Monday, June 13, 2016

Worst. Email. Ever.

My 35th birthday was on April 17th, and I spent it in about the best way I could imagine: Dawn and I cruising up the west coast in our Piper Pacer. The day prior we started in Torrance, CA, where the plane had been kept since our February Baja trip, worked our way north via Big Sur, Napa, and the Siskayou Mountains, then stopped for the night in scenic Ashland, OR. On my birthday we made it to Vancouver, WA in one long leg, then picked up my friend Brad and farted around a bit, landing at a mutual friend's private strip to check out his new Maule M5. Later that week I had a long PDX overnight, and I took advantage by taking my good friend Duncan and his two young boys for a loop of Mt. St. Helens and the Columbia River Gorge. This was the last flight before the annual I had scheduled with Aero Maintenance at Pearson Field (KVUO).


I few days later, I was still on a work trip when I got the email that every aircraft owner having their plane annualed dreads. "Bad News... we found a lot of brass & bronze in your oil." I had just changed the oil 15 hours prior in Southern California and had removed the oil screen for inspection as I always do; it was perfectly clean, and a magnet picked up no shavings. I called the lead mechanic at Aero Maintenance and he confirmed that this was a lot of metal, enough to immediately ground the airplane. If your engine starts making a little metal, standard procedure is to change the oil and fly it for a few hours and see if it makes more, but this wasn't the case here. He sent me a few photos with the oil screen and a ruler for reference, and they were damning: big flakes, likely a good half-teaspoon or more of them. I authorized a little more exploration and it didn't take long for bad to go to worse: in the sump and sump screen they found more flakes plus a large chunk of metal about 3/4" long that appeared to be a piece of main bearing. There was no question about it, the engine had to come off the airplane, and an expensive major overhaul was in the offing.

 

I looked over all my options. A local engine shop quoted a minimum of $23,000 for the overhaul. I could have it shipped out and a high-volume shop could do it for as little as $13,000. Both quotes were potentially on the low end as I had a hollow crankshaft with inner diameter pitting that was virtually condemned by AD, and my O-320-B2A was a narrow deck that requires expensive factory cylinders. If I was really looking to splurge I could buy a remanufactured engine from Lycoming for close to twice what I paid for the airplane. The cheapest option was to find a mid-time used O-320 and hope it lasted longer than this one. The last option was to simply sell her as she sat. I doubted there was much of a market for Pacers with blown-up engines but figured I could at least get $8 or $9k for her. This represented a major loss from the $23k purchase price, but I was likely to lose that much or more by having the overhaul done. Remember, we were already planning to sell the plane later this summer, after flying it to Montana and then up to Alaska.

I finally concluded that it was stupid to stick a ton of money into a plane that I was going to sell anyways, as much as I wanted to take her to Alaska. Our house was in the process of selling, we were getting serious about the boat search, and there was just too much going on to commit to a major resuscitation of our airplane. Better to find someone qualified and local to do it. I listed the plane for $10k on Barnstormers.com and was immediately inundated with response. Turns out there is a market for run-out Pacers. Several people dropped by Pearson Field to look at the plane, and an A&P from near Anacortes WA who works for Boeing ended up buying her. After overhaul, he intends to fly her to Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. That makes me feel better about what was overall a pretty major bummer. That engine had less than 1000 hours since major overhaul and I had babied it during my ownership. That said, it was overhauled in 1988 and there were years prior to my ownership where it was hardly ever run. Thus were sown the seeds of its destruction, I'm guessing.

There's one other thing that kept this from being a major downer for me. At some point in the last 15 hours, that engine had started tearing itself apart from the inside out, and yet it ran perfectly. Many of those 15 hours were spent over extremely inhospitable terrain. There were quite a few cases where my best option after engine failure would have been to find the flattest part of a mountainside and put it between two trees. That last flight in particular, with my buddy and his two young boys in the plane as we circled Mt. St. Helens and traversed miles of rugged tree-covered hills to the Gorge, and then flew low over downtown Portland, could have ended very, very badly. I'm so thankful that the engine kept running and got us all back to an airport safely. I'm also glad I decided to have the annual done in Vancouver; I was originally planning on having it done in Montana.


Shortly after I sold the plane, but before the new owner showed up to take off the wings and trailer her home, I had another PDX overnight. I took the opportunity to go across the river and retrieve my headsets, camping equipment, and personal effects from the airplane. I walked around her one last time, softly drumming the fabric, ducked my head inside the cockpit for a whiff of that familiar old airplane smell, and patted the cowling as I walked away. In eighteen short months of ownership we had 200 flight hours and a lot of great adventures together. Dawn and I will miss our good old Pacer for a long time, I think. That said, I suspect there will be some other great old airplanes in our future too.


17 comments:

SloppyPilot said...

Served you well, and brought you and yours home safely. Nothing better can be said about good steed.

Anonymous said...

Sam, a tough parting no doubt, but good on you for making a smart decision. I've enjoyed reading every post but have paid particular attention to your adventures in the Pacer. Some years back, I had to part ways with a fishing boat that had brought a lot of fun but it had to be sold (life events were on the horizon...marriage/moves/mil to airline career change). You definitely made the right call and I am positive you and Dawn will own an airplane again.

And I'll be standing by ready to read about it when you do.

All the best,

Jeff
DAL MD88B

thedevilcorp said...

Good post.

NONTON FILM ONLINE said...

very interesting article,,
and I like this post

Web Master said...

Nice information interesting..Online Flight Booking

Anonymous said...

Bummer about the suffering engine and having to sell the plane but yes, it kept you safe. I fly out of the Monterey Bay area but have never flown along the Big Sur coast; the lack of emergency landing options gives me pause. Thanks again for all the posts. -- Ben Read

replicas relogios said...

telasmosquiteira-sp.com.br

telas mosquiteira
telas mosquiteiro

As telas mosquiteira sp , telas mosquiteiro sp garantem ar puro por toda casa livrando-a completamente dos mosquitos e insetos indesejáveis. As telas mosquiteira garantem um sono tranquilo a toda família, livrando e protegendo-nas dos mais diversos insetos. Muitos destes insetos são transmissores de doenças e a tela mosquiteira é indispensável no combate a mosquitos transmissores de doenças.

A dengue, por exemplo, já matou centenas de pessoas só na capital de São Paulo e um pequeno investimento em nossas telas mosquiteiras podem salvar vidas. As telas mosquiteiras também impedem a entrada de insetos peçonhentos como as aranhas e os escorpiões, estes insetos também oferecem risco, pois seu veneno em poucos minutos podem levar uma criança a morte.
telas mosquiteira jundiai
telas mosquiteiro jundiai
telas mosquiteira aplhaville
telas mosquiteiro alphaville
telas mosquiteira granja viana
telas mosquiteiro granja vinana
telas mosquiteira cotia
telas mosquiteiro cotia
telas mosquiteira tambore
telas mosquiteiro tambore

A chegada da temporada Primavera/Verão traz consigo a elevação da temperatura e a maior ocorrência de chuvas. Mas não é só isso. As estações mais quentes do ano causam muita dor de cabeça e muitos zumbidos indesejáveis em função das pragas urbanas – pernilongos, baratas, cupins e outros insetos -, que afetam todas as regiões brasileiras.

Nossa missão é oferecer telas mosquiteiras de qualidade a um preço acessível, fazendo com que as telas mosquiteiras sejam uma opção viável para muitas pessoas.

telas mosquiteiras Jundiaí
telas mosquiteiro Jundiai
telas mosquiteiras jundiai
telas mosquiteiro industria
telas mosquiteira restaurante
telas mosquiteiro restaurante
telas mosquiteira empresa
telas mosquiteiro empresa

bilet said...

Cam Balkon
Uçak Bileti
Cam Balkon
Hasta Yatakları
Cam Balkon

maket uçak said...

very nice aviation blog! keep it up

Anonymous said...

So the blog is silent because you're back on management's radar with the contract negotiations?

Web Master said...

Nice adventure with childs..Thanks for share.

Best Flight Deals
Discount Airline Tickets
Online Flight Booking

Best Flight Deals
Discount Airline Tickets
Online Flight Booking

S Re said...

Come back Sam.. We love your other blog but miss your adventures in the sky also.. Especially on the new airframe!! :)

Dr Purva Pius said...

Hello Everybody,
My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email:(urgentloan22@gmail.com) Thank you.

cheap flights said...

Get Special Offer For Tourist - Farewizards

Maya Alexander said...

A god fearing man does not dare to make such mistakes.

gatwick meet and greet
meet & greet gatwick

Desert Safari Dubai said...

Desert Safari Dubai
Dubai Desert Safari

Desert Safari Dubai
Dubai Desert Safari
Evening Desert Safari
Evening Safari Dubai

Marina Dhow Cruise
Dubai Marina Dhow Cruise
Dhow Cruise Dubai Marina
Dhow Cruise Dubai

Desert Safari Dubai
Dubai Desert Safari
Evening Desert Safari
Evening Safari Dubai

Desert Safari Dubai
Dubai Desert Safari
Evening Desert Safari
Evening Safari Dubai

Unknown said...

http://drharrysolution7.wixsite.com/solutiontemple +2348143240563

hello everyone i am TONY MUTU from UK i want to testify of how DR HARRY herbal mixture cream enlarged my penis size. i never thought i will be happy again in my life because of my small penis situation,i have struggling with this issue my life time and i could not find a professional result i wanted ,i ave went to hospitals,used vaccines,tried several herbs online ,penis pumps and all but none rendered me the solution i wanted ,i felt like killing when my fiance KIMBERLY left me after undressing myself in front of her,my size was too embarrassing and shameful imagine a 37 years old man like me having 3.5inches penis size..the world seem to an end to me when we she left so one faithful day as i was watching a video on you tube i saw on the comments of one MR MAMARU ABIYE testifying of this great herbal healer DR HARRY helped him enlarge his penis .i was shocked and happy so i quickly visited his website http://drharrysolution7.wixsite.com/solutiontemple and emailed him within 30 mins he got back to me and told me all i need to buy and i did so after 4 days i received his herbal medicine ,he gave me instructions on how to use it ,as i am speaking to you people now after using the cream for just two weeks my penis size is 10inches long and 8.0 girth ,,am so happy and grateful for his work in my life thank you so much Dr HARRY ,,i also learnt he has cure for LOW SPERM COUNT,PREMATURE EJACULATION,ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION,HIV/AIDS VIRUS,DIABETES 1/2,HERPES DISEASE,CANCER,and lots more you can email him on drharrysolution@gmail.com or call/whatsapp him directly on +2348143240563 thanks