Engine Failure Today

farwellbooth

Well-Known Member
Had an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone but thougth I'd share. Was able to land at an airport without incidence. While flying level at 8000 (175 hour NOVICE pilot) in a 150 solo mid afternoon the engine immediately drops to windmilling/idle for a brief moment and then back to 2500. I enrichen the mixture. No response and the engine continually oscillates from cruise to nothing cruise to nothing. Second thought ice however it's a million degrees out. Carb heat does nothing. Configure for best glide, this sucker is going down at 500 fpm. Scan panel... master, ignition, magnetos, fuel valve, mess with the power, nothing. While all this is going on I'm looking for a place to land, it's pretty dire. Flew out of Medford, OR NE to Redmond. I'm over very rugged forest. I don't know why but was negotiating with myself whether I should declare an emergency. The trees getting bigger changed my mind. I declared and the tranmission was pretty crappy, they gave me a phone number, couldn't hear nor deal with writing it down. No transponder (no 7700). Did a 180, spotted some fields of which were reachable which significantly assuaged my anxiety. Found a highway also which was ruled out. A big error on my part is that there was a reachable airport I hadn't identified. By shear luck I found it, Prospect State. Thankfully had a little power with the oscillating engine, did two spirals and landed without incident. I just did a bunch of night flying over the same mountains the last two nights. I'm counting my lucky stars... Has to be my all time scary event. A sheriff showed up an hour after landing.

What do you think is wrong with the engine?
Do I need to file an incident report/anything?

Really glad to be here...
 

cime_sp

Well-Known Member
Do not need to file anything for an engine failure....unless requested by ATC or anybody else...As far as the engine goes, it could be anything but if you ask me it was probably a carbeurator/fuel problem. When spark fails in an engine it is usually all or nothing and not intermittent. I'm guessing either fuel contamination, spotty flow, improper carb operation...


Besides that let me just say congrats. Great job getting it down safely.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Great job on your part finding the airport and landing safely. As the old cliche goes, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. I'm sure you've come out of this whole situation a better pilot. Engine failures seem awfully common on those old 150's nowadays.
 

H46Bubba

Well-Known Member
Good job on getting you and the aircraft down safely, in one piece. Just reminds all of us out there, that we need to always keep a good landing spot in the back of our head, in the event of an emergency such as yours. Sometimes there is just nowhere to put it down that's flat and long enough, so you just hope for the best. You knew you had a problem, went through the checklist, procedures, and brought it down safely.
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
Tremendous job.

You now have an "I learned about flying from that" memory.

I hope you have learned your lesson about night flying in bug-smashers over mountains (or water for that matter!)
 

sixpack

New Member
Was the tail number N6341K ?

I had an engine failure in a C-150 with this number (and heard I wasn't the first). My engine failure was slightly different. Engine ran extremely rough and only delivered about 1200-1400 RPM (I'll take what I can get, since on the departure leg at 600 ft). I was told that the C-150 starter gear is inside the crankcase, and that bits and pieces of the starter-gear can jam the filter or oil pump.

I think the C-150 is one of the easiest planes to ditch. If you really need to you can touch down at maybe 40 kts, and stop in about 100 feet. Problem is, at night and over terrain there are too many thing that can hurt you.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Hey, nice job. Especially on making it back to the airport. Sounds like a textbook executed emergency procedure to me. I too know another pilot (instructor) who also had an engine failure a couple weeks ago in a 150...what is it with these things?? Geez! And whats with ATC giving you a phone number? lol...You'd think they'd realize that you've got more important things to worry about than jotting down numbers. Oh well...more proof that not all of them quite understand whats going on in the cockpit sometimes. Anyways, I digress. Good job, and glad you made it out OK.
 

TheShortOne

Well-Known Member
Good job getting down alright man, I was in a similar situation before at about 500' (thankfully right over an airport). For me it was a stuck valve. When a stuck valve occurs, the mechanic told me it can feel like it's either a stuck valve, or that you blew one of the cylinders. If you blow a jug...ahh...you need to secure the engine RIGHT NOW because it'll shake itself off it's mounts. If it's a stuck valve it should go away eventually. If you blew a jug it'll be really obvious when the mechanic opens up the coweling.

Chalk it up to experience eh?


Cheers


John Herreshoff
 

aloft

New Member
Good job on putting it down!

A few thoughts:

1. Declaring an emergency doesn't cost you anything. Don't hesitate to declare one if you're having engine trouble in a single engine aircraft and there's no airport in sight. The altitude you lose while debating it just might cost you decent radio contact with ATC--and given that you had no transponder (who doesn't have a transponder these days?!), that might have cost you your 911 call.

2. 8000 feet in a C-150 + low-time pilot = suspect leaning technique = probable spark plug fouling. Particularly if you do most of your flying at sea level, do some research into mixture leaning, particularly if you don't have an EGT at your disposal (most 150s don't). Not pointing fingers here, I had to make a no-go decision at Lake Tahoe last summer because I'd fouled two of the plugs with my leaning procedures (actually, by setting the mixture to full rich for arrival, and for a trip around the pattern with a friend the next day; after it was discovered that I'd fouled the plugs on two cylinders, a CFI told me that up there (TRK is at 5900 ft), they lean the mixture out on runup and then leave it there--no enrichening for takeoff or landing).

3. An aviation GPS with a "NEAREST" function can get you pointed in the direction of the closest airport the minute you think you might need to divert. You should still do a sanity check on that to make sure there's no terrain in the way that might prevent you from making it.
 

Hootie

Old Skool
[ QUOTE ]
3. An aviation GPS with a "NEAREST" function can get you pointed in the direction of the closest airport the minute you think you might need to divert. You should still do a sanity check on that to make sure there's no terrain in the way that might prevent you from making it.

[/ QUOTE ] Still never seen GPS in a rental 150.


Awesome job of putting it down in the clutch!
Why the heck would ATC try to give you a phone number while you're in that situation?
How high is the terrain where you were flying? 8000 seems really, really high for a 150? Maybe I missed it but did you have ANY power when you landed?
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
Good job on putting it down!

A few thoughts:

1. Declaring an emergency doesn't cost you anything. Don't hesitate to declare one if you're having engine trouble in a single engine aircraft and there's no airport in sight. The altitude you lose while debating it just might cost you decent radio contact with ATC--and given that you had no transponder (who doesn't have a transponder these days?!), that might have cost you your 911 call.



[/ QUOTE ]

Nice job on the recovery. And even better job evaluating the situation and lessons learned now that you've got yourself safely back at 1 G and zero altitude. That's more experience, albeit some you probably wouldn't care to get much more of, to fill your bag of aviation SA with. Note what you did right, and improve areas you feel you weren't prepared for or you feel could've done better on.

Question for you particularly, and all generally: Why are most, if not very many, GA pilots inherently afraid to declare an emergency? What was the reason for your admitted hesitation now that you can reflect?
 

junkstream

Well-Known Member
Had you made an off airport forced landing and walked away, you would have done a GREAT job. The fact that you lost an engine, landed at an airporrt, and didn't prang the airplane means you did a REALLY GREAT job.

All the other speculation about why you did or didn't do this or that is silly. You could have stalled and spun while playing with that aviation GPS. You didn't. You FLEW the airplane and walked away. GREAT job, man. I'm impressed!

You might call your CFI and thank him for all the simulated engine failures he or she gave you.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]

All the other speculation about why you did or didn't do this or that is silly.

[/ QUOTE ]

Not necessarily, partner. Once the emergency is over, the prudent aviator later takes the time to pick apart the situation and find out what went right, what went wrong, and where improvements can be applied to any future emergencies. To do this isn't a knock on anyone's errors of commission or omission; it's simply a learning tool not only for the person(s) involved, but for all pilots.
 

SkyKingRon

New Member
Whew, that'll get the heart pumpin'!! Glad to hear all worked out well. I fly out of HIO (Hillsboro) Or. and know the mountain range that you fly over well. I was gonna go to the fly-in at Prospect last week but didn't.
I always fly with some trepidation over those mountains, and am on alert for a landind spot ALWAYS. The Cherokee 180 I fly has a GPS that only points left or right to your waypoint, with distance also but jumps around a bit, so I've been borrowing my friends handheld with moving map, and boy does it ever take the extra pressure off. Because you have situational awareness of all apts around you, you know other than a field or trees, you have a place you can aim to. I always have a current chart on my lap also which I follow, for apt info, as well as the Flight Guide. Flight following is a must for mountain VFR flying as well.
So... where do you fly out of?
 

mtsu_av8er

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
Why are most, if not very many, GA pilots inherently afraid to declare an emergency? What was the reason for your admitted hesitation now that you can reflect?

[/ QUOTE ]

One pilot that I fly with quite frequently will do everything that he can to avoid declaring an emergency. He has had electrical failures at night time on an IFR flight plan (which caused him to have to divert), and we've been in airplanes that have made CRAZY noises under the cowling....started picking up unforecast ice.....even a gyro failure once. Now, me.....if I'm alone.....will declare an emergency if I drop my low enroute and it falls under a seat.


One thing, MikeD, may be the fact that a lot of GA pilots are afraid of the big bad wolf, disguised as the FAA. I grew up in the enlisted aviation side of the Marine Corps, and I've noticed that military aircrew are more likely to declare an emergency, and deal with the paperwork (as if there was a lot to be completed) later. I like that idea. If the FAA wants to question why I declared an emergency when my oil pressure dropped to zero, I'll write as many reports as they want me to!!! Better safe than sorry.....
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
One thing, MikeD, may be the fact that a lot of GA pilots are afraid of the big bad wolf, disguised as the FAA. I grew up in the enlisted aviation side of the Marine Corps, and I've noticed that military aircrew are more likely to declare an emergency, and deal with the paperwork (as if there was a lot to be completed) later. I like that idea. If the FAA wants to question why I declared an emergency when my oil pressure dropped to zero, I'll write as many reports as they want me to!!! Better safe than sorry.....

[/ QUOTE ]

I guess you're right in the sense that we in the military aren't directly accountable to the FAA, since the average mil pilot holds no FAA license and doesn't operate under any FAA privliges, other than participating in the National Airspace System. In the case of Inflight Emergencies, we'll easily declare one if we have to, then cancel it if we recover successfully. If the fire department gets rolled out, then of course, the fire chief is in charge of the emergency (civil or military) and he will determine if an IFE needs to be terminated, or if the pilot requests to terminate it, he will be the one to concur or non-concur. Either way, we never fill out ANY paperwork for the FAA (again, we're non-accountable to them); the only paperwork we would fill out is with our own base-level flight safety officers.

Still, civilian pilots shouldn't be afraid to declare an emergency if they feel the situation warrants it. Like the military, you can always cancel it if need be, and there might be some paperwork to do. But it's always better to be safe than sorry, lest you find yourself at a point in an emergency where it's too late to make the declaration, and by the time you do, there's no time for ATC to help you. You'd definately be caught with no time/altitude/options, and that would be far more paperwork to fill out pending you live through it and don't kill anyone on the ground.
 

farwellbooth

Well-Known Member
A Little Follow Up

Well some particulate/sediment/crap was found in the fuel line and also drained from the fuel strainer. I ALWAYS test the tank sumps, flush the strainer drain, and also the lower emgine sump if equipped. I flew the plane 15 hours two days prior fueling at some pretty remote fields. No one really knows what the problem was. I didn't have complete loss of power but couldn't decrease my 500-600 fpm descent.

One mistake... After putting in 121.5 I was still arguing with myself whether to declare. I forgot to change the freq. and ended up declaring with Medford Tower. It worked out just fine, my message was passed on. Seattle Center, Portland App. etc. saw my descent. I think I was most hesitant at first bc it didn't seem real. "This can't be happening. If it is I'm screwed..." It took a little time to fly (I trimmed full nose up for best glide but the oscillating power was wreaking having on my flying with the oscillating prop wash on the tail), spot a place to land and trouble shoot. I was really concerned with not banging up the plane. It is a private aircraft of which I am insured on and my first thought is I can't ditch it in the mountains because the plane will most likely be a loss, and maybe myself. Then I thought if I put it in a short field the wing may have to be taken off to take home. I kept thinking the owner was going to be pissed! All sorts of wierd thoughts went through my mind. I work in operating rooms and have only seen one aviation victim making it alive to the OR vs. thousands of motorcycle/auto etc. His face literally looked like it was hit with an axe, face split open, teeth hanging out etc. and his pax. dead. His image popped in my mind and I knew if I was going to ditch I needed to land SLOW. Double your speed and quadruple your impact. No airbags bad news. Anyway my mind was so busy the last thing on my mind was to communicate and it was all so surreal.

It has caused quite an ordeal. The FAA called me yesterday. Everything is in order, certificates, medical, insurance, maintainence. etc. The fam. is slightly anxious.

Joshua: Cessna 150

Sixpack: No. Juliett X-ray aka Juliett

Aloft: I'm familiar with the "nearest" function. All of my school's planes have Apollos and I think that nearest fx. caused me to be dependent on it vs. developing my pilotage and dead reckoning. While a great safety feature I think a lot of people stare at their GPS instead of outside. I know I did early on.

Hootie: Very glad I was at 8000. Altitude was money in the bank.

Mike D: I couldn't get out of the mindset of "This isn't really happening"

Junkstream: I called my CFI after calling the tower and said thanks on his VM and asked him what the heck is wrong with the engine.

SkyKingRon: I fly out of Twin Oaks but was flying out of Medford at the time. We've exhanged a couple PMs. Remember we chatted about Bob and Betty?
 

SkyKingRon

New Member
Re: A Little Follow Up

Yes, I did remember right after I sent the message off. Not a minute too late, huh?!
Last week or so some friends and I flew out of Twin Oaks in Bobs 182 to go to Sunriver. Great trip! I took photos and video footage of the beautiful mountains. I'll either bring some to you or send some email for you to see.
I sent you a PM inviting you to one of our Oregon Pilots Ass. meetings. Talk to you soon.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Why are most, if not very many, GA pilots inherently afraid to declare an emergency? What was the reason for your admitted hesitation now that you can reflect?

[/ QUOTE ]

I think that a lot of people let their egos get in the way. Me? I'd rather have to make a trip on down to the FSDO to explain why I declared an emergency when I'm at zero AGL with an intact airplane and no injuries than to let my ego get in the way and end up with a bent airplane or worse.
 
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