Flying with the door open

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Timbeck2, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Date: October 6 2017
    Time: night (as defined in pilot speak as 1 hour past sunset and 1 hour prior to sunrise)
    Aircraft: Piper Cherokee 140
    Flight: Falcon Field Mesa, AZ - Tucson International

    Although it had never happened to me, I've read that if a door pops open in flight it isn't a big deal you can still fly the airplane. I found that this is true, however it may get cold and very noisy in the cockpit. I've had an issue with the top latch on my Cherokee for a while. I've always had to pull extra hard on the top of the door to get the latch to catch. This particular time it took me a while but I thought I had it latched. As I was climbing out of KFFZ, the top of the door popped open. I tried several times to get it latched but in a climb and in the dark and below class Bravo airspace, I decided I'd wait until I got up to 5,500' to trim it out and try again. No luck, so instead of turning around and landing back at FFZ, I decided to continue on to Tucson. I was VFR all the way until I hit the class C airspace so I never talked to anyone. As soon as I keyed the mic the noise was pretty bad. I tried cupping my hand over the mic but that made it worse. I tried moving my head as close to the glare shield but that didn't help either. I just lived with it and hoped the controllers didn't complain that they couldn't understand me. Surprisingly, nobody seemed to notice and I landed without incident at Tucson.

    The next day I broke out my service manual and found the fix. Take off the two screws that hold the strike plate and latch loop in place. Turn the latch loop one half turn counterclockwise (anti-clockwise if your reading this in Australia and other regions that use this colloquial) and reassemble. The door latched without effort. Easy two minute fix. If there ever is a next time, I'll know what to do.
     
  2. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup not a big deal at all. I've had it occur in Bonanzas and PA32 Lance a few times. Believe I just came back around, land, relatch, and go. I believe the PA28 has a procedure to latch (resecure) the top latch in the POH if I recall correctly.
     
  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    If it was "slip towards the right side of the aircraft and try the latch"...well, that didn't work either.
     
  4. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    My right side door has popped ooen in flight (C-180). No big deal but it scared the crap out of my wife. When a passenger thinks they might fall out they grab the yoke. Not good.
     
  5. ZeroPapaGolf

    ZeroPapaGolf Line Up and Wait

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    It only becomes a big deal when you have an airstair door, or cargo doors in front of propellers. For example, the nose baggage compartment on the Navajo will feed luggage directly into the left prop if it comes open.
     
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  6. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    For a Warrior:

    Open Door

    Airspeed: slow to 89 KTS
    Air Vents -- closed
    Window -- open
    If upper latch open -- latch
    If lower latch open -- pull on arm rest and latch
    If both latches open -- latch lower, then upper
     
  7. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Had it happen twice, once with a DPE during the initial takeoff climb. No biggie.
     
  8. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    It sucks when it flies open in the middle of the winter in NY
     
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  9. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Actually sucks or just cold and noisy? :)
     
  10. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Had it happen in my Sundowner. Trying to slip to close the door didn't do a darn thing.

    Fly the plane .....fly the plane....fly the plane!

    Returned to the airport, closed the door and took off.
     
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  11. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don Pattern Altitude

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    Bad thing to have happen in a Skycatcher. Has not happened to me but I have twice seen the resulting damage. Not a pretty sight.
     
  12. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait

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    on my very first discovery flight the door on the '47 Aeronca Champ flew open just after takeoff which was somewhat startling. the CFI was non-chalant about it. after reaching a safe altitude he banked sufficiently to slam the door and secured it. I have flown a Remos G3 with the doors removed and that was a thrilling flight. I don't recall having any trouble talking with or hearing ATC. Could that be because of the high wing configuration of the Remos vs the low wing of the Cherokee?
     
  13. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait

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    had a fellow near my home airfield fly his Skycather without the doors in nice weather. the fbo I rented from would not let me do that with their 162s.
     
  14. Salty

    Salty En-Route

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    I thought I'd read that the doors were structural and removal not approved, but I can't seem to find a reference now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  15. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Doors? What are doors? I can fly with the canopy open on the Navion (or completely removed). It's noisy and you better not have anything loose in the back seat.
     
  16. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    It's a little noisy but not all that scary.

    Most recent was the baggage door on the Cardinal during my BFR. What I learned there was slow down, and put the flaps down. The wind under the flap will blow it shut.

    Anyway, if a door pops... remember Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.
     
  17. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    An open door story.

    I flew the Cessna into Hood on a very bumpy day. I wanted to know how my Cub would ride in the same conditions so I sent wife home alone and I went right back out in the Cub. The affect of turbulence on a 150mph airplane is different from an 85mph airplane but it was still plenty rough in the Cub. The day before I had adjusted the plex on the swing-up door and in the turbulence the door wouldn't remain latched as a result. I was fighting to keep the plane upright and in some semblance of control while fighting the dang door popping loose while bouncing at the mercy of the turbulence. The only thing I could reach to secure the door was my belt so I pulled it off and hooked it to the door latch angle and under my butt so I could sit on it and hold the door closed, all while getting tossed against my harness. I turned around and came back to land. A friend watched the approach and came over to talk as I taxied into my tie down. He looked in to see my pants down around my knees and the belt tied to the door. The look on his face was almost as funny as the WTF questions that came out of his mouth. An unsecured door in moderate turbulence was not fun. A partially secured door wasn't all that much better.
     
  18. AKBill

    AKBill Pattern Altitude

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    I've had the door pop open 2 or 3 times in my Sport over the last 21+ years flying it. A slip always seems to help, I've always been able to latch it closed. It's a little noisy not to bad. Never had it happen in the winter, might get a little chilly if you cant get it latched.
     
  19. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    While I was training in my Mooney the CFI failed to latch the door securely (in his defense, my door is particularly tempestuous). We couldn't coomunicate at all, and anyone who's ever been in my presence can attest to my preternatural volume. I truly go up to 11. We managed to get where we were going, but neither of us made that mistake a second time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  20. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    LOL see told ya flaps are good for something (re: other thread about flaps)!
     
  21. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Both!

    I had the door open up once in my Baron on a night departure from Central Jersey last winter.

    Initially it was still closed, but not fully latched. It was slightly loud and cold. 47N has no tower, so I was launching VFR intending to pick up my clearance in the air. Not wanting to return to a short, unfamiliar runway in the dark, my dumbass thought I could put it on A/P, slow down and get the door latched in flight. Bad move.

    The door then fully popped open and sucked my notepad out.

    So now it's really loud and freezing and I'm still VFR trying to keep out of the Bravo and seeing all the landing lights coming at me of the Newark arrivals. Fun times.

    I ended up just calling up Trenton tower and made a quick landing, secured the door and was able to pick up my clearance there.
     
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  22. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Flew at a DZ for a while, open doors are quite uneventful
     
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  23. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don Pattern Altitude

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    Well it was very gentlemanly of you to open the door for your lady! :D
     
  24. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Yes. I triple check the nose baggage door. Most, no, all chieftains I fly have a double lock on the nose door.

    I had the airstairs fall open once on a chieftain right after rotation. A big BANG!!, a pretty good yaw and dust started flying all through the plane. My first thought was that someone had run into me, then I saw the warning light. All I did was stay in the pattern and land. Just noisy, cold and dusty. Turns out the latch broke as I closed it and I did not realize it. The flight was a cargo flight, no passengers.

    It did clean out all loose objects and dirt really well.

    C-206 and 207s can have the rear doors removed for flight as long as the deflector is installed.
     
  25. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In my little LSA, if a door comes unlatched it hits the bottom of the wing with a big BANG! Can't be closed until you land. On the other hand on a hot day, you can latch them open or take them off.
     
  26. Matthew K

    Matthew K Line Up and Wait

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    Had the door pop open in a PA28 180 on takeoff on one of my first solo flights. Scared me a bit initially, but I was at a non towered airport so I announced I was returning for landing and taxied off the runway, shut off the engine and fixed the door, then flew home.
     
  27. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    A guy I knew had the emergency exit window pop open on his Baron shortly after takeoff...passenger decided to try and close it, but pulled the pin instead. A couple of bangs on the roof and it departed the airplane.

    Fortunately,nthe times that happened to me, the passengers were scared and leaning over the opposite way, so I could just reach around and close it myself.
     
  28. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've had it happen a couple of times. The second time it happened, I took off from KSAC towards Columbia engaged the AP, and POP, yep, I forgot to close the top latch. So I tried this:

    Didn't work. I even tried to put it in to a slip, and I still couldn't get the thing fixed.

    But, now I had a new problem. The ******n ailerons locked up on me when I put it in the slip. Solid, like something was jammed in them. I was able to force it to a more or less level position, but I basically had rudder only steering.

    I called KSAC up and asked them to give me a precautionary landing for the shortest, most direct runway, and they cleared me for 34, and I made a long, rudder only circle, and fortunately I was lined up with it pretty good. I landed. It wasn't pretty. I taxied to my parking spot, turned the master off, and...

    I got my ailerons back.

    In the haste, I forgot to disengage the autopilot. It didn't disengage on its own, and it was powerful enough I thought I would break something if I forced the yoke anymore than I did.
     
  29. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Haha! Yeah sometimes the obvious is the problem but gets overlooked running the other checklists and procedures. Glad you had uneventful landing out of it Sac.
     
  30. ZeroPapaGolf

    ZeroPapaGolf Line Up and Wait

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    That's good to know! I've often wondered if the door would depart the aircraft if it came open. Glad to know it doesn't....
     
  31. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Actually, I now recall the window on my Cessna 150 popping open on rotation. Might have been my first solo, can't be certain. Anyhow, I started to reach over to close it and the words of my CFI came into my ugly pointed bald head. "Fly the airplane". Got up to a safe altitude and closed it then. I don't think it affected the airplane except to make it noisy.
     
  32. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    What in world is going on? Is it normal for everyone to have doors popping open? Seems like it's extremely common.
     
  33. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    As I'm sure you know James, jump airplanes are designed or modified to fly with doors open.
     
  34. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not often much of a if any mod is required, still a open door is not a big deal for the vast majority of the GA fleet
     
  35. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't know about normal, but they happen.

    In almost 1400 hours of flying, I've had two. One in a rental Duchess (happened right after they changed the door seals) and the other I mentioned above.
     
  36. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    My very first training flight in a C152 in '79 the door popped open on takeoff. We just landed and closed it. No big deal.
     
  37. Glenn D

    Glenn D Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In my flight training, in a 152, the instructor had me fly a complete landing pattern at Cable airport, starting out trimed up, and only using the doors, no other control surfaces... so used them to fly the pattern!.... open a door to turn, and both to descend... about 30 ft above the runway he said "ok, now fly it on in".. only had to flair for the landing... I think it was very good training!.. He was rather impressed that I was able to make it all work on the first try.
     
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  38. ateamer

    ateamer Line Up and Wait

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    Taking off from Watsonville (KWVI) in a 150, my door popped open. Having spent many years as a patrol deputy in that area, my first move was to grab my hip pocket and make sure my wallet stayed in place. If it came loose and went out the door, the credit cards would be maxed out before I turned downwind.

    The open door was a non-event. Couldn't get it latched in flight, so I landed, latched it, and flew.
     
  39. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    IMG_2994.JPG

    Doors optional. 130 kt VNE. ;)
     
  40. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    This happened to me on the first stop of my student long XC. Climbing out, I thought for about 2 seconds of trying to reach over and latch it again, but then decided that the airplane was not going to crash just because the door wasn't latched. The same could not be said of me trying to fly and latch it at the same time. Landed, latched it and took off again.