Monday, November 10, 2008

Trouble happens in Threes!

In my life, the number 3 has been rather mystical, because everytime something goes wrong, two other things always follow. This sunday was certainly no exception. All pilots seem to experience glitches or other problems eventually in their flights, and I'd already had my share. This one, though, got my nerves frayed.

The DA-20 was still out of service, so we'd go up in the good 'ol DA-40. Although, as the day went on, I had a few "new" names I gave her, non of which should be repeated. I get out to preflight her, and the first thing I usually check is the fuel level. I saw the left wing at 30%, and the right near FULL.... urgh. I love it when people forget to alternate the tanks to keep the plane evenly balanced. Still I had 25gal of fuel, so I didn't worry about getting the left wing capped off. The pre-flight went well otherwise, and with Maggie situated in the front seat, she roared to life.

Everything came up fine, and I made my radio comm check. No one responded. Hmm ok, well it's a sunday and I don't see anyone around. Volume was set ok, and I could hear ATIS and Maggie just fine. So I continued and made my way to the runway. I had completed my runup and everything continued to appear ok. I checked for traffic and announced my departure. I began past the hold line upon which has another 100y until it turns left to the rwy. Just then my eyes spot a jet just turning final! OMG! I put on the brakes, and radio "Pitt-Greenville Traffic, Diamond 537MA has final traffic in sight, state your intentions..." Now I realize what a stupid thing to ask, as they obviously intend to land. I'm out of the way, and just hold as I wait for a response...nada, nothing at all comes through the headphones. Strike ONE, I KNEW they must be making announcments on the comm, and the fault must be on my end. I turn around and head back to the FBO. I was in shock that I came close to causing a runway incursion, and mad that I hadn't been more diligent testing the comms. On the way back, I was checking fuses, volume/squelch knobs, etc... still I heard no one.

As I parked and shut her down, I decided to check comm2, which I used to get ATIS earlier. I called out and Hallelujah, someone answered! I thanked her much, and mentioned I must have a Comm1 failure. With that Comm verified, I started her back up and taxied back to the runway. I should have ended the flight right there, KNOWING inside, problems come in threes!

We'd just turned to my calculated heading, when I activated the GPS to Tarboro. Strike 2 -Nothing happened...the lovely pink line that usually appears, with heading and distance information failed to come up. Again I had to remind myself "fly the airplane first" instead of spending too much time inside trying to troubleshoot. I hit the alerts button which told me "GPS receiver not detecting GPS signal" Ok, ok fine, I'll just use pilotage, and followed my way points, and constantly verified my position on the sectional. It ended up being more fun that way, that is, if my nerves werent already getting fried.

We reach Tarboro (ECT) and I'm high on final, no problem as I slip on down. I found the narrow runway affected my visual height perception a little, and the landing was hard but didn't bounce. Dang...Looks like nothing is going right today.

As we back taxi and take off, suddenly the PFD is flashing a big red "X" in place of the attitude indicator. Strike 3! Again, I noticed I was paying to much attention to it, trying to figure out what was going on. I forced my head back outside and continued to fly the airplane. As I did, the attitude indicator came back up. THAT's it! I'm ignoring the PFD, using my back ups, and heading back immediatly to PGV. In reality, I should've not flown at all, knowing my luck. Still, the aircraft still flew fine, flaps worked ok, etc... It's just the G1000 that was going nuts today. It was almost like being in a sim, where these things were programmed to fail on you.

Back near PGV, the CRJ that landed when I had comm problems, was now taxxing out. In attempt to ease what happened earlier, I told them I'd extend downwind etc, so they could clear the area before I land. They crossed the runway, and I was then clear to set up for final. My last landing of the day, I flared to soon to high off the ground... I'll chock it up to my nerves and landing at narrower fields all day in which I flared to late. Still a hard but no bounce landing. I quickly taxi back to the FBO, and shut her down.

For the first time in a while, I was happy to be out of the airplane. I was furious at the airplane, and myself for continuing on. Though the actual flight was never in jeopardy, my nerves and therefor ability as a pilot, were critical. I was frazzled and should've just sat this one out. I'm gonna head back over there today (Monday) and see what the heck was wrong...was it something I did wrong, or was the equipment just going haywire!?

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