Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


Oscar and I Frighten the Golfers

July 14, 1978

My FBO's flight school kept a Piper PA-23 Apache for multi-engine training. Fortunately, most of the multi-engine students were on the GI Bill, which paid for multi-engine training in the PA-23 Aztec. The Aztec is quite a capable airplane for pretty much anything you want to do with it. Not so its stunted and underpowered predecessor, the four-seat 150-hp Apache. Which flies about as well as it looks (photo below) - pretty much like a fat little dumpling wafting along in the breeze. Any YouTuber posting a video about how well it flies on one engine is pulling your leg. As the only multi-engine instructor, I was cursed with giving dual in the Apache for the "budget-minded" multi-engine students. Which included our lineman, Oscar C., for whom I was doing the usual fellow employee thing of waiving my flight instruction fee.

On the day logged above, Oscar and I were going to do some single-engine drills as final check-ride prep. One of which simulates losing an engine shortly after takeoff. Knowing how well the Apache flies on one, I wait until the gear is up and speed exceeds blue line. Then I pull one of the mixtures to simulate a sudden engine failure (hiding both mixtures with a handy clipboard). Oscar's required responses are proper rudder and aileron inputs, proper identification of the failed engine, proper simulation of feathering and shutdown of the failed engine, and all the while maintaining control of heading and airspeed. My reaction to a properly completed drill is to simulate a feathered and shutdown engine by reintroducing mixture and adjusting engine power to zero thrust.

At least it was supposed to be zero thrust, as per the aircraft manual. But we're talking about a tired, ratty old airplane that probably isn't putting out a full 150 hp when it's wide open. And it was a warm day and the tanks might have been full. In any case, with one engine at takeoff power and the other engine supposedly at zero thrust, we're still descending. Off the end of the main runway from which we depared there's an interstate highway. On the other side of the highway, there's a golf course. So here we are over the golf course, at about 400 feet AGL and descending, golfers below looking up in astonishment, some looking around for best routes to run away from an impending crash landing, me looking around for a nice long fairway clear of golfers (just in case), and Oscar mostly just looking befuddled. So I announced an end to the drill, restored power to the "failed" engine, which it fortunately came back in with its best attempted Mighty Mouse roar (as it always did), and then the airplane was climbing again.

Yes, I did recommend Oscar, and he did pass his check ride. He didn't mention if the examiner pulled an engine on takeoff or not.



References for Non-Pilots: