Friday, March 31, 2006

First flight this year?

Weather looks good for this weekend and the first flight of the year. If you remember from last year, I moved the provision 8 503 from the MX over to the Phantom that I'm restoring, and I installed a 503 that I purchased from eBay and rebuilt. This was the first complete rebuild of a Rotax that I have done. I'm a technical person by trade, so I have a good bit of confidence in the job I have done, but there is always that uncertainty. I changed two bearings on the crank, but it is still old. No telling how many hours on it. Anyway, I've got about 2-3 hours on the engine and is seems to be performing satisfactorily but I still want to stay over familiar grounds and not out of reach of a suitable landing area. That is always a safe practice to follow as I'm sure most of us who have had an engine failure try to do.

I've recently seen a video online of a Phantom flier that had an engine out. The video can be seen at in the left hand column under "Engine out". I'm happy that the guy was OK, but he sure wasn't flying with his safety or the safety of others in mind.

Not to ramble or beat a dead horse into the ground, but the last engine failure I had was a "rebuilt" engine from a supposed "certified Rotax repair shop". This engine ran questionably from the beginning, but I was too inexperienced to realize it. It ran well for about 20 hours and I felt confident to make a 75 mile flight to my new hangar. To make a long story short, I had a seizure about 60 miles into the flight and made my second ever true dead stick landing in a pasture. The cause was a crank-end rod bearing failure. My point in all the rambling is that this can happen even on new engines with new crankshafts. It may be unlikely, but it can (and has) happened. One last statement and I'll get off the soap box: Fly as though your engine may quit at any time, because it may!