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
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