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It has been awhile since my last engine failure, but had one (sort of) yesterday!

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Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2016
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I was flying my PA28R 200 Arrow I home from the eclipse yesterday (eclipse was beautiful BTW), when my engine suddenly quit. In hindsight, I'm very happy with how I reacted when it happened, although one thing I think I could of done better was reacting BEFORE it quit, as there were signs....

So my girlfriend and I were flying along at 5500 feet, and I noticed two things: the plane didn't seem to be flying at it's normal cruise speed, but instead about 7 knots slower, and the single-probe EGT was showing a MUCH higher indication at peak EGT than it did earlier in the day. My only self-criticism of the incident was that I didn't give these two "signs" more consideration...I just sort of "dismissed" them as changes to the OAT and flew along fat dumb and happy, because everything else was showing normal.

We flew the whole way home (about 1 1/2 hours) at 5500 MSL until I was about 30 miles from home. As my normal routine, when I decided it was time to descend, I pulled back the throttle to lower the manifold pressure (I usually shoot for about 18"), but as I pulled back the throttle, the engine flat died!!! Like, shut-it-off-by-pulling-the-mixture DIED! Immediately, in the span of 5 seconds, I pushed the throttle to the firewall, turned on the electric fuel pump, pushed the mixture forward, and switched tanks, but unfortunately, the engine only sputtered, shuttered, and backfired. It actually started shaking so bad, I pulled the throttle back again, because it was shaking VIOLENTLY. I noted we were not within the Foreflight green gliding circle to any airport, so looking straight ahead I saw a large plowed farmers field, and made a mental note to just keep flying towards that, and trimmed for best glide.

I wasn't on flight following, and I briefly considered calling on 121.5, but instead turned my attention back to the engine. I added some throttle, just enough to get the engine to sputter, surge, and backfire, but not so much that it was shaking too bad, then I switched the magneto switch. Upon clicking from "Both" to "L", instantly, power returned! I added throttle, and sure enough, normal-ish power, with no shaking! I looked at my altitude, and I'd only lost a few hundred feet, so I started climbing, still flying straight ahead. Once back up to 5500 feet, I tried switching the mag back to both...the sputter and shake returned...then back to left, smooth...then to right and the engine completely died. So whatever happened, I think the right mag is the culprit.

I called approach, told them I was coming in to my home class C and staying high due to mag failure. Approach was great and let me do whatever I wanted, but tower didn't seem to understand the problem so I had to pretty much just tell them I was going to NOT fly a pattern (I thought approach might pass along I was having some issues)...I suppose declaring would have solved this, but once the mag was sorted it didn't cross my mind.

One more gremlin on a plane that has been nothing but gremlins...time to call the mechanic.
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