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Lessons Learned / your most scary flight

I saw on another well known forum, a thread where people were posting their embarrassing mistakes for the benefit of others to learn from....I have quite a few mistakes I'm not too proud to own up to including:

Quite a few years ago I rented a 172 out of KFXE to fly to Freeport, Bahamas (MYGF). The plane had just come out of maintenance. The flight was uneventful, but on landing at Freeport and getting out I saw that the whole of the underside of the plane was covered in oil....I checked the dipstick and saw that at least there was still some oil in the sump...I found an A&P who quickly determined that the oil return line from the oil cooler had not been tightened up and a fine mist of oil had been spraying out the whole way over 60nm of water....So a fire and/or seized engine possible. Lesson Learned: never take a single over hostile terrain or water straight after maintenance!

Other lessons include landing at the wrong airstrip in Western Australia (they all look the same: long strips of gravel with nothing else for miles!)... This was pre-GPS...

Also learned about density altitude in California (hot and high) and in Australia (just bloody hot!)....always lean to max power in the Runup....

In Stavanger, Norway I was taxying for the runway and holding at the instructed hold point for what seemed like an eternity....after about 10 minutes a vehicle approached and a guy got out and came over....to tell me to check my radio...had managed somehow to turn the volume down without noticing!

Oh and while I seem to be globe hopping, I remember landing at an uncontrolled airfield in Malaysia (Taiping, I think) and there was a bull standing in the middle of the strip....luckily I was slowed to fast taxi speed well beforehand, but it occured to me I should have done a low pass first...anyway I needed to get past him but he refused to move...so I throttled up and down a few times hoping to scare him off...then I thought he might take exception to being harassed and come towards me....so I shut down and just waited....eventually his indignation must have subsided and he walked away....Lesson: low level fly past at unmanned strips are mandatory!

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

never take a single over hostile terrain or water straight after maintenance!

I take that a little further: inspect everything myself after any maintenance

I think just about every issue I ever had with the plane was straight out of having work done on it.

Perhaps the worst mistake I recall was to leave the key in the ignition, in the live position... done that a few times.

Another one was very nearly starting up the engine with the cowling plugs still in place; I think there is a good risk of the rope joining them together getting wrapped up in the spinner and mangling it and/or the cowling. Luckily somebody spotted it. It was (again luckily) a ground run only; I think one would notice it on the CHTs pretty quick otherwise

The most dangerous thing ever was to collect about 30mm of ice, which I allowed to happen to see how the aircraft behaves, knowing the surface temperature was +3C so the escape route was available. It would not even hold altitude at 4000ft, max power, but it handled OK if the speed was kept up by a slow descent (about 100kt was the max achievable). That ice, incidentally, was picked up in about 5-10 minutes, in a totally smooth layer of stratus, base 1500ft, tops 4500ft, at -5C.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

My only serious regret and therefore lesson learnt is never guess your weight and balance. I took up 3 small adult passengers in the PA28, with almost full fuel, a fairly warm day (for the UK) and I slightly underestimated their weights mentally. It was a grass runway so I did a short field take off. The takeoff roll was OK, with 2 stages of flaps set, but once I began to rotate I struggled to climb at all. There were no obstacles nearby but performing a circuit at 50 ft was not an option either. I quickly raised the flaps and luckily i was able to maintain a good enough climb. That scared me, but worse it scared my wife, and that hurts me. I am not saying I wanted to show off, but I was more keen to get in the air and have some fun, than do a w&b or just find a container and drain out the correct amount of fuel. Additionally, the engine was near 2000 hours so probably wasnt running at 100% either. I wont do that again....

My only other lesson learnt from observing someone else, is if your going to land at a unlicensed airfield, try and get the latest plate from somewhere. I flew in the right hand seat with someone to Cromer in the UK. He had an old farm strip plate from 5 years ago. Well, in that time, the airfield owner has had a bust up with a family member, and the runway was moved a few miles North ! The pilot is circling around where he thinks it should be. I can see on the NATS aware that he is a few miles out and were having an argument about where to land.

The most dangerous thing ever was to collect about 30mm of ice, which I allowed to happen to see how the aircraft behaves, knowing the surface temperature was +3C so the escape route was available. It would not even hold altitude at 4000ft, max power, but it handled OK if the speed was kept up by a slow descent (about 100kt was the max achievable). That ice, incidentally, was picked up in about 5-10 minutes, in a totally smooth layer of stratus, base 1500ft, tops 4500ft, at -5C

Did it make you consider full TKS for the TB20....I think that Is possible isn't it? (even if not FIKI approved by the FAA for that plane....or is it?)

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

That scared me, but worse it scared my wife

Yes, that is not good....the oil on the belly incident put my wife off flying over water for many years....(and me too!)

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

Did it make you consider full TKS for the TB20....I think that Is possible isn't it? (even if not FIKI approved by the FAA for that plane....or is it?)

Like most things, it's a tradeoff. You lose about 50kg of payload, it now costs about £35k to install, and you need a means of storing a large drum of the fluid and transporting / pumping it to the aircraft. In reality, a drum on a trolley, in the corner of the hangar.

The fluid itself is very pricey; I last paid about £150 plus shipping for a 20 litre drum from Silmid (I have the prop TKS system which is excellent, and contains just 2 litres which lasts me about a year) so you can work out the running cost of the full-TKS system if you do what I do and turn it on every time in IMC below 0C...

The TB20 with full TKS is approved for flight in icing conditions (I don't think the UK has a "FIKI" concept as literally as the FAA; instead the aircraft is approved for flight in a specific severity of icing) on a G-reg, but not on the N-reg, because the USA requires a second alternator and some other stuff, for FIKI approval.

My take, which is worth what you are paying for it, is that the full TKS system makes great sense on a TB21 (turbo) due to the different way one might fly that. For example if you have a turbo and full TKS and you start to pick up ice, you go for a climb, and usually climbing up by a few thousand feet will take you out of there. The layer in which supercooled water can exist (in non convective cloud) is only about 8000ft thick. And you also have a 25k ceiling which will take you above most non-CB wx - you just need a way to get there.

But then everybody tries to justify why they haven't got the extras which they haven't got

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

But then everybody tries to justify why they haven't got the extras which they haven't got

Never a truer word said on EuroGA. With the natural extension that we all try to justify why we have the options we DO have. :)

EGTK Oxford

I must confess to a classic mistake only about a year ago.

I was flying on a rare good day and visiting a small but busy airfield equipped with A/G radio and a welcoming cafe. I arrived in circuit it was buzzing with some aircraft non-radio so I was very alert. There was no information from the ground just position reports from aircraft coming, going and positioning, well most aircraft anyway. I checked my kneeboard for the field elevation, set to QFE and joined as soon as there was a gap that I could use. Neck swiveling I keep tabs on the other traffic and settled into a fairly short final to conform with other traffic and to my horror I was far too high. A mighty sideslip got me into position and I landed OK just embarrassed. I noted my altimeter setting was way out so I assumed that I'd set the subscale wrongly and went to the cafe mentally kicking myself.

Then I planned to head of to another airfield on my way home to visit some acquaintances and set off. This airfield was again A/G and mute as regards information from the ground, and once again I was way to high on final. So again a sideslip was needed and my friends on the ground accused me of being a showman, I had to explain that far from being a showman I was a fool.

I had assumed that I'd mis-set the altimeter, now I did what I should have done in the first place and checked my instrument against another aircraft. The subscale was correct but the needle did not agree that we were on the ground, my altimeter had, for any practical purpose died. I had shown a very poor example to the student pilot that was my passenger.

From that I learned never to assume, but always check if any means to do so is available. I should have known that, but I'm far less likely to forget now

I checked my kneeboard for the field elevation, set to QFE

Do you think that if you just left the altimeter at whatever setting it was (presumably a QNH not too different to the local pressure setting), and not messed with it, the altimeter may have read correctly? (ie field elevation when on the runway instead of zero)....I personally have never understood the UK habit of switching between QNH and QFE...seems to be just asking for the type of screw up you describe...

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

I personally have never understood the UK habit of switching between QNH and QFE...seems to be just asking for the type of screw up you describe...

Agreed, I just stick to QNH now. Its easy to check against the airfield elevation. Additionally I always cross check the QNH against AeroWeather Metars and try and generally try and get a QNH off someone while in the air.

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