AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 100

RUDDER & WRENCH
NEVER AGAIN /
Landing at
Devil's Finger
Engine-out at night
BY TOM HILDEBRANT
of if the engine quit now where would I land? But that never
happens, right? Only to someone else. My wife sat up from
her nap, snapped a picture of the beautiful sunset, and laid
back down.
Then it happened. The droning engine just stopped. It
really stopped!
I kicked off the autopilot and tried a restart. Nothing.
A quick look at my iPad and ForeFlight showed no airport
within the gliding distance circle but there was a private strip
to the west, just outside the circle. I turned west and called
Center: " Eight-three-one Papa Zulu, emergency engine-out. "
They came back with the chilling words: " How many souls
on board? State your intentions. "
I keyed the mic. " Two souls on board
turning west towards a ranch but I'm
showing we don't have altitude to make
it. " I looked back down at the moving
map on my iPad and saw the name of the
strip was " Devil's Finger. "
Now let that sink in. Two souls in a
dead ship full of fuel descending at 80
mph toward the Devil's Finger at dusk
with ForeFlight telling us we can't make
it. What could possibly go wrong?
ATC said they would lose radar coverage
and communications at 2,000 feet
but for us to try to call by phone once on
the ground. Sure enough that was their
last transmission.
The iPad now showed we might just
get make it. Mental checklist: turn off
fuel, turn off the master switch, turn off
key, what else? Can't remember, forget it,
just fly the plane.
I looked up and saw an airstrip-
not just an airstrip but a huge, weedy,
100-foot-by-6,500-foot concrete runway.
MY WIFE AND I started out flying on a recent Saturday to Port
Aransas, Texas, in our Cessna 182 to have a day of fun in the sun
with friends who had driven down the day before. Everything
was fine until about 45 minutes out from Port Aransas ATC
informed us that Mustang Beach Airport was closed because
of a fatal aircraft accident. We diverted to Aransas County
Airport in Rockport where the manager said Port A would
probably remain closed until Monday. Our friends came across
the ferry, picked us up, and put us up for the night, and we all
had a great time.
Sunday evening we started back across the ferry only to
find a one-hour line. No problem, part of the flight would be at
night-smoother air. My wife asked me to call the airport and
have them fuel the airplane so we could just leave. I argued that
self-serve would save us 20 cents a gallon but then agreed and
called the airport. We kicked the tires, lit the fire, and were off.
Two hours into the flight I was sitting back at 6,500 feet
as the autopilot droned us along playing a game in my mind
100
AOPA PILOT / August 2021
I was later told it was a World War II military airstrip where
they tested radar back in the day. Beautiful, but now I was too
high so I put the airplane into a steep slip that would scare
the heck out of anyone not familiar with the maneuver-like,
say, my wife. She was wide-eyed but to her credit she never
said a word.
Just as we got near the ground, I took out the slip and
heard the sweetest sound: chirp, chirp, chirp. Three tires
touching down softly with the prop frozen in place. I hit the
master switch and an airplane somewhere above keyed up
asking, " Eight-three-one Papa Zulu are you still with us? " I
gladly answered, " Safe on the ground. "
I looked over at my wife, who had been quiet and peaceful
looking the whole time, and that's when the tears started
flowing. She said she had been praying for the full 7 minutes
it took to arrive where we now were standing, and that
was the middle of nowhere on a more than 5,000-acre ranch.
This old runway was surrounded by a 10-foot fence and it
SARAH HANSON

AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - BB1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - BB2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 10
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 12
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 22
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 24
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 26
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 28
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 30
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 32
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 34
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 38
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 40
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 42
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 50
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 60
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 64
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 68
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 72
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 74
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 76
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 78
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 86
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 88
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 91
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 92
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 93
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 94
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 95
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 96
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 97
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 98
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 99
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 100
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 101
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 102
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 103
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 104
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 105
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 106
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 107
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 108
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 109
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 110
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 111
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - 112
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - August 2021 - Cover4
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