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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Engine Failure Landing

On the Road called Bloody 98

A life story by Jay Straub...

"I had been in the air about four hours and looked over to discover the oil pressure gauge on zero. I tapped on the gauge and nothing happened, so I decided to pull the power back to hopefully save the engine. As soon as I touched the throttle the engine quit. I grabbed the mic and called Memphis Center telling them I had just lost the engine and requested a heading to the closest airport. 

They turned me straight south heading 180. I asked what airport I was being vectored to and they told me Mobile, Alabama; then I asked them how far and they said 40 miles. I was shocked. I was expecting an airport closer than 40 miles. 

Memphis immediately handed me off to Mobile approach control and when I called them they asked what my rate of descent was. I told them and shortly after, they came back and said they thought I would make the airport. I didn’t think I stood much of a chance to make 40 miles from an altitude of 11,500 feet. I went through the restart procedure and was thrilled to get the engine running again. 

I thought okay, if I just push the throttle up enough to get another 3 or 4 miles I might make it. As soon as I inched the throttle up there was a loud banging noise, the prop stopped completely and the next thing you know there was smoke in the cockpit. Fortunately, the smoke cleared fairly quickly. 

The whole time I was gliding I was looking for a place to land and saw nothing but big trees below me. When the Mobile airport came into view it was clear to me that I was not going to make it. I called Mobile approach and told them that I saw the airport, could not make it and asked them where there was a road that I could potentially land on. They told me there was a two-lane county road that ran east and west just a few miles ahead. 

I spotted the road and some of the cars were already turning their headlights on. When I looked to the right the road had a little bit of a curve to it. Looking out to the left it was perfectly straight so I made a left turn and was lined up 1000 feet above ground level. The next thing you know something urged me to put it in a steep turn, make a 180, and land back the other direction. 

While I was in the turn I put the landing gear down, turned the landing lights on and extended the flaps. As I rolled out I was only about 200 feet above ground level. Cars coming toward him headed for the bar ditch and those going his direction had no idea I was there. I cleared the last one by about 50 feet and sat down right in front of the car. 

I pulled off the road and was in the parking lot of the Second Baptist Church of Semmes, Alabama. My heart was racing so I didn’t jump out immediately but within a minute or, I opened the door and proceeded to climb out. As I did this I realized there was already an ambulance parked behind me. 

The EMTs came running toward me and told me to sit back down, so I turned around and did. One of them jumped up on the wing, knelt down and strapped the blood pressure cuff on me. It was so high they told me I needed to sit still for about 15 minutes. We talked during that time and then the EMT checked it again and said I was good to get up but be careful.

I got out and immediately went to the front of the aircraft to check the engine oil. I pulled the dipstick and there was absolutely no oil on it. What in the world could’ve happen to all oil, I wondered.

By this time the news media was already there setting up the cameras to interview me and many people had pulled off the road to come and talk to me. One man told me,”You don’t know how lucky you are.” I asked him, “What makes you say that?” The man said,”Do you know what we call this road?” I said, “No what do you call it?” The man said, “We call this road bloody 98 because of all the traffic fatalities along here. He went on to say, “The traffic is also usually much heavier here at this time on Saturdays.” The news media went on to interview me and as they left I felt someone tugging on my shirt sleeve. I looked down and it was a little lady that I guessed to be around 80 years old. The little lady stuck her finger up in my face and said, “Young man, Jesus Christ kept you here for a reason.” I agreed with her but wouldn’t know until the next day the full extent of that.

The pastor of the church lived in a house back behind the church. He was there in the parking lot as this was all taking place. When everyone finally cleared out it was me and him. He helped me push the aircraft to the corner of the parking lot, since tomorrow was Sunday and they needed access to the spaces.

He took me to a hotel and as we drove along I asked the pastor if there was anyone that could come pick me up and bring me to church the next day. He said he would be more than happy to do that. The pastor dropped me off and I went up to the room to start making some phone calls.

I called the man that owned the aircraft to inform him on what had happened. His daughter answered the phone and as soon as she heard my voice she let out a cry and loudly told her dad, “Jay’s on the phone.” What a shock, they had already seen it on the news in Destin Florida. I told him what happened and he told me he would get a charter flight to bring me to Destin the next morning. I told him that would be great, but I was going to church first.

I laid there that night tossing and turning and didn’t sleep a single minute. I couldn’t stop thinking what a completely stupid thing that was to make a 180 when I was less than 1000 feet above the ground and land back the other direction where the road was not completely straight. As we drove, I was recognizing things I had seen from the air the night before. What jumped out was the fact that there were electrical highline wires crossing the road right about where I would have touched down the previous night if I had not made that 180.

Just a few months after that, I submitted an application to American Airlines."

Now Jay is Fighting 
for the Disabled!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

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