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VH-KZJ Mayday

Old 4th May 2008, 12:35
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1
The pilot concerned is very appreciative of the positive comments and concern expressed by everyone on PPRuNe and has asked me to pass on his thanks.

Here is his description of the event from his email to me. (Congratulations are due to him for the great outcome):

My aircraft was at the Mooney Service Centre at Wangaratta for most of the day whilst they replaced the starter motor, whilst there I was asked to do another demo flight in the Acclaim for a prospective purchaser. On completion of the demo, I planned to fly to Mitta Mitta to visit friends.

Following a normal departure and cruising at 4,500 feet (to remain under the Albury steps) on a direct track, after about 15 minutes of flight, the engine started lose a bit of power and ran slightly rough.

At this stage I had started to fly over some typical high ground that you get whilst en-route to Mitta. It took a few seconds to realise this was not something that was going to clear itself, so I did an immediate 180 to get away from the inhospitable terrain. Knowing that Wang was still probably the closest, I selected the NRST button on the GPS and it did confirm Wang. Plus I had my exact distance and bearing from Wang, which I knew I needed to provide ATC. I performed all the trouble shooting checks that we are taught, however it was to no avail and by this stage the aircraft was descending at 1,500 fpm whilst I looked for a paddock. Being the King of wishful thinking, hoping the engine would restart and I could make it to Wang.

I did my Mayday call when it was obvious I could not make it to Wang. The first paddock I lined up on was actually the side of a hill, which you simply do not notice from the air. I turned further and saw a suitable paddock, however there were a large number of cattle. I decided on the final paddock, which was next to where the cattle were.

Once through a rather steep right turn to make that paddock I was rather fast due to keeping my speed up (90 kias) during the turn, mindful of a stall/spin. The other problem I was faced with was a line of trees a short distance ahead at the edge of the paddock, which backed onto the Great Alpine Road. I figured I did not have any time to conduct a touch down at a slow speed, as the fast approaching trees were my main priority. As my speed was still fairly high, I needed to get rid of it, so I intentionally bounced the aircraft then whilst it became airborne, which caused it to slow significantly, I selected the gear up to slide along the ground, knowing this would stop the aircraft from progressing toward those trees.

The strategy worked and after sliding for about 200 metres and about a 90 degree spin to the right, followed by the left wing coming into contact with the ground, lifting the aircraft, it finally came to rest. Fortunately, there was no fuel escaping as a result, nor was I injured.

I appreciate everyone’s comments regarding skill, but I can tell you that luck also played a big part for the following reasons, it was daylight (5pm), if it had occurred a few minutes later (over high terrain) it would have been a much different outcome and the paddock I was finally committed to had no contours or ditches.

The only humour to all of this is following my Mayday call, ML Centre asked whether the paddock I chose appeared to be suitable. My reply was, ‘’I hope so.’’ That was my last transmission.

Once out of the aircraft I phoned the owner of the Mooney Service Centre on my NextG mobile phone and he immediately drove to the site. My friends from Mitta also drove almost two hours to the location to ensure I was OK.

While on the ground, I received a phone call from the Search and Rescue authorities who advised a helicopter was being despatched. I advised them that was not necessary as I was OK.

After the attendance of Ambulance, Police and the understanding owner of the paddock, my aircraft remains there with the gear up, bent prop, damaged underneath and left wing.

There is only guessing going on at this time as to the cause, but the best guess for now is a failed fuel control unit. One of the farmers who attended the scene and lives nearby stated that he saw my aircraft come in near his home with slight black smoke from the exhaust, indicating a possible over rich mixture.

I would like to confirm that the work performed by the Mooney Service Centre had absolutely nothing to do with this incident.

Last edited by peterjw; 4th May 2008 at 12:44. Reason: Additional comment from pilot
peterjw is offline  
Old 4th May 2008, 12:39
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Hughes Point, where life is great! Was also resident on page 13, but now I'm lost in Cyberspace....
Age: 56
Posts: 3,486
the pilot attempted to return to Wangaratta airport but was forced down about 5pm
It is interesting that we all take something different out of stories, my first thought was "lucky it didn't happen an hour later"...
Howard Hughes is offline  
Old 4th May 2008, 12:42
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 1,572
Tnxs 'pete' for forwarding that on, I thought I saw that same A/c at WGT the day of the pilots 'adventure'
And thnxs for putting to rest no doubt numerous theories.
Like I said before, he's joined a club I care not to become a member of!

Capt Wally is offline  
Old 4th May 2008, 12:51
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: The High Seas
Posts: 46

Descendin' at 1500 feet per minute? That be some one way to Davy Jones's Locker! What do them Mooney's descend at at best glide speed?

AirlinePirate is offline  

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