- 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!
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”.
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.
For the latest list of events, go to the Events page on the Strut website.
Please suggest/volunteer to organize some more. 🙂