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Have you ever sent a mayday?

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Have you ever sent a mayday?

Old 19th May 2014, 11:58
  #41 (permalink)  
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@Blind Squirrel: do I interpret allright that you considered yourself "downwind" at 5000' (AMSL?) and 4 NM from the field? What field has such a circuit?
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Old 19th May 2014, 13:12
  #42 (permalink)  
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dear JAN

I imagine many airports with a field elevation of 4000' msl would have a pattern altitude of 5000' msl.

Maybe you live somewhere near sea level. There is a field near one place I live that you would be 900' below the ground at 5000' msl.

So, No reason to doubt this story . He is just flying somewhere high, like the western United States. Try it. You'll like it. There are airfields in the USA that are above 8000' in some places and you have to get special data to fly there from the manufacturer of some planes.

I think Mexico city is at or near 8000'.

I'm sure you get the idea.

JAN, where do you live?
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Old 19th May 2014, 14:21
  #43 (permalink)  
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You can see where I live (or near) from my profile. Very flat area indeed. And the message I questioned was by a person based at Rennes, which is not that high either: airport elevation is 137' . But even disregarding altitude, I am equally baffled by the 4NM from the field - how far from the field do you fly downwind?
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Old 19th May 2014, 18:54
  #44 (permalink)  
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Didn't say it properly......

I thought I had a problem because the rev counter was oscillating like crazy, but the engine was still running smoothly. I steered towards nearby airfields heading back to home base just in case. I'd just started working Bedford (old MoD as was) when the engine seized solid with a very stationary prop. Rather than the proper mayday call, it came out as "er....engine stopped" with them replying "Roger, cleared land any runway you can make". I had 2500 feet and a tailwind and glided nearly 4 miles straight in. Taxing was a problem, but the fire crews that were alongside by the time I landed pushed me into the hangar, where she stayed for 3 months awaiting new engine. Adrenalin really does focus and sleep that night was more than difficult.
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Old 19th May 2014, 19:33
  #45 (permalink)  
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On my very first cross country flight in power, flew from Wycombe Air Park to Blackbush in a Cessna 152. Landed, got the logbook signed. Took off again in less than perfect viz, which got steadily worse. Really crap. I became seriously uncertain of my position! So, being on Wycombe frequency, asked for assistance, like how about a vector? Unable, they replied, try Benson.
So I switched frequency to Benson and said Pan, pan, pan, I don't know where I am. They gave me their full attention. Steer heading 270. Okay, now steer heading 360. We have you identified. Cessna 152, if you look down, you may find yourself directly overhead RAF Benson!

And so I was, and they gave me directions to the M40, which under a seriously lowering cloudbase (about 800 feet) took me back to Wycombe.

That near LHR one does not want to be uncertain of one's position......

The only time I ever called a Mayday was on a 27 foot sailboat in a nasty storm off the coast of Texas. As soon as I said those magic words, everything changed. We got help, coastguard helicopter S&R, ended up
being towed into Galveston. As it was a genuine emergency they didn't even charge for the service! (which if the emergency had been caused by running out of petrol, or similar, it would have cost me a lot of money!)

In an aeroplane, if you are going to die, it will all be over with quickly. In a boat, being seasick, scared, cold and wet, it goes on for hours and hours and hours.....

Last edited by mary meagher; 19th May 2014 at 19:48.
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Old 19th May 2014, 19:40
  #46 (permalink)  
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Jan Olieslagers:-

No, you're not interpreting it aright (but don't worry: if I was reading a similar story in a foreign language, most of the nuances would get by me too). This was indeed in the United States, hence the reference to the CTAF, while I was on a long cross-country flight. When the engine started losing RPM, I looked for the nearest airfield; fortunately there was one about five miles to my west. I pointed the aircraft directly at it, but because I still had partial power -- even though there was a hell of a headwind -- I arrived there at about 2,000' AGL. So I joined a normal circuit from the dead side. The engine finally gave up on downwind, but I still had about 1,700' AGL at that point and was quite close in.

My not-Mayday call was made as soon as I turned towards the field, not after I had already overflown it.
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Old 19th May 2014, 22:19
  #47 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2014
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Yes, on 3rd flight post PPL

Just bought my pride and joy and was flying it home when all electrical power was lost - subsequently found to be an alternator failure.

Radio failed, but by switching everything off I managed to get enough power back in the battery to then make a mayday call to Wattisham saying I was heading for Cambridge and to warn them of my approach.

After acknowledgement switched everything off again leaving just enough juice in the battery for radio contact to be established at Cambridge.

With hindsight maybe more a Pan than Mayday, but it got me on the ground safely.
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Old 20th May 2014, 08:43
  #48 (permalink)  
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@Blind Squirrel: thanks for explaining, it seems that I read you more literally than was intended... which has happened to me before.
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Old 20th May 2014, 09:13
  #49 (permalink)  
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Honestly in Europe I have never heard of a problem with people declaring what ever they like. Be it pan or mayday.

So really it doesn't matter.

There is an often discussed matter if a pref A twin loosing a donk is a mayday or not. It really doesn't matter as there are ATC rules about aircraft loosing 50% of there performance so it doesn't matter what you declare your going to get the same thing anyway.

Same with any other problem as soon as ATC find out that you have an issue they decide what you get. Even if you haven't declared anything you might still be met with the full monty on landing and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Its better to declare something (and it really doesn't matter if its a pan or mayday) then they know than nothing at all if you want something.

If you have the knowledge and experience to be more than happy with what ever has failed say nothing. Full static system failure instruments showing rubbish VFR in a SEP. I wouldn't say a thing after 1000 hours sitting in the RHS seat instructing I just don't use instruments apart from the altimeter occasionally when ATC require it. But a fresh meat PPL I wouldn't comment apart from "well done" if they declared a mayday and got back safe an sound.

If your bum starts twitching declare something, if its not twitching don't.
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Old 20th May 2014, 10:31
  #50 (permalink)  
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Cross country flying in a glider, usually don't bother with a radio. But there I was, with a new PPL, radio ticket, flying in a 15 meter wingspan glider, and on the radio to Brize Radar, just letting them know I was abeam.

And then, halfway along toward Fairford, the next thermal didn't deliver. Nor the next. I am getting seriously low - 1,200 by now. Still on the blower to Brize, I told them I was getting low, and could I please have permission to land at Fairford, which was within easy reach.

They asked me to change frequency to Fairford, and I replied "unable, I'm busy" so they telephoned Fairford on the land line, came back and told me I had PERMISSION to land the glider at Fairford! Hoot man! I decided, having permission, to land on the runway. Hells teeth, I could have landed ACROSS the runway, it was enormous! But I came straight in, did a decent touchdown, rolled to a stop....

....and was met by the emergency vehicles, firemen dressed in silver suits, jeep with MP's brandishing weapons, and so on. I opened the canopy and said "I didn't think my landing was that bad!"

"No, ma'm," they replied, "we just like practicing!"

They helped move the glider out of the way, took me to the commanding officer, who bought me a burger and a milkshake and gave me 4 tickets for the Tattoo, which started the following week. He said it was just as well that I had landed on the runway, as the grass was full of stakes marking out the areas for the airshow!
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Old 20th May 2014, 10:31
  #51 (permalink)  
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MJ, I love it - If your bum starts twitching declare something, if its not twitching don't.

Great advice, and so well put!
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Old 20th May 2014, 10:53
  #52 (permalink)  
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it was just as well that I had landed on the runway, as the grass was full of stakes marking out the areas for the airshow!

There is another aspect, though: at least here in BE, and I suppose in many other places too, microlighters are bred into a mentality of "always try to keep a low profile". IOW if things go wrong, you don't go telling all and sundry over the radio, just quietly drop into a suitable field and call your friends to come with a 4x4 and trailer. I was taught to consider this a non-event, though I still have to see myself doing it all and keep my blood cool.

Being lost however, especially near busy/complicated airspace, as in Mary's above example, is of course a perfect example of when one's bum SHOULD itch!
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Old 20th May 2014, 10:59
  #53 (permalink)  
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itchy bum is a completely different situation to a twitchy bum Jan.

Itchy bum can be solved very easily using the plates for Charles de Gaulle out of the jepps if nothing else available.
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Old 20th May 2014, 11:01
  #54 (permalink)  
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thanks for introducing me to the finer nuances of Shakespeare'an ...
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Old 20th May 2014, 11:11
  #55 (permalink)  
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You can get both at the same time which is definitely a mayday.
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Old 20th May 2014, 11:24
  #56 (permalink)  
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I've been unlucky enough to suffer 5 total engine failures. I called mayday on 4 of them.

Had countless rough runners. Pan called some of those but not all. Reason for not all.....twice in the circuit at home airfield.....RT a little more casual....."X-XXXX rough running engine positioning for straight in approach runway XX"

Had one last week. Diverted into Manston.....bless em. Sad to see them go.
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Old 20th May 2014, 12:03
  #57 (permalink)  
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Pan call for an alternator failure in VMC? Really? Flew the Cub for six months without a generator while we waited for parts.
Had two and a half engine failures.

One was an elderly motor glider with a pull start, tried to restart after failing to soar and punched myself in the nose when the cable came adrift from the handle. The incentive to soar became quite considerable, in the absence of any field large enough to take off from and the equal absence of a trailer. Scrabbled away and got back home.
One in a C172 in the hold with the student flying. Saw the temp rising and the pressure falling and we landed off the procedure, in marginal VMC. The student didn't actually notice anything wrong despite the oil mist on the windscreen and the odd smell. The engine was still running as we landed and my CFI wasn't best pleased with me for not taking it to the maintenance base twenty minutes away. It got its replacement engine fitted outside...... So that was the half.....

Then the next week I lost a magneto drive on takeoff, which somewhat annoyed the engine as the random sparks perturbed the ignition process. Landed ahead on a nice long runway, while the glider behind avoided running up my tailplane. He probably had the more interesting experience.

None of them involved any radio calls, not that either the motor glider or the tug had a radio anyway but the half failure I suppose could have merited a pan call if I had had any expectation that the fire engine would have started. As it was we didn't need one.

Not that a radio knows anything about flying anyway. Best keep the airframe in one piece then you won't need to tell the ambulance where to find you. I'm not saying it's a bad idea to ask for help, just that the priority has to be fly the aeroplane. Then point it in a reasonable direction, and after that if you think some help would be useful, then it's time to start asking.
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Old 20th May 2014, 12:21
  #58 (permalink)  
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keep the airframe in one piece then you won't need to tell the ambulance where to find you
This should go into all basic piloting guides.
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Old 20th May 2014, 12:31
  #59 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2004
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It is.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

It's the way it's supposed to be taught.
It it isn't being taught that way then the instructor is not correct.

First actions.

Trim for best glide.
Select landing area.
Plan your way in to the landing zone.

Only then attempt a restart. Sensible stuff really......fuel pump on, change tanks, carb heat, mags.

If no restart then shutdown. Pull the mixture, mags off.

Don't want it to restart on short final only to die again on climb out.....

If the donk has destroyed itself in a shower of pistons and assorted metal parts you can skip the above.

Transmit a mayday so they know where to find the bodies.

Get it in the field.

If transmitting on the radio is likely to take away from your ability to fly the plane, then don't transmit.

Priority number one is getting it safely in the field.

Harnesses tightened.

Master off, Fuel off (master switch off once last stage of flap deployed if electrically actuated) before touch down and, depending on airframe, unlatch the door/s

If you're really good you'll select a suitable landing site that's just a short stroll away from a purveyor of fine ales
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Old 20th May 2014, 12:53
  #60 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2014
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I think calling a Mayday or Pan ultimately depends on the circumstances, where you are, where you can get to and what assistance you might need etc

I was doing aeros and on pulling vertical heard a change in engine note and felt a slight vibration so headed back to the airfield (a mown patch of grass with a cowshed at one end where the plane lived) I didn't call mayday as I wasn't going to make a proper airfield so no one to help, I wasn't near controlled airspace or 100 miles from anywhere so the only point would have been to dial 121.5 and say 'tell my wife I love her and tell little Jonny to be a good boy'

besides the radio wasn't even on...
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