03 July 1984

Why are we losing altitude?

July 2-3, 1984

Rob and I were flying from Dayton to Greensboro, North Carolina and back. We had just taken off from Charleston, West Virginia when I noticed that the airplane started descending 100 feet per minute. No one had touched the trim or power settings. I checked the mixture and turned the carburetor heat on and off. There was no change in engine performance. Next I turned the magneto switch from both to just the right magneto. The engine rpm did not change. I told Rob that we had a left magneto failure. He asked me how I knew, and I explained that there should be an rpm drop going from both magnetos to just one. But to prove the point, I put the ignition on the left magneto only and the engine immediately sputtered and almost failed. The engine came back to life when I turned the switch back to both magnetos.

Since it was Sunday at 5:00 p.m., all maintenance shops would have been closed. Wherever the airplane landed was where it was going to stay. Our choice was to return to Dayton. So far this has been my only in-flight magneto failure. Rob decided to stay home. I still had two people to retrieve from Greensboro. I got another airplane and completed the round trip at 3:00 a.m. Time to spare, go by air!

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