Murphy's Law applies to stooges

An almost-catastrophe teaches a lesson

By John Thompson

It was a nice Sunday morning, but I knew most of my fellow fliers were going to be unavailable for our usual club flying session, so I headed out to the Eugene flying field with my Vector 40 and my trusty stooge.

The first flight was almost a catastrophe -- but taught a good lesson. Murphy was right: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

I entered the inside square loops. First corner was fine. Second corner was not a corner: The Vector just came around into a nice round loop -- and then another. I finally managed to apply enough control to level the plane off, though there was resounding jerk as some sort of tension was released. It took me a while to think it through: At first I thought a clip had been turned over and then repositioned itself. But the plane was still flying out of trim. Something was still wrong. Then it dawned on me: Could the stooge connector have fouled the elevator?

I managed to hold the plane level, though there was minimal control response. After a slightly bouncy landing, I headed for the plane, and confirmed what had happened. The little short piece of leadout wire, with a line clip on each end, that I use to connect the plane to the stooge, had swung up and lodged itself between the elevator and the fairing.

The controls were almost locked -- fortunately in almost neutral -- so that I had barely enough control to fly level.

I've used this method of attaching the stooge to several planes, with no previous problem, but every plane is different, and the layout of this one allows the swinging connector to go right into the slot between elevator and fairing. It took a couple of dozen flights for this to happen, but it finally did.

The pictures below show the foulup from top and bottom.

Now I'll have to work out a system for holding the plane to the stooge. Luckily, this foulup didn't cost me an airplane.

So, there's the lesson: If you're using a stooge, think about what will be happening in flight, not just on the ground. Some careful attention to this could save you an airplane.


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This page was upated April 13, 2006