21 July 2000

Snake on the windshield

Liz, my sister Carol and her family were 40 miles east of Rapid City, SD flight seeing the Badlands. It was a little hazy from forest fires from the west. Suddenly the forward visibility was much worse over the nose. Then I realized smoke was pouring out of the right side of the engine. I pointed to the nose and said, "Is that what I think that is?" Liz thought I was pointing to something on the ground. I looked at the oil temp and pressure and listened closely to the engine. Everything seemed normal. Then suddenly the smoke quit. A few seconds later, a black "snake" struck the right windshield with a loud bang. Another scan of the panel revealed the lit "idiot light" for Alternator #2. I then put it together. The alternator bearings failed and seized. The fan belt continued to turn causing it to burn up, break and depart the engine. A P210 has two alternators and number one was working OK. We were just a few minutes from an uneventful landing in excellent visual conditions. Examination of the plane on the ground confirmed my suspicions.

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