I had my first wake up call yesterday when I lost most of my avionics shortly after takeoff. I have never ever had any kind of problem flying before and I thought I would detail my experience as it may be interesting to some especially in light of the recent crashes.
Yesterday, Super Bowl Sunday, I departed Ocean Springs Airport (5R2) near Biloxi with my wife and another couple in route to Columbus, Ga. (Small airport, convenient to Casinos, nice folks, I recommend highly).
I climbed to 3000 ft VFR and called Mobile Approach to pick up my IFR Clearence. I had just received my Clearance and was getting ready to start my climb into IMC and the Mobile Class C airspace when my MFD, #2 Garmin, Transponder and a few other instruments went out without warning.
The controller called about the same time and said to recycle the transponder. So, I was trying to figure out what was going on, noticed one circuit breaker popped out and pushed it back in. Nothing happened, so my instinct told me I did not want to fly the plane like that. I called approach and told him I had lost most of my avionics and would like to turn around and land at the airport I just passed. I asked for a vector and landed (no flaps) at Trent Lott International without a problem.
I thought I had probably lost an alternator. The plane did what it was suppose to, I think, because I still had my number 1 radio. However that #1 Garmin looks real small when you are use to looking at that big MFD all the time. The only other observation after I landed was after I shut down I turned Batt 1 and 2 back on and my prop started turning which I new wasn’t right.
Not many folks around on Super Bowl Sunday. I didn’t have any phone numbers so I got on the Internet at the FBO and logged into the COPA site to ask someone for help. I got a call on my cell phone almost immediately from Mike Radomsky who was a great help in diagnosing the problem and getting Cirrus on the phone for me so I could determine what to do. Mike, if you are listening, thank you so much for your help. I had a few more calls to help which I do appreciate. Cirrus suggested I leave the plane as it would probably take several days to get done. We rented a car and drove home (Long drive and yes I still hate driving).
I talked to a very capable Mechanic this morning who was going to call the Cirrus contact I had talked with. I feel like I left the plane in capable hands.
Now the Wake up call part and some observations:
I have about 55 hours in the Cirrus. I am a fair weather instrument rated pilot with 570 hours. I don’t fly at night (interferes with cocktail hour). I know my limitations and I don’t make it hard on myself to fly in all kinds of weather, therefore, I don’t get a lot of actual IMC flying. I pass through cloud layers from time to time and do an occasional ILS approach and that is about all the practice I get.
My experience yesterday that was really wasn’t an emergency made me realize I really haven’t given emergency situations enough thought. What if I had lost all those instruments just after takeoff in IMC. What would I have done? Was I ready for that situation? I frankly didn’t have confidence in the instruments that were seeming still working. How would I react to that?
I feel I would just act on instinct and not much else. All of a sudden I have a lot of questions that aren’t common knowledge to me like who are my going to call? what if there is no mechanic where I land? Do I land at that small airport anyway where there is probably no one to help? Does Cirrus have a traveling Mechanic to fix my plane? Do I leave my plane? Just a lot of questions that was not in my training at Cirrus or all of the reading materials.
I am registered to attend the Cirrus Training in Sarasota next month and I am now very glad I decided to do it and look forward to it. I have a lot of questions.
I have read over all the manuals a couple of times and now wish there was a little extra available in addition to the Cirrus and COPA training like some specific Cirrus training on video or DVD that utilizes an instrument panel and a trainer to covers these emergencies, what some of the problems are that have occurred with these aircraft and how the plane will react and so on. This would be fairly inexpensive. Cirrus ought to pay for it but if they didn’t I would gladly pay COPA or whomever for such presentations. Looking at the Insurance cost, a $100 for a quality tape or two is nothing. Maybe COPA could just record parts of the proficiency training. I will sit down and watch a video at my convenience and I think it would go a long way to improve my instincts. Thanks. Hope this wasn’t to long and boring.