Archive for October, 2015

Gimli Glider

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

If a Boeing 767 runs out of fuel at 41,000 feet what do you have?  Answer: A 132 ton glider with a sink rate of over 2000 feet-per-minute and marginally enough hydraulic pressure to control the ailerons, elevator, and rudder. Put veteran pilots Bob Pearson and cool-as-a-cucumber Maurice Quintal in the cockpit and you’ve got the unbelievable but true story of Air Canada Flight 143, known ever since as the Gimli Glider.

Flight 143’s problems began on the ground in Montreal. A computer known as the Fuel Quantity Information System Processor manages the entire 767 fuel loading process. The FQIS controls the fuel pumps and drives all of the 767’s fuel gauges. Little is left for crew and refuelers to do but hook up the hoses and dial in the desired fuel load. But the FQIS was not working properly on Flight 143. The fault  was later discovered to be a poorly soldered sensor. An improbable sequence of circuit-breaking mistakes made by an Air Canada technician independently investigating the problem defeated several layers of redundancy built into the system. This left Aircraft # 604 without working fuel gauges.

In order to make their flight from Montreal to Ottawa and on to Edmonton, Flight 143’s maintenance crew resorted to calculating the 767’s fuel load by hand. This was done using a procedure known as dipping, or “dripping” the tanks. “Dripping” could be compared to calculating the amount of oil in a car based on taking a dipstick reading.

Among other things, the specific gravity of jet fuel is needed to make the proper “drip” calculations.

The flight crew had never been trained how to perform the  calculations. To be safe they re-ran the numbers three times to be absolutely, positively sure the refuelers hadn’t made any mistakes; each time using 1.77 pounds/liter as the specific gravity factor. This was the factor written on the refueler’s slip and used on all of the other planes in Air Canada’s fleet. The factor the refuelers and the crew should have used on the brand new, all-metric 767 was .8 kg/liter of kerosene.

After a brief hop Flight 143 landed in Ottawa. To be completely safe, Pearson insisted on having the 767 re-dripped. The refuelers reporting the plane as having 11,430 liters of fuel contained in the two wing tanks. Pearson and Quintal, again using the same incorrect factor used in Montreal, calculated they had 20,400 kilos of fuel on board. In fact, they left for Ottawa with only 9144 kilos, roughly half what would be needed to reach Edmonton.

Lacking real fuel gauges Quintal and Pearson manually keyed 20,400 into the 767’s flight management computer. The flight management computer kept rough track of the amount of fuel remaining by subtracting the amount of fuel burned from the amount (they believed) they had started with. Their fate was now sealed.

According to Pearson, the crew and passengers had just finished dinner when the first warning light came on. Flight 143 was outbound over Red Lake Ontario at 41,000 feet and 469 knots at the time. The 767’s Engine Indicator and Crew Alerting System beeped four times in quick  succession, alerting them to a fuel pressure problem. “At that point” Pearson says “We believed we had a failed fuel pump in the left wing, and switched it off. We also considered the possibility we were having some kind of a computer problem. Our flight management computer showed more than adequate fuel remaining for the duration of the flight. We’d made fuel checks at two waypoints and had no other indications of a fuel shortage.” When a second fuel pressure warning light came on, Pearson felt it was too much of a coincidence and made a decision to divert to Winnipeg. Flight 143 requested an emergency clearance and began a gradual descent to 28,000. Says Pearson, “Circumstances then began to build fairly rapidly.” The other left wing pressure gauge lit up, and the 767’s left engine quickly flamed out. The crew tried crossfeeding the tanks, initially suspecting a pump failure.

Pearson and Quintal immediately began making preparations for a one engine landing. Then another fuel light lit up. Two minutes later, just as preparations were being completed, the EICAS issued a sharp bong–indicating the complete and total loss of both engines.  Says Quintal “It’s a sound that Bob and I had never heard before. It’s not in the simulator.” After the “bong,” things got quiet. Real quite. Starved of fuel, both Pratt & Whitney engines had flamed out.

At 1:21 GMT, the forty million dollar, state-of-the-art Boeing 767 had become a glider. The APU, designed to supply electrical and pneumatic power under emergency conditions, was no help because it drank from the same fuel tanks as the main engines. Approaching 28,000 feet the 767’s glass cockpit went dark. Pilot Bob Pearson was left with a radio and standby instruments, noticeably lacking a vertical speed indicator – the glider pilot’s instrument of choice. Hydraulic pressure was falling fast and the plane’s controls were quickly becoming  inoperative. But the engineers at Boeing had foreseen even this most unlikely of scenarios and provided one last failsafe&emdash;the RAT.

The RAT is the Ram Air Turbine, a propeller driven hydraulic pump tucked under the belly of the 767. The RAT can supply just enough hydraulic pressure to move the control surfaces and enable a dead-stick landing. The loss of both engines caused the RAT to automatically drop into the airstream and begin supplying hydraulic pressure.

As Pearson began gliding the big bird, Quintal “got busy” in the manuals looking for procedures for dealing with the loss of both engines. There were none.. Neither he nor Pearson nor any other 767 pilot had ever been trained on this contingency. Pearson reports he was thinking “I wonder how it’s all going to turn out.” Controllers in  Winnipeg began suggesting alternate landing spots, but none of the airports suggested, including Gimli, had the emergency equipment Flight 143 would need for a crash landing. The 767’s radar transponder had gone dark leaving controllers in Winnipeg using a cardboard ruler on the radar screen to try and determine the 767’s location and rate of descent.

Pearson glided the 767 at 220 knots, his best guess as to the optimum airspeed. There was nothing in the manual about minimum sink – Boeing never expected anyone to try and glide one of their jumbo jets. The windmilling engine fans created enormous drag, giving the 767 a sink  rate of somewhere between 2000 and 2500 fpm. Copilot Quintal began making glide-slope calculations to see if they’d make Winnipeg. The 767 had lost 5000 feet of altitude over the prior ten nautical (11 statute) miles, giving a glide ratio of approximately 11:1. ATC controllers and Quintal both calculated that Winnipeg was going to be too far a glide;the 767 was sinking too fast. “We’re not going to make Winnipeg” he told Pearson. Pearson trusted Quintal absolutely at this critical moment, and immediately turned  north.

Only Gimli, the site of an abandoned Royal Canadian Air Force Base remained as a possible landing spot. It was 12 miles away. It wasn’t in Air Canada’s equivalent of eppensen manuals,but Quintal was familiar with it because he’d been stationed there in the service.  Unknown to him and the controllers in Winnipeg, Runway 32L (left) of Gimli’s twin 6800 foot runways had become inactive and was now used for auto racing. A steel guard rail had been installed down most of the southeastern portion of 32L, dividing it into a two lane dragstrip. This was the runway Pearson would ultimately try and land  on, courting tragedy of epic proportions.

To say that runway 32L was being used for auto racing is perhaps an understatement. Gimli’s inactive runway had been “carved up” into a variety of racing courses, including the aforementioned dragstrip. Drag races were perhaps the only auto racing event not taking place on July 23rd, 1983 since this was “Family Day” for the Winnipeg Sports  Car Club. Go-cart races were being held on one portion of runway 32L and just past the dragstrip another portion of the runway served as the final straightaway for a road course. Around the edges of the straightaway were cars, campers, kids, and families in abundance. To land an airplane in the midst of all of this activity was certain  disaster.

Pearson and Copilot Quintal turned toward Gimli and continued their steep glide. Flight 143 disappeared below Winnipeg’s radar screens, the controllers frantically radioing for information about the number of “souls” on board. Approaching Gimli, Pearson and Quintal made their  next unpleasant discovery: The RAT didn’t supply hydraulic pressure to the 767’s landing gear. Pearson ordered a “gravity drop” as Pearson thumbed frantically through the Quick Reference Handbook, or QRH. Quintal soon tossed the QRH aside and hit the button to release the gear door pins. They heard the main gear fall and lock in place. But  Quintal only got two green lights, not three. The nose gear hadn’t gone over center and locked, despite the “assist” it was given by the wind.

Six miles out Pearson began his final approach onto what was formerly RCAFB Gimli. Pearson says his attention was totally concentrated on the airspeed indicator from this point on. Approaching runway 32L he realized he was too high and too fast, and slowed to 180 knots. Lacking divebrakes, he did what any sailplane pilot would do: He  crossed the controls and threw the 767 into a vicious sideslip. Slips are normally avoided on commercial flights because of the tremendous buffeting it creates, unnerving passengers. As he put the plane into a slip some of Flight 143’s passengers ended up looking at nothing but blue sky, the others straight down at a golf course. Says Quintal, “It  was an odd feeling. The left wing was down, so I was up compared to Bob. I sort of looked down at him, not sideways anymore.”

The only problem was that the slip further slowed the RAT, costing Pearson precious hydraulic pressure. Would he be able to wrestle the 767’s dipped wing up before the plane struck the ground? Trees and golfers were visible out the starboard side passengers’ windows as the 767 hurtled toward the threshold at 180 knots, 30-50 knots faster than  normal. The RAT didn’t supply “juice” to the 767’s flaps or slats so the landing was going to be hot. Pearson didn’t recover from the slip until the very last moment. A passenger reportedly said “Christ, I can almost see what clubs they are using.” Copilot Quintal suspected Pearson hadn’t seen the guardrail and the multitude of people and cars down the runway. But at this point it was too late to say anything. A glider only gets one chance at a landing, and they were committed. Quintal bit his lip and remained silent.

Why did Pearson select 32L instead of 32R? Gimli was uncontrolled so Pearson had to rely on visual cues. It was approaching dusk. Runway 32L was a bit wider, having been the primary runway at Gimli in prior year. Light stantions still led up to 32L. And the “X” painted on 32L,  indicating its inactive status, was reportedly quite faded or  non-existent. Having made an initial decision to go for 32L the wide separation of the runways would have made it impossible for Pearson to divert to 32R at the last moment. Pearson says he, “Never even saw 32R, focusing instead on airspeed, attitude, and his plane’s relationship to the threshold of 32L.”

The 767 silently leveled off and the main gear touched down as spectators, racers, and kids on bicycles fled the runway. The gigantic Boeing was about to become a 132 ton, silver bulldozer. One member of the Winnipeg Sports Car Club reported he was walking down the dragstrip, five gallon can full of hi-octane racing fuel in hand, when  he looked up and saw the 767 headed right for him. Pearson stood on the brakes the instant the main gear touched down. An explosion rocked the 767’s cabin as two tires blew. The nose gear, which hadn’t locked down, collapsed with a bang.. The nose of the 767 slammed against the tarmac, bounced, then began throwing a three hundred foot shower of sparks. The right engine nacelle struck the ground. The 767 reached the tail end of the dragstrip and the nose grazed a few of the guardrail’s wooden support poles. (The dragstrip began in the middle  of the runway with the guardrail extending towards 32L’s threshold) Pearson applied extra right brake so the main gear would straddle the guardrail. Would the sports car fans be able to get out of the way, or would Pearson have to veer the big jet off the runway to avoid hitting stragglers?

The 767 came to a stop on its nose, mains, and right engine nacelle less than a hundred feet from spectators, barbecues and campers. All of the race fans had managed to flee the path of the silver bulldozer. The 767’s fuselage was intact. For an instant, there was silence in the cabin. Then cheers and applause broke out. They’d made it; > everyone was alive. But it wasn’t over yet. A small fire had broken out in the nose of the aircraft. Oily black smoke began to pour into the cockpit. The fiery deaths of passengers in an Air Canada DC-9 that had made an emergency landing in Cincinnati a month before was on the flight attendants’ minds and an emergency evacuation was ordered. The unusual nose-down angle the plane was resting at made the rear emergency slides nearly vertical. Descending them was treacherous.  The only injuries that resulted from Pearson’s dead-stick landing of Flight 143 came from passengers exiting the rear emergency slide slamming into the asphalt. None of the injuries were life-threatening. The fire in the aircraft’s nose area was battled by members of the Winnipeg Sports Car Club who converged on the plane with dozens of  hand-held fire extinguishers. Pearson had touched down 800 feet from the threshold and used a mere 3000 feet of runway to stop. A general aviation pilot who viewed the landing from a Cessna on the apron of 32R described it as “Impeccable.” The 767 was relatively undamaged.

Air Canada Aircraft # 604 was repaired sufficiently to be flown out of Gimli two days later. After approximately $1M in repairs, consisting primarily of nose gear replacement, skin repairs and replacement of a wiring harness it re-entered the Air Canada fleet. To this day Aircraft # 604 is known to insiders as “The Gimli Glider.” The avoidance of disaster was credited to Capt. Pearson’s “Knowledge of  gliding which he applied in an emergency situation to the landing of one of the most sophisticated aircraft ever built.” Captain Pearson strongly credits Quintal for his cockpit management of “Everything but the actual flight controls,” including his recommendation of Gimli as an landing spot. Captains Pearson and Quintal spoke at the 1991 SSA  Convention in Albuquerque about their experiences. Pearson was, at the time, still employed and flying for Air Canada, and occasionally flying his Blanik L-13 sailplane on the weekends; he has since retired to raise horses. Maurice Quintal is now an A-320 Pilot for Air Canada, and will soon be captaining 767’s; including Aircraft # 604.

An amusing side-note to the Gimli story is that after Flight 143 had landed safely, a group of Air Canada mechanics were dispatched to drive down and begin effecting repair. They piled into a van with all their tools. They reportedly ran out of fuel en-route, finding themselves stranded somewhere in the backwoods of Manitoba.


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WIFA Private Pilot Ground School 141

Monday, October 26th, 2015

document header

Private Pilot Ground School (141 Program)

Dec 13.0 Aerodynamic Principles

Dec 31.0 SFRA Procedures

Dec 82.5 Airplane systems

Dec 103.0 The Flight Environment

Dec 153.0 Communications and Flight

Dec 173.0 FARs

Dec 223.0 Meteorology

Dec 293.0 Interpreting Weather Data

Jan 52.5 Human Factors

Jan 72.5 Airplane Performance

Jan 123.0 Navigation

Jan 142.0 Planning a cross country

Jan 193.0 Review for finals


Class will meet each evening from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM. Students should plan on being there each evening for 3 hours. Some nights may be shorter depending on how quickly we can cover the required material.

Price will be $475.00 plus books and supplies

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Flymall October 2015 Newsletter

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Welcome to the Kraemer Aviation/Flymall October 2015 newsletter.

We are pleased to announce that we have teamed up with the Washington International Flight Academy at the Montgomery County Airpark. Harry will be overseeing the flight school and developing new programs.  Harry will also be working with the FAA in developing more FAA approved training programs for the flight school.

If you have not seen our post about a flight from Israel to Maryland in a Cessna 172 you can read it by clicking here. A flight that takes you from the Middle East, across the Mediterranean, Europe, the north Atlantic, Canada, and down the east coast of the United States.

We have numerous used aircraft for sale ranging from a biplane for under $10,000 to a couple of high performance Mooney aircraft. View our used aircraft section for our listings.

If you know of anyone needing an appraisal on their modern or classic aircraft (including warbirds), classic or collector car/motorcycle, or other vehicle send them to us. We pay referral fees to folks that send us business. Click here for our appraisal page and for more information on our appraisals.

Winter is typically the time we clean out the hangar or garage. If you plan to do some cleaning this winter and have items to sell let us list them in our online store for you for free.  Our store has over 20 categories ranging from automotive, motorcycle, aircraft parts, antiques, and more.  Click here to visit our store – click on the store tab on the left navigation bar. 

For more updates between newsletters you can like or follow us on Facebook by clicking here. Hope to see you at some of the wheels and wings events in the mid Atlantic region.  You can view our calendar to see where we will be by clicking here.  And for other events visit our events calendar by clicking here – with over 25 categories there is something for everyone.


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Instrument Checkride Aug 2015

Sunday, October 18th, 2015


– Starts out with standard paperwork review – and he will review every single thing required! Written signoff, written test report, instructor signoff of wrong answer review, practical signoff, DL, PPL, IACRA, etc, etc. He’ll also check your ARROW docs and your IFR required docs including pitot statics and VOR checks.

– All his questions come directly out of ASA’s Instrument Pilot Oral Exam Guide by Michael Hayes. He’ll literally sit right in front of you and flip through the book and cherry pic questions to ask you so I recommend you read this book several times over! He picks 10-15 questions from each of the 5 major sections. He asked about when an instrument rating is required, recency of experience, grace periods and IPCs, safety pilots, logging time, fuel req.s, ARROW, GPS database updates, EFBs, how to file and pick up IFR in the air, alternate req.s, diff types of NOTAMS, best way to get a briefing (FSS), various questions about the pitot static system instruments and errors, most important speed (groundspeed), power source for attitude and DG (vacuum). He keeps the questions specific to the airplane instruments that you are going to use (ie did not ask me a single question about EFIDs since I was flying steam gauges). He asked about 3 types of ice and how to avoid icing conditions (FL forecasts, winds aloft, PIREPs), diff types of fog, he’ll tell you it is Monday and you are planning to fly on Friday how do you start your weather planning and how does it change throughout the week as you get closer to departure time, also diff types of sigmets and airmets and what each one reports.

– For departures he’ll give you a TPP and ask you to look up a specific SID and explain it to him in detail including takeoff mins (even though part 91 has none but also ask what is prudent and what your personal mins are?), also asks how to calculate min climb or look up in table, and VOR checks.

– For en route he’ll ask you to take out the en route low altitude chart and show him the preplanned route that he gave you to plan and fly (KFDK D EMI V268 KHGR V501 KMRB D KFDK), then he’ll start pointing at various symbols and numbers on the map and ask what each one means (including TK routes for helos), and the definitions for each of the altitudes (MEA, MOCA, etc), also asks about reports to ATC, VFR on top, and lost comms (don’t forget to check the squelch!), oxygen req.s, and six skills of SRM (CARATS), rec procedures for TS penetration, he’ll also give you a blank piece of paper and ask you to draw out how VORs work, radials, TO, FR, etc., he’ll also ask about flying through P and T areas since the course he gave you would take you through P-40.

– For the arrival section he’ll ask to see approach plates at each destination and ask you to brief them in detail including where the highest obstruction is, the importance of info in the pilot briefing box, diff between DA and MDA, LNAV, LNAV/VNAV, and LPV, what the minimums are and what AGL each gives you, which runways have which lighting systems.


– you’ll be responsible for all actual comms with ground, tower, etc except he’ll be acting as clearance delivery and ARTCC. You’ll start off as planned flying direct to EMI, foggles go on at 500 AGL and will stay on for the remainder of the 1.6-2.2 hobbs time. Prior to reaching EMI he’ll give you vectors and then tell you to intercept and track V268 outbound from EMI. After a few minutes along V268 and prior to violating P-40 he’ll give you some more vectors and then clear you direct KMRB and ask intentions. You’ll get weather and then he’ll have you ask them for a practice ILS26 which you’ll fly to mins then go missed. You’ll do 1 complete course in the missed hold then give you direct KFDK. Enroute to KFDK he’ll take the controls and you’ll do some unusual attitude recoveries then he’ll tell you to resume own navigation (you’re probably going the wrong way initially after being upside downJ…JK), while direct KFDK again he’ll ask intentions where you’ll get weather and then request practice RNAV Y 23, he’ll give you vectors to eventually put you on to one of the IAFs, you’ll fly this down to mins again and go missed again. This time prior to reaching the missed you’ll break off with vectors and ask you to set up for the VOR-A at which time you’ll find yourself on partial panel. You’ll fly this approach outbound through the published procedure turn and then back inbound and down to mins all on partial panel and then to a full stop. Use the GPS here to help identify NIORT INT if you plan to use it otherwise the cross radial off EMI is probably blocked by surrounding terrain. If you fly with iPAD, ForeFlight, and Stratus you are allowed to use them for situational awareness intermittently.

Private Pilot Checkride Oct 2015

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

October 2015 Checkride:
Oral – Very few straight knowledge questions, though quick, direct, simple answers were appreciated for those. Offered reasonable use of FAR/AIM, AFD, kneeboard, etc. if needed though I did not use it. Most of the exam was scenario-based with topics pulled from blue book. In general he wanted to know the practical implications of the topics discussed. For example, discussing torque and yaw effects he wanted to know that, ultimately at low speed, high power / AOA during a maneuver like a soft field takeoff they can cause a plane to veer off dangerously if not anticipated and managed. He was looking for a solid grasp of ADM and risk management, impact of environmental effects and weather, etc., and appropriate actions either through aircraft control or decisions. Items that N.L. seemed particularly pleased that I knew were:
VFR altitudes start above 3000 foot AGL
Configuration and limitations for P-40 / R-4009 / TFR
60nm SFRA training requirements and markings for such on sectional
G limits for aircraft categories
Why there are reduced cloud clearance requirements in Class B
Flight portion- 1st leg of XC flown starting from climb-out; did not climb to cruise altitude first. He was not overly concerned about timing to checkpoint., however I has already indicated that a recalculation was needed to account for lower ground speed climb and estimated new ETA. He asked me a couple of times to identify where we were on the chart, usually while we were near a prominent feature (like a mountain ridge). At first checkpoint, diverted to MRB via VOR. This was very simple as I was already tuned to the radial which was being used to help identify the checkpoint. After visually identifying MRB, turned back towards KFDK and began maneuvers in training area between the ridges. Executed one set of clearing turns prior to slow flight, after that maneuvers were used to maintain a clear area.
We did the following:
Slow flight with turns
Stall in landing configuration
Imminent stall in takeoff configuration
Steep turns
Emergency descent (What would you do if the engine caught fire at altitude)
Goggles and unusual attitudes
Turns about a point
Return to KFDK for a normal full stop landing. Examiner did not limit use of avionics for return.
Soft field takeoff
Short field landing, touch and go
After some circling directed by the tower due to traffic, came in for an engine out approach. I identified that I was high, floating long and while slipping in opted to go around rather than force it down. Engine out landing.

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Private Pilot Checkride – flight portion

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

For the flying part of the exam show the examiner how the seats and doors work. Ask how they would like to handle things if we had a real emergency in flight. The examiner should tell you if he/she were going to take the controls. Suggest that during a real emergency that whoever was not at the controls would help with checklists and radios. You may do a soft field or short field take off. Be prepared to do steep turns. Under the hood you may fly some headings and altitudes. You will probably do some unusual attitudes. Next are the stalls. For the power off you should put the plane in landing configuration then stall. For the power on stall you should get into take-off configuration and do the stall. At Frederick you may overfly the airport at 2500 feet and then the examiner may fail the engine abeam the numbers and ask you to put it on the numbers. Remember that safe is better than right on the spot. This may turn into a go around. You may do a short-soft field landing.

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Private Pilot Oral Exam

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Here are some notes from a private pilot oral exam as recalled from the pilot that took the check-ride.

Be able to tell the examiner what equipment, documents, and inspections are required for the plane to be airworthy and what you as PIC need in your possession to fly legally. Know and understand what is required in terms of currency requirements to take passengers. Know the night and day take off and landing currency, and BFR requirements. The examiner may draw a circle with a wind direction arrow next to it to symbolize turns around a point and ask where the angle of bank would be steepest and where it would be most shallow and be able to tell the examiner at what point your ground speed would be maximum/minimum. What do you if you find an F-16 alongside you? For this question know the intercept procedures. What frequency would you tune in to try to communicate (121.5) with them and what should you do with your transponder (7700). What would you do if you were flying along and saw red and green lights shining at you from the ground? An answer may be to assume that you busted the SFRA and that you would turn 180 and head back to land at the nearest airport outside the SFRA.


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