Posted/Written By MIKE.
Being an electrical engineering major it is very hard for me to find time to go flying. I find at least one day a month to go flying so I can stay current. Two weeks ago Megan and I decided to plan a Friday trip to Muncie for dinner. We invited some friends at Ball State to meet us at the restaurant and convinced our friend Amanda to go with us. This would be her first flight in a small aircraft. Amanda needs a wheel chair (and I _neglected_ to tell her how difficult it would be to get her in and out of the archer). I got her in with out any problem and took the chair apart and it fit easily into the trunk. The plane has a new engine heater so the plane was easy to start. We made it to Muncie with out event. We had dinner and relaxed with friends. We had been a Muncie for two hours. The plane was very cold. I knew she'd be hard to get started. I gave her 4 hits on the manual primer and tried to crank the engine. She sputtered and died. I pulled the mix and tried to fire again. She did. But stalled before I could add back the mixture. Tried again but to no avail. I turned off the master switch and the mags. Then, I sat back as my right arm was tired from fighting a very cold throttle. I then noticed some movement out my right window (which was very fogged over from the three passengers breathing hard from the cold). I opened the little vent window and noticed a cloud of smoke. I climbed out of the plane to take a look. My passengers looked very concerned at this point. I told them to relax and sit tight as I was just going to take a look.
I jumped off the front of the wing and noticed a three inch flame pouring out of the nose strut. I jumped up and yelled "Every one out of the Plane, NOW!" I grabbed Amanda and lifted her out of the plane effortlessly. I ran her 30 some yards from the plane and set her on the very cold tarmac. I turned to ensure Megan was out and ran to find an fire extinguisher. I promptly put of the fire. After that, A mechanic who was working overtime came out to make sure every one was OK (I believe he thought Amanda was injured because she wasn't standing up when he offered to take the girls inside where it was warm). We opened the cowling and there was fuel all over the carburetor dripping out the the cowling. I knew I had a small carburetor fire. No big deal right? Normally, continuing to crank the throttle will start the engine and suck up the carburetor fire. Well this carb fire was multiplied by a line leak over the carburetor causing a much larger fire than normal. The mechanic let us "chill" in the heated hanger where he was working until our ride arrived. I called home and got a ride, which took two hours to arrive. The plane remained at Muncie for a mechanic to check it out.
As Megan tells it: "plane burn. that bad. mikey jump out of plane. he grab cripple girl and he run real hard. then grab fire putter outer. fire go byebye. yay mikey."