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2004 Western Trip - Day 5

What I Planned:

Date: On or about July 16, 2004

Long day here (but not as long as it USED to be).  Al Wick pointed out a number of interesting airports to visit out west, and Durango, CO (KDRO) is the second one, so I'll land after leaving Taos, NM (KSKX). Don Solomon, a COZY MKIV builder, lives there, and I may give him a ride.

After that, I'll take a short hop over to Farmington, NM (FMN) to visit with Ron Brooks, who's just about ready to fly his COZY III. I'll give him a checkout ride in the left seat to get him ready to fly.

Next, I'll overfly Ship Rock, near Four Corners. It's a standard prop in almost all old western movies. Then it's on to Page, AZ (KPGA), site of the Glen Canyon Dam.  Again, I've been there a couple of times (last time in 1996), but I've never flown over it. Next will be Grand Canyon, AZ (KGCN), but because of the flight restrictions over the canyon proper, I'll head south from Page and jog around the airspace to the west.  Somewhere in there I'll get some lunch.  After Grand Canyon, I'll head over to the Arizona Meteor Crater, on to Sedona, AZ (KSEZ), and then south to Chandler, AZ (KCHD) to visit Brian Deford (Flying COZY MKIV).

This will end up being 4 - 6 hours in the air, including the rides/checkouts.

What Actually Happened:

Date: July 16th, 2004


Due to the crappy weather and equipment failures that changed Day 1, we last left our hero in a Holiday Inn in picturesque Blacksburg, VA, waiting for the morning to arrive. After a flurry of phone calls from Ken Miller, Wayne Hicks, Jim Sower, Paul Krasa, and email from John Slade, I knew that I had a number of possibilities for fixing my magneto.

First thing in the morning, after breakfast, I headed to the airport to see what I could do.  I called  Piedmont over at Roanoke, but they were too busy to even think about sending someone over.  Very nice guy, Larry, in the maintenance shop, but no help whatsoever.  So, after a bit more poking at the plane, I discovered that not only was the left mag apparently not working, but the starter clutch was dead too. It would engage, and the motor would spin, but not the prop.  Apparently, as the mag was dying. it caused a major kickback that took out the starter.  Yeehah - that's the THIRD starter that's been killed on this plane (first two by MY stupidity - this one by 85 year old technology).

Well, Jim Sower down in Crossville, TN (about 1.5 hours SW) had an extra mag that would fit (and Ken Miller, who also offered a replacement mag confirmed that Jim's mag would work) and had offered to fly it up, with a bunch of tools.  He had an extra starter too, and would bring it. While he was coming, not knowing if his stuff really would work, I had worked an agreement with Sky-Tec and Ken to Fedex replacement parts (mag and starter) if necessary. I got the engine ready for mag and starter removal while Jim flew up.

After Jim arrived, we quickly removed the starter.  Jim spoke to Sky-Tec (since HIS starter would NOT fit my installation without a lot of rework) and determined that the starter from a 1991 Ford Escort could be cannibalized for parts.  Jim and I took a taxi to a nearby NAPA, and I bought a starter, and we swapped the guts. After reinstallation, we did a quick spin just to confirm that the starter worked, and it did. One down, one to go. We had removed the old magneto, had some long discussions with Ken Miller about timing, and installed the new (old, but new for me) mag that Jim had brought.

As an aside, Wayne Hicks had alerted Paul Krasa to my situation and I had been Paul in touch with him to arrange a delivery of a magneto and/or starter (122 tooth, rather than 149, so I couldn't have used that one either, but the thought was there) as well as a tool kit. Paul was ready to fly everything down at a moment's notice - I told him that I'd let him know if that became necessary.

Anyway, Jim and I (mostly Jim) got the mag installed, timed, and wired. We buttoned up the baffling, tightened all the screws, and then tested the engine. Bingo - it ran! One mag, the other - no problem.  OK - time to check everything over one last time, and then reinstall the cowls, put all Jim's tools away, and get going.  I called Sky-Tec, thanked them for their help, and told them I wouldn't need their starter.  Ken had been talking to Jim, and knew that the mag worked and he didn't need to send anything.  Chrissi in St. Louis, MO called and told her that I wouldn't be there that evening.

Jim fueled up, we packed up, and then headed out.

Due to the lateness of the hour, I decided that I was NOT going to go to St. Louis that night, but would stay with Jim in Crossville and then head west the next afternoon.  There were a few things (loose pop rivets, etc.) under the cowl that I wanted to take care of, and could do so in a couple of hours at Jim's hangar with his tools.  Jim and I flew in formation (sometimes loose, sometimes tighter) for the 1.75 hours back to Crossville, TN (KCSV).  Got a few pictures, had a nice flight. Here's a shot of Jim's Velocity, and another of some windmills on the top of a ridge that we flew over.

Here's a shot of Jim's Velocity, shot while in loose formation.  I had to throttle back to about 2200 RPM, leaned WAY out, so as not to leave him in the dust.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

No, not more clouds - these are some really large windmills that we flew over while descending towards CSV.  Jim thinks they're pretty new - he hadn't seen them before.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

Jim and I did a low approach in formation over runway 26, and broke left to enter the downwind.

For all this, I'd like to thank everyone that called, offered to help, offered to fly over to help, offered to send stuff or bring tools or make phone calls, or just sent emails of support. I'd especially like to thank the folks listed at the top of this message, especially Jim Sower, who spent a whole day flying around and helping out someone that he didn't know from a hole in the ground. That's the kind of people we've got in the canard community, and it's something special.


So I had just turned downwind in a 45 degree climbing bank after shooting the low approach into Crossville, TN (KCSV).  As I leveled out and reduced power, I pulled my feet out from in front of the rudder pedals so that I could use them in my landing approach.  My left shoelace caught on the rudder pedal, and as I pulled my foot rearward, I could feel it pulling the rudder pedal with it.  I looked down, slid my left foot to the right, and disengaged the shoelace.  I then put my foot under the pedal and lifted it back up into what I believed was the correct position.

I tried to verify that the pedal was working correctly by pushing on it and watching the left rudder - The rudder was NOT deflected on it's own, and it did deflect as I pushed on the pedal.  There was a bit of resistance as I pushed, but it seemed as though the pedal was operating the rudder and the brakes correctly, so I continued my approach.  I turned base and final, caught site of Jim behind me, and landed.

I tried to touch down long so as to make sure that Jim had room behind me.  As soon as the left wheel hit the pavement, the plane yawed to the left and the main gear began to shimmy as the nose came down. It was immediately apparent from this and the squeal as the left wheel hit that the left brake was on - not locked, but on pretty hard. I used the right brake to try to straighten out, and was able to keep the plane on the runway, but apparently the vibration from the main gear and the hard shimmying of the nose was too much for the nose gear support area (the NG30's and the fuselage bottom) and the gear collapsed.

I was impressed at the lack of impact force when the gear collapsed - I had expected a lot worse in a situation like that.  The nose slid for a couple hundred yards, maybe, and I came to a stop.  I stopped the engine, opened the canopy, and got out.

The whole time that the shimmying was going on (a whole 2 seconds or so, but time compresses in times like these, and a whole lifetime can go by in those two seconds) I was thinking that my stupid shoelace had caused this brake actuation, and wasn't that ridiculous?  As soon as the gear collapsed, and for the time I was sliding, all I could think of was that I had managed to break my plane AGAIN, and for something as stupid as a shoelace (I'll address the design issues that allowed a shoelace to break a plane later).

Jim pulled up, as did a couple of folks in a truck.  We dragged the plane off the runway by putting the nose on a trailer, and brought it into Jim's hangar.

So, the vacation is over (at least for now), my plane is broken, I'm going to have a LOT of work ahead of me here in Crossville, I'll be lucky to make it to OSH, much less visit folks and give rides, and I'm incredibly pissed off at myself.

What I SHOULD have done, as soon as I realized that my shoelace had pulled the pedal backwards, was abort the landing, climb up to 5000 ft, set the autopilot to keep the wings level and the pitch trim for a 300 fpm climb, had Jim fly eyeballs for me, and spend 30 seconds reaching under the co-pilot's seat to re-engage the brake actuating mechanism for the left rudder pedal.

Hindsight is 20-20.  My foresight seems to be substantially worse than that, as history shows.

I'll be depending upon Jim and Milene Sower's hospitality for a while, as I reside in Crossville and fix my plane.

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