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Old 05-19-2021, 01:24 PM
Ed_Wischmeyer's Avatar
Ed_Wischmeyer Ed_Wischmeyer is online now
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,652
Default What's been your biggest preflight surprise?

1. Yesterday was the first flight after a month-long condition inspection. It was great to be in the RV-9A again, to refresh the memory on the avioncis and instrument procedures, etc. The interior had been cleaned, I was glad to be in the air.

This morning was to be an Instrument Proficiency Check in preparation for a ten day trip one state shy of coast to coast, and of course, I did a preflight. Hey, everything was fine yesterday, but let's do the preflight, just because.

Hmm, the right wheel pant is almost touching the hangar floor. Low rider? Nope, just one very flat tire, probably a leaking inner tube. Fortunately the plane wasn't resting on the wheel pant. And if the tire went down that much overnight, probably don't want to fly the plane today.

The tube gets replaced tomorrow.

2. With surgery scheduled for the next day, I wanted to get one more flight in. I knew the Cessna was in great shape, and I just wanted to get in the air. So, yeah, I took out the control lock and did the preflight. When I raised the right elevator by hand, the left elevator stayed down. What the... ??? Then I noticed that the skin on the stabilizer was torn where the elevator had deflected way, way up. Turns out that winds were gusting to 74 knots right up the rear of the Cessna, and rivets had sheared where the elevators connected to the actuator in the tail cone. There was also rudder and aileron damage when I looked closely...

3. Was out waterskiing and saw a fog bank rolling in. Went in, packed in a hurry, got to the Cessna 210 and the oil dipstick was completely dry. What? No oil on the belly, so...?? Turns out that there's a valve somewhere in the engine that had stuck and the oil was hiding in different parts of the engine. The mechanic said that the airplane was safe to fly, but by then the fog bank was all over the airport. And laughing at me.

4. Was taking a real cutie for a flight in a Great Lakes biplane. Because it's cold at altitude, she was dressed warmly in the 90 weather as I helped her with parachute, seat belt and harness, etc. Then I put on my parka, climbed into the back, struggled into my chute and harness. Controls free? Check. Brakes? CLUNK! Brake pedal went straight to the floor on the right side. She did believe me, but it would have been much more fun to go upside down.

So what have been your biggest pre-flight surprises?
RV-9A at KSAV (Savannah, GA; dual G3X Touch with autopilot, GTN650, GTX330ES, GDL52 ADSB-In)
Previously RV-4, RV-8, RV-8A, AirCam, Cessna 175
ATP CFII PhD, so I have no excuses when I screw up
Vaccines kept me out of the hospital but COVID still cost me a month of living, all told...
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:42 PM
scsmith scsmith is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Ashland, OR
Posts: 3,085

There was a new Schweizer 1-36 at the gliderport, and it had only flown a few times. I got a quick cockpit checkout, and was going to go up on the ridge. I felt some slop in the aileron linkage when I moved the controls, so I pulled the seatback forward and looked in at the aileron pushrod connections to the bell crank.

At the pushrod connection coming up to the bell crank from below, the castellated nut was off and resting on top of the wheel well, and the washer was dangling on the last thread of the bolt.

I went into the shop and got a cotter pin, put the nut on, inserted the cotter pin, and got ready to go fly.

The real kicker? The slop in the controls had nothing to do with the nearly disconnected aileron link. It was just the normal control play for that glider. Had I been more familiar with the glider, I would have dismissed it as normal and gone flying without having inspected that connection.

When the little voice at my shoulder whispers in my ear, I do my best to listen.
Steve Smith
Aeronautical Engineer
RV-8 N825RV
IO-360 A1A
WW 200RV
"The Magic Carpet" Flying since Sept. 2009
Hobbs 700
1/4 share in 1959 C-182B (tow plane)
LS6-15/18W sailplane SOLD
bought my old LS6-A back!!
VAF donation Dec 2021
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:49 PM
scsmith scsmith is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Ashland, OR
Posts: 3,085

I co-owned a Citabria that also worked as a tow plane at the glider port, so it flew several days a week. One weekend I came out to go do some aerobatics, and I noticed a little bit of oil on the ground under the cowl opening. That seemed unusual to me, so I pulled the top cowl off and looked things over.

I traced some fresh-looking oil stains up to the fitting on the crankcase where the line for the oil pressure gauge connects. I grabbed the fitting and B nut to see if everything was tight, and the fitting broke off in my hand. There had been a crack at the root of the pipe threads that had been leaking a little as the crack grew around the circumference of the fitting. It was almost completely cracked through when I grabbed it.

I went into the shop and got a replacement fitting - the one with the small restricted hole, installed the new fitting, put the cowl on, and went flying.

Had I been less familiar with the airplane, I might have assumed that the little oil drip on the ground was normal and dismissed it. It was only because I was familiar enough with the airplane to know that was unusual that I inspected further.

When the little voice at my shoulder whispers in my ear, I do my best to listen.
Steve Smith
Aeronautical Engineer
RV-8 N825RV
IO-360 A1A
WW 200RV
"The Magic Carpet" Flying since Sept. 2009
Hobbs 700
1/4 share in 1959 C-182B (tow plane)
LS6-15/18W sailplane SOLD
bought my old LS6-A back!!
VAF donation Dec 2021
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Old 05-19-2021, 02:16 PM
airguy's Avatar
airguy airguy is online now
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Garden City, Tx
Posts: 5,842

I've encountered the flat tire a couple of times, once just last week.

I was all loaded up to depart for Oshkosh a couple years ago and as I reached for the starter, I automatically applied brakes, and the right pedal went to the floor.

Just before my last annual I fueled up to take a local flight, and as I was doing my final walk-around there was a growing puddle of fuel draining down the right gear leg and on the ground.

More of us than will admit it have gotten in the airplane and reached for the master only to realize it's already on, and the battery is dead.

How many will admit to being belted in, cranked and ready to taxi only to realize the chocks were still in place? I've never EVER done that - as far as any of you guys know.
Greg Niehues - SEL, IFR, Repairman Cert.
Garden City, TX VAF 2022 dues paid
N16GN flying 1,000 hrs and counting on 91E10; IO360, SDS, WWRV200, Dynon HDX, IFD440, G5
Built an off-plan RV9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
Pending Repeat Offender - 10 kit is on order. TDI? Turbine? Stay tuned!
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Old 05-19-2021, 03:57 PM
erich weaver's Avatar
erich weaver erich weaver is online now
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: santa barbara, CA
Posts: 1,802

Nothing more embarrassing than taxiing over to the fuel pump, getting out, and finding the tow bar still attached to the nose wheel. Happened to a guy I know....
and resulted in a new rule: if the tow bar is attached to the plane, my hand is attached to the tow bar.
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:24 PM
Dantilla Dantilla is offline
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: N Idaho!
Posts: 57

When sumping the tanks under the wing of the Bonanza, I always take a glance at the gear/wheel well.

Hmmm.... I don't think this cable end is supposed to be dangling here, connected to nothing.
Uplock release cable.
Gear would have retracted just fine, but then stay retracted no matter what I did from the left seat.
RV-7 in progress.
Ready for first flight:
___ This week
___ This month
___ This year
_X_ This century
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Old 05-19-2021, 07:01 PM
n82rb's Avatar
n82rb n82rb is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: fort myers fl
Posts: 1,136

flew out for pancakes one morning, had breakfast, hopped back in the plane and the left rudder pedal went to the stop and the right was just fine. climbed out and looked down and the cotter pin for the pin holding the cable to the rudder petal was laying in the footwell in two pieces, the pin and the washer were laying right next to it. put it back together with a new cotter pin and went home. those cotter pins get a lot more inspection now. thank god it didn't let loose before landing.

bob burns
RV-4 N82RB
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Old 05-19-2021, 08:27 PM
Rallylancer122 Rallylancer122 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Oconto, WI
Posts: 307

I was pulling the prop through on my Dad's RV8 when I heard a faint rattling from inside the spinner. Pulled the spinner and found a handful of plastic debris. Turns out the spinner used a plastic centering ring that slipped over the prop dome. It had gotten old and brittle, and disintegrated.

(Note: I realize that pulling the prop through is controversial. I will not advocate one way or another. I learned to fly in a J3, followed by about 400 hours of radial engine time, so my formative years involved a lot of prop handling. I've been properly trained, and am comfortable doing this. If you are not, don't! I know 2 people that have had engines start on them.)

At work one of our test pilots taught me the "whack test" when preflighting the horizontal stabilizers on our helicopters. He would have me give a gentle whack to the bottom of the stab and note the vibration. I asked him what I should be looking for, and he responded, "You'll know it's wrong when you see it." I did this religiously every time I flew for a few years and then one day I whacked it and the whole tale vibrated kinda funny. I brought one of the mechanics over and sure enough the mounting bolts were undertorqued. A quarter turn on each and it vibrated normally again.
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Old 05-19-2021, 08:45 PM
Mconner7 Mconner7 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Bradenton FL
Posts: 161

We had a trip to the Bahamas late on a Friday afternoon. I asked the wife to meet me at the airport or we would not make it before sunset and the out island strip had no lights. We were taking another couple in my AA-5B Tiger and had made this run many times with four and a weekend bag each.

When I got to the airport with very little time to spare, the wife had already loaded the bags. The volume of baggage seemed about what I was used to, mostly swim suits and tee shirts, I asked her if there was anything heavy in the baggage. She said no, just the normal weekend stuff.

Since we were limited on fuel weight, we always took off with less than half tanks and made a stop before going feet wet to load back to gross weight. The takeoff went fine but the plane seemed a little unstable in pitch.

I landed for fuel and when I shut the motor off at the self serve pump, I was shocked when the plane slowly started to rotate nose up until it clunked down on the tail tie down ring. We climbed out and when I dug into the baggage area, there were two cases of our guests favorite beer under the bags. They were offloaded and left behind and the rest of the weekend went as planned.

The wife looked sheepish and said she guessed that our guests had slipped them in under his bags while she was moving our car.

Trust but verify.....
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Old 05-19-2021, 09:54 PM
N804RV's Avatar
N804RV N804RV is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Mount Vernon, Wa
Posts: 907

C-172 rental (need I say more?). Came out to preflight and quickly dipped the tanks to see how much fuel I needed so I could call for the fuel truck. Didn't notice anything wrong yet.

Preflighted the whole left side and tail. Then, worked my way inboard to outboard and fwd on the wing.

Only when I walked around the front and looked at the right wing leading edge did I discover that at some point, the right wing had sustained enough damage that it was obviously down.

I got 3rd degree from the manager. But, it was obviously done by someone else and not reported.
Ken W.
Mount Vernon, WA
2022 VAF Supporter
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