hitting the corn is how come the farmer
planted those last rows so close to the end
of 17? Pull the full-flaps now with the big
Johnson bar, the airplane levels momentarily, and I ease the nose up to the stall
inches above the tassels.
As the old 182 settled into the cornfield, I had the sensation that the corn was
rising above the airplane instead of the
airplane settling into the corn as I was
slammed against the harness and heard
the most god-awful racket of crunching
and banging as corncobs and stalks pummeled the airframe with the propeller
thrashing and hurling debris in all directions. And just when I thought it was going
to nose over, I was pushed back into the
seat as the plane emerged from the corn
into bright sunlight with Runway 17
stretched out ahead of me in a perfect line.
Suddenly, the sound of silence. And the realization that
it’s a real-live engine failure at 800 feet and I should
do something intelligent soon.
And to my embarrassment I see the full
pickup truckload of the “gang” sitting on
the side of the runway with their eyes bug-ging out and their mouths wide open erupt
into a cheering frenzy as my exit from the
corn, debris still flying, reveals an intact
airplane and pilot.
Turns out there was a fuel vent AD on
these airplanes because the bladder tanks
would “suction” up off the bottom of the
wing and stop the fuel flow when there was
less than 3 gallons per side. Yeah, we flew
that light on fuel. And no, the AD had not
been complied with. Also turns out that I
only carved out about 30 feet of corn. We
found only six minor dents on the airframe
that we were pretty sure were caused by
the corn. I learned a few things that day;
most importantly, stay over the airport
when flying sky divers!
EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower began flying
when he was 16. He owns and flies a T- 6, as well as a
Stearman that he restored. He is a founding member of
Stearman Flight, a FAST signatory organization dedicated
to standardized formation training in Stearman aircraft.
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