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"You're smoking a whole lot, you may just want to land"

Young pilot, as he takes-off in Cessna 172RG from Addison, Dallas, receives serious guidance from ATC. ( More...

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bbabis 17
The advantage of always using the whole runway for departure no matter what your takeoff performance.
I agree completely.
ToddBaldwin3 18
Good story, but way too long winded, almost like they were trying to write a script for a movie about the incident.
James Carlson 9
Most people reading this article won't have much of an idea about what the roles and responsibilities of the participants are, or why the actions taken were significant.

Given that, I thought they did a fine job of relating everything that happened. Yes, to a pilot, that seems long-winded. But they got the details right (how many times have you seen that in print?) and explained things well.

I think we should be saying "good job" instead.
ToddBaldwin3 2
Very good point on that. I stand, or sit partially corrected.
Agreed, good story but I generally prefer a brief narrative of the problem and then what was done to resolve it... anything longer and it becomes difficult to use as a lesson.
ken young 2
Well, my thinking is that in the day of "if it bleeds, it leads" news reporting, had this aircraft not landed safely the story would have made the 6 pm news and the Dallas News would have sent an experienced reporter with a more broad array of general knowledge. Instead since this story is not all that sensational, my guess is the reporter in the byline is more than likely the typical cub or fluff reporter. Hence the long winded iteration of what turns out to be a relatively mundane occurrence.
Ray Fencl 0
I almost fell asleep reading the story. Smoke announced, 172, land.
Jose Suro 3
I encountered a similar situation on a flight in a Cessna 150 when I had around 150 hours in my book. I had a passenger aboard who had never been on an airplane before. It was a real scary experience for him.

The incident started when I reduced power on entering the downwind leg of the pattern in an uncontrolled field - runway length 3500 ft. When I reduced power the engine started misfiring wildly and I could see lots of white smoke going past the left main gear.

I immediately decided to shorten the downwind leg to conserve altitude and once lined up with the runway slipped the aircraft to dump altitude quickly. I landed without issues.

Upon examination the brand new Cessna 150's engine had swallowed a valve into one of the pistons.
CFI checkride from the left seat...
bbabis 7
That struck me also. Maybe protocol now is to first see if they can fly an airplane at all before changing seats and getting the CFI part done. As far as the incident goes, there would have been an instant notice of a power loss and a vibration that called for landing on the available runway. The oil on the exhaust simply alerted tower also that there was a problem. Everyone OK and experience gained all around is a great ending.
Gamma Dean 1
Since you need the Commercial to get the CFI and all the airwork is the same it's pretty common to do one checkride right after the other.
Joseph Cooney 2
Brevity. Must have been a slow day at the Dallas Morning news. Human interest story exploited. Glad to see the ATC was commended by his supervisor.
Were they both wearing noise cancelling earphones?
BobRose 2
I find it surprising that the comment was made that they had no idea what had happened.

If you have ever lost a rod and had piston failure... you have noise that changes the sound of the engine almost immediately. As well as power loss.
Marc Gough 6
It was a counterweight balance at the end of the crank. It split but hung on just enough to poke holes in the engine case and oil pan. Even the mechanic said you would not have been able to tell a difference. That is until you lost oil pressure.
Richard Loven 3
It's a good thing the Pilot didn't spend as much time deciding what to do as the guy telling the story did or they would have crashed.
Dirk Jeanis 3
Reminds me of a flight from Livermore to Reid Hillview one night with a friend. We sucked a valve in a 172 over the Diablo Range. A check of descent rate and altitude against distance to the nearest (lighted) airport showed that we would make Reid Hillview.

Notice that there was no mayday declared in the flight in Addison. I expect that since the tower had notified the pilot that they in essence had already begun rerouting traffic as necessary. IN our case however we did declare may day.

After we landed we were ordered to the tower and reamed out for 30 minutes by the admin there. We were specifically told NEVER to use those words as it causes 30 hours of paperwork...blah blah blah. We were told to explain the situation and that ATC would do EVERYTHING in their power to aid any pilot...just don't use those words. Frankly, even today that pisses me off .

I have also been ordered to violate FAR's by ATC while in IFR flight (another story). Frankly, as a pilot I would remind all other pilots that you are the one in charge, ATC is ONLY a service organization to support the needs of the Commanders in the aircraft. YOU are the ONLY responsible party and the FAR's are actually there to give rational rules. The moment you are in an emergency you are the ONLY one responsible and any reports will always list first and foremost "pilot error" as the cause of injury accidents. Take control and use your training and knowledge, consider advice of ATC services as ADVICE, not as orders and insist on following FAR's UNLESS that would be specifically unsafe for the current conditions.
Graeme Smith 3
I spend a lot of time at WINGS seminars counselling "there is almost never" paperwork if you declare an emergency. From my one shot limited experience of calling "Mayday" - a 60 second call from the FSDO where the inspector basically wanted to know if I was OK and who was trying to close the file as fast as he could get me off the phone.

At an ATC training facility I have been shown the effect of squawking 7700. All the radar screens pulse, your 7700 target pulses and alarms go off. Maybe that is what upset the guy who reamed you out. I'd have asked who his supervisor was - and if he was top dog at the facility - asked who he reported to.

As I say when counselling - don't be the ATC tape we listen to on YouTube where we can clearly tell you are in too deep but are afraid to declare. You only have one life - do whatever it takes.


And when ordered to violate a FAR for no good reason - "Unable" goes a long way.
Dirk Jeanis 1
"unable" is a great word and thank you. I will tell you that I was thankful that we were two pilots that night. It allowed us to check each other and to assess the situation much more effectively, including descent rate to distances etc.
Ben Thurston 3
I call BS on this story. ATC would NEVER tell a pilot not to declare an emergency. And unless you caused the emergency by stupid pilot tricks, there's rarely if ever any paperwork. Of course, if you got yourself into an emergency by violating FARs, you're likely to be violated for that; but never for declaring an emergency.
Unless you have evidence of this, as far as I'm concerned it didn't happen.
Dirk Jeanis 2
This was in the 80's not recently. Interestingly, the airplane I was flying had sucked a valve...the exact same cylinder and valve almost exactly one year prior to this.

I really do NOT appreciate someone calling me a liar. DO NOT tell me what ATC would NEVER do. They did it. The controllers even stayed after normal hours to ream our asses. Who do you think you are talking to me like that? You an apology not only to me but to every person here, and should consider what you say BEFORE you say it.

Since we are on the subject:
My engine was running and frankly it sounded at idle like it was fine. It had no power and our descent was about 100-150 fpm or so if I remember. There was to be NO go around. We easily made it to Reid Hillview at about 1500-1800 ft, and then S turned and slipped to lose the extra altitude. We landed and turned off at the high speed exit.
Upon changing to ground frequency we could hear the tower talking to the ground service truck and asking if it seemed we were having engine trouble. Ground service told the tower "no, they sound fine to me".

I parked at the pumps and got out...adrenaline filled and now angry I walked toward ground service who had gotten out of his truck. I threw the keys at him and told him to try and start the engine. I told him to then tow the *(^% plane to the FBO. and walked away. We found out later that he did attempt to start the engine and it would not even start. Several days later we found out about the valve.

When we got to the FBO the phone was already ringing off the hook. We let it ring for a while while we tried to calm down and had something to drink (soda or water or whatever). When we answered we were ORDERED to the tower. Then we had to drive all the way around the airfield to the tower and be reamed by the personal there.

It took over an hour for me to calm down from adrenaline and from the attitude of the persons involved on the ground and in the tower. I will never forget that attitude and their condescension.

Frankly Ben, you have brought back my anger regarding this. I don't trust ATC and never will, PIC is Master of his ship and it is HIS life and the LIVES of his passengers. He is the responsible party and must make all decisions pertaining to flight and safety. ATC is advisory and support ONLY. Use your mind and training, consider ATC advice but in the end it is always PILOT ERROR even if ATC walks you down the wrong path.
James Carlson 1
ATC are just people. Most are great at what they do, and try very hard to meet both the letter and spirit of the rules. It's possible that this was one who wasn't as great, or perhaps was merely having a very bad day. It can happen.

I think the hard part would be deciding whether this was a real problem (and needed to be reported), or if I could just ignore it and drive on.

In any event, the original poster's basic point still holds: the pilot is in command, and is the final authority. As pilot, you have to be on guard for flawed or just plain wrong instructions.
Dirk Jeanis 2
Thank you for upholding the point of my post. I may be a little too adamant regarding all this but the particular lesson stayed well ingrained by circumstance.
Jerry McCarty 1
Wait. He threw a rod and didn't notice?
Marc Gough 4
It was a counterweight balance at the end of the crank. It split but hung on just enough to poke holes in the engine case and oil pan. Even the mechanic said you would not have been able to tell a difference. That is until you lost oil pressure.
Jerry McCarty 2
That makes so much more sense. I based my comment on "...but a piston connecting rod has broken free and shot through the engine casing." Thank you for the clarification.
Dirk Jeanis 1
that can happen, especially in a noisy cockpit with a head set on, if they were noise canceling head sets it even makes more sense.. When I sucked a valve we had no idea about it at all. Just a loss of power (unable to climb an more and in slow descent)
steve kiss 1
I fly with a Bose A20 and have had two engine outs (one was a carb failure). Trust me, you hear the bangs, clanks and sucked valves. The noise canceling just reduces the background noise to manageable levels. You still pick up on audible changes as queues to problems large and small. In fact, as the saying goes, I mostly hear that stuff at night :-(
Graeme Smith 3
..and over water.....

Over water at night is even worse.....

W S Webb 1
Did you happen to live Mount Vernon, IL?
btweston 0
They made a whole lot of hay out of "they took off, started smoking, and landed."
John Navratil -1
Most people attempting to read this article won't pay $.99 to do so. Great if you are a subscriber to The Dallas Morning News.


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