Grounded for a long time

I’m going to be grounded for a long time — possibly a few months — so I might not be posting much to this blog. After reattaching my overhauled and tested propeller, the shop was unable to complete a compass swing with either of two different compasses. It turns out that my plane has become heavily magnetized from the lightning hit (which I am now fairly certain happened while the plane was parked). A compass will deflect heavily towards the front part of the plane anywhere a few feet of it.

The good news is that Cherokees are mostly aluminum (and the firewall is stainless steel), so the problem is localized. Planes with steel frames, like the Mooney or most rag-and-tube planes, are extremely difficult to degauss, and are sometimes scrapped after become magnetized. In my plane, the main steel structures that could be magnetized are the engine mount, the crankshaft, and the nose strut, so the plane is probably repairable, though the insurance company may still decide to write it off.

More importantly, though, since the plane is unusually heavily magnetized, it’s almost certain that a strong electrical current passed through the engine block. That means that the engine has to be removed from the plane, shipped to Toronto, and completely disassembled and magnafluxed. Depending on how busy the shops are, I might not see my plane for a few months. I’m grateful right now that I have a helpful insurance broker who’s dealing with the adjuster on my behalf, and I’m also grateful that I took the picture of the prop that I published here earlier.

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4 Responses to Grounded for a long time

  1. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Poor David and David’s bird. A lightning strike on the ground does seem much more likely than one in clear air.

  2. Paul Tomblin says:

    Oh man, that’s sad. But I figured it couldn’t have happened with you in the plane without you noticing. I was in a AzTruck coming into Teterboro once where we were hit by something (don’t know if it was lightning or something ground based) that made a very loud noise in the radios and caused both the pilots and my GPSes to blank out. His GPS didn’t come back until we were on the ground again, but mine came back in a few seconds.

  3. Sorry to hear you are grounded, but glad to hear it wasn’t for any more of a serious reason. I’ve learned a lot from your episode, so thanks and keep them coming!

  4. Pingback: Land and Hold Short » Back in the air

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