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And then…. the fan stopped.

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Alternatively titled ‘The insidiousness of vibration’.

On the field yesterday waiting for the wind to become calm, I knew it would be a short flight but any flight is good.

Got off on the second attempt as the first sent me into the rough so I aborted. Only the ‘runway’ areas of the microlight field are kept reasonably short. Climbed to about 700 feet and had a potter around for 15 minutes then circled back to the field and did a pass over at about 30 feet. No problems, comfortable in the harness, throttle and motor all performing as expected.

I circled round again at I guess about 300 feet, brakes still in hand preparing for a landing this time. Got onto finals and reduced power to start losing some height and the engine stopped. WTF? OK I’m not too low so tried restarting, 3 good pulls on the starter, nothing :shock:

It’s now at the interesting stage so I pulled the trimmers down to give me the best glide angle and had a good look at what was below. The fields around the microlight strip are not the huge fields of northern France that seem to go on forever and they do have a smattering of mature trees in them.

I was about 2 fields away from the LZ and judging the glide angle I could possibly make the second one. Between the two was a track with a fence on either side. Just inside the second field were 2 trees with a decent gap between them so at least I knew the direction I wanted to head for :?

I’m loosing height now and this glide path appears to be heading straight for the second fence so I pulled a bit of brake to try and get a bit of lift. Let off the brakes so I’m not getting too close to the stall, then brake, release, brake, release, I’m getting awfully close to the fence. Huge pull on the brakes and an abrupt stop at the base of the fence, bit of a hard landing that I thought.

It’s great when you can run off the last bit of forward motion but I didn’t quite have that option this time. I clouted the bottom of the cage on the bank but I’ve managed to straighten that now.

I was in no position to control the wing, which flew over the top of the fence but fortunately drifted back and landed on the track. I gave it a good inspection today and fortunately no damage.

I found out why the motor died, spot the broken wire. It seemed very coincidental that it failed just as I throttled down. Caused by vibration and the fact that I had cable tied the connecting piece to the brown wire.

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I think it is always a good idea to be ready for an engine fail at any time but know when i accidentally hit the kill switch with my bulky glove i sh1t my self.

Well done for keeping your cool and landing in one piece. As flying doc said any landing you walk away from is a good landing!!! :explode:

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Hi Alan

That's an interesting read. Thanks for posting it.

I'd guess that that wire would have been pretty close to breaking point before the flight.

The main lesson that I will take away from your experience is the extent of the preflight checks that need to be done, especially things that will turn your two stroke into a no stroke :D

It really is a good thing when real situations that you walk away from occur, because a) we all get to learn from them and b) It heightens your awareness to the possible consequences of what we are doing. The more reliable our kit becomes, the more complacent we tend to get.

Nice one Alan, glad your safe.


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Well done for not harming yourself and providing an opportunity for everyone to learn.

Engine off

Spot landing practice is the answer.

It vexes me that I always forget to do this. when on a usual flying day place a big marker in yr field cut your engine and from height try and land exactly in that spot.

I believe the sharpish S-bends on approach will loose you height fast if needed, still allowing you to land on a spot.

you did well to remember the trimmers that makes a big difference, 300 foot is not very long to establish a circuit and landing.

but I just want to relay a small story about bikers fixated on corners to illustrate the problem.

Scott and Justin two GSXR rider friends of mine on a trackday / tour of France, they were following a bird on a bike quite close going round a corner.

The lady in question went straight on through a farmers field on the other side of the road, as she could not make the corner at about 50 mph.

swiftly followed by Scott and Justin, straight on top of her.

rather than go round the corner they just followed her crash, fixated on her bottom. way to go!

quite funny I thought, especially as they had it on video!!

go well


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Thanks for the comments chaps. I'm more than happy to post on here so we can all learn from one another.

For me the lessons learnt are

1. Don't fixate on the first landing plan, reassess all the way down.

2. Improve the service technique. The motor has done 53 hours and I feel I should have found the weak wire at the 50 hour service by tugging on the wiring, not just checking the terminal was tight.

Lesson reinforced

Always fly defensively, above landable terrain or within safe glide distance of :)



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