Shortly After Soloing
By: John Shadel

My only engine out was shortly after I had soloed in my Challenger II in 2001. I had been up a few times since my solo just getting used to flying alone and getting the feel for controlling the airplane.

I had just come into the downwind leg setting up for a landing. As I turned to base, I brought the 503 back to idle to prepare to get everything lined up for the landing and establish my glide slope. Lo and behold, the motor sputtered a few times and then quit. I was lined up with the center of the runway, coming down at 60 MPH and in what appeared to be an almost perfect glide slope.

I thought for a minute about trying to restart the engine, but the runway was coming up quickly. The thought of having to land without power was a little scary since I had never done it before.

But I remembered those words that were drilled into me during training – “always fly the plane first”. Then I thought to myself - “I can make this” and decided to just go ahead and fly it in, instead of concentrating on trying to restart the motor. I made an almost perfect landing and taxied off the runway.

What did I learn from this?

First, I learned that it’s important to fix engine problems that can cause your motor to quit unexpectedly, which I did promptly before I went up again. And secondly, I learned that it’s important to pay attention to flying the airplane first instead of concentrating on trying to fix what went wrong.

Ultimately, I think this made the difference between making a successful landing and the unpleasant alternative, which could have destroyed my airplane or worse, put me in the hospital. It’s a lesson I will never forget.

John Shadel,
Information Systems Specialist
PC MD Consultants