Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lesson 12: "Your engine just died"

Plane: Champ
Instructor: Joe
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, wind 310 degrees at 4 knots

Every pilot loooves practicing emergency procedures! Ok, maybe I'm being a little facetious but such things are a very important part of our training. Before I am allowed to solo it's required, and logically so, that I practice the proper actions to take in the case of an in-flight emergency. Tonight we worked on our engine suddenly quitting up in the sky.

There are many variations of engine-out procedures and tonight, this being my first time, we started with it happening at a high enough altitude to attempt restarting it and returning to the airport. In the future, practice will include an engine failure at low altitude. Were that to happen, you basically lower the nose to maintain airspeed and find a place to land in front of you.

Back to tonight, Joe pulled the power right when I was about to reduce throttle on the downwind leg of the pattern. I immediately lowered the nose (too much - as Joe said, "it's a descent, not a dive!") and then ran through the checks for re-starting the engine, which are 1) Mag Switch On 2) Carb Heat On and 3) Fuel Selector On. Since the propeller is spinning from air moving past it, this should be enough to restart an engine that has not totally failed. Being that I was practicing, the throttle remained at idle and I turned to glide us in towards the airport. If you look at the Google Earth track (link at the bottom of the post) you'll see the one pattern where I make a diagonal towards the runway coming off downwind. I actually made the turn a little too late and we just barely had enough altitude to get back to the airport. However, I did glide us in successfully and was able to set the airplane down right in the middle of the runway for a decent three-point landing.

Aside from the engine-out practice, the rest of the lesson was circuits around the pattern. My takeoffs were relatively good all night long, but I think they were better last lesson. Landings started off a little shaky (I floated too much on the first and second) but the last couple were quite good. On my next-to-last landing I was on a much better glide path and only had to use a slight forward slip, which I temporarily came out of until we cleared the trees, and transitioned into a good flare for a three-pointer. Joe mentioned that Dave may have been helping me a little more than I realized so it was good to go up and keep improving my feel of the controls on landing. While I'm not terribly far from soloing, there is still additional instruction on emergency procedures and a little more landing practice before I hit that milestone.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 14.1 hours


  1. Haha, I love your Google Earth tracks. Some people who read my blog came here and saw your .kml files and are now demanding that I do the same.

  2. Engine out, always good practice!

    Just worked through the same but under the hood, simulated Instrument conditions, it does keep us sharp.

    It sounds like your solo flight will be any day. Good luck and enjoy!