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Engine Failure

Old 4th Aug 2010, 03:18
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Angel Engine Failure

Have you ever lost your engine?

This is my story...

July 24th 2010

It was a typical VFR flight out of Destin (DTS) like I’ve done time and time again. I got there about 9AM to do the mission planning and took off around 11AM. We were headed to Orlando (ORL) for a surprise birthday party. I preflighted the C-172 N53456, called to open our flight plan, then talked to Eglin clearance to receive flight following enroute. Just prior to takeoff I did the normal checklists and the engine run-up was fine with both mags working normally. We flew down the coast at about 1000’ taking in the scenery for approximately 5 miles. We then started our climb to 9500’. Approximately 30 miles East of DTS and passing 3800’ the engine went from about 2400RPM to 1000RPM. It was as if the throttle linkage had disconnected and the engine went to idle. I was on the radio with flight watch getting a weather update when it happened. I told them to standby and maintained aircraft control by immediately trading airspeed for altitude. We were at about 90-95 KIAS when the engine went to idle so I pitched for 65 KIAS (best glide) and we were able to get to almost 4000’. I then began to analyze the situation as we descended quickly. After trouble shooting as much as I could, I pushed the throttle in and pulled it out looking for a response. I pulled the carb heat hoping that it would remedy the idle engine. In the limited amount of time that I had I tried every feasible solution; unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to keep the C-172 from descending. I spun the Garmin 430 and saw that the closest airfield was 12 miles away. Too far! With only a few minutes to spare, I realized that I had to make a decision quickly. Below me was the ocean, the beach and a busy road. At my 9 O’clock, I saw Shark’s Tooth golf course and it was my only realistic option. I then turned the aircraft toward the golf course and maneuvered for high key; my safest option was to land on the golf course. I had just checked in with Tyndall approach a few minutes prior so I declared an emergency with them and squawked 7700 with a flash. I hit high key at 2000’ while analyzing the golf course for the safest option for the passengers on board as well as any civilians on the ground. What ended up being the 18th hole had a cart on it so I chose the hole next to it. I hit low key at around 1300’. I then maneuvered to clear the tall trees on the south side of hole 17 while milking my flaps down. As soon as I cleared the huge trees I pushed over to try and use as much fairway as possible. After landing and rolling to a stop I made sure everyone was okay and I contacted emergency response along with the FAA.

Here is a link to the official story and a video just a few minutes after. I'm interested to hear your thoughts and stories of your own. Praise God we're all alive and even the plane was left undamaged.

Pilot makes emergency landing on 17th Hole at Shark's Tooth | tooth, landing, 17th - News - The News Herald

YouTube - Girl survives emergency airplane landing

God bless,
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 12:46
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Tony. I'm glad you are all unhurt, but while you're thanking God for the happy outcome, would you mind asking Him why he messed with your engine in the first place?
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 12:53
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Congrats on a successful outcome!

I always understood a throttle cable break to be spring loaded to full throttle on carb engines, could be and probably am wrong though. Did you ever find out the cause?
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 14:02
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Had one in almost a brand new Seneca 4 Twin a few years back. Both engines had covered 100 hrs. I was at Grosse weight on an above standard day.

The takeoff was normal until at 200 feet in the climb there was a serious vibration and yaw.

I estimated the bad engine was still producing some power maybe 30-40 percent and equally realised that if I feathered and shut it down i would go one way and one way only DOWN.

I kept the thing going one hand poised on the prop lever in case there was a big bang

Once up at circuit hight I levelled and then shut the engine down as by then it was a bag of nails.

Continental examined the unit and eventually admitted over torque of the rocker shafts at manufacture which had resulted in three rocker shafts shearing. They replaced the unit with a complete brand new engine within days.

Initially they claimed over boost on takeoff but luckely for me a PAX had filmed the complete takeoff with all the relevant engine instruments visible and well within limits.

Now I question the training for engine failure in light twins and wonder whether a pitch for level flight isnt a better option even a few hundred feet up.

Tony congrats on pulling off a good landing in a limited area


Last edited by Pace; 4th Aug 2010 at 14:24.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 14:22
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I've had ten or so engine failures in light single engine airplanes over the years.
If you have had that many you really should be worrying about your operating procedures, the aircraft you accept commanding, and the maintenance shops used.

Every takeoff, every cruise path, every approach to landing should be conducted knowing that you may not have use of your powerplant. This can happen at any time, and one must develop the mentality that it's never a matter of whether the motor might fail. It's always a matter of when it will fail. It will, and if you fly long enough, you'll experience this. Many pilots seem incredulous when it does happen, as they operate under the belief that it won't happen to them. Think of it this way: you always have a 50% chance, at least, that it will happen. Either it will, or it won't. Don't ever take a chance that it won't....because enough of those will/won't moments will eventually land on the side of will. Plan accordingly.
Complete Newspaper twaddle. I know many pilots who are very high hour instructors who have never had an engine failure, one or two who are even retired and never had a single one in their career. Engine failures do and will occurr, I agree, and there is some sense in the rest of your post. I have had one engine failure in £550K aircraft that was six months old - but fortunately it was a twin, so didnt matter. However flying, particularly singles, is an excercise in risk assessment. There are those who will never fly over the sea, those that will never fly over the sea without survival suits, those that will never flying over the sea without a raft and those that accept the risk and have none of these. You can therefore plan for a failure that for the owner operator who trusts his maintenance to a reliable shop, properly preflights every trip, and nips in the bud any obvious problems, will almost certainly never come any more or less than being stopped at the lights and the lorry behinds brakes fail and hits you at 50 mph.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 14:27
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I'd have landed at the 19th hole and sunk a few afterwards !!! Well done.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 14:31
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but fortunately it was a twin, so didnt matter.

I am sure you are referring to a failure in level cruise regarding your own failure as a failure in climbout is a very serious situation and one which statistically you are more likely to die from than a failure in a single.

I do not have a lot of trust in the reliability of piston engines!!! or the quality control at Continental a few years back. I have had two full failures and numerous partial but then I averaged 300 hrs per year while many knock out 10 to 20 hrs a year.


Last edited by Pace; 4th Aug 2010 at 14:47.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 14:32
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Although my own experience is far too small to comment on such matters on my own behalf, I have had a number of very experienced flying instructors and while they took great care in teaching me proper engine-out procedures, they also told me that an engine-out is not a matter of "when", but rather something a fair percentage of private pilots never actually experience themselves. Granted all we fly is PA-28's and the engines on those don't really give up easily.

I think the real risk on engine failure is often overstated by those who fly a lot of different aircraft types, since you're bound to run into some of the more unreliable ones eventually

That said, I for one always bring lifevests (and a raft, if available) when over sea and always keep a look-out for nice open fields to land in. Murphy's law and all that.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 15:08
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@tweed0099: congrats for remembering your training, making good decisions AND working them out. I can only hope I'll do as good as you did, when my turn comes.
But you puzzle me linguistically: what do you mean by "hitting high key" and "hitting low key" ?

As for twins vs. singles: didn't I hear a rumour as to twin-engined planes being deadlier than singles?

As for thanking God: when all goes nicely as planned - as it luckily does, most of the times, for most of us - :
-) a stupid pilot will say it was just a normal flight
-) a non-stupid religious pilot will thank God
-) a non-stupid non-religious pilot will hope to have the same good luck on the flight home
When things go wrong, matters are much simpler: ALL the blame is on Mr. Murphy, or perhaps on the weather. None on the pilot(s), of course.

Last edited by Jan Olieslagers; 4th Aug 2010 at 15:29.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 15:27
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Well done on the landing

I am sure you could have pancaked it onto a tree that a certain uk guy swears by

And I agree with 2nd post about god
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 15:39
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Actually, no. My operating procedures are quite sound. The failures occurred over many thousands of hours amid many hundreds of airplanes, in various parts of the world, and involved maintenance performed by rental facilities, schools, charter companies, corporate departments, repair stations, private individuals, and government operators. They occurred during skydiving operations, crop dusting, flight instruction, charter, back country operations, firefighting operations, during flight test, and other entirely unrelated scenarios.
You have made my exact point withour realising, which was why I was concerned about the message your earlier post conveyed.

I wouldnt command an aircraft in these circumtances or with maintenance performed by some of these individuals. If your career is to be believed, then unfortunately you dont have the same luxury as I, and most private pilots and some commercial, in deciding what you will command. If that is the case your post is hardly representative to most of us. In that much your poor record is more believable. As a friend and instructor of mine very recently told me when we were discussing this subject (and who almost certainly has many more hours than you, but very much keeps his own council) the trick is knowing when to refuse to a fly an aircraft - which he has done on many occasions. Wise words indeed that you may find would reduce the chances of your suffering yet another engine failure, albeit would not eliminate the risk.

I was asked to take an aircraft in for its annual last month. I had never flown the aircraft before, although I did know the owners. A walk around revealed enough, albiet relatively minor issues to give me cause for concern, further investigation revealed other issues that I am not going to go into - suffice to say I never flew the aircraft.


Yes, it was in the cruise. While I agree an engine failure in the climb out is a serious matter, I am almost equally mindful of the failure in a descent particularly in IMC. Engines throttled back , the failure goes unnoticed or isnt noticeable, power is applied for whatever reason .. .. ..
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 15:43
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And I agree with 2nd post about god
He was given an experience to learn from with a happy outcome what more does he want

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Old 4th Aug 2010, 16:29
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@Jan Olieslagers

High Key & Low Key are techniques used as part of standard PFL training.

Read this for more information:
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 18:07
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Very well done, tweed0099!

And at least golf courses do have one worthwhile use - as potential emergency landing areas for light aircraft....

(I'm with Mark Twain and Jeremy Clarkson as regards golf!)
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 18:58
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Perhaps you'll be another one of the masses, and hopefully it won't be a painful lesson to learn.
I hope so too, thank you.

I hope your next is equally painless, but, more importantly, I shall hope your last, was your last.


Sorry, to be drawn into the aside, but well done for a job very well done; a most interesting post.

Last edited by Fuji Abound; 4th Aug 2010 at 21:17.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 22:52
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In 6000 hours, 4 complete engine failures to the ground, 2 preventative shutdowns in twins, 5 power losses, 2 governor failures, and some other unrelated electrical, control, hydraulic and landing gear failures. Always landed safely though, and working hard to keep that record!
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 23:25
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High Key & Low Key are techniques used as part of standard PFL training.
It was my understanding this was preliminarily a UK thing? A descendant of Military terms crossing over into civvy aviation, as so often happens?
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 01:08
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One total failure (stupid Theirlet FADEC twin that decided to do it's own thing) and three partial in a little over 2500hrs.

For what it's worth, I think we should always plan for a failure as those first few seconds can make an awful lot of difference. Going through the Oh F***, what now?" at 400ft in a climbing attitude is probably going to lower the odds of survival.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 06:46
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Haven't had one for 5weeks now ( and that was only partial ) must be getting better.

( The above IS tongue in cheek but true , bringing my total to 30, mainly whilst testing aircraft).

What's really interesting is that 6 years ago I took a BFR with a low time instructor ( who had never had a real engine failure) and he refused to sign me out because he was not happy with my PFL !
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 07:11
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bringing my total to 30, mainly whilst testing aircraft
I think this record has already been done to death in some other forum but if I had 3 never mind 30 engine failures I would give up flying and take up knitting.

For a moment I thought you must be flight testing lawn mowers but actually my £600 Husquarna is not that bad - only one engine failure in 10 years.

There seem to be some sections of the GA scene where massive engine failure rates are indeed common, and readily accepted. I don't fly behind a Rotax but only in recent years have they elevated themselves from that category. This is (to me) completely unacceptable because it makes a plane totally useless for going anywhere, due to the risk of coming down in water, in a forest, on a mountain, and even if I carried a parachute, what about passengers? They have a reasonable expectation of some kind of safety.

The MTBF of the certified Lyco/Conti engines is of the order of 50k-100k hours and the vast majority of pilots will never get a failure in their flying lifetime.

Sure you train for a forced landing, and you do the usual escape routes (a life raft, etc) but with an MTBF of say 1k-2k hours (probably about the mark for the Thielerts) GA would totally cease to have any value for going anywhere.
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