Learning Experiences

December 2008 Issue

What Could Go Wrong?

As with most of these stories, this one started out innocently enough. My flying club needed to get one of its airplanes, a Piper Archer, out of maintenance and back to its home field, Big Airline Hub International. Another member volunteered to introduce me to the clubs Piper Tomahawk, an airplane with which I had no experience, and ferry me to Cheap Maintenance Municipal to retrieve the Archer. Wed regroup afterward and find our cars, etc. The Tomahawk ride was uneventful, and soon I was preflighting the Archer. All the big parts were there and, since it had just come out of a progressive inspection, what could go wrong? There was more than adequate fuel for this wintertime night hop, the oil was good and clean, and I knew the way home. Piece o cake. Soon, I had the Archer airborne and was talking to the local approach controllers, looking for flight following and a Bravo clearance. As I leveled off, I thumbed the very familiar electric trim switch to remove the building control pressure. Nothing happened. Almost simultaneously, ATC asked me to turn on the transponder. I checked to make sure it was on, told ATC about it, and made sure the trim system was energized and the associated circuit breaker closed.

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