November 1999 Issue

The Impossible Turn

An emergency turn back to the runway isnít always a death-defying maneuver

Climbing on the runway heading, you see the end of the runway slides by underneath you. Suddenly the engine coughs once, then again. Then suddenly thereís silence.

An engine failure on takeoff has been hangar-flown as often as any other piloting scenario, yet many pilots donít have a clue about how to deal with the problem. Low altitude and airspeed mean thereís little time to troubleshoot the problem. The airplane is likely to go down; the only question is where.

The airport is a magnet. Cranking the airplane around and making a downwind landing is appealing in that it carries the allure of an undamaged airplane and uninjured occupants. The accepted strategy of landing more or less st...

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