Eating Up Runway

Jim was in his office one afternoon when a young IP came in and asked to speak to him.  Mike was relatively new and was somewhat ‘white’ in the face.  Of course, Jim told him to come in and have a seat.  Then he asked what was on his mind.  Mike slowly began to share his story.

One of the maneuvers we performed in the Contact phase of T-38s was a Simulated Single-Engine Heavyweight approach and landing, to a touch and go, right after initial takeoff.  This would simulate a ‘worse case’ senerio of losing an engine right after take off.  Depending on the student, and where he was in training, we would either pull a throttle to Idle right after takeoff, or somewhere on Final Approach.  If we pulled the throttle back just after takeoff we would create a full imbalance that we would have to deal with later, so often we would wait until turning final.  However, in the beginning of training a throttle came to Idle just after the gear and flaps were retracted.

On this particular day Mike pulled the throttle to Idle just after takeoff.  It was hot that day, in Enid, OK so engine performance was nominal, but safe in and of itself.

Everything was normal through the approach and touchdown.  Then on the subsequent touch and go, the aircraft did not accelerate as normal.  It was noticeably slow and Mike was ‘eating up runway.’  Feeling something was “not quite right,” Mike began looking around the cockpit.  It was then that he discovered that one of the throttles was still in Idle!  Holy Crap!  (The student had only advanced one throttle to ‘full’ power.)

To lend a perspective to the gravity of it all, on initial takeoff we would use Afterburner, on both engines.  Here Mike was now, on takeoff roll, only 400 pounds lighter, using a just a single engine, in Military power.  Not good!

So he selected Afterburner on both engines and complete the takeoff – many feet further down the runway!

When Jim shared this story with me I cringed!  There but for the grace of God…

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