I usually don’t do a magneto check with a key. In the pistons, I fly it’s with a switch!
My day job has me flying as a Captain on a King Air 350 which I love! In my spare time, I am lucky enough to share my passion for flying with others as an Independent Flight Instructor. I instruct with my company iFLYPLANEZ out of Mason, MI and instruct Private Pilots all the way up to King Air 350 pilots. I always try to teach my students to always be learning, a favorite saying from my friend Jason Shappert at MzeroA. The day of this flight that saying really stuck with me.
At the flying club, our members are limited to the Piper Archer which is a great plane, but a few of our students are ready to challenge themselves in a Piper Arrow and Seneca.
I found a school in the area that was willing to let me use their airplanes with my students as long as I completed a checkout. Reasonable! I would make pilots and instructors do the same at my school!
I showed up on a windy day and walked out to a gorgeous Piper Arrow, new paint and a nice Garmin GTN in the panel. The other instructor and I both did separate preflights and we started the plane up. I was impressed with how smooth the engine sounded and we taxied out to the runup pad.
The panel was fairly similar to the archer I fly but the one big difference was the electrical and engine switches in the archer on the overhead vs the arrow where they are scattered under the radios. No big deal I thought, I would get used to it. I ran the power up to 2000 rpm and switched the key to the Right position on the magneto to check the drop in RPM. Normal. I then went to both then to the Left position and heard and felt a huge drop in power. A quick turn back to what I hoped was both ( Luckily I never went to the Off position, although I remember doing that when I was training, so do my students….) One more time, mag check back to Left, same drop but then I wonder am I really in both position or just the Right!? Something definitely doesn’t feel right at all (duh). We make the decision not to fly and then think, what if it’s something major besides a mag? We are at a pilot controlled field so I just shut down on the run-up ramp. We open the door and go to check if there is anything visually wrong.
Oil…. Fuel…. Interesting
This is what we saw after we shut down. We moved the plane back to see how much oil we would lose, wish you guys saw all the oil the first time!
That does not look normal!!! Let’s not restart the engine.
In the end, we lost a full quart, and we only had the engine running for 5 minutes! What would have happened if we departed?
But there is more to the story! We called maintenance and they drove down to our sad looking airplane to tow us back. First, we cleaned up all of the oil of the ground. Then we went and pulled the cowling. This is where I was blown away.
What happened to the Mag!?
What looks wrong to you?
Somehow the mag wasn’t secured properly, that’s all I know so far!
These are my questions for the readers:
- What would have happened if we departed?
- Would we have had an issue on takeoff or when we reduced the power?
- What altitude do you guys reduce to climb power and why!?
- Ever had anything similar happen to you?
- Are you following us on Facebook, here on medium or on iFLYPLANEZ.com? If not, you should, we share some cool stuff.