off all the fuel valves, mags, avionics, and
master and tossed the keys on top of the
panel, as is my wont.
It was a smooth ‘dead-stick’ landing,
not a crash. Leon and I were shaken
from the experience but absolutely physically unharmed. Nothing was bent on
the airplane. Elapsed time from initial
vibration to wheels stopped? No more
than 90 seconds, probably closer to 60.
After the event, I shook. During the event,
Leon and I were too busy evaluating
options and maneuvering for landing to
After we got out of the airplane and
shared a ‘Did we just do what I think we
did?’ look, I removed the cowling expecting to see a gaping hole in the case, but
found nothing out of the ordinary. I pulled
the prop through four cycles and noted
virtually no compression on one of the
cylinders; [there was] a bit more end play
than normal, but it was the lateral play
that gave me pause.
We walked back to the ag strip and set
about gathering tools and equipment to
transport ol’ No. 404 back home. It wasn’t until
Monday evening that I could start investigat-
ing the cause further. I found that the crankshaft had broken cleanly between the number
one and number two connecting rods.
The good news: nobody got hurt. The
airplane was not bent. We landed on
private property. (The road belonged to
I train hard, and it paid off. I firmly
believe in a truism I once heard from a ‘jet
jock:’ ‘When the BBs start flying, you will
not rise to the occasion. You will default to
your level of training.’
The good news again: nobody got hurt.
And my very best friend Leon remains my
very best friend.
So what does Ward do after all that?
He builds another Ercoupe, NC93337,
in award-winning style. What else?
When his EAA chapter gives Young
Eagles flights, Ward photographs each
Young Eagle by the aircraft they flew
in and then hands them the picture
to take home. You want more? A new
engine is being built for ol’ No. 404,
and it should be back in the air by the
time you read this.
Now you know a little more about
Ward Marsh…just another ordinary EAA
member doing extraordinary things.