Well that was exciting

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Jim K, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Visited KGRE and KVLA this afternoon in my quest to hit every public airport in IL. Downwind at Greenville, ran my GUMPS: fuel left tank, gear down, mixture rich, fuel pump, lights, seatbelt. Short final.... maybe 300', the aiming point starts to rise in my windshield, so i added some power... no response.... realized the engine had quit.

    After about 5 minutes of shock, I decided I'd better do something as it was looking like clearing the threshold lights was about 50/50. Mixture is rich, let's see, it was running on the right tank, let's switch back....oh it's off.... how did that happen? Back to right tank....100'agl....VROOM! Whoa... right rudder! "Greenvile traffic, 35E going around....

    Need to take a look at that stop.... and be more careful about flipping that little lever.
     
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  2. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    not a fan of switching tanks in the pattern, no sir.
     
  3. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    That's a good point. There was no good reason to do so. Should've left it alone.
     
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  4. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Jim, glad that ended well.
     
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  5. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Agreed, switch when 10-15 min out is a better plan
     
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  6. Doctor Bob

    Doctor Bob Pre-Flight

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    Great save. Bet that lesson is burned into the brain cells.
     
  7. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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  8. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I never switch tanks before take off from the ones I taxied on, and I never switch tanks after I start my descent from cruise for landing. Enough other stuff going on at those times imo.

    Glad to hear you sorted it logically and everything worked out well. :thumbsup:
    I can think of one or two people I know that would probably just "freeze" in that situation and stop thinking.
     
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  9. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    No doubt.

    Its funny the number of thoughts that ran through my head in the space of what must've been a second:
    -oh #@$& the engine quit
    -well at least there's some nice grass if i don't make the runway
    -I really don't want to tear up my plane
    -this isn't fair, I just got this thing
    -I don't think I'm going to make the runway
    -wait, it was just running what did I do
    -hmm seems like it's usually gas
    -well it was running on the right tank, maybe the left is empty
    -oh $&!# you dummy, you switched it off
    -wonder if it will start before i hit the ground
    -whoa going 0-300hp instantly really torques the nose over

    I'm a little disappointed in myself that I didn't instantly spring into the ABC checklist. I kind of troubleshot the problem and went back to the rule of "undo the last thing you did". I should probably work some emergency drills; haven't done that for a while. I'm definitely adopting the rule of picking a tank on descent and sticking with it.
     
  10. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    SOP from my former club: switching tanks for the sake of switching has caused accidents.

    if the spinny thing is spinning and the gauge doesn’t indicate empty, don't switch tanks.
     
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  11. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    I once gave my primary CFI a coronary when I switched tanks during a stop and go, I still hear him screaming.

    Good job on not panicking and getting it sorted out
     
  12. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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    Glad I’m reading this lesson and not living it. I’m starting to get checked out in a pa-32r
     
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  13. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    It’s a lesson learned and I’m glad it ended up working out well! I think it’s definitely wise to avoid any tank switching unless it’s really necessary. The less you have to touch that lever, the better. I usually take care of it prior to descending or shortly after I start my descent, so it’s accomplished at a time when I have options, in case something goes hay wire.

    Thanks for sharing!
     
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  14. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My wife turned the Navion fuel selector from LEFT to OFF in the pattern once. Fortunately, I realized what she had done and quickly turned it two clicks to MAIN.
     
  15. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, as others have said, switching tanks should never happen in the pattern. But happy to know only damage was to the ego...:lol::lol: And maybe change ''switch to fullest tank'' to before descent checklist.

    I was in a C-210 taking off out of Mobile Downtown (BFM I think) and out over the bay at about 6-700 feet AWL* when the engine started stumbling. My first thought was.... ''I am going to miss lunch''...

    Spoiler alert: It was summer and vapor lock was the problem, which was solved by turning on the emergency pump until I got to a cooler altitude.





    *AWL - Above Water Level
     
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  16. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    I have a bad habit of leaving the electric fuel pump on. Required form TO, till cruse altitude. I am normally at cruse Altitude by the time I hit Outer Point (about 5 miles from TO). Looking for traffic distracts me I guess. By Young Bay, Funter Pass or Lena Point I normally catch my mistake (GUMPS)....:rolleyes:
     
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  17. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I can't help but wonder of it would've restarted so quickly had the boost pump not been on.

    I never worried much about "fuel- fullest tank" in the archer, as it was always topped off with 5 hours. Now with my plane, I go fill it with cheap SS gas when it gets low, which it was in this case, so i was already worried about fuel. Lest you think I was being unsafe, I still had 25 gal total, but that's as low as I've had it, or any plane for that matter.

    I also had a dpe chastise for not switching to the fullest tank during my instrument checkride. I used to be very bad about doing a gumps check, but now with the retract I've gotten much better. Unfortunately, those three factors conspired to make me think it was a good idea to switch in the pattern.

    I was thinking about it today in the context of Murphy's Law. The engine couldn't have possibly quit at a worse time. A few seconds earlier and it wouldn't have been so scary close to the ground, and a few seconds later I would've glided to the runway.
     
  18. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-Flight

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    IMHO, not sure why people are advocating against switching tanks in the pattern, that'd be my favorite place to switch. if anything happens, there's a runway right there, as opposed to having something happen a few more miles out at relatively low altitude.

    My standard routine is:
    Start on not-the-fullest tank(if applicable)
    Taxi to run-up area, usually a decent distance. If it's only a very short taxi or I'm running up on the ramp, let it high-idle a couple mins before taxi/runup
    Switch to fullest for run-up
    Remain on that tank for takeoff.
    Switch every ~30 mins in flight. (in-flight fuel management sometimes varies based on timing, the Sundowners have a yellow arc on the fuel gauges, below which takeoff/go-around isn't advised for risk of fuel pickup unporting. So I'll sometimes run one tank a little lower than normal to keep the fuller one above that level)
    Switch to fullest tank during GUMPS.

    That way I'm satisfied that both sides of the fuel supply are good before I enter the runway, and it's far less likely to give me any nasty surprises when it pulls full flow on takeoff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2021
  19. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    One thing I advocate (I'll probably get some flack for this) is to try running a tank dry on your plane so you know what it's like. Obviously, you need at least two tanks, L and R switches, lots of altitude for safety, and lots of gas in one of the two tanks. I was shocked at what happened when I tried running a tank dry: I expected the engine to just quit, but it didn't at all, instead running with slightly reduced power, then slightly less than that, then even less...took about 5 minutes of tapering power for it to just quit outright. Knowing this would make it easier to identify if it ever happens to me inadvertently (god forbid). I know some people run tanks dry on a regular basis as a way of getting max range, and although I don't think it's a bad practice, I've never needed that much range to do it for that reason.
    Running with the switch set to "off" is an easier experiment as the engine quits fast (at least in my plane) and so it can be tried on the ground.
     
  20. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    True if you have a Carb'd engine. An injected engne just quickly runs lean, and then quits.
     
  21. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Do you know how many airports there are? Or is there a list somewhere?
     
  22. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    Yep - part of the descent check - GUMP is just making sure it's STILL the right tank.
     
  23. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I printed off a list from Wikipedia, then cross checked it with the illinois airport guide book put out by idot and the sectional. I don't have my sheet with me, but I think I came up with 104. I'm in the low 40's.
     
  24. baboss

    baboss Pre-takeoff checklist

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  25. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    airnav will have list of airports by states.
     
  26. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You could probably get this published in Flying Mag's ILAFFT if you wanted to share to a larger audience.
     
  27. pmanton

    pmanton Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I did it over water once and scared the #@%$ out of my wife.
     
  28. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    You found a pilot induced problem, solved it, learned it from it. You'd doing great!
     
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  29. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    When I learned to fly 48 years, ago, the standard was a power-off approach. Downwind was level until an appropriate point, then the throttle was closed and the approach carried out power-off throughout the base and final, adjusting flaps (or slipping, or adjusting pitch to steepen or flatten the glide) as necessary to reach the runway. It taught precision glidepath and speed control. I think it came out of military primary teaching.

    At some point, the power-on approach took over, perhaps as result of the idea that everyone was going to be flying airliners someday. The approach paths became longer and shallower. When I became an instructor I had to teach it that way, but we also would fake a power loss on downwind to teach the student the old ways. The problem with the power-on approach is what the OP pointed out: can I reach that runway? Quite possibly no.

    Now, if you switched tanks late on downwind and it quits, are you going to be willing to turn sooner or leave the flaps alone or do whatever it takes to make that runway? Or are you going to dork with the selector and other stuff and forget to fly the airplane? Having a pilot-induced engine failure so close to the ground, at an airport that might be surrounded by buildings, is not smart. The tiny chances of the engine packing up for other reasons is bad enough, without adding another factor that increases those chances. There's also the small chance that the selector mechanism fails in an airplane that hasn't been well-maintained, too. I've found that stuff badly worn out sometimes. Cessna has a little driveshaft with two tiny U-joints between the selector lever and the valve itself, for instance. It gets sloppy as the U-joint rivets loosen and wear.

    High wings rule. They can be run on both tanks (most of them), reducing the chances of fuel mismanagement or system failure at a bad time.

    And altitude means more time to work out a solution of some sort.

    Edit: there's a fairly recent AD on some fuel tank selector placards. It addresses the problem of the Left and Right positions being reversed on some replacement placards.
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_...959c17278625826600479197/$FILE/2018-07-03.pdf

    The Piper SB it references:
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/pipercrm/Solution/19000/SB_1309.pdf

    Reversed L and R positions means that you'd be drawing fuel from the tank opposite to what was indicated on the selector. You could be switching from the fullest to the lowest tank, for instance, hence the AD that forced compliance with the AD.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  30. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the “stop” you speak of is a second action that you have to take to get to off beyond just moving the selector, right?

    I was taught years ago that when your hand touches the wrong switch, it’ll still know what to do with it. ;) I preach “intention” pretty hard...don’t do something because it was the right thing to do for the previous however many flights. Do it because it’s the right thing on this one.
     
  31. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    As it turns out...
    The lever was able to move right past the stop. There were a couple screws missing that hold the plastic trim on, and the stop is riveted to that trim.

    I knew it was loose, and had wiggled it into the correct position previously, but hadn't found the missing screws yet. I remember thinking, "that has a pretty good detent, I won't skip over it to 'off', but I should probably fix it anyway". Apparently while I was under the dash wiggling wires trying to get my hsi to slave, I must've bumped that trim piece out of place again.

    It has screws in it now.
     
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  32. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    Even though my old bird has both I’ve never used it... I don’t run a tank dry but the old Cessna 140 has no published “usable fuel” published just capacity. Most say in cruise shell drink about every last drop. But there’s a pretty large “no take off range” for her at the lower end about 1/4 I think. There’s been accidents from it not respected... so I like one tank solidly above that point... so I’d prefer to run one tank quite low to keep one well above the “do not take off” range...
     
  33. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies En-Route

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    Howcome?
     
  34. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    as both tanks at “no take off zone” on the gauge is still a lot of gas, if I need a go round I don’t want both tanks under that and have a fuel problem on the climb... I don’t run it dry dry but will run one close to keep that other well above that mark at landing
     
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  35. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer En-Route

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    When I lost the mechanical fuel pump in my -9A, I was over a really nice toll road, with about a mile of altitude to work with. So with a great landing option beneath me, my first thought was "Dang it, I'm going to have to remove the wings for transport back to the hangar!"

    Fortunately, it fired back up and continued to run on the boost pump.

    Such a sinking feeling when you work the throttle and mixture and there's just the sound of air rushing past the canopy, and none of the comforting vibration you get from a running engine. My first action item was switching tanks, then the boost pump.
     
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  36. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-Flight

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    I was a few miles out of an airport I intended to land at, doing my gumps check, I found that I had taken off and flown for a half hour with the tank selector in the off position. My gut sank, what an idiot! I immediately switched to both, but then wondered why it had run in the off position and if it wasn't better to leave it alone. Too late, it was then on both and stayed that way.
    The fuel selector valve had recently got new O rings put in it. After flying it home, I removed the selector and disassembled it, the O rings had not been seated properly and were floating around in the housing.
    I have never missed checking the fuel tank selector prior to engine start, or takeoff since. The sinking feeling I got when I discovered my mistake has burned it into my brain, permanently!