In the middle of June, I went on a long solo cross-country, from Houston, up
as far north as NYC, then home in my 1955 Tripacer. On the way back home,
I had a fuel stop planned in Raleigh. About 30 miles out, I noticed my oil
pressure was just sitting there, bouncing, from about 5psi over redline to
about 5psi under the green arc. A scan of everything else showed things
were normal - the oil temp wasn't out of line with the altitude and OAT,
and was sitting steady, not rising. The engine wasn't running rough.
There was no oil on the windscreen, or anywhere on the outside of the
fusalage that I could see. I figured the gauge was shot, but I kept a close
eye on it. Raleigh Approach vectored me all over creation on the way in.
I refused several descents, but otherwise didn't inform ATC of the problem.
I kept as high as I could (3500ft), then when I was finally on final,
I pulled the power to idle and glided it in. When I stopped on the
ramp (Southern Jet Center), I immediatly got out and opened the cowling
to check the oil - and there wasn't any on the dipstick. Even worse,
the right mag was hanging, loose, behind the engine. Apparently, it
had backed off it's studs, dumping most (4.5 of the 6 quarts I usually
keep in the engine) overboard - but out the bottom of the cowling,
where I couldn't see it! When I stopped shaking, I had a line guy get a
mechanic, who retimed both mags, replaced both gaskets, reattached the
right one, and filled her up with oil. Total damage: $105 and 1.5
A) When in doubt, declare. I could have shaved at least 10 minutes
off the approach if I had refused the vectors. Much longer, and I'd
have lost the remainder of the oil and seized the engine.
B) Don't assume a gauge is wrong. My oil pressure really was low -
the oil pump was barely getting any oil to pump.
C) I have access to the mags during preflight. I now confirm that
they are securely attached when I check the oil - the mechanic said
it had probably been working loose for a while.
D) The people at Southern Jet Center in Raleigh are really great.
Fast-forward a month. A student-pilot buddy of mine and I headed off
to OSH, again from Houston. On the way home, 30 miles north of Memphis
(see a pattern here?), all of a sudden, the engine starts running rough.
I lost 200 RPMs instantly, along with a good bit of manifold pressure (no,
I don't have a constant speed prop, but the Tripacer has an MP gauge
anyway). I immediately glanced at the fuel selector, verified it
was on the fullest tank, and then pulled the carb heat knob - which
pulled out of the panel into my hand, along with about a foot of the
cable. The cable had snapped, and on my plane, that means the carb
heat goes to full on. At 4500ft, at gross, in 80F temps, that meant
I could barely maintain altitude, even with the mixture leaned to
compensate for the carb heat. I took a deep breath, told my passenger
what I was going to do, and said, "Memphis Approach, 53P, request"
"53P, go ahead" "53P is having some engine problems. I'm declaring
an emergency at this time."
They were great, if a bit overly helpful. I knew what the problem was
(and thought I'd communicated it adequately), and really didn't need
to be reminded 3 times to turn the fuel pump on (in a Tripacer?). But
on the other hand, it was nice to know they were there. They suggested
Millington (NQA), an 8000x200 ft Class D about 17 miles in front of me.
They moved nearly everyone else off frequency, were generally calm and
reassuring (although I wasn't particularly upset - it was obvious I
was going to make the airport, and since I knew what was wrong with
the engine, I knew the problem was as bad as it was going to get.)
The tower was closed, so they kept me on frequency at least as low as
2000ft, when I turned downwind. The fire trucks were waiting for me,
and Approach had told me about them "so you won't be suprised", even
though I told them I didn't need the trucks.
I landed (best landing of the whole trip!), taxied back to the ramp
accompanied by 2 fire trucks (after a bit of a debate about whether I'd
be allowed to taxi or if I'd have to be towed), and shut down. The
fire crew needed some basic info - name, N-number, type, my certificate
number, address, stuff like that. Approach hadn't said to call them,
and I couldn't raise them on the ground, but I called FSS and asked
them to call Approach, tell them I was down safely, and find out if they
needed anything from me. They didn't.
I got it fixed, and was on my way the next afternoon. When I departed,
I got the same controller who had handled me the night before. I thanked
A) When in doubt, declare. There was no FAA paperwork. The fire truck
paperwork was taken care of by handing him registration, my driver's
license, and my certificate. I did debate, afterwards, if I had to
show him my certificate - aren't we only required to show them to law
enforcement officials? He was being very nice, and I wasn't going to
argue, but I wondered if fire chiefs are on the list of people who get
to ask for it....
B) I'm going to start inspecting all those cables more thoroughly at
annual, and possibly replace them on a regular (every 5 year?) basis.
To the best of my knowlege, they one I had was original.
C) Don't be afraid to tell them to ATC go away and let you fly. In
retrospect, I should have. Or at least let my right-seater handle the
radios for me.
Anyway, thought someone might enjoy hearing about them...
Sometimes I think the Game of Life (tm) is missing a few pieces and one of
the dice is lost under the refrigerator. -- PapaBear, in alt.poly.
Great post, Tina Marie. I love the way you handled it and your attitude.
Oviedo, FL USA
Tina Marie wrote:
> A student-pilot buddy of mine and I headed off
> to OSH, again from Houston.
Tina, where the devil did you park that thing? I walked all over the
classic plane section looking for your N-number. I think there was a
grand total of three blue & white Tri-pacers there (red & white seems
to be more popular).
George Patterson, N3162Q.
> After 600 hours of flying, I've had 2 in-flight emergencies in the last 25
> hours. I thought it might be interesting to post what happened, what I did,
> and, most importantly, what I learned.
Thanks for the stories, Tina. Glad everything worked out fine.
I'll take your advice about declaring to heart. I bet not too
many pilots follow "request" with "I'd like to declare an emergency" :)
Are there any recommended inspections when the engine has been run
low on oil?
We had a carb heat failure at a different point. In our plane the
carb heat cable pulls on an aluminum lever which actuates a flapper
valve in the airbox. The steel stem of the valve had oversized the
hole in the Al lever over time, and our mechanic had repaired it by
welding on a new piece. Less than 10 hrs later, it broke in flight
at the weld point. Needless to say we chose a different repair
technique for the second try.
The egg-on-our-face part of the story is we didn't realize it
immediately. I even convinced myself I'd gotten an appropriate
carb heat rpm drop (for a hot summer day) on runup. The tipoff
was I found myself needing to lean in order to achieve any rate
of climb but other than that and lower cruise speed we were OK.
Fortunately Sidney Ohio is a beautifully FLAT part of the country.
In our defense the cable was still attached (no clues about it
coming out in our hands) and was held in place by a guide such
that it was hard to see what had happened even when we knew
something had to be wrong. But God Bless Us if we'd been taking
off from a short obstructed runway.
Anyway if you have a similar setup that might be a good place
to look carefully as the original arm could be ready to go. And
I think I'll be looking into new carb heat and mixture cables
Fire Rescue personel aren't generally deputized and therefore have no right
to demand your personal information. You may respectfully decline to provide
it. However, if I not worried about a papertrail, I'll provide it to them as
they are only trying to fill in the boxes for their paperwork.
Row 130, in the south 40. Down past the amphibs.
I've never seen so many Pacers, Tripacers, and Colts in one place. Nearly
every row in classics had at least one. My row had 2, the row behind me
Sorry I missed you!
Augh! We rode right past you on the way to the Seaplane base bus stop...
Next year for sure!
Iowa City, IA
Re the carb heat cable (and other similar single wire core cables), the
usual point of failure is where they emerge from the outer sheath at the
engine end. They vibrate and brinell at that point. We always inspected
all that type of cable (cabin ht. as well, eg) at that point every 100 hrly.
It's not easy but can be done.
Now this 140 is pretty anaemic anyway, especially in the Florida heat,
but it pretty much failed to climb. In fact, it continued a 200fpm descent.
Get rid of one notch of flaps. This levelled us out but still no climb. Got
over the trees and got a bit of thermal lift. Got rid of the flaps
and circled above the trees in the thermal to get some height, before
returning to the airport.
RT wrote in message ...
You did well - I've never been convinced that a 140 could climb under ANY
LOL! Hear, hear!
Glad you made it through the adventures safe, Tina. Key West T-shirt coming
Mind you, I would guess that friction could hold anything anywhere.
As for 140s not climbing, well, the thermals you get around Florida
certainly help! I tried to see how high I could get it one day on a
longish cross country from Winter Haven to Key West. After about
an hour I'd got to about 7500ft. I don't see how it's like that, because
I would have though that it had the same 150hp Lycoming O-320
engine as the Warrior 151s which seem to take off, climb and cruise
better. Mind you, I used to fly a 140 in the UK which seemed better,
if my memory serves me.
Neal wrote in message <3d473823...@news.cyberstation.net>...
You should try a PROPER 140 (the one with the high wing and tailwheel,
and only 85-horsepower). Departing Salt Lake City on a warmish day,
heading south, I had to exploit slope lift to be able to make it over
the mountains to the south :-) I'm glad I have a glider ticket!
Dylan Smith wrote in message ...
>On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 09:46:26 +0100, Paul Sengupta