Yesterday was an interesting day in aviation. I intended to fly from… - delta_november
May. 22nd, 2014
Yesterday was an interesting day in aviation. I intended to fly from Toronto to Kincardine to have lunch with ksumnersmith and GSS. The flight out was uneventful. I encountered the usual rural airport where UNICOM doesn't answer he radio for a field status report, but will yell at you if you do something wrong. Typical.
The flight back was not quite as planned. I said my goodbyes, started the engine, and began the runup. The "Low volt" light started blinking, and I stared at it stupidly for several seconds trying to will it away. No such luck. Ammeter indicates discharge. No circuit breakers popped. I cycle the master switches a few times (which is how the "high volt" status can be cleared) with no success.
It's 2:30 at this point. Plenty of daylight left, but the promise of thunderstorms in the afternoon. I need to make a good decision, and I need to make it quickly. I make a decision, though I'm not certain it was the best.
I start the engine again with the remaining battery juice, and climb up to 2000'. Once the landing gear is up I turn off the master switches and fly the plane with no electricity. Much of my panel is non-functional. My directional gyro is electric, as is my tachometer. Altimeter, airspeed and vertical speed are strictly pitot-static, and the artificial horizon is running on vacuum. The magnetic compass still works too. I use that, my map, and some low flying past water towers to fly a course to Waterloo. 5 miles out I turn the power back on so that I can talk to tower on the radio and have them see my transponder. The battery retains enough capacity to drop the landing gear and flaps, and I set down safely.
A couple hours of futzing at the repair shop sees my alternator replaced and the electrics returned to full function. There's no obvious root cause. It's not a broken wire or belt, but something inside the alternator itself.
With everything running I fly back to Toronto. My stormscope is now on, and I can see the thunderstorms creeping up on my tail.
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