Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The time the attitude indicator failed, twice

The time the attitude indicator failed, twice.

It was a cool morning with fog in the valleys but clear on top. Time for lesson four in the instrument training syllabus. After a thorough pre-flight inspection it was time to depart, by the time we reached the run-up pad all the instruments were checked and reading correctly. Although winds are light from the south east at the Beaver Valley airport they are still using the preferred runway 28. Decreased performance on the runway if any was not noticeable.

On climb-out I noticed a peculiar thing. The attitude indicator was read very nose high with a left bank of approximately 20 degrees. A blind man could see out the window that the wings were level and the nose was not more than 10 degrees above the horizon. We had a problem on our hands. Is it a vacuum failure? Well not exactly, the directional gyro was working flawlessly. Could it possibly be that the gyro was slowly getting up to operating speed? That sounds a bit silly considering the amount of time between engine start and takeoff. Trying the alternate vacuum source did not correct the problem either. This would be a complete flight under partial panel conditions.

Practicing slow-flight, stalls and unusual attitude recoveries without the artificial horizon is a bit more complicating than you might think. Take the VSI for example although it can give some pitch information, you need to be ahead of it if you want to stop the nose from coming down too far starting a descent when all you wanted to do in the first place was stop a serious climb.

After chasing the wild bull er.. airplane throughout the wild blue yonder, some time was dedicated to VOR and NDB tracking. Jeremy gave me a crash course on the Garmin GNS 430, surprisingly it is not much different from its big brother the G1000. Thus concluded flight number 4.

It would be safe to assume that on the next flight two days later the attitude indicator would work, but lo, the ground checks showed all instruments reading correctly however on climb-out, you guessed it, the attitude indicator was reading erroneously. For now N266ND is out on maintenance and I'll be flying N273ND for my next flight.

Until next time,
Blue skies and tail-winds,
Malki Zee

Takeoff in N266ND beginning Flight #5
Testing different video angles and waiting for the correct cables to capture the audio.