Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flying A J-3 Can Be Loads Of Fun, But Once In A While Things Can Go Wrong....

Private HB-OCU aircraft at AmbriPreparing for writing the next blog is an interesting task (most of the time). Lately I have been made aware of so many accidents related either to the take-off or landing phases of flight, that I started to read about the landing and take-off processes.* This a wonderfully written article, with many superb illustrations, both diagrammatic and photographic. Not only are details of the various types of gear given, but also the problems related to the take-off and landing processes and their relationship to the landing gear.

The illustrations are just fabulous. Details of the simplest brake systems, with just one disc rotor to multiple disc systems used on large aircraft. Discussions include complicated things as anti-skid systems for airliners, not something a small plane pilot need worry about. But what is valuable is the discussion  of the testing of brakes and brake systems for small and large planes. This includes  checking  brake fluid and the subsequent addition of fluid if more is needed. The replacement of brake linings is covered, as well as brake adjustment.

Finally, tires are fully discussed. This includes the various types, as well as inflation procedures and pressures. Complete assessment of aircraft tires is covered as well as “how to do it”. This includes tire inflation, tread inspections and repairs if needed. The article ends with how to protect your airplanes tires during taxiing, take-off and landing.

In summary:  This article is excellent reading for any pilot, but especially for those doing some of their own maintenance

This all brings to mind an incident from years ago when I was happily and nonchalantly flying around the Boston area in an old J-3 Cub. The weather was warm and the side window flaps were up, offering the best visibility of everything out there and wonderful “air conditioning”. As I had been flying for about an hour, and the fuel dip stick was getting low, I decided to head back to Tew- Mac field, North of Boston. (This airfield has since been closed.)  As I was looking down at something of interest on the ground, three hundred feet below, I happened to see something funny on the top of the right tire. There seemed to be a cut in the tire, which looked like a small flap of rubber.  Oh-oh I said to myself and decided that the landing had better be gentle. A blow out would not be fun, and would probably lead to an unplanned 360 degree turn and possible roll over. I decided to land as gently as possible on the right main and hope for the best. Well, happily it turned out fine. The tire didn’t go flat and was replaced.

So, pay attention to your landing gear and all associated systems.  Do this both in pre-flight and post-flight. If you can do so while in flight, so much the better. Have fun up there, but do look around.