Joined the 'Declared an Emergency' Club

masloki

Pattern Altitude
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Nunya
TLDR: wonky throttle, couldn't idle, killed the engine to land

So there I was, just cancelled IFR and flight following (yesss - thread is in the right category). Setting up to land at an exceptionally rural and cheap fuel stop, daughter by my side, and just entered the downwind. Slowed down to 18" MAP to put in the first notch of flaps. Abeam the threshold, gear down, pulled to 13" to start down. Hmm, that's 14". Pull a little harder on the throttle. That's the idle stop and I'm definitely not idling. Start the game planning while turning base. Training taught me, don't force it on the runway. Mooney aircraft are unforgiving of landing at high speeds (prop strike is likely). Consider the throttle problem some more, if it doesn't start working and keep working correctly, go around and bug out to the big airport. On short final, plane is about 80 kts and not going any slower, while touchdown is supposed to be ~60 kts. Throttle working just not idling. Bug out!

Get cleaned up, get headed to the big airport, call up approach ATC and ask for expedited service. I figured I had 20 minutes to work the problem in-air. ATC queried the nature of my problem, and after stating I could not reduce power completely for landing, they declared an emergency for me. Good point - glad someone has their wits about them. I wiggle the throttle a few more times...same results and give up on that course. Start working in my mind the plan to land. I've got power, electric, radios, etc - lots of luck in my luck bag and I will take it. ATC calls up , "fuel remaining and souls onboard." My heart skipped a beat. Back to work. Fly the plane. Navigate. Communicate. "12 gallons, 2 souls."

More time to kill just getting to the airport. Get some traffic call outs, spot 'em and don't need to dodge them. Tell my kiddo there will be a pretty light show at the airport. I see the beacon and all the extra flashing lights. Setup for yet-another-tidy pattern to a 10K foot runway. Same as before, but this time, in the flare the plan is to kill the engine and electronics. Glide her down.

Fire truck 1, bless their hearts, is going back-and-forth, back-and-forth with tower about where to position. Tower is watching me and calling me out to the fire truck. Seriously, for 2 minutes FT1 is chattering away. I finally break in with a Wind Check request on short final. Winds are a minor crosswind. Fine. Runway is made. Call tower, tell them I shutting down now, in-air. Shut the radios, kill the mags and glide it in. Oops, lost my landing light. Somehow, greased it in. Slowly rolled out....slowed down and coasted to a stop, nose pointing at FT1. Waved "hi" and they pulled around me and checked everyone was all right. All good inside and waited for the tug to pull us to the terminal. Knowing if I had started up again, at partial throttle, there was a chance of departing a taxiway - and I'm done testing my luck.

I've got Savvy Analysis and a good A&P friend, reviewed photos and confirmed the throttle was not at the idle stop at the engine, even though it was at idle cut-off in cabin. Savvy took the ball to find a shop - I will reserve further comment on this course until I have paid the bills (some bumps here). Plane is in a shop now, and problem is isolated to either a damaged cable or damaged clamp on the cable. Plane could be fixed today or next week. Wish me luck.

Hindsight is 20/20. 1) I'm done cancelling IFR until I'm on the ground. 2) Not knowing the cause of the throttle issue, after a few tests of the throttle I should have stopped. Could have caused myself much more of a problem if the cable failed entirely. 3) Yeah, just declare the emergency. 4) Still debating if killing electrics was good - if it was a truly bad landing, then spark would be bad. But odds are the landing was going to be fine and the landing light would have been nice.

What say you? I'm guessing there are some other things I can do better next time. Plane is reusable. Kiddo and pilot are unscathed. Not too bad.
 
2) Not knowing the cause of the throttle issue, after a few tests of the throttle I should have stopped. Could have caused myself much more of a problem if the cable failed entirely.
4) Still debating if killing electrics was good - if it was a truly bad landing, then spark would be bad. But odds are the landing was going to be fine and the landing light would have been nice.

Honestly as I was reading your story, those were the same two things that came to my mind. Not knowing the source of the throttle issue, I would have been hesitant to test it too far. Potentially could have a parted cable and end up with with full power, no power, or anywhere in between.

Definitely killing the engine on final to glide down was a great strategy, rather than trying to land under partial power. I don't know if killing the master helped, and became a distraction and hinderance losing lighting and comms.

Overall though, you and your daughter are just fine, the airplane didn't get damaged, great landing! That's all that matters. Sometimes in the helmet fire of dealing with an anomaly or emergency the little details either get missed or overthought.
 
All good. I wouldn’t worry about electricity, as it’s simply taking your attention away from flying. Battery will last 30 seconds, even with the landing light on. Plus, you can still communicate with tower/trucks.
 
Good read, thanks for the write-up. I'm glad you and your daughter are ok.
 
I think the most important thing that you did well was place the TLDR at the BEGINNING. thank you for that.

the first field you flew into was non-towered, yes? and at that point you were on FF....not sure what "not cancelling IFR until on the ground" has anything to do with it. if you stayed IFR until you landed, (or in this case did a go around) you would have been on CTAF anyways and had to switch back to approach, no? so not sure how that really comes into play here. anyways, sounds like you handled it just fine. I think I would have left the radios on personally but either way is fine. this kind of stuff usually doesn't happen in a mooney.
 
oh also, what is this 'expedited service' ? not sure I've ever heard of that being a thing.
 
Ony thought I have is use the red knob to reduce engine power in the landing

I had a stuck throttle in a 172 once. Power stayed at about 2000 RPM with the throttle pulled all the way out.

First approach was for practice, second approach was just a normal approach until the point I would normally pull all power out. Instead I grabbed the red knob and pulled it out, then landed normally. I exited a little faster than normal so I could clear the runway, then got a tug to pull myself into parking.

No tower so no firetrucks, but one impressed student.

The plane can be used again, and more importantly you and your daughter are fine so you did a great job.!!
 
I think the most important thing that you did well was place the TLDR at the BEGINNING. thank you for that.

the first field you flew into was non-towered, yes? and at that point you were on FF....not sure what "not cancelling IFR until on the ground" has anything to do with it. if you stayed IFR until you landed, (or in this case did a go around) you would have been on CTAF anyways and had to switch back to approach, no? so not sure how that really comes into play here.
Doesn’t sound like an issue in this case, but it might make the difference between circling around below the clouds with a malfunction trying to get a clearance vs flying a published, planned, and briefed missed approach.
 
As others have said, I probably would have used mixture to help slow the plane down at the landing airfield, not sure it would help much.

Other than that, curious why enter the pattern instead of a straight-in?
 
if you stayed IFR until you landed, (or in this case did a go around) you would have been on CTAF anyways and had to switch back to approach, no?
My thinking here was more, at the start of the problem, who knows how it's going to end. Being on an IFR flight plan and not closing it, gets help going faster. Background was this was a border between airspaces, it was clear and a million, so I was given the option of a hand-off, or a cancel 10 miles out from the destination. When I was inbound airport #2, I was a brand new aircraft to that approach since I skipped the hand-off. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but not a win for safety either.

As others have said, I probably would have used mixture to help slow the plane down at the landing airfield, not sure it would help much.

Other than that, curious why enter the pattern instead of a straight-in?
TY to you and all others on the mixture knob. Exactly why I posted. I lean, and fly LOP enough that I should know I slow down, but it didn't click in this instance. Flying the pattern was the difference between advertised quartering 10 kt tailwind or a headwind. There was a risk that I'd still come in fast so I opted for the headwind.
 
…Flying the pattern was the difference between advertised quartering 10 kt tailwind or a headwind. There was a risk that I'd still come in fast so I opted for the headwind.

There was no way to ask tower to set you up for a straight-in to the appropriate runway? The E-word was already out there, so you get priority handling, but maybe I’m missing something here.

Either way, good job in a successful operation.
 
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There was no way to ask tower to set you up for a straight-in to the appropriate runway? The E-word was already out there, so you get priority handling, but maybe I’m miasing something here.

Either way, good job in a successful operation.
Good point to clarify. I was basically on a 20 mile final for 31 - but landed 13. They offered me any runway any way I wanted to get there. So, I went with what made the most sense in my brain for the location. I was to the left side of 31 inbound so asked for right traffic 13.
 
oh also, what is this 'expedited service' ? not sure I've ever heard of that being a thing.
I couldn't bring myself to say 'pan-pan-pan' which sounds like a total knob. Emergency would have just been fine and probably get the same results as the triple P.
 
1) I'm done cancelling IFR until I'm on the ground. 2) Not knowing the cause of the throttle issue, after a few tests of the throttle I should have stopped. Could have caused myself much more of a problem if the cable failed entirely. 3) Yeah, just declare the emergency. 4) Still debating if killing electrics was good - if it was a truly bad landing, then spark would be bad. But odds are the landing was going to be fine and the landing light would have been nice.
1) I wouldn't make any changes there. ATC will remember you if you switch back to their frequency and call up with an emergency. Remaining IFR to the ground can be a hassle for many reasons. This just doesn't justify a change in how you fly.

2) True, and a bonus lesson you thankfully didn't have to learn the hard way and hopefully the rest of us can also keep in mind if it happens to us.

3) This is something that everyone who ever had an emergency and waited to declare it eventually posts. No harm, no foul. Good on ATC to declare for you. You should probably have given an estimate of your flight time remaining on the 12 gallons of fuel you reported having, to help ATC as well as yourself understand the range of options available to you. But in the aviate, navigate, communicate hierarchy, telling ATC how long a Mooney can fly on 12 gallons falls somewhere on that lowest-priority rung.

4) For me, this is not a debate. Hindsight being 20/20, my opinion is that you added net risk by turning off the electrical master. Lights, radio, and distraction were all factors that could have (but thankfully didn't) make the outcome worse. The checklists that call for the electrical master to be turned off before a bad landing are all premised on an off-field landing without anyone around. The kind of thing where you could hit hard enough to start an electrical fire and/or spark a petroleum fire and also break your leg or bump your head hard enough to not crawl out of the wreckage. With the paved 10,000-foot runway and the attention of ATC and fire/rescue crews, you didn't have those risks.

4a) The mixture would have been a good thing to help turn off the engine when you committed to the landing. I don't know if it would give you enough fine control over the power to help with the landing, especially in the heat of the moment. Regardless, I would want to pull it to idle cutoff prior to the wheels touching down.

Pattern vs. straight-in: Both have pros and cons but I think the pattern, in addition to having worked out just fine for you, is the better choice on the whole. Straight-in would have been easier to stabilize with limited control of power, but with the added risk of not making it to the runway if the problem (whose cause you didn't yet know) turned into a loss of power. Depending on your stick and rudder skills and how frequently you fly a pattern vs. a straight-in, the pattern also gives you a better feel for how the approach is going as you fly each leg of it with your crippled airplane. For example, if you see that you're low on the downwind, you can turn base early to shorten your final. You may not catch deviations as early on a long straight-in, and if you catch them you may not have any options to correct them.
 
Good job. It was handled calmly and ended well. My thought process would be to use the mixture to kill the engine when the field was made, maybe in an extended flare over the (long) runway. Unless there is an electrical fire or fuel leak, I'd keep the electronics on. But perhaps you suspected a fuel issue of some sort so killing the master would eliminate one potential issue.
 
I’m new. Why not just pull the mixture and power off land at the first airport? Isn’t this why we practice power off landings?
 
I’m new. Why not just pull the mixture and power off land at the first airport? Isn’t this why we practice power off landings?
If you have a pretty good working plane, you want to put it down at an airport where they have services. More than one shop on the field means I could call around and get it worked today. AoG means I’ve got to get hotel, food, transport, and maintenance done and I’m 1000 miles from home with wife and kid. All those are exponentially harder in the rural parts.

One of the lessons I learned after PPL but still learning, when traveling, pay the fees at the Deltas and Charlie’s because you never know when you will have an issue (Mind you, shop around and don’t get mugged by Signature. Rampfee.me is pretty good).

Final diagnosis, slipped the clamp on the throttle cable. 5 hours spicy AoG labor to drop the lower cowl and fix it up. Plane is done same day which is worth it to me. By the way, TXAoG certainly did not live up to their name :rolleyes:

I hope your daughter said, "do some of that pilot ****, Mav"
I’ll let her know she missed a good one. She did go to snap a picture while downwind….with her flash on. Aargh!
 
Happened to me once years ago in my T-Craft. No electric, so none of this "declaring an emergency" stuff. Rpm wasn't enough to maintain level flight, but enough to reach the closest airport. Killed the mags (no mixture on those old A-65s) when I had the runway made. Upon landing, I found the bolt that holds the pushrod clevis to the throttle arm missing... and laying on the bottom of the cowl. Nut was nowhere to be found. I put the bolt back in, found a stray piece of wire on the ground to go through the cotter pin hole to keep it there, and flew home. Yeah, I know... but I was a kid at the time, and I did make it home.
 
One Other thing, if you had decided a go around on the last landing, pushing the mixture then throttle, might have given you a smooth power up. But if you needed to go around again with mags off, when they are turned back on, it could have blown a jug off.
 
Happened to me once years ago in my T-Craft. No electric, so none of this "declaring an emergency" stuff.
I declared an emergency once at night. Tower had already closed, but airport had 24 hour emergency field operations. I announced the emergency several times. After I landed and put airplane away, I visited the airport ops office to tell them everything was okay. They had no idea any emergency had been declared.
 
If you have a pretty good working plane, you want to put it down at an airport where they have services. More than one shop on the field means I could call around and get it worked today. AoG means I’ve got to get hotel, food, transport, and maintenance done and I’m 1000 miles from home with wife and kid. All those are exponentially harder in the rural parts.

One of the lessons I learned after PPL but still learning, when traveling, pay the fees at the Deltas and Charlie’s because you never know when you will have an issue (Mind you, shop around and don’t get mugged by Signature. Rampfee.me is pretty good).

Final diagnosis, slipped the clamp on the throttle cable. 5 hours spicy AoG labor to drop the lower cowl and fix it up. Plane is done same day which is worth it to me. By the way, TXAoG certainly did not live up to their name :rolleyes:


I’ll let her know she missed a good one. She did go to snap a picture while downwind….with her flash on. Aargh!
You and me have different luck bag account balances :)

I totally understand, but I wouldn't have wanted to push it. But like I said, I'm new. Glad it worked out for you, and yeah 1000 miles away from home, makes a huge difference considering the plane was still running. Glad to hear it didn't scare your kid and you guys are well.

Peace!
 
Final diagnosis, slipped the clamp on the throttle cable. 5 hours spicy AoG labor to drop the lower cowl and fix it up. Plane is done same day which is worth it to me. By the way, TXAoG certainly did not live up to their name.
As a former Mooney engineer (best years of my life--working in Kerrville at Mooney) it would take 2 guys to remove cowls, fix cable, and reinstall cowls in about 2 hours. 5 mx hours is reasonable. Price per hour not withstanding... ..
 
MANY years ago a friend of mine used to race sprint cars. During one race we noticed his engine sounded funny in the turns.

As we listened, we realized his throttle was stuck and he was driving with the kill switch...He went at least 15 laps like that, and finished the race.

(sprint car drivers are nutz...)
 
MANY years ago a friend of mine used to race sprint cars. During one race we noticed his engine sounded funny in the turns.

As we listened, we realized his throttle was stuck and he was driving with the kill switch...He went at least 15 laps like that, and finished the race.

(sprint car drivers are nutz...)

I had to do some creative stuff to get a motorcycle home after the clutch cable broke. Do what ya gotta do ...
 
Final diagnosis, slipped the clamp on the throttle cable. 5 hours spicy AoG labor to drop the lower cowl and fix it up. Plane is done same day which is worth it to me. By the way, TXAoG certainly did not live up to their name :rolleyes:
McFarlane has AN like clamps that have a detent groove for better grip on cables that might be applicable. See what your mechanic thinks.

And nicely done!
 
MANY years ago a friend of mine used to race sprint cars. During one race we noticed his engine sounded funny in the turns.

As we listened, we realized his throttle was stuck and he was driving with the kill switch...He went at least 15 laps like that, and finished the race.

(sprint car drivers are nutz...)
We're all a little touched in the head.
 
Thanks for sharing. Not that my opinion matters but, you can post about the situation and share your experience so job well done in my book. I learned something that might be really important one day, Thanks!
 
You and me have different luck bag account balances :)

I totally understand, but I wouldn't have wanted to push it. But like I said, I'm new. Glad it worked out for you, and yeah 1000 miles away from home, makes a huge difference considering the plane was still running. Glad to hear it didn't scare your kid and you guys are well.

Peace!

To me “pushing it” would have been continuing to land. I applaud Dana for breaking off the approach - that’s overcoming a lot of continuation bias. I think he mentioned flying a Mooney which is pretty slippery. If I’ve got my daughter with me and am flying something other than a trainer, I want 10,000 feet and emergency services when I become a test pilot for landing.
 
I applaud Dana for breaking off the approach - that’s overcoming a lot of continuation bias. I think he mentioned flying a Mooney
That wasn't me, that was the OP. I just related a similar event in my T-Craft.
 
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