Sunday, 28 February 2010

My first emergency landing!

Photos by Simon, using Cat's phone

I had to do an emergency landing today when my engine stopped at 600'. I hadn't climbed beyond about 900', after emerging from beneath the controlled airspace stub over Ely, because of low and ominous cloud above, and I'd descended when I experienced a lot of buffeting higher up.

It had been glorious flying around Ely and I was elated and on the home stretch, but
for a detour north to avoid rain which I could see coming toward me from the West, at that time dropping on the airfield. I hoped to skirt around it and come back to Sutton Meadows from Chatteris, but as I hit the Washes, the engine cut out and I immediately turned left to find a good field heading into wind (190 deg). I quickly found a likely candidate, did a couple of beats and turns and did a textbook power-off landing in a newly planted and boggy field.

After securing my wing I found a track and walked towards the nearest farm buildings, where I was greeted by a lovely family, about whom a lot more later. But for now, a huge thanks to Cat and Simon and Cat's mum, Linda, for being so welcoming and supportive, to Cat for guiding my rescuers, Dave Garrison and Dave Broom, to the field and for lending me her mobile, and to Simon for coming and getting completely drenched with me as we dragged the plane from the boggy field and de-rigged the wing.

You are not wrong. The seat is missing.
In the rush this morning, I forgot to pack it,
so ended up scavenging this bit of carpet underlay to make a seat

I feel bad about putting the Daves out. They were brilliant; I am enormously grateful, Chaps!

Something like this does your heart good; and frankly I needed something to do my heart good this weekend, following a very difficult week. The landing actually felt very soft indeed, but I felt my back jar as I man-handled the plane on the ground. Linda is right though, I may simply not have been aware during the landing of the impact it had on my back, as I was too pre-occupied and running on adrenaline. I expect I will feel it tomorrow. But I have no was bloody exciting....and gratifying too, as I am now an engine-failure veteran.

I "partialled" on engine failures, and they do say that what you have to be re-tested on you will do especially well later. I heard something on Radio 4 recently about some study which shows that the safest drivers (and those who are most considerate or have fewest accidents) failed their first driving test.

When the engine stopped on me I just thought, "So this is what we worked so hard at. Great, this should be interesting." And if anything, it was really rather an anti-climax. Let's hope the next one is just as anti-climactic. Yes, next time; rare though they are, they do happen. The Daves have each been rescued from fields, more than once. There are two kinds of pilot, those who have had an engine failure and those who are going to have one.


Aviatrix said...

Bravo Peter for keeping so cool, calm and collected. I'm truly impressed.

Tinworm said...

Thank you, Aviatrix. You know how much I admire you, so your praise means an awful lot to me.

For those who don't know, it was Aviatrix who took me up in her Chipmunk (when we met at Sywell) and let me take the controls, thus making a lifelong ambition come true.