From the August 2015 Issue

Blowin’ In The Wind

Blowin’ In The Wind

When your plane is stationary, it’s a good time to consider Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, regarding inertia. It essentially tells us a great deal of energy is required to convert your airplane’s gross weight at rest into your airplane’s gross weight in motion. In other words, it takes a lot of throttle to get things moving. When your advance the throttle(s)is the time to think about Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states a force in one direction creates an equal force in the opposite direction.

Current Issue

Timed-Out Takeoffs

I’ve not found any published data on the subject, but after years or reading accident reports I’ve formed the opinion that pilots making takeoffs that will be followed by a flight on an IFR flight plan may unconsciously add a little more “I gotta go come hell or high water” attitude than their normal, Type A, mission-completion orientation to the decision-making process.

Some Weight In The Back?

You shouldn’t have gotten through private pilot ground school without understanding that, for the same power and weight, minimizing drag will result in an increased airspeed. A gross example might be the difference in airspeed with flaps extended at, say, 55-percent power and when they’re retracted. Of course, no one cruises with flaps extended, but you may inadvertently be adding to the airplane’s total drag in cruise when you load it.


The bumper sticker tells us a bad day flying is better than a good day at the office. I think most pilots would agree, however, there can be bad days flying and there can be really bad days flying. If the latter involves bending an airplane, there are things to do after the airplane stops and the dust cloud departs. There also are things you can to help prevent the event in the first place. Once “something” happens, however, your priorities need to change.

In-Cockpit Wireless

That brand-new, touch-screen GPS navigator in your panel? It’s obsolete. Oh, it’s got the latest WAAS GPS receiver and more processing power than its forebears, and it’ll tackle any navigation task from an ILS to a holding pattern to a complicated departure procedure, But its display likely is a generation or two removed from what anyone can buy today in the form of a smartphone or tablet computer.

Tight Circle

Circling an airport after an instrument approach procedure (IAP) to land on a runway other than the one aligned with the IAP is something all instrument-rated pilots have practiced. It’s a maneuver that places an airplane relatively close to the ground—sometimes at half the traffic-pattern altitude—and can require steeply banked turns.

NTSB Reports: August 2015

At about 1730 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field following total loss of engine power during cruise flight. The airline transport pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed. About 15 minutes after adding 30 gallons of fuel at an en-route fuel stop and while cruising at 3500 feet msl, the engine lost all power. Emergency procedures weren’t successful and the pilot selected a field for an emergency landing due to utility wires surrounding the adjacent roads. The touchdown was normal, but the field included rough terrain, which resulted in the nosegear collapsing before the airplane came to rest upright.

Pop Goes The Loran

The takeoff and departure for the planned flight in a borrowed Cessna 172 proceeded normally. The airplane was equipped with two nav/comms plus a Loran navigator, but no autopilot. Soon, we had climbed into an overcast layer with moderate rain and were at 9000 feet over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The airplane was performing well and we were in IMC and steady rain.


This aircraft was equipped with a turbonormalizing system, which requires a fuel pump with an aneroid compensator to regulate the mixture replaces the original pump. On this installation, the “fuel mixture cam profile was erroneous.” Fuel flow rate increased normally from idle cutoff to approx 80 percent of mixture-lever range of motion where fuel flow is at maximum. Then the fuel ratio decreases as lever continues toward maximum position: 80 percent mixture provides 37.5 gph; 100 percent provides 35.5 gph.


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