Flying Journal "The Multi-Engine Rating"

It began to look like I was putting off getting the multi-engine rating. I had flown fine for seven years in single engine planes. Perhaps I was just jealous of those who had it but I knew all the jokes. "What's the second engine for? It takes you to the scene of the crash." With one engine, I know what I am going to do if it quits; I am going to land in the nearest good field. Most insurance companies require 500 or 1000 hours or more to allow you to fly a twin. The quickest way to get income from flying is to get the CFI right after the commercial.

Last year I had started to feel incomplete as an instructor and had dealt with that feeling by acquiring the instrument instructor. I was glad, since half my work in some of the winter months was instrument instruction. As my third instrument student passed his checkride last week and I have given over 200 hours of instrument instruction, I am really starting to understand that mode of flying and its ramifications.

As usual, my students push me along. I was tired of saying, "I can fly with you to this point; then you have to to go to someone else." I started multi-engine training in the Beechcraft Duchess with Doug Jackson in March. Lots of people do it in a weekend but between Doug's schedule, my schedule and airplane schedules, I didn't get finished 'til June.

Flying the twin is great. You push that handful of throttles forward and things happen! (until the instructor pulls one - well, things are still happening - like the airplane is yawing all over the runway until you pull the other throttle back). As a twin climbs, maybe 1500 feet per minute or so (until the MEI pulls an engine). Joke: What's the most dangerous situation in an airplane? Two multi-engine instructors - they are always pulling engines on each other!

It's a new challenge, memorizing the basic emergency checklist - Engine fails; power up, clean up, pumps up; identify (dead foot, dead engine) verify, feather; trim, set good engine, secure dead engine, cowl flaps. There's a rhythm to it, almost a dance. Another confidence builder.

The most fun is when an engine fails as you turn onto the localizer on an ILS approach and the approach controller hands you off to the tower. The first time, I did the radio call while flying right through the course but that's not the priority. Remember - Avigate, Navigate and Communicate? Actually, engine-out approaches and land-ings aren't as bad as I feared, since your are at reduced power anyway there is not so much asymmetrical thrust.

As usual, when I started sharing my new adventures, my friends have stories, too. A friend told about a check ride in a B-24. Right after takeoff, the check pilot pulled BOTH right side engines. There was no way one man could put enough control pressure to keep it straight. It started to roll when he came upon the correct answer for that situation which was to call for help and just like in the movies the two of them applied enough pressure to straighten it out.

Oh, yes, a multi-engine checkride is lots of fun. Like Bruce Aschwege said, "now that I have the rating, I'd like to go find out how it flies on two engines." And, I still have one more checkride to look forward to for the MEI. Now I need to build PIC time and I have been practicing from the right seat. My daughter Kathy and I flew the Duchess to Chillicothe and had lunch with my mom and brothers and their families and gave them all rides. Dianne and I flew to St. Louis for lunch.

Like all ratings, I really don't feel like I am good enough at it. It's another license to go out safely and learn more and develop greater mastery. I've flow the Duchess, the Aztec for an hour and have a few hours observing in a Navaho. Nothing wild like a Twin Comanche. I understand they recently raised the recommend-ed approach speed from 90 to 115 knots. That sounds wild!

Enjoy flying! Stay current and go out and commit aviation safety!


[Editor's NOTE: This article originally appeared in the July 1997 issue]

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