Mailing List Message #63410
From: Richard Sohn <>
Subject: Re: [FlyRotary] Engine out
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2017 20:46:17 -0500
To: Rotary motors in aircraft <>

Congratulation Ernest for keeping your cool and keep flying the airplane, no matter what. I had that 2 years ago, but with only 3min of glide. Did go into a cotton field, which looked really smooth from 600 ft up. The only thing I was thinking going into that 30" high cotton was "don't flip, don't flip...." about three times and it was still. I believe my glider flying helped in trying to land on the top of the cotton, rather then guessing where the solid ground might be.

Richard Sohn


On 6/3/2017 8:12 PM, Ernest Christley wrote:
I'm running a Corvair instead of a rotary, but I thought you guys would be interested in how I seem to be chasing Ed's gliding time.

Monday, I started the day with 3 hours of fuel, plus an hour's reserve. The plane had been down for 2 months while I did some upgrades, and I went out and did all sorts of interesting flying for 1.7 hours.  The weather was beautiful, and the plane was performing better than it ever has.  I was reluctantly headed in for the day, when the right tank ran dry.  I tried to switch, but the left tank wouldn't come online. I called an emergency on KTTA's frequency, since I had been circling their airspace the whole time (just in case something happened). It was nice to get that support from other pilots over the air, even if there was not one dang thing they could do.  I was 12 miles out, with the airport clearly in sight.  I headed straight for it as I continued to play with the selector switch.  My dual electric fuel pumps make a clackity racket when they're running dry, so I kept moving the handle back and forth hoping for the noise to turn into that deep guttural sounds that lets me know fuel is flowing.  I got nuthin', and TTA kept climbing up my windshield.

I turned toward highway US421.  It was covered in cars, and it soon became apparent that it wasn't going to happen either.  I looked around, picked a field, and set up a pattern to it.  Initially, it was a tobacco field, but I had come in to hot.  I had been afraid of extending the pattern to far.  There was a gravel road running beside it, so I swung over, but it took a sharp right about 100yds ahead.  I didn't think I could make the turn, so I banked left into an open field. The clumps of grass were about 8" high. The nose wheel caught, folded under, and I slid along on the cowl.

I've spent the past week pulling airplane parts out of the farmer's field, and today I got about the business of determining what happened.  The gascolator had a few pieces of trash in the bottom, but I'm not sure from where it came from.  I took the selector valve apart, and there didn't seem to be anything going on with it.  It turned smoothly, if not somewhat stiffly.  Then I played with the rod that connected the selector handle to the valve.  It was made from a 9" length of threaded rod.  An adaptor pinned it onto the valve's post.  Another adaptor connected to the inside of the handle.  Without turning an allen wrench pushed through the pin hole, I could turn the selector handle 90 degrees.  The rod just twisted like bubble gum. Apparently, with two months of sitting, the valve had gotten sticky enough that the rod gave before it did.  

I was completely unharmed.  I've suffered more damage getting the plane out of the field than I did putting it there.  The nose gear, firewall, forward belly and left side skin are trashed.  The rebuild starts tomorrow with building a stand to hold the engine while I work the aluminium.

Richard Sohn
8029 County HWY 1087
DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433
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