on everyone.  Just think how big the V-8 was that two of those heads 7.4L?

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Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
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