- When that Donkey goes Wonky! A harrowing tale with a happy end from Clive Innocent
- Chilsfold Farm Fly-in Pictures from the event
When that Donkey goes Wonky!
Back in December (28th), I flew across to Popham to meet a friend for lunch. We had a good chat and after a while prepared to leave for our respective airfields. I sat in my Escapade and warmed the Jabiru 2200A engine to normal running temperature (as I always do), then taxied for 03 hold.
Everything checked and all T’s and P’s normal, I applied full throttle and took off. Flaps away at just over 400ft then reducing power to preserve the engine, I continued to climb and departed the circuit for Billingshurst.
Heading South East I levelled off at 2,200ft, did my checks and sat back to enjoy the homeward flight. Everything sounded normal, the Jab was purring as usual. “What a delight to be up here” I thought.
Then without any warning on the panel or audibly there was a loud ‘bang’, and an associated loud ‘clattering’ noise from the engine. It sounded like something had let go terminally.
Thrust was immediately lost, so instantly I pushed the stick forward to find best glide as fast as I could, at the same time pumping the throttle to keep the motor going as long as I could. I was hoping to nurse the Jab all the way down so if required, I had one last blast of throttle to arrest descent as I landed.
This was my obvious next problem, where to put her down. I looked below and saw no inviting fields, but lots of muddy ones. I checked my position and the GPS confirmed I was over Medstead.
First place that came to mind was Colemore Common airstrip. I zoomed in on my Garmin 496 and turned South also noticing the altimeter unwinding! Now flying into a very low and setting sun, I couldn’t see where I was going. So I flew using the GPS.
I had about 5 miles to go, and was still going down whilst pumping the throttle to keep the Jab going. It didn’t work, as the engine died quite quickly.
There was a strong smell of hot oil now, as I realised that I might just make Colemore.
I thought it would be prudent to let someone know where I was, just in the event that I made a mess of the landing and hurt myself. A quick frequency change to 121.500, and I sent a ‘Mayday, message. The operator asked me what my problem was, to which I simply replied, “Catostrophic engine failure.”
“What are your intentions.”
“I will attempt to land at Colemore Common.”
“Where is Colemore Common”
“Approximately 3 miles North of Petersfield.”
I was now gliding ‘downwind’ for 02 at Colemore trying to work out where I should turn ‘base’ and ‘final’ to be sure of clearing a wood at the South end of the strip.
I turned ‘final’, with a little too much height in reserve ( I thought ), so set flaps 40 and side slipped to get down early. I didn’t want to land late, and risk overshooting the runway into the hedge!
As is usual when there is no one to witness the landing, I pulled off a lovely gentle three pointer under half way along the strip.
Phew, I did it ! Not only had I not hurt myself, but I didn’t damage my aeroplane either.
I reported to the operator that I was down safely, but although Colemore is over 600ft amsl, he didn’t hear me. After climbing out of my Escapade, I rang home to explain why I would be late home, at the same time as looking at the oil splattered all over my undercarriage, down the fuselage and all over the cowlings!
Five minutes later, while I was wondering how I would get my aircraft back to Hadfold Farm (Billingshurst), I saw a man and woman with a couple of Labradors walking across the field towards me.
The chap ( who luckily I know well ) said ” Hello Clive, I’ve just had D&D on the phone saying some chap has landed on my strip”.
I expressed my sheer delight that his strip was there when I was in my hour of need.
As my aeroplane was some distance from the road and it would soon be dark, I left it where it stopped. I and some friends retrieved it with a trailer the next day. (The Escapade has folding wings).
Guys, the farmer then drove me back to Hadfold Farm to collect my car. What a gentleman !
I had always serviced and maintained my Jabiru by the book, and never expected it to self-destruct for one moment. Indeed it had taken me on numerous flights to France. GULP !
After stripping the Jab down, the problem had been failure of number 2 exhaust valve, the head of which smashed the piston. This caused the con rod to flail around and bend, also thrashing into the crank case and re-shaping it.Apparently the valves are made in two pieces, and friction welded together. It was failure of the weld which was the cause of my engine failure.
I was horrified to discover what was inside the sump!Please see the pictures [Click on a picture to enlarge it. Ed.], including the Escapade with it’s replacement Rotax 912 [picture at head of article] now fitted and working well.
Chilsfold Farm Fly-in
Pictures from the 27th June fly-in at Ian’s Chilsfold Farm strip. Brilliant event all round.
To view larger click on one of the pictures.
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