Aviation In Canada

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Aviation Story, Part 3 of 4

More of Dave Anderson's Story...

I've made the airport but I'm 2000 feet above ground and close in on a down wind leg for runway 30. I check traffic but completely forget about using my radio to announce my position. As this airport is uncontrolled and mainly used by radioless crop dusters, my over-sight is not a major problem. I appear to be high so I move away from the airport and start flaps down while S-turning on an extended downwind. Over and over I repeat "gas, under-carriage, mixture, prop" then realize that three of the four items I'm checking are not functional. Now I am over the town of Wasco and I turn base while extending full flaps. As I turn final I worry that I have lost too much altitude and start easing up the flaps. Whether this helps or not I have no idea, but I have made the runway and flare for a tail-low, two-point landing. As the nose gently settles to the runway I look down and spot the turnoff far ahead and to the right. 4903U slows and I push in on the throttle in order to reach the runway turnoff. Nothing; no sound, no acceleration, the aircraft just continues to slow and finally coasts to a stop midway down this 3800 foot runway. Obviously someplace between touch-down and this creeping stop I once again have relinquished "pilot-in-command" and have become an observer.
As I open the left door and slide to the ground I hear the wail of sirens nearing the airport. I walk around the wing strut and approach 4903U head on. I am dumbstruck. The propeller is gone and the engine has flipped vertical within its mount! The nose cowl is ripped open in two places and the right side of the engine cowling is missing all the way back to the firewall.
I peer through the tear in the cowling and note that the engine has detached from three of its four mounts and that the one remaining attachment is twisted and partially severed. I don't even try to compute the chain of events that caused this twisted mess I am viewing, but suddenly I am aware of the reason this bird has been so quiet and maintained such an exceptional glide: no wind-milling prop!
The fire trucks pull alongside and I thank them and assure them that all is okay. With assistance from these friendly firemen we push 4903U over to a tie-down area. I walk to a pay phone and call the Bakersfield tower and ask them to contact Lemoore Approach and inform them that I am safely down at the Wasco Airport. As I finish my call, Marshall, one of our senior pilots who flies the Wasco/Shafter area, drives up. Marshall is a pilot who has been through it all and never seems to get excited. He takes a brief turn around the front of my plane, and I know he already knows more about its present condition than I do. He then turns to me and asks:
Gonna leave it here or fly on to Bakersfield? Think I'll leave it here. Need a lift? Yeah, to the nearest bar. Country western or south of the border? Hell, Marshall, let's just find one with a lot of noise."

Dave's self-critique tomorrow...