A little hot under the cowling!

There are a few words in aviation that will strike fear into ones heart. For a new instrument pilot it may be the dreaded call from ATC advising of a reroute, advise when ready to copy.

A little further up the scale might be hearing ATC to ask if your ready to copy a phone number is another.

At the top of the list however is one single word, FIRE!

In all my years of flying I have not had an engine fire. This all changed recently.

I have had my share of hair raising moments and one emergency, but fire was never involved.

I know we’ve all read the staring checklist that includes the section if an engine fire occurs to keep cranking until the engine starts and run it for a minute or so and then shutdown to inspect.

The other line that makes me chuckle is to “Have ground attendants obtain a fire extinguisher” I always wondered exactly how I would get a ground attendant to do that in the time constrained event of a fire and the fact we don’t have ground personnel around during GA activities.

What was that sound?

So on a recent lesson starting the Cessna 152 we went thru the starting checklist as usual, turned the key to start and after a few turns of the prop it didn’t  start. Hmm, okay, waited a second, turn it again and pumped the throttle once as we cranked and on the 2nd or 3rd revolution we heard a “POP”

I wonder what that was? This is when it got interesting. Thankfully another club instructor had just returned and was parking the plane immediately to our right. I heard a voice yell something and he’s pointing at my plane. Did he just yell FIRE? Yup, he did and he repeated it “FIRE!”  and added “Keep cranking!”

Getting ready to run

Granted, me and the student almost bailed on the plane and had the doors open, but the training kicked in and I reached over and turned the key and kept cranking until it started up. All the while the other CFI is looking all around the cowling and the front of the plane very intently.

After a minute I get the kill signal and shutdown to inspect and talk about it. He said a flame shot out of the bottom about a foot long and then when it started it got sucked back up, so we gather it was coming out of the carburetor and not the exhaust pipe.

Whew, averted something serious and we locked the plane up and went inside to report it to the chief pilot to get it looked at to make sure nothing was damaged that caused it and to inspect for any damage before returning it to service.

All is well

I got the call the next day that nothing was damaged and the consensus was we over primed it and fuel had run down back through the carburetor and when it did start or backfired, it ignited the fuel in the induction system and blew out the bottom as it’s an updraft carburetor.

My lesson learned is to listen for that “pop” during the start, it didn’t sound like an explosion and we never saw smoke or fire. So had we not had that second set of eyes on us the outcome may have been different. Knowing the normal sounds of startup is important as it is in the abnormal sounds that we need to really pay attention to.

Fly safe and keep learning!

Ron Klutts CFI

First Flight

I’ve started this blog to share stories of my Right Seat Flying as a new CFI. I hope it is useful to a wide range of pilots as I now learn from my students as I attempt to teach them about aviation and becoming a pilot themselves.

So let’s give it a shot of primer, Beacon on, clear PROP, Master ON, START!

I have a confession to make

Learning to fly is hard work. I know this now as a new CFI. It’s often said that if you want to learn something then try and teach it. Over a 4 week period I earned my CFI rating and it was hard work. The trick was taking what I knew how to do and try and teach it. Whether it was a ground lesson or in the air, trying to explain all the elements that encapsulate a maneuver was tough to grasp and explain concisely.

However I loved the challenge and took all the criticism my CFI offered as it was positive and made me better. It was humbling at times to realize how little I knew technically about a maneuver and needing to be corrected. But I took the criticism in stride and incorporated it into my teaching style.

My desire is to be a great CFI and not just a time builder. I have no intention of going to the airlines, so I’m not  a time building CFI. I’m doing this because I love to fly and I want to share the passion I have for aviation with others. I hope this is evident in the way I teach, but my students will be the judge of that.

First Student

I’m fortunate in that I have one student that has started on his journey to be a pilot as we had his first lesson on July 23, 2011. He is also coming with me to Oshkosh for the annual EAA Convention. His enthusiasm is contagious and is pushing me to be the best instructor I can be. I have an obligation to him and any that follow to rise to the challenge and provide great instruction.

Peter on the ground with the mighty Cessna 152.

I know I’m not going to the airlines and that’s ok, I gave up that dream a long time ago. I have a great day job that helps to pay the bills. I’m doing this for the sheer fun of it. At this point I have taught a grand total of 2.2 hours encompassing the first lesson of a new student and a demo flight for a potential 2nd student.

Here’s a pic I took of Peter in the air during his FIRST lesson. He said something profound but simple that will stick with me for a LONG time. He said, “I can’t believe I waited so LONG to learn to fly!”

Peter's first flight

Peter as a happy student

It has been his desire to learn for many years and his circumstances are such that now he has the right combination of time and money to peruse his dreams. He did a great job at his first lesson and I look forward to many more lessons to share what I know to make him a safe and competent pilot.

Lessons learned

I hope to share a few things that I continue to learn as a new CFI with all of you and we all can continue to learn together and make flying fun. I have to be honest and say I’m not sure what direction this blog will take so at the moment I’m just excited to  share our experiences and hope it proves insightful or educational. I never know what little tidbit that may be insignificant to us may be helpful to others.

So please provide any feedback or suggestions you may have.

Thanks for stopping by,

Ron Klutts CFI