Engine failures

Eight forced landings in 5,000 hours flying and 40 years.

June 1980 I started to learn to fly gaining my license in December 1980. Since that time I’ve flown approx 140 types over 5,000 hours. Last week I had another forced landing.

Nr 9, YAK 11 – worst of all ! 

21st June 2018, Check flying for the new certificate of validity the engine stopped on short finals at about 150 – 200 ft. Certainly not a good position to be in. Established on final, 90 kts was the last recorded airspeed. A dribble of power was required to maintain the touch down point 170 meters in, on command this was not available. With just moments to consider options before 2 ditches, a public road and a very sturdy hedge I selected gear up. I could have landed on wheels and rolled into the ditch at 70 kts thus instantly tipping the a/c on its back on the road and likely killing myself and the owner in the back seat. 

The touch down was quite hard with the nose digging in after 11 meters. This gave a rapid de-acceleration causing my head to hit the gun sight. Blood was sprayed around the cockpit. Both myself an owner self evacuated whilst members of the public rushed from the road to help. 

The aircraft is fully repairable. Coincidentally I have nearly all the parts. 2 items will be difficult. Left flap and Spinner, I don’t have the moulds to hand for this item. Fairings are a craftsmans job. Engine mount, exhausts, inner gear doors, nose cowl ring and sundries all in stock. 

To date we have not investigated the cause. This will be done after the insurance assessor has been. 

If anyone knows of a left flap please drop me a line. 


Nr 8, Extra 330SC.

Global_stars_solo30th May 2015, 4,000ft on route from Midden Zealand (EHMZ) to Goch (EDLG) prior to the Volkel in de Wolken air show with 2 Global Stars team members in formation loosely on my wing. With the Extra 300 series of aircraft fuel in the wing tanks is not permitted for aerobatics as it breaks the end ribs of the tanks. The tanks are run dry, 0n this occasion upon switching to mains with the electric boost pump on the engine failed to pick up again. Looking around at the landing options available very few presented themselves. Crops or freshly cultivated fields all looking very small.

Very conveniently there was a nice motorway that was not too busy. Electing to land on the highway was a simple option that looked by far the best chance for a successful landing. Just one issue, the cars. One stood out in particular a white one level with me and doing about the same speed. I didn’t want to touch down just behind it and risk the driver braking so elected to dive in front. The next issue was a bridge to fly under. Exiting the bridge and lining up on the 2 lanes with a hard shoulder was quite concentrating with a wind from the left side. Crash barrier one side and road side distance markers the other was quite concentrating.Landing on Highway

Coming to a stop I was greeted by a driver who shook my hand and said well done. Quite a few cars had stopped behind me as I was blocking the road. So as not to inconvenience or have a large crowd gather round I pushed the a/c to the hard shoulder, this allowed traffic to flow again. Cars were slowing and drivers taking pictures as they passed. Strange how no one stopped to assist or find out whats going on, after all its not everyday you come across a plane on the hard shoulder ! .

I opened the fuel drain at the gascolator till fuel flowed. Primed the engine, cranked it and got a short burst of life. Trying again it started. Well as no police had turned up a gap in the traffic presented its self so looking left I pulled out from the hard shoulder, turned right and took off.

My team mates who had been in touch with Dutch Military radar control advised I was airborne again. Instructions soon emerged to land again at Seppe because the police wanted to interview me. Well, that took a good 6 hours to clear up with various statements culminating in a 800 Euro fine. The fine was for taking off which as it turned out was some several thousand Euro cheaper than the alternative the police would have insisted upon. Disassemble, lorry to an airport….

Nr7, Stampe

F-BDJP_Stampe11th September 2009 I was collecting the aircraft after maintenance by AEREC, Cannes. This was not the first occasion I had delivered to and collect the aircraft from AEREC. The aircraft flew very little time annually. Maintenance by this company was very minimal and not taken seriously, reported defects left unattended to, oil not changed, batteries not charged, brakes mal adjusted and the list goes on. On this occasion the propeller fell off, this was either due to the maintenance scheduled not being adhered to or just plain being ignored. AERAC said we don’t have to check it as the aircraft is on a permit to fly….French maintenance is reactive in my experience.

Nr6, CASA Jungmann

G-BIRI JungmannApprox July 2004 on a sales demonstration flight climbing out of EGMJ with the prospective new owner in the front seat a jolt and vibration occurred. At mid point down wind approximately 1200ft this was to be a forced landing not to be messed up, not least the fact that the a/c was not insured! Landing on 10 at Gransden was uneventful. The cause was soon found, a broken exhaust valve smashing the piston.

Nr5, Bucker Jungmiester

BU133-JungmiesterApproximately 1988. This was a first flight after import from USA. Taking off from EGMJ runway 28 at approx 50 ft the engine wound down.  A straight ahead landing in standing crop resulted in the a/c turning over. Quite a bit of damage resulted. The cause being a direct fuel pressure type of carburetor causing the engine to run very rich

Nr4,Cassut racer

G-BOMB_CassuttG-BOMB, This was a first flight after build or rebuild. Flight from Meppershal in the locality of Old Warden oil pressure was last seen dropping thru 5psi. Setting course back to Meppershal at 1000ft on reduced power. Very apparent was the fact that a forced landing in crops about ready to harvest would have ended messily. I was on the point of jumping. With just Stotfold village to pass to get to the airfield. Luckily the engine provided extended glide power and only stopping at about 50 ft with a good landing made. The first landing in a Cassutt for me.

Nr3, Microlite Vector

VectorWell this one was my own silly fault, I was enjoying the a/c so much I ran out of fuel! Belonging to a friend of mine he said take it and fly. I’m not sure how long I was airborne but when I saw the bubbles going along the fuel pipe I knew it was not long before a landing.



Nr2, CASA Jungmann

Jungmann G-BHPLapprox 1983 at 800 feet over the power switching grids south west of st Neots, a jolt and massive vibration. Knowing there was a grass runway some few miles away I headed west, with height reducing all the time I lined up only to see the sheep starting to run in all directions. A right turn and head to Staughton airfield for the hard runway, approaching at 50ft with a 90′ turn to make and immediately landing. The problem being a broken valve and smashed piston.

Nr1, Tipsy Nipper

The owner had been having difficulty hand propping on his own, so I sat in cockpit while he swung it. The engine started and he said go fly it, I asked stall speed, put the straps on and took off. Unbeknown to me he had turned the fuel off…. on climb out the engine stopped. My PPL training instructor the late Norman Whisler said “never stretch a glide to go over wires” This was my first engine out and first occasion to fly under wires. Lesson, don’t be in a rush and do the full check list, not just stall speed !!!



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