I read a great article this morning on the AOPA web page, "When a Portable Becomes Primary". We all train for what if scenarios and I know my CFII Mike tortures me on every BFR. I guess this all ties into the current AND proficient discussion.
I've reposted on my blog because I really believe the training can save a life. I know I will check the battery level on my portable, which is most likely dead. I am going to set up a charger so I can keep my portable ready to go, full charge, in the hangar. I do have the adapter for my headset and a four foot patch cord that can easily tie into my outside antenna from the right side of my panel. I'll take some pictures and report back after my flying test.
|Illustration by John Ueland|
By Dave Hirschman
Cessna 210 pilot David Churchill wanted to do more with his regular instrument proficiency check than simply shoot approaches, so we came up with a plan that required him to use the portable GPS and handheld radio he carries as backups—but has never had to rely on it in a pinch.
The scenario we came up with was centered on a simulated electrical fire that required turning off the electrical master switch in flight, and leaving it off. We’d plug in a hand-held radio for communication and use Churchill’s portable Garmin 696 for GPS guidance.
To make our practice session even more demanding, we’d do it over West Virginia, where jagged terrain adds another layer of complexity. As it turned out, there were some surprises for both pilot and instructor.
We began at Greater Cumberland Regional Airport in western Maryland with a localizer approach to Runway 23. Churchill was under the hood and the airplane and its instruments were operating normally. After a missed approach, we entered a hold at the Kessel VOR (ESL), and implemented our scenario.
“Simulated electrical fire,” I said. “What are you going to do?”
Churchill clicked off the big red electrical master switch and, as expected, the panel went dark, the radios and intercom fell silent—and if you’re using a noise-cancelling headset with ship’s power—this is where it gets really noisy. The 696 was plugged into the panel, and it began a 30-second countdown to turn itself off. By simply touching any button, however, Churchill kept it alive on its internal battery.
“What next?” I asked, loudly, thanks to the dead intercom. Churchill reached behind his seat for his flight bag, took out a handheld radio, and connected it to the external antenna attachment on the right side of the instrument panel. Before doing so, he started to engage the autopilot, but quickly realized it wasn’t an option anymore.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.