Forced Landings & Green Fields
By: Jim Hamilton
As you can see, I used "LANDINGS" as a plural. I was on a short flight a few weeks ago and, as I set up for a long final, my great-running 503 died about 350-400 feet high. Well, I was thinking, "Keep the wings level; proper airspeed; find a good place to land." A nice green field lay ahead a little to the left. As I landed on a small rise, the left gear broke and the right one bent slightly. I was okay, did the repairs in the field and got it to the airport. I figured that I had an electrical short as the 503 just quit with no warning.
I checked the wiring, made sure it was all good and tight then decided to fly it back home. I started the engine and it sounded good. I did a good check out and run-up, then took-off down Runway 36 heading for home. I climbed to 600 ft. AGL since it wasn't that far to go.
As I arrived back home, I was closing in on final so I set up for landing and throttled back. It died again at 600 feet. Okay... here I go again. This time a green pasture was to my right and in back of me. I dropped the nose to keep the 55 MPH airspeed because I had to make a 180 degree turn. I leveled out and did a small slip to avoid a fence on roll out. I could see some thick grass on the other side of the field and helped greatly in stopping me.
The deputy sheriff and some local folks came to check on me. My plane and I recieved no damage. This time I decided not to test fate again and borrowed a trailer to haul it back to my hangar. I found that the front cylinder had siezed up. I've had it re-done and it is back on my C-II. I broke it in but am not 100% sure what caused that cylinder to sieze since the rear one was in good shape. Anyway, it was enough excitement for this 62 year-old for a while!
Jim in MO (Thanks to Leroy & Jerry for their help.)