Have You Experienced An Engine Failure?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by 86Aviator, Jul 18, 2020.

  1. 86Aviator

    86Aviator Pre-Flight

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    Pretty self-explanatory. If you have, I'd love to know the cause and the outcome.

    I'm a pre-solo primary student training out of PDK and the thought of an engine failure scares the heck out of me. I know, I know, I know - very uncommon and unlikely. Usually avoidable, perhaps. But for those who have flown out of PDK or otherwise in the Atlanta area, I think you must know how few places there are to put the plane down, especially on takeoff or low and slow on arrival. There are a few golf courses, a few other options beyond the very congested highways (not so much around PDK, but maybe LZU or CVC) - but it is not like some other places where one can pick their favorite farmer's field. At least on departure out of PDK, the question is not whether you would impact something, but what you would impact.

    I worked on simulated emergency procedures with my CFI today and even the field we committed to in exurban Atlanta (near Lake Lanier, for those familiar with the area), there were residential power lines that were undetectable until wayyy too late to pick another place to go - when we were slipping in to about 750 AGL above the literal field (partially because of the summertime haze). If it were real, I don't think the incident would have been fatal but I do think we would have needed EMS. It was stressful, and my God I couldn't imagine if my family was behind me when I was doing this. Not trying to go full Cougar and turn in my (yet unearned) wings, but it's bugging me tonight.

    I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but this is the biggest thing that worries me about flight training and about flying generally. My CFI stresses how careful we are during the run-up to detect anything that may be an issue and how we constantly monitor the engine for any sign of trouble, and I have no reason to think our aircraft is not very well maintained. Maybe my fear is irrational, but in any event, I'd love to know people's experience. Not thinking of walking away or anything like that, but I definitely sweat bullets on climb-out just worried about a failure. And it is always in the back of my head no matter what. Today brought it to life. If I'm a worry-wort nudnik, yea, feel free to tell me.

    Not going to lie, I'm hoping for a bunch of "no, this has never happened to me" or "this happened to a guy I know who ignored several warning signs, but he lived and learned a lot from it" type responses.
     
  2. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    7000 hours, never had a complete engine failure, albeit about 1500 of those hours are in a glider.
    I have had a Mag fail causing it to run very poorly, but got me to a runway. A Mag check would have told me it ran fine on one mag.

    I have had a valve lifter fail, was able to fly back to the airport on 3 cylinders.

    I have ran a tank dry not realizing I did it and landed at the airport since it was in easy gliding range before I figured it out. But had I performed a standard engine out procedure it would have been resolved when I switched tanks.

    A few carb ice issues, easily taken care of with the carb heat.

    Overall engines are very reliable, be as prepared as you reasonably can be and let luck take care of the rest. After all you might just as likely get hit by a bus on the way home than have any engine failure you can’t reasonably handle.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  3. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I have had two Rotax 914 engine outs in two different Auto Gyro, Cavalon gyroplanes. One was from sinking floats and one from using automobile gas and had vapor lock during a training exercise.

    I had one engine out with a Lycoming IO-320 powered one of a kind experimental gyroplane because of a fuel tank vent problem.

    I was lucky and there was no damage to the aircraft or injuries in the resulting emergency landings despite all being at low altitude.

    It is my observation that most engine outs are from fuel exhaustion and totally preventable.
     

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  4. Flocker

    Flocker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What kind of plane/engine are you flying? Which flight school?
     
  5. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I had a partial engine failure about twenty years ago. GO-435, was not in good shape. Blew one cylinder pretty badly (valve broke). Did the "impossible" turn back to the airport and landed.
    I had a complete engine failure about three years ago. IO-550 about 900 hours since new. Something disrupted the oil flow within the engine (the NTSB let Continental do a hatchet job on the investigation, so we'll never know for sure). First sign was rough running, a minute later the thing hand grenaded. Dead sticked it into the only field for miles. Wouldn't have been so bad but I had not been able to see a wire fence separating the field into two cow pastures.
     
  6. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    15K hours. Never had a piston engine fail. But two P&W PT6 turbines did quit on me. Both times the fuel control unit. On single-engine PT6 airplanes (Caravan, PC-12) there is an emergency manual FCU. It is a big red pull handle.

    On a King Air.................you just fly on home!!
     
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  7. David235

    David235 Pre-Flight

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    Three emergency declarations in 43 years, none of them due specifically to the engine. My first was a muffler where the internals let go about 30 seconds after takeoff... still had partial power. The second was a gear light that wouldn't... turned out to be a bad gear switch. The most interesting was a prop seal that let go just after rotation, covering my windshield in oil on an low overcast IFR day. All resulted in uneventful landings. Train for the unexpected and handle it as it comes.
     
  8. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In a Pa32 during climbout. Had an airport straight in front of me and landed. -12F weather. No reason ever found, possibly ice crystals in the fuel.
     
  9. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This isn't what you want to hear, but we had an engine on our C172 fail catastrophically with a little, but not much warning. After departure, at around 1,000 ft we noticed the CHT climbing and oil pressure dropping. We called ATC and said we were returning to base. Perhaps at that point we should have headed toward a closer airport, but at the moment the problem didn't seem imminent, and there was very little besides trees at the closer airport, and nothing was at red line; yet. But a few seconds later indicators got worse and power got lower. We immediately told ATC we were rerouting to the closer air port. Then the engine started making a banging sound and a minute later the fan came to an instant "STOP" and everything got real quiet. We were about 4 miles from the airport at 1,000 ft and there was no way we were going to make it. There was a road about a mile away on our right that we thought we could make, and we did after barely missing a little red pickup that seemed to be racing to get in front of us rather than stopping and allowing us to land in front of him. but I can't blame him too much, it was quite and unusual situation for him. There were a few other harrowing conditions, like power lines beside and over the top of the highway. We dropped into the median drainage area to stay under the power lines but a huge culvert was in front of us so we went up the other side into oncoming traffic. At least in this direction, the drivers could see us and pull out of the way so the only additional damage to the plane was a dent in the left wing leading edge from a sign post that jumped up out of nowhere. When on the ground, we saw that the belly and sides of the plane were coated with oil.

    My wife was PIC and at time she had "almost" 100 hours under her belt. Due to medical conditions, I had not been PIC in decades. But all turned out well and she has added about another 1,000 hours, mostly in our Bonanza and she had gotten her IFR ticket and we routinely fly all over the country. We are based in Florida and In the past 3 years we have been to Washington State twice, Alaska, circled the Great Lakes in the US and Canada and once to Phoenix and on another trip to San Diego then Santa Monica and home. On the Great Lakes trip we were on approach to AirVenture when they announced (at 7:30am on Monday) that all parking was full and if we didn't have a reservation we should divert. So we diverted to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and begun the rest of our planned adventure.

    It is good that you acknowledge and recognize the situation you are in. Keep that in mind as you do your pre-flight and pay attention to your engine instruments, especially where landing spots are scarce, Try to fly airplanes that have engine monitors that alert you to deteriorating engine conditions. The odds of you having an engine failure are quite small, and the odds of it happening right at take-off or approach to PDK are even smaller (although Murphy does often play his hand). Remember, you have a higher chance of dying driving to the airport. ESPECIALLY since you will be driving to PDK.
     
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  10. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    I'm a firm believer that many times, not all, engines talk to you before they fail, if you listen. I was in a fairly new SR-20 for a lesson one morning, on startup the engine sounded like a metallic machine gun for over a minute, then settled down. We weren't sure what was up, but we shut it down, got out, looked for oil leaks and holes in the crankcase. Then my instructor called the mechanic. The airplane was going in for a 100 hour the next morning. Since the noise stopped, he told us to restart, do a full power runup and if it was running ok, we should be ok and that he would check it out in the morning. So we did the runup, the engine was fine, and we did the lesson. A few days later I hear that the engine needed 3 new cylinders and that at least one valve was burned. That noise was the valve sticking.

    That's as close as I have come. Listen to and believe your engine.
     
  11. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I concur. We did have a few minutes of warning, which if we had it to do over again we would have used to head directly to an alternate landing site.

    YIKES! Not a chance I'd have taken that plane up.

    Glad you survived.

    That's as close as I have come. Listen to and believe your engine.[/QUOTE]
     
  12. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    [/QUOTE]

    Yeah, the question was, was it two fouled plugs in a cylinder causing the issue. Since it ran fine afterward that's what we suspected. I suspect the engine would have run maybe another 10 hours or so before the piston started slamming that valve shut. Now that I know the sound, never again.
     
  13. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Had things go quiet due to, I suspect, carb ice at about 500 AGL over nothing but rail road tracks and trees. Restarted itself after pulling carb heat and switching tanks.
     
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  14. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Yup. Carb ice. Engine came back as I was on a long final approach to an airport.
     
  15. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Failure? No. Engine quitting, yes.
     
  16. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    Not counting paramotors and ultralights which are in a different class as far as expectation (and severity!) of engine failures go, I had several in the T-Craft I used to own. One was contaminated fuel, I had just filled up from the FBO's brand new truck and although I dumped the tank I guess it didn't have time to settle out. Anyway, I put it down in a farm field, drained a bunch of orange water out of the gascolator, started up again, took off and flew home without further incident.

    Another time, 50' in the air on takeoff, lost almost all power and the engine sounded like it was about to jump out of the cowling. Pushed the nose down, made a very fast wheel landing, braked as hard as I dared, and got it stopped just before the ditch beyond the end of the runway. Turned out a pressed in exhaust valve seat had come loose. That one took a week or so to arrange repairs.

    Then there was the time the throttle linkage came disconnected. The engine kept running, not enough to maintain altitude, but enough for a long gradual descent to the nearest airport, where I blipped the ignition like a WWI rotary engine to reduce power for landing. Found a piece of safety wire somewhere to hold it together to get home.

    More recently, my Starduster wreck was a precautionary landing when lots of smoke poured out of the engine, and I was worried about fire. Unfortunately the field I picked wasn't as smooth as it looked from the air. The engine didn't quit but it would have soon; an oil line had come loose and it was pouring oil into the hot exhaust, making all the smoke.

    The thing to keep in mind is that even if the fan stops turning, if you put it down under control, you'll likely walk away unhurt even if the plane is wrecked, in which case the insurance company owns the pieces.
     
  17. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It’s always in the back of my mind every takeoff, thanks to my instructors. Briefing yourself before every takeoff is a good habit to get into. Know your best glide speed and rehearse your plan of action if the fan stops during the takeoff roll, immediately after becoming airborne and above 1,000ft. Generally, the rule is, until you reach 1,000ft AGL you only have a 30deg left and 30deg right window to choose from - NO TURN BACKS!

    I would highly suggest you go up with your CFI to altitude and have him simulate and engine failure after takeoff. You’ll be surprised how fast the speed decays and how quickly you can enter a stall regime if you’re not ready. The nose needs to come down fast, to the point that you feel light in your seat. Every takeoff be ready and think to yourself that the engine is going to quit.
     
  18. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Line Up and Wait

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    @86Aviator One thing to keep in mind is that you are going to get more people who have had an engine issue answer this vs those who haven't. Notice that almost no posts saying, "I have xx hours and never had an issue". Does it happen? yes but, rarely.
    I learned at KRYY which has the same geography as PDK. One thing to keep in mind is that you only spend a small part of your flight over the tough to land parts. One advantage of our ancient engines is that they really don't have a lot of breakable parts with decent maintenance. Stuff can happen, as you see in the prior posts. Also note, the prior posters all walked away from their engine outs. You'll get more comfortable with time.

    BTW I have about 350 hours, not even a hint of an engine issue.
     
  19. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    I have never had an engine failure in a single-engine airplane. I have had two in twins, one of which terminated in a prop-feathered landing; the other was a fuel system anomaly that I cured by juggling throttle and mixture.

    Bob Gardner
     
  20. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Having had more engine failures than most of the pilots I’ve worked with, I’d agree. Yes, they happen. Odds are, they won’t happen to you. But be prepared for them, since odds don’t play fair. ;)
     
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  21. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Never a complete failure, all produced some power. (won't count an intentional s.d. due to a faulty fire warning light.)Ship had two engines.
    Two recip partial failures. 1. Plug fouling and going down due to 115/145 gas in an engine designed for 91 octane. 2. Inflight Mag failure,somehow affected other mag. limped home at 2,000 RPM.
    As for turbines: Three instances of dual engine surging and loosing alt. Limped in on the first. On two & three had developed procedure by pulling C.B.s. Not covered in emerg sec of Fl manual. New problem to the type.
    Had an iinstance of very gradual power loss on number one after departing a ship 100nm at sea. Elected NOT to go back to the boat. Changed dest. On arr, no.1 was making 20% torque. We were light and A/C upgraded under STC with powerful Turbomeccas. Did NOT shut it down. Caused by a loose cap on prime port between fuel control & gov. following replacement of fuel control. If knew that escaping JetA was bathing engine for 45 minutes, I would have s.d.
    1969 had to fly home 40 minutes with 2 bullets in the compressor section. Ran well. A/C was scrapped. Won't count as an engine failure.
     
  22. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Nope. Only in the sim:D
     
  23. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Forgot one in my Luscombe. Throttle cable came loose and all 65 horses came on at once. Able to descend & land by switching mags off/both.
     
  24. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Could that be because the ones that couldn't walk away, are not around to write about it?
     
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  25. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I hate to count those because I "died" too many times.
     
  26. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    1000+ hours flying, carb ice caused the engine to run poorly. The engine stumbled for a bit and ran fine after carb heat was applied.
     
  27. EightSierraVictor81

    EightSierraVictor81 Filing Flight Plan

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    i had a partial engine failure in a pa28rt-201 piper arrow. Engine started running rough and with about 60% power at 800ft agl. Turned around and landed uneventfully. After numerous test flights, the issue kept coming back. The flight school finally agreed to have a closer look and it turned out that was what is best described as a hair ball / dust ball in the little chamber leading to the fuel injectors. i was prepping for my cfi ticket in the plane and the FAA examiner later told me that this was a relatively common in those 1970s Arrows
     
  28. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've had to deal with a few engine outs in ultralight type sport planes that were powered with two stoke engines. One was on take-off with a student in the front seat. A hard slip put it into the muddy field off the end of the runway.

    Since flying four stroke engines I've not had an engine out. An earlier plane I owned I had to do a precautionary landing because of bad fuel. I've had folks tell me that two strokes are as reliable as four strokes but that hasn't been my personal experience. A two stoke will punch out and go home early without saying a word ... most four strokes will complain a bit before quitting.

    BTW ... when the engine quits the plane belongs to the insurance company. Your only concern is getting your passenger(s) down safely. The main thing is keep the airplane flying all the way into the landing and you will likely survive.
     
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  29. 86Aviator

    86Aviator Pre-Flight

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    @Flocker I'm at Skybound in an Archer. They have two, and the one I for whatever reason prefer just got a new engine earlier this year - I assume it is still a Lycoming O-360, but I'm actually not certain. There were no procedure changes when the engine swapped (beyond it being in engine break-in for a few weeks), so I imagine it is. (Couldn't figure out how to quote your message for some reason).

    HA! Very true. Driving in Atlanta is just so fun . . .

    My CFI has said something very similar, and from studying a few accident reports I think I'm buying it. I'm flying with a six pack, but want to move up to a glass cockpit with the full suite of engine monitoring equipment. I wasn't really sold on that until I watched an MZeroA YouTube video walking through a 172's glass cockpit; being able to monitor the engine with that layer of detail is appealing, as it getting alerts the moment something important begins to stray from the green arc. Any extra layer of safety that helps one hear what the engine is saying is nice in my opinion.

    That's a great observation and I completely agree. To that end, the responders who have had serious issues and that are (i) here to tell about it; and (ii) walked away with little or no injury is really helpful to me. I haven't made it over to RYY yet (as you could probably infer, we typically go to CVC and LZU for pattern work when we're not in the north practice area), but I hear it is a lot like PDK in that respect - also really appreciate your perspective since you're familiar with the area's challenges!
     
  30. 86Aviator

    86Aviator Pre-Flight

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    Thanks so much for the responses. It is great to hear that as rare as an engine failure is (much less at critical stages of flight), so many are still here to talk about it - and they still fly! For those that have had an incident, I'm sure that it is probably not your fondest memory, so this student pilot really appreciates you sharing it with him.

    As some of you have suggested, yes, I absolutely brief emergencies on departure but need to do a better job on approach to landing (things happen quick for a new guy once you're inside PDK's class delta). I also find assurance in that I've been driving for well over half my life (and some of those cars early on weren't necessary in the best shape) and I've never had a car engine fail going down the highway - and airplane engines are designed to be simpler and more reliable.

    Thanks again. This is all very helpful.
     
  31. Jim Rosenow

    Jim Rosenow Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I've had 2 in 49 years of flying....both pretty much self-inflicted, in new-to-me aircraft.

    First one was in a Warrior. Bought it sitting on a ramp, neglected. Logs looked good, cursory inspection OK...dumb kid (me) in charge, no pre-buy. Took it home to NW IL, cleaned it up, and first long trip planned to KOSH. Again, new-to-me a/c, new auto fuel STC, tractor gas, hotter than blazes...what could go wrong? Quit deader than a door nail at 3k feet. Fortunately, wind had favored SW, we needed to go NE, which had us back over our strip when it got quiet. Dead-sticked in fine. In addition to vapor lock the engine was WAY out of specs when we opened it up.

    Second was a Piper Clipper. Bought it in KC, flew it home to DSM area solo with no check-out. Hooked up with the infamous Paul Berge to do the insurance check-out. Doing touch-and-goes at our grass strip, again, painfully quiet. Learning from my previous mistakes, I had the solution this time!...'Your airplane, Paul!' He got us back with one hand tied behind his back and one eye closed. Opened up the engine, and there were remnants of a shop rag in the crankcase. Again, self-inflicted.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020
  32. Michael A

    Michael A Pre-Flight

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    Chances that was you soloing today at PDK?
     
  33. 86Aviator

    86Aviator Pre-Flight

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    @Michael A No, sir - probably another few weeks. Getting close and thus one of the things on my mind at midnight on a Saturday. I can see why you might think today would be the day though!

    My CFI and I talked about soloing logistics yesterday; probably going to be LZU. The comfort of being in class delta airspace (comfortable for me, at least), with a fraction of PDK's traffic is what I think I'd prefer. CVC is another option, but I've just got more experience with tower controlled airports than pilot controlled.
     
  34. GaryM

    GaryM Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No engine failure, no in-flight issue of any kind, really. But I’ve only got 450 hours, so there’s that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020
  35. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It is. That’s the only engine that applies to an Archer.
     
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  36. Michael A

    Michael A Pre-Flight

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    figured lol just heard a students first solo while out today. As to your concerns though I stand by what’s been said here. While it’s important to plan for, total engine failures are a lot less likely than partial engine failures. Also brief every takeoff. At PDK taking off from 3R my plan if I lose an engine above 800 ft is immediate left turn to land on 16. Below that sidestepping over to 3L is the best option, which really only leaves about a 200 foot range with no viable runway options.

    you a student at Tech btw or a part of one of the flight schools at PDK?
     
  37. 86Aviator

    86Aviator Pre-Flight

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    That's similar to my plan on departure - there's also that golf course and I noticed an industrial site yesterday coming through 500 AGL off of 3L that has been leveled, but with the warm and fuzzy feeling of having heavy equipment and piles of concrete around the site. And if one was in a situation where likely death was preferable to certain death, I guess there's also 85, 285, or Buford Highway.

    I'm at Skybound. College for me was about 15 years and at least twice that many pounds ago :D
     
  38. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Drake the Outlaw
    KRYY was in the frickin' boonies when I got my first ride in a light aircraft there as a kid. Heck, it was still in the boonies when the built the mall across the interstate in 1986. *Everyone* wondered what in the heck those developers were thinking. LOL.
     
  39. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    chemgeek
    30 years, many different planes, including two I've owned, no engine failures. But I have had one complete power loss, and two in-flight magneto failures during takeoff phase which cause a partial power loss. The magneto failures were non-events: note the failure and land immediately. Both mag failures required replacement of the mags, which tested fine on runup, but managed to trash themselves after takeoff. The complete power loss occurred during a descent after an IPC in winter conditions. No cause was found, but it is likely either ice blockage of one of the fuel tanks or simple carb icing. After going through the emergency checklist items (I knew them by practice, not by reading them, as did my onboard CFII who learned to fly with me), power completely restored in about 30 seconds or less while gliding at best glide speed toward a suitable landing spot. No definitive cause was found in the shop (Hence, probable icing of some sort.)

    Moral to the story? Emergency training is very important. You may never need it, but when you have an emergency, you want to know what to do, and know that you know what to do so you can stay calm and collected. If you don't panic, freeze up, or stall/spin, your chances of a successful outcome are very good. Unfortunately, there are instances where pilots apparently have not followed adequate emergency procedures, and have wound up in the stall/spin bucket for no good reason.

    And, yes, it is normal to be at heightened alertness (not fear) during takeoff. This is the most critical phase of flight for a power loss. Know what your emergency plan is for takeoff every time. It's easy at your home drome, but requires a little investigation and thought when flying from an away airport.
     
    Daleandee likes this.
  40. 86Aviator

    86Aviator Pre-Flight

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    86Aviator
    I had a career waiter at Bones tell me the same thing about Buckhead when I was visiting town to meet with my now employer shortly before moving to ATL from upstate NY last year. I forget the exact story, but to paraphrase, the name Bones apparently came from something someone said about the plan to open a steakhouse that was (at the time) so far away from the city that there was nothing else out there but bones. I work and live in midtown, and the number of buildings here that are less than 20 years old is amazing.