R44 Emergency Autorotation for Real.

Tyger

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I'm guessing it's pretty hard to turn and shoot a rifle out the side whilst wearing a shoulder harness...
 

Greg Vos

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Look closely and you will see the mag switch key is already in the OFF position when he does his panel shutdown .

In other words he flew his short flight with mags "OFF" .

..... must have a poor ground or electrical glitch for it to even start or run in that position .... by default mags are always ON .... and it is by grounding L R or BOTH that turns them off

Starter button is on the cyclic or collective , normally the pilot will rotate the switch to PRIME on startup .... however this was 3rd flight of the day (warm engine) and (my guess) he pushed the button .... engine started without him realizing mags were switched off.

He realized it when he flipped the key tag to the side to switch mags to OFF and saw they already were OFF ..... thus the sheepish grin (video)

Pilots & mechanics often make sure switch wiring to magnetos is bulletproof .... but forget that the ground to frame is what does the work.

This type of electrical glitch is rare , but not unheard-of .... another contributing factor is that many helicopters are shut down by shutting off the fuel mixture , not by switching mags to OFF .... thus the switch never gets "tested" during routine operations .... fixed wings with a prop that acts like a flywheel can momentarily be switched OFF to test , but a helicopter cannot .
Experienced this in a R44 myself
 

Greg Vos

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Hello Greg,

Was your experience with a faulty Mag Key Switch or a faulty/intermittent ground wire?

Wayne
It was the plastic gear in the magneto it had stripped a few teeth ... on the 44 on one of my 22 expierinces it was the actual switch and a problem with the spring the 22 we turn they key like a car, and the on mag check take it back to mag 1 then mag 2 as part of the checks ... I may add it was a old 22 and it was possibly 18 years ago
 

Martin W.

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Thanks for your experience Greg ..... but was your switch problem related to the mag being LIVE when in the OFF position ?

I know experienced fixed wing mechanics who say ... "it is not as rare as we think" ... thus they are paranoid when ground handlers turn a prop by hand to clear a tow bar or whatever.
 

Tyger

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If you have a Rotax 9-series you are always turning it by hand (to burp it), but it doesn't have magnetos in the usual sense...
 

Greg Vos

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Thanks for your experience Greg ..... but was your switch problem related to the mag being LIVE when in the OFF position ?

I know experienced fixed wing mechanics who say ... "it is not as rare as we think" ... thus they are paranoid when ground handlers turn a prop by hand to clear a tow bar or whatever.
As far as I recall it was a faulty earthing connection in the switch itself and periodically on shut down one set of mags was alive , we were not allowed to fiddle with it and the AMO had to fix it, it was a flight school aircraft so it was well used
 

okikuma

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A question for all the Robbie pilots out there.

Is there a procedure one uses to test for a faulty Magneto OFF Position?

Fixed wing pilots before shutting down the engine by pulling the mixture, will quickly turn the magneto key switch to the OFF position and then back to BOTH to check for a momentary disruption of spark, all the while listening for the auditory dip in engine RPM. It is safe to perform this procedure because of a very nice big, directly connected prop up front that acts like a nice flywheel.

A pilot of a helicopter with a reciprocating engine would be unable to perform the exactly same magneto key switch test because of the one way clutch mechanism to the main rotor.

In my mind, the only similary kind of test would be to place the magneto key switch in the OFF postion and then push the START button to see if the engine catches and starts.

Wayne
 

Martin W.

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(snip)
In my mind, the only similary kind of test would be to place the magneto key switch in the OFF postion and then push the START button to see if the engine catches and starts.

Wayne
Yes Wayne , I think that would be a way to test for live mags.

I did a lot of cold weather flying (Bell 47) and cold start procedure was to prime it lots .... then rotate the engine several times to bring fuel to the cylinders .... then prime some more ... then magnetos turned on ... so in a sense it was also a mag check even though that was not why we did it

My guess the R44 pilot hit the starter without realizing his mags were off , thought nothing of it and away he went ... until vibrations or whatever made the ground circuit complete and mags shut off in flight.

Other mentions of pre-flight mag checks should have caught it but I say ... "not always" ... mag checks are routine at startup but not always done after a quick re-fuelling .... which was likely the case here because it was third flight of the day .... I know I did not do additional mag checks after ground crew added fuel ... nor did I do all the other standard preflight checks other than test the freewheel unit.
 

okikuma

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Those Franklin engines in the Bell 47s were cantankerous when cold. I've only flown the 47 a couple of times here in warm Southern California and that was over 30 years ago..

The 47/H-13 I flew didn't have a magneto key switch but an early military style A-9 type magneto switch. With the fuel and battery ON, push the start button and let the engine turn over about 3 seconds and then quickly turn the mag switch to BOTH while still pressing the start button.

This video is a great example of the procedure.


For years, I've been trying to talk my wife into owning a 47. She just didn't want to fly in a helicopter. I tried to get her to fly with me in the UH-1. No go. Finally one day a little over 10 years ago she agreed to fly with me in a friend's Bell 407. She loved the flight. After, she says, "Let's get one of those!" I said, "OK, we sell our house, purchase a 407 and then live in a trailer."

Wayne
 
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WaspAir

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My Bell 47-G3-B1 doesn't even have a key (it's a Lycoming TVO-435 instead of the old Franklin). To reduce the chance of theft, I have an extra circuit breaker in an unpublicised location, and I put a big bicycle U-lock around the cyclic and through the guard at the bottom of the left seat collective (with a red "remove before flight" flag, of course).
 

Martin W.

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My Bell 47-G3-B1 doesn't even have a key (it's a Lycoming TVO-435 instead of the old Franklin). To reduce the chance of theft, I have an extra circuit breaker in an unpublicised location, and I put a big bicycle U-lock around the cyclic and through the guard at the bottom of the left seat collective (with a red "remove before flight" flag, of course).
Mostly I flew the 0435 also , great engine , some B47's had a key on the panel that we never used (always left on) , mixture control disabled (always full rich) ... -30* weather mechanics removed the spark plugs at night and put them in a coffee can on the stove ... in the morning pilots would help the mechanic install them .... our bodies were freezing and fingers burning installing them .

John ... Somebody looking for you in this link .... they want to film an A&S 18A for a documentary
 

Tyger

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Are there any reports of anyone actually successfully stealing a helicopter? ☺️
 

lindandavid

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Are there any reports of anyone actually successfully stealing a helicopter? ☺️
Actually 2 or 3 206's stolen and used in bank robberies in Louisiana and Texas, one was used to rob a bank on the base at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I was flying one for Air Logistics that was stolen. Took a lot of inspections and component changes to get it airworthy again. Never did find any cash hidden in it after I got it back, but we did look.
 

Martin W.

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Are there any reports of anyone actually successfully stealing a helicopter? ☺️
"We" did once .... as a prank .... competition helicopter outfit in a small town .... they had landed on the outskirts and then walked to the local hotel-bar where they were hootin and hollerin all night.

"We stole" the machine and parked it about a mile away in an old cow pasture. They reported it "missing" and it made the local newspaper ... until a farmer called and said it was on his land.

Police attributed it to alcohol induced forgetfulness plus hangovers of the pilots ... so we never got "caught"
 

WaspAir

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Are there any reports of anyone actually successfully stealing a helicopter? ☺️
My insurance company seems to think it's a risk. All sorts of flying machines in the southern border states used to get stolen to haul recreational pharmaceuticals across the border, often abandoned afterwards.

I'm more worried about some "hold my beer and watch this" type wrecking mine.
 

Tyger

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I guess it makes sense to mitigate the risk, however small, but it would seem to be remarkably bad luck to have a criminal-type helo pilot just lurking around where you've put yours down.
I hardly worry about my cars getting stolen anymore because they're all stick shift... ☺️
 

Martin W.

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I'm more worried about some "hold my beer and watch this" type wrecking mine.
Knew a guy who did just that .... around 1978 the flight school had trained him on a 206A Jetranger ... spoiled kid , parents paid $30k for his basic 100 hr commercial rating .

Parents lived on a small country acreage , were away for a weekend so he threw a big party .... around midnight he decided to get the helicopter and give some rides (he had a night rating)

Had a key for the hangar , fueled up the 206 , and headed back ..... while landing , the fool hit his own powerline in his own back yard .... no major damage and nobody hurt but the wires had wrapped around the mast and bent the control rods.

Had to call the owner at 2AM who said ..... I will be there in the morning with a hoist and trailer to pick it up .... and at that time you can tell me if you are going to pay for the damage or I will consider it a theft and make an insurance claim. Damage came to around $18k ... his parents paid it (of course) ... they didnt want their son to have a criminal record
 
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