Well, that’s aviation for you, I guess

Today was supposed to be my third flight in the Lance. It takes 10 hours to check out in the Lance, and I’ve done about 3 so far. We’ve done all the basic air work, pattern landings. All we really needed to work on today were instrument approaches. I’ve got to get used to doing ILS approaches at 120 knots. Everything happens a lot faster, but if you can do an ILS at 120 knots the controllers love you because you fit in better with the stream of airliners than if you’re poodling along at 90 knots. I was hoping that after we’d done some ILS approaches at 120, I could then try some non-precision approaches and see how they work at a higher speed than I’m used to as well.

Alas, such was not to be. Lenny went and got the plane back from Peidmont-Hawthorne, who had done the work on the alternator after last weekend’s problems with it. Since they’re on the field, he’d just taxied it over. I did a thorough pre-flight, and after I stared it up I checked and the alterator was indicating that it was producing power. Taxied out to the run-up area, and was running the runup checklist when I noticed the alterator was no longer producing power. Looked over at the multi-function display and see that the battery power is just clicking down from 12 volts to 11.9 volts. Once again, do all the same stuff we’d tried in the air last weekend – checking all the circuit breakers, shutting off the alterator switch, the master switch, radios, everything else, and then turning them on again. No such luck. We reluctantly called ground control and told them that we were done for the day, and heading back to the tie downs.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think the only thing that got turned on between the time when I noted that the alternator was working and I noticed that it wasn’t was that Lenny turned the altitude hold to “TEST” and then off. Other than that, everything had been on. I think. Maybe the avionics master had been off when I checked the alternator reading the first time. It sounds almost like something short circuited and killed the alternator, but if so, I would have expected a circuit breaker to pop. One other piece of evidence – the landing light was dead when I did my pre-flight. It hadn’t been dead when I’d done my pre-flight last week. I wonder if it was a cause or an effect of whatever was wrong with the electrics.

Anyway, it was a waste of a beautiful day. It seems like everybody was flying and I couldn’t. I’m bummed.