Nov 07 2010

Almost a Gear Up…..

Today was a great day.  I drove up to Summerville this morning to look at a 1995 Mercedes diesel.  It turned out to be a bust…  I then flew over to Mt Pleasant to meet up with Mike to fly together.  

He has a beautify acrobatic plane a IO-360 (180 hp) christian eagle.   Mike is taking his wife up for her fist flight. 

I bet she was happy when he did a quick barrow roll!

This is a great shot over Charleston with the new bridge in the background.  The crazy thing he kept asking me to slow down.    Mike had his plane firewalled at 130 kts, so we slowed down to 125 kts (2700 rpm) and  I was only turning 1900 rpm.    When I left him, I firewalled my plane and quickly pulled away from him.  I never felt so fast!

While I was landing, I noticed the lock gear down light was not lite and I could not cycle the gear down properly (about 1/8 turn from full down).   This seemed strange to me and  I felt the over-center device hadn’t engaged so I called the tower to let them know I had a gear warning light.   Sure enough when I touched down, the nose started to collapse.   Sort of progressively dropping instead of a quick drop, BANG.    I was almost stopped with I hit the ground.   The plane was moved off the runway, I lowered the gear (this time it locked) and taxied back to the hangar.

Minutes later the towered called me.  Within 30 minutes the S.C Flight Standards Office called for an update.  If only the rest of the federal government worked as well as the FAA.  

I told the FAA there was no problems, the plane wasn’t damaged, (it wasn’t) and everything was ok (it was) then immediately started tearing into the nose to find what what going on.  I was lucky this time, I only ground about 1/4″ off the nose bumper!

I removed the nose gear assembly and found the gear had stripped.  It was tuned 180 degrees (just flipped over) and it was as good as new.  Reassembled the plane, test all and decided it was an anomaly and watch for any warning signs in the future.    Another new experience to learn from.

One good thing about this event is that I now think I can install a electric nose lift in the plane.    I always thought there was not enough clearence in this area, but after disassembling everything, I now believe it can be done.

After fixing the plane, I stopped by to see a bunch of my retired navy officer friends at the yearly RINK roast at the Elks Club.  It was great seeing some of my old buddy’s.

Overall, quite a busy and exciting day!

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