Current, or proficient, which one?

by Sam Swift

With the fall flying season rapidly approaching the cooler temperatures give us less of an excuse to not pull the Swift out of the hangar. This month's topic is intended to get us back to proficiency with questions designed to make you think. While you might be current, you might not be proficient. Here we go.....

So it's a nice afternoon at 2,500' AGL, the outside air temp is perfect, the engine humming along nicely, listening to the music piped into our ANR headset. Life is good, you're thinking about your next pay raise you're about to get and BAM! CRUNCH!! The prop is vibrating and the instruments are a shaking blur. Now, in the back of your head you know that you probably only have a couple of minutes before you're on the ground. What actions are you going to do in those 2 or 3 minutes?

What is the nature of the emergency? Are you flight controls ok? Is it something you can fix? Ok, I guess not, there's 10-15 seconds gone trying to figure that out. Now what? Oh yeah, best glide speed! Crap! What is my best glide speed? [ok, rough numbers to experiment with...stock Swift try 75-80 mph clean, or heavy Swift 80-90 mph clean] While looking out for a spot to land, don't forget 121.5 mHz (or local ATC freq if you know one) to give someone an idea to start heading your direction. Do you have a constant-speed prop? If you have a bit of oil pressure you can actually get some pitch. (yes, it does really work to reduce drag...try it) What do I do now? Ok, lets do some problem solving now that we assume we are making an off-airport landing. Fuel, am I on AUX tanks, or run out of gas? Most likely not, if you're a vibrating mess, probably something internal (valve, piston, etc.) or catastrophic. Oh well, not your day. I guess I'm actually gonna have to dump this thing! How do I hit the terrain? Geez, what is the terrain? Freshly plowed field? Road with power lines? Trees? Sloping rocky area (remember Steve Fossett?) Do I land flaps-up, or flaps-down? Gear-up or gear-down? Gear-up sure would extend the glide, but gear-down would keep the damage to the belly to a minimum. Who cares about the belly? That's what insurance is for, plus it sure would help the Swift Museum if we ordered some parts! Oh yeah, I had better unlock the hatch/canopy, I don't want that getting jammed if I hit hard, or worse-yet, nose over. Hey I can actually use that new SPOT that I got for Christmas, just need to activate it. Do I even know how to manually activate my SPOT, PLB, or ELT? I should have thought about that months ago! OK, closer to the ground now and all electrical items (BATTERY OFF) as I don't want to encourage any random sparks. Man, this is gonna ruin that fresh polish job I just did a couple of weeks ago...

Ok, back to reality now...what would you have done? In the amount of time it took you to read and think about some of these questions, you would have already been on the ground, for better or worse! These occurrences happen on a daily basis; was everyone as prepared as they could have been?

The solution is that you need to think out some of these scenarios during those flights where everything is going along so well before the big event actually does happen.