Engine Failure


Well-Known Member
It happened to me last weekend. I was with a student and all of a sudden had that cough....cough....sputter. My student looked at me and I took the controls. We were over the shore at about 2200' MSL. Slowed to best glide and picked my field (an airport) I did an immediate flow - mixture full rich, throttle set, primer in and locked, carb heat on, fuel selector fullest tank, circuit breakers in, fuel pump on, master both, and ignition both. I changed to the frequency at the airport and heard 3-4 calls before there was any dead air on the frequency. They were using a runway that was opposite direction of what we could have made. I immediately decided to head for an airport that was a little farther, but there is rarely anyone there. We announce our intentions and don't hear anyone on freq. Run the checklists and commit to the field. Fortunately there was a seabreeze and we got a little help. Had to lose some altitude and were a little high on a *very* modified base so I used about 60-70 degrees of bank to lose some altitude. Put in an agressive slip and then at about 500' head sputtering and then coughing and the engine came back. To be honest with you, I'm not sure why it died and why it came back. I'm leaving that to the mechanincs.

Now that I've had time to think about it I was scared. My thinking at the time was very clairvoyant. I think I became more scared once the engine came back. ATC wanted us at 1500' on the way home, but I refused. We climbed right above the airport to about 4000' and circled for 10 minutes before I would even consider coming back to Daytona. There were about 500 things running through my head at the time the engine quit. Can't land on the beach on a Sunday without seriously injuring or killing someone, can I make the field?, how can I troubleshoot?, this REALLY sucks (until I was 110% positive I could make the field), this REALLY REALLY sucks (when I was high on base and wondering if we had enough runway.)

I think that being a CFI and pulling engines on my students really helped me. I didn't really have to think about what to do. I know how I got rusty in my flying (how often do you go up and pull an engine?) I'm now even more aware of my surroundings (could we make that runway from here if....) and I always take a glimpse of the engine instruments whenever I can.