Log

Backyard Engine Failure

2012 June 8 My Twenty Second Flight

Living on an airport is great. The taxiway in my backyard is perfect for launching as long as it's calm or there's some north wind. Terrain is such that, in spite of south flow aloft, it can be dead calm at the surface as long as I get off within 45 minutes of sunrise. Today was such a day. I dawdled putting the GoPro on my frame so I started probably 30 minutes after sunrise. Not ideal but there was still no discernible wind.

This machine has been running impeccably for several months although it suffered a starter problem at Beach Blast during somebody else's flight. Thankfully, Planet PPG was able to get it together for me. But this morning it would not be.

The flight was going to be a quickie since I had a lot to do. Boy was it a quickie, alright!

I suited up, started up, got the camera rolling, got the speedbar hooked up and went for it. The little 18 popped up dutifully and I throttle for liftoff. Once airborne, I slid into the seat anticipating a climb. Then the power waned. Uh oh. I milked the throttle. A big tree loomed but I knew I could go around it. My house receded at 25 mph -- a consequence of flying this fast little Ozone with the trimmers half out--pops up easily but devours runway profusely. The clincher was thinking about how far I'd have to walk if it quit all the way. I shut it down and landed.

I actually did try to look things over right there and even found a piece of flotsam in the fuel line but a runup revealed that the problem persisted. It was now more than an hour after sunrise and yet I didn't yet feel the tailwind so I got my other motor out (Blackhawk 172). By the time I inflated again the tailwind was present and I didn't like how it was going--running on pavement with 70 pounds on your back and no lift from the wing so I aborted. Better to beg off early than to push into a crash.

Interesting morning. I'll deal with a very slight tailwind but this was too much, especially on an 18 meter speeder.

Oh, and I found the problem. It was a clogged screen in the carburetor.

Just after liftoff I'm settling in to a climb. It doesn't get more than about 5 feet high.


2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!