CU Flying Club BBQ

If you're young and like to fly, you should check out the CU Flying Club. Aside from cool tours, presentations and typical club activities, they also offer an incredibly cheap ground school and often have fly-outs. They seem to be pretty decent pilots too. Just look at all the fun these pretty young people are having. Pretty cheap too. 

Plus you get to wear a sweet headset. 

 

Pictured: A plane.

 

This particular plane- technically a powered glider- had a somewhat alarming incident near the BBQ. While burgers were being grilled and introductions made, the owner of the above aircraft was preflighting his craft for a day of cruising. The peculiar nature of the aircraft eventually drew our interest. Turns out the it's a glider with an engine and prop. This may sound strange and pedantic, but in fact the craft is quite a bit lighter than a proper plane. There are likely other distinctions to be made as well, but that much is beyond me. 

So, while it is labeled 'experimental', the craft is not a homebrew. Just rare enough to fall below the number needed to escape experimental status, as the owner's wife reassuringly explained to me. I was convinced enough to watch. As the pilot finished his assessment and boarded, I contemplated the costs and benefits of a self-powered glider. On one hand, the engine generally becomes less critical to maintaining air worthiness. On the other, the lack of a tow plane puts a renewed focus on the aircraft during take-off. Not much different from any other small plane in that respect I suppose. My contemplations of disaster were cut short by the sound of the prop being spun up. 'Put put proom', followed by the familiar 'brrrrrrrr' of a prop aircraft, the vehicle was poised to begin its majestic journey upward. 

The plane lurched. And died.

"Uh. Hmm."

Turns out the prop bolts sheared right off. That's...not good. You can sort of see the shear in the above photo. The bolts are supposed to hold everything together around the crankshaft. In this case, the prop was now rattling around the crankshaft aggressively. The pilot killed it pretty quick, but the prop's were already fucked up. Now, why did the prop bolts all shear off? I have no clue. That seems impossibly scary. At least it happened on the ground.