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Great Ozzie

My first real world in-flight malfunction/experience with weather

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So I've had my PPL for a couple months now, and have been flying quite regularly- with my credit card on fire after flight training, it's been less than I would like, but enough to stay sharp- maybe on average a couple hours every week and a half.So Sunday I decided to take this girl I've been dating up to Newport for dinner. It's only about a 40 minute flight, so about an hour on the Hobbs from startup to shutdown. I checked the weather, got a briefing, and consulted some of the instructors who had been flying that day. They all said it would be a good day to go. When we got in, she had never been in a small plane so was a little nervous and asking questions. She pointed to the vacuum failure light and asked if it was supposed to be on after I started the engine. I told her yes, and it would go out when the RPM increased. So we took off and were cruising along happily at 3500 feet. About 10 miles from KUUU (which is uncontrolled) she asked again if that light is supposed to be on. I was checking ASOS, and trying to figure out my approach while reading the AFD and just replied "It's not on now- just when the RPM is down". She said "Well, it is on". I looked up and sure enough it was. I looked at the suction gauge and it was at zero. Crap. It was still daylight so I didn't need the AI and the DG necessarily, but I was nervous it was an indication that maybe something bad was happening under the cowl. So I closed the vents and pulled the Standby vacuum pump knob. It took about 30 seconds, but the suction gauge came up and everything started working. The engine seemed to be fine, but after monitoring the CTAF and noticing there was no other traffic in the area, I decided to go straight in rather than maneuver for the 45- which would put us dangerously close to Quonset airspace anyway. The landing was great and she said it didn't even feel like we landed. I didn't make it quite to the stall horn, but it was a greaser. As soon as we hopped out, I called Robinson and reported the problem. They said not to worry about it as the plane was due for it's 100 hour tomorrow anyway. I checked under the cowl and everything was tightly in place with no leaking, so it seems that the vacuum pump had just failed on it's own.So we go to dinner, and at about 5:30 my brother texts me and asks if we are on our way back to New Haven yet. I told him no, and he said a friend of ours just drove up from Manhattan and there is some serious weather headed that way. He advised against me flying back. I called the airport and they said since the plane was just scheduled for maintenance anyway, just bring it back in the morning. Of course they say "It's your call". I am PIC, so that is true. I decided I wasn't going to risk it and they said that's fine. I found a hotel (The Hotel Viking) and we stayed the night and had a really good time- not much sleep- that whole "new relationship" thing if you get my drift :)So we wake up about 7:30 the next morning, and I look out to see when looks like a fairly low ceiling. The temp was about 35F, and it was wet out. We got a cab back to the airport and the plane was wet. I got a squeegee from the maintenance guys and dried it as best as possible. The ASOS was reporting 2500 overcast and 1000 broken. I figured we'd takeoff and if it didn't look like we could get through it, we'd land and wait. I called the briefer and he said it should be ok VFR. So we took off, and I stayed at 700 looking for a way to punch through. Unfortunately I didn't find one, but the ground visibility was great so I figured if we got over Long Island Sound we'd have a better chance. I skirted around Groton's airspace, and over the water things opened up. I was nervous about the temp since there was visible moisture so I stayed at 1000 all the way back. We landed safely and they put the plane right in the hangar. I felt a bit uneasy about the flight- even though the information about the flight said it was OK, it was definitely worse than reported. That is the last time I will fly in winter unless it is below freezing or the skies are totally clear. I can now see how things can quickly go from bad to worse- and even though I did "become familiar with all possible information about the flight" sometimes you just can't know what you will run into. I can also see how foolish it is to takeoff without being prepared.

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And nobody replied, I thought it was an interesting read and thanks for sharing. I'm glad it all worked out okay, maybe even better than expected if you get my drift *wink* *wink*

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>And nobody replied, I thought it was an interesting read and>thanks for sharing.Yeah sorry I didn't reply before, it was a really interesting reading and enjoyed it very much. :)Marco

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Vacuum malfunctions, hotel rooms, winks and nudges... Too many jokes... too little time...Glad to hear the malfunction was manageable and not overly critical for your flight (in the end). I experienced an anomaly in my training (dual) up at North Central (KSFZ) whereby the elevator controls seemed to start binding up. We landed, checked out all the cables and links, and nothing seemed to be hitching it. After thinking it over and validating that all looked good from a cable standpoint, we hopped back aboard and hightailed it back home to KPVD. After getting up, contacting approach, and inserted into the sequence, it started binding up again. It was controllable, but we had to apply much more force than normally needed. In-air diagnosis of this included checking the autopilot to ensure it wasn't inadvertently turned on, as well as slowing down to ensure it wasn't aerodynamic loads. The instructor did a FANTASTIC landing, as PVD tower pulled their usual stunt of giving us and the B737 behind us a sphincter-tight separation, but as soon as we were on the ground the controls were free and clear again.It was quite strange, and I never encountered anything of the sort in that airframe again. -Greg

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Interesting read. But also very scary. I felt a bit uneasy about the flight- even though the information about the flight said it was OK, it was definitely worse than reported. Important lesson.

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Had the elevator freeze going into the flare on landing. A very forceful pull resulted in something tearing beneath the panel and a flare just in time. Turned out a section of old ventilation hose moved and bound a portion of the yolk shaft assembly, and the hard pull ripped the CAT (not SCAT) hose apart. Installed a new hose everywhere I found an old one.Another exciting event involved two engine failures and two restarts less than a minute apart on the way home from a nearby paint shop. Some debris had gotten in the fuel cap vent on one tank while repainting the airplane and eventually stopped the fuel flow. After the second failure and a fuel tank switch everything was fine. I did, however install fuel caps with a better vent system. One other attention-getter was blowing a muffler apart in the air - very noisy.The less exciting failures include magnetos and plugs, and if you fly the same plane long enough you will experience these more than once.The most exciting event, though, was the sudden appearance of more than a dozen wasps in the cabin right after take-off - that was a sight/flight/fight to behold. I was not stung a single time but a ferocious fight ensued - my only weapon was my cap, and a good one it was. Turns out a large nest was built during the two week period between flights in the wing root vent completely out of sight. Leon

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Was the vacumn pump fixed overnight or did you end up flying home with it still broken?

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This sounds like the private pilots version of "uh honey we just ran out of gas"...Insteads "we're stuck so we need to go find a hotel!" What a great deal! :-)Eric

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I was thinking thats the real question! Did it miraculously heal? :-)

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No, the vacuum pump was dead on the way home too- I pulled the standby, but even without it we would have made it home fine- I had my Garmin 96c for navigation, and I keep a sleeve of batteries just in case- Even if it failed, I knew I just had to follow the shore anyway. That was kind of a non-event for the ride home, but it did scare me a little as soon as it happened on the way there- after all, was it JUST the vacuum pump, or was it an indication of some more ominious impending failure?

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>No, the vacuum pump was dead on the way home too- I pulled>the standby, but even without it we would have made it home>fine- That might be construed as a violation of 91.213 if you departed with the knowledge that your vacumn pump was inoperative.

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I'm sorry Christian... I just thought of tonite you should have filed a NASA ASRS incident report (see: http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/overview/summary.html ). But now has been more than 10 days.John Yodice wrote an excellent article on 91.213 here: http://www.flyredstar.org/Documents/RPA_Inop_Equip.pdf As he says in there, 91.213 "represents the triumph of bureaucracy over reason"... but it is still something we're saddled with.Back to the NASA ASRS... fwiw for the future... anytime you have an unintentional incident related to flying (doesn't include accidents) just fill out one of their forms; completely confidential and if there is some FAA enforcement action taken later, and the incident has been reported, no disciplinary action will take place (FAR 91.25). Check the NASA site for all the specifics. I have sent a few in myself (like one where a student turned one taxiway too early off a runway we just landed on, having been instructed by ATC to take the next one). Now it appears you can file "online", so no more having to keep one copy pre-filled out. Hope this helps.Rob O.

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