34 - Why go Flying with an Unserviceable Aeroplane?

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Hello again Folks,

I have set some really bad examples recently, mostly because of a lack of the required high level of attention and care on my part while flying.

Luckily not everyone in our club is as bad, and I wanted to share with you a small incident I witnessed that demonstrated precisely the high level of responsibility and maturity we should all be aiming for.

It was our annual Flying Sunday. Bright and sleek aeroplanes filled the sky, and the atmosphere was electric with enthusiasm. Almost every pilot in the club flew on that day, although some members were busy organizing and coordinating events on the ground.

Towards the end of the day, one of those hard-working volunteers rightly decided he deserved to go flying too. He taxied out for a brief aerobatic sortie to release the accumulated stresses and tensions of what had been for him a hard day at the end of several intense weeks of preparation.

Imagine this bloke's frustration when, as he did his magneto check, he got a slight rev drop. He did all the usual things to try and clear it, but was still stuck with a small rev drop of about 200 rpm - a little bit more than the published limit.

Some other club members might have ignored this. After all, there is still the other magneto, it was a truly beautiful day, and goodness knows, of all people, this guy deserved to go flying.

I am very pleased to say that, despite his very obvious disappointment, this chap taxied back to his hangar, shut down and forgot the idea of flying. After extensive investigation, the problem turned out to be a small one, and fairly easily fixed (although not on that day).

I could recount half-a-dozen instances when our members have ignored both established wisdom and simple common sense in their enthusiasm to go flying and subsequently regretted it. We have had accidents caused by merely running out of fuel, ignition problems, fuel supply problems, mechanical problems and a whole host of other causes where there was ample evidence before flight that it was a better idea to stay on the ground and try to find the source of the trouble and fix it rather than go flying.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to misguided enthusiasm or simple impatience several Serpentine aeroplanes have been broken over the years. Very luckily, only a few of our members have been badly hurt so far, but it is only a matter of time before that happens.

I will try to guard against over-enthusiasm myself. Perhaps other members will heed the warning. If you are not certain your aircraft is fully serviceable, don't fly it. Flying can be demanding enough without attempting it in an under-performing aeroplane.

Remember, it is ALWAYS better to be on the ground wishing you were up in the sky than the other way around.

Stay Safe. Yours,

Bob "Bob the Grim" Grimstead
SABC Safety