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  #1  
Old 11-20-20, 11:22 AM
Ernie Martin's Avatar
Ernie Martin Ernie Martin is offline
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Flight Instructions for a Skymaster

My 28 year old daughter wanted me to show her how to fly my Skymaster so I wrote her abbreviated instructions which I'm attaching here.

It is NOT comprehensive enough for learning to fly, but it may be adequate for your spouse or adult children to learn how to handle the airplane, especially if the pilot becomes unresponsive.

It's short because ground school is often boring and I don't want her to lose interest. So some things, like using the radios, are missing because I'm planning to show her inflight. I figure (hope?) that she'll read this, go flying with me, love it, and then go get formal instructions.

I've tried to make it general enough so that it can be used on other Skymasters, but the instructions are in Microsoft Word format, so you can modify them to reflect your needs.

I'm not a flight instructor but I'm an aerospace engineer (MS Caltech) and have owned 3 Skymasters for the past 20 years. Full disclosure: my education and experience didn't keep me from ditching my 2nd Skymaster in Bahamian waters when both engines quit.

Ernie
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Last edited by Ernie Martin : 11-20-20 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 11-20-20, 06:48 PM
Trippster Trippster is offline
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Thanks Ernie.

This is great. My wife is interested in learning enough to safely handle the plane and this is a great start for her. You saved me a lot of time.

Tripp
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Old 11-21-20, 10:24 AM
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mshac mshac is offline
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Ernie, I've seen your avatar 100's of times, and always wondered what the story was behind it. Losing BOTH engines at the same time, over water, is every twin pilot's nightmare. Care to share one more time what happened?
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Old 11-22-20, 12:06 PM
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Ernie Martin Ernie Martin is offline
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Short version: lost both engines over Bahamian waters with 2 passengers on board, ditched my 1977 337G successfully, rescued by nearby ship. Coverage with pictures by a local news station is attached below.

After the FAA completed its investigation and decided that no sanctions were warranted I wrote a lengthy post on this Message Board about what happened but I've used the Search function to find the post so I could provide a link and can't find it. A briefer version from memory follows.

Was flying at about 10 AM from Great Harbour Cay to Miami, about 140 nm, with 2 passengers. About 15 minutes after takeoff and at about 6,000 ft the front engine quit from what seemed fuel exhaustion. I had fueled in Miami the previous afternoon so I knew I had enough fuel. Wondered if it was a clogged line from that tank or that fuel had been lost from a leak in the tank. Crossfed, restarted engine, started to climb (just in case) and advised traffic controllers. About 10 minutes later, now at about 8,000 ft, both engines quit, obviously from fuel exhaustion. Was able to restart the front engine from its original (left) tank*, advised controllers, and started briefing passengers and making ditching preparations**. A few minutes later the front engine quit. Glided for about 10 minutes, asking controllers to dispatch the Coast Guard, while keeping them and nearby aircraft informed of my coordinates. Was fortunate to see a cargo barge/ship ahead and ditched about 4 blocks in front of the ship.

Seas were 2-3 ft, ditching was routine (meaning impact was as expected: rough but survivable), and all 3 of us exited with only modest difficulty through the upper clamshell door which we had opened just before impact (the only unexpected thing was that the torrent of water coming it made it difficult to swim out the door). There were no injuries except for a shallow cut on my head, which you can see in the pictures, perhaps as I went through the door. The wings of the aircraft remained floating for about 2-3 minutes, then the whole aircraft slowly sank. Ship picked us up about 10 minutes later.

No one knows why this happened. Some believe that fuel was stolen overnight, given that at the time (2014) a gallon of fuel in the Bahamas was $6. And I should not have relied on the fact that I had fueled the previous afternoon and should have checked the fuel gauges carefully. The aircraft was not insured. A friend bought industrial airbags and tried to lift the aircraft -- it was at a depth of about 20 feet -- and drag it to Bimini about 20 miles away but was not successful

Ernie Martin


________________
* If you've learned about the fuel system on Skymasters, you know that part of the fuel going to the crossfed engine returns to that engine's normal tank. So when the front engine was being fed by the right tank, some of that fuel went into the left tank.

** Since I mostly fly over water, I've done a lot of research on ditching and have a page on the subject at http://www.skymasterus.com.
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Old 11-22-20, 12:41 PM
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Thanks for telling the story again Ernie! Glad everyone was safe.

Having flown for a charter company specializing in the Bahamas out of FXE for several years, the fuel theft theory makes the most sense. We tried to never stay overnight at certain airports, and if we did, we always got fuel immediately prior to departure. Fuel theft never seems to happen with Jet-A, only avgas. It happens at US airports too, its not strictly a Bahamian event.

I can see where this would have snagged me too, because I usually go by the fuel totalizer for qty on board. I should give the fuel gauges a at least a cursory glance, but I'll admit it doesn't always happen. I'm gonna try to be more vigilant about it, especially if the plane was parked overnight on a public ramp.

The only other thing I can think of that would've helped is a calibrated fuel dipstick, but how many of us have one? For a 337, they have to be made, can't be bought. When I flew 172's, we had a calibrated clear tube dipstick that showed exactly how much fuel was onboard. We used it before most flights because the gauges were unreliable.

I was at the pump the other day filling the Skymaster's 150.3 gallons, while about three or four airplanes waited behind me. The pump was slow, so it took awhile to get the 120 or so gallons in it to fill it. There was an RV, a 170, a Tripacer and a Cirrus, and I thought to myself these four guys combined will buy less fuel than me!
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Old 11-22-20, 12:51 PM
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No 100LL in Great Harbour Cay. I do have a calibrated dipstick but it starts showing fuel at 37 gallons, so if you have less -- and the 1-hour flight to Miami with 100% margin requires only 20 gallons per tank -- it's useless.

Ernie
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Old 11-22-20, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie Martin View Post
No 100LL in Great Harbour Cay. I do have a calibrated dipstick but it starts showing fuel at 37 gallons, so if you have less -- and the 1-hour flight to Miami with 100% margin requires only 20 gallons per tank -- it's useless.

Ernie
I don't have a 337 fuel dipstick, so I didn't realize they were so limited. I guess this is one time that there's no substitute for working analog gauges.
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Old 11-22-20, 02:38 PM
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Ernie Martin Ernie Martin is offline
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Because the wings are dihedral (higher at the tip) there is no fuel visible at the fueling port until you have 37 gallons in the tank.

Ernie
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Old 11-22-20, 03:16 PM
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I flew a few Twin Bonanzas. Those guys figured out a hockey-stick shaped dipstick that went sideways toward the plane to get to the fuel that wasn't visible at the port. Not sure if that's possible on a 337.
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