June 2012 Issue
The Sparks That Let You Fly
Understanding your ignition system starts with the magnetos. Use these troubleshooting tips during your pre-flight check and when questions arise.
It really only takes three things to make our piston engines go: air, fuel and, of course, a spark to set things burning and those pistons churning. We, the pilots, are responsible for making sure our engines have enough fuel to mix with air (and enough air, for that matter) to make it all burn. We pretty much know where the air and fuel come from, but what about that spark? The answer is an engineering marvel, but an ancient one. As pilots in the 21st century, more than 100 (nearly 110!) years after the invention of the first flying aircraft engine, we rely, amazingly, on nearly the same technology to generate spark today as did the Wright Brothers.
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