Index Home About Blog
From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Auto Engines in Airplanes
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 13:06:00 GMT

On 22 Oct 2000 23:36:17 -0700, Kevin O'Brien
<> wrote:

>In article <>,
>> Now you think about that Chevy
>>Vortec six cylinder engine I used to fly in that RV-6a.
>Would that be the same RV-6A that handed you 'motorglider surprize' one sunny

No, that was an RV-6, not a 6a.  That engine failure was due to
improperly plumbing a christen eagle inverted oil separator.  The old
German who built the airplane plumbed it so when I rolled it inverted
a check valve closed and tied the engine's top breather to the bottom
breather sealing off the crank case.  I blew the front seal and pumped
all the oil overboard in about two minutes.  I had no choice but to
stick it in the desert that day.  It was not Lycoming's fault though.
It was that thick headed old German.  I told him too, not to ever fill
that damn thing with gas while I was test flying it.  He couldn't
listen.  That day I checked Tim out was the middle of July two years
ago.  When I got to the airport the old German said, "Ya bull.  You
have complete fuel volume."  My response was, "Why?  It's 110 out now,
Tim weighs 220, I weigh 230 and now you stuck 240 pounds of fuel in
this for a 30 minute flight?????"

Ding, ding, ding! You could hear the bells go off in the old German's
head.  Well, it cost him.  Because when we stuck it in the desert, it
rolled a long way through lots of boulders and it broke up both wheel
pants plus an aileron.  I was in the right seat and Tim had the
brakes.  Turns out his stubby little legs didn't work real well on the
toe brakes.  I just sat there completely helpless as we shot over
ditches, boulders and plants.  One other thing happened that day too
that I'll never forget.  I was carrying lots of speed on final and
S-turning to see and to get down for my landing point (the windscreen
was completely covered with hot oil).  I mean, I had a lot of speed
there at the end...110 mph I think...way more than a normal glide.  I
came over this hill with full flaps and sunk into the flood control
basin at about 80 mph.  As I eased back on it, I stalled the right
wing first at about 70 mph and 5 feet.  I dropped pretty good but that
right wing dropped first to a good 15 degree angle and bashed in the
aileron.  I had never flown the airplane that heavy before and at a
density altitude of about 9000 feet.  Had I not been on the deck, it
would have killed me.  It was a classic stall spin entry but it got
stopped by the main gear hitting the ground first.  If that would have
happened at 50 feet, I'd have been inverted in a heartbeat and laying
dead in the desert.  That's the only time in 30 years an airplane
stalled on me with absolutely no warning and without me expecting it.
I was scared shitless and shaking during the whole approach as I shut
the engine down to save it and cranked off the fuel valve, turned off
the electrical etc.

I knew I was scared because the assholes in the tower couldn't figure
out where I was to send the medevac helicopter.  So I squawked 7700.
I remember seeing my hand and fingers shaking as I turned the Xponder
knobs...first to 7600 then to 7700.  I was shook up alright.  Of
course only three minutes earlier I thought we were on fire at 5000
AGL when the cockpit filled with smoke from  burning the oil as it hit
the exhaust manifold.

Anyway, what all this nervousness did to  me (and I'm an old timer
pilot too) is cause my depth perception to be off.  Plus, I was
landing in a big flood control basin that was about 800 feet wide and
all dirt, rocks and weeds.  The perspective was like sinking into a know, like landing on a real wide runway.  You ease down
real gentle until you kiss on.  Well, being all shook up, and not
being able to see out the front of the canopy because it was
completely covered with oil, threw  off my peripheral vision and
peripheral depth perception by about 5 feet.  I thought I was on the
deck at about 1 foot but I wasn't.  Then, still at a pretty high
speed, higher than I'm used to, it quit me and that right wing
dropped.  I heard it bang into the ground too and knew I'd broken it.
All I could think of is "get this fucker stopped and NOW before you
hit a rock and end up inverted and on fire."

When Tim finally mashed on what brakes he could muster we came to a
stop.  I had already popped the canopy on short final in case we had
to get the hell out fast with everything  warped in a crash.  We both
just sat there for a couple seconds, then II threw back the canopy to
get a fresh breath of air instead of oil smoke, looked over at Tim,
smiled and said, "Ah Ha...we made it <grin>. We'll live to fly another
day it looks like."  Tim got this big grin on his face and shook my
hand.  There was a C-182 overhead and I radioed him to relay to the
police helicopter that we needed no medical attention.  In a few
minutes the helicopter was there, it was 112 degrees and I was
dehydrated.  Lots of cars showed up, the press, the TV people.
Finally I got out of there and drank about three gallons of water then
went out to my RV-6, untied it and took it out for a spin.  It was
hotter than hell but I knew I had to fly and wipe the slate clean.

 I was talking about this a couple days ago to Tim's partner and found
out that he canceled all his students for the day and went home.  We
all handle crisis differently.  I needed to get my ass right back out
there, do some more rolls, a couple loops and so forth.  I buzzed the
sight too as the old German was out there in 120 degrees now, working
on taking the wings off the bird to tow it out.

All I could think of was that 40 gallons of gas in that thing.  Hell,
he had gas cans all over the place from syphoning out all that
weight...I mean fuel...the dumb shit.  I'll never forget it.  As I
flew by I saw about 15 blue 2.5 gallon plastic water containers lined
up in the desert, all full of fuel that could have barbecued me good.

Actually I'm the dumb shit.  I should have told him I refused to fly
it that morning unless he drained out some gas...but then I'd have
looked like the asshole.  There are just some days when you really
ought to stay on the damn ground....that was one of them.

Badwater Bill

Index Home About Blog