Reno '03: Landing Unlimited Racer Furias With a Stuck Throttle | Aero-News Network
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Thu, Oct 16, 2003

Reno '03: Landing Unlimited Racer Furias With a Stuck Throttle

Too Much Power Isn't Always a Good Thing

By ANN Reader Bud Granley

Bud Granley wrote us about a little problem he had at last month's Reno Air Races, flying a 4000hp Sea Fury unlimited racer with the throttle stuck open:

I thought I'd send this little report to you. It was a surprise [Note: To just about anybody but a serious stick like Bud, it's a 'surprise,' but to most of the rest of us it's a great excuse for a coronary... grin.--E-I-C] to find myself with the throttle disconnected at the carb. Better to be stuck power-on than power-off though: lots more time and options.

I eased back on the throttle, a little on the prop, then a little more on each as I eased the big 4360-powered Seafury up several thousand feet from the Reno race course. When I checked the manifold pressure gauge, I saw that the throttle wasn't having any effect. It was loosy-goosy and unattached to anything that mattered to me. The manifold pressure read 45 inches, much less than the 67 inches at 3000 RPM and 450 mph worth of ram air pressure a minute or so earlier on the race course. The engine was still wide open, but producing less power at slower speed with the prop pulled back.

I had a problem, but with 120 gallons of gas left, had time to think it over. An old memory of a similar event came to me: in Sardinia during gunnery deployment with our Canadian F-86s, a US Navy F-11 Grumman Tiger called in with his power stuck on at a high level. He eventually landed and went off the end; the nose gear collapsed and with the intake stuck in the sand, the Tiger became the biggest sandblaster in the world for 20 minutes.

I didn't want to screw this up. I just had to get set up properly, and then shut down when everything looked comfortable.

I called the Furias pit crew, and let them know what the problem was, and after several tries finally got the message across. I then called CJ, the safety pilot in Art Vance's P-51, told him the problem and asked him to join up with me. Brian Sanders, another 4360 Seafury operator, offered advice on the no limit flaps speeds to help slow the plane down.

With CJ locked on behind me, I began to pull some hard, vapor trail producing, climbing turns to slow the plane down to gear and flap speeds. As I dropped the gear and flaps to full, and with the propeller full back, the manifold pressure had dropped to 30 inches at 150 knots. I shut the mixture off to confirm my ability to kill the power on final. The prop almost stopped before I yanked the mixture back to an operating comfort level. The Seafury would now come down like a Stuka dive bomber with full flaps and the remaining power.

I set up a high downwind and used the flaps as a throttle lever as you would the spoilers in a glider. At around 700 feet on final, with 170 knots and the runway made, I shut off the mixture.

I had enough speed for a gentle flare starting at 200 feet. I pushed the propeller back to fine pitch to help slow down after the flare. The touchdown was at normal speed and the plane came to a stop before I could clear the runway and coast into the ramp ala Bob Hoover. Alas!

ANN Notes:
  • Furias finished 5th in the Gold race this year, with regular pilot Gary Hubler at the controls.
  • Bud ferried Furias to Reno, and re-qualified himself to fly Unlimiteds in that machine. The trouble described above happened on Tuesday of race week.
  • On the airshow circuit, Bud astounds the crowds in a variety of airplanes, from a Harvard (T-6) to a Fouga, to a Yak; and he's one of the country's recognized top WWII warbird exhibition pilots, too.
  • Bud Granley is perhaps best-known at Reno as the 1980s pilot of the P-51 Miss America, lately flown by Brent Hisey (who won the Silver this year in that miraculously-reconstructed plane).

Thanks, Bud -- and especially thanks for reminding us amateurs that it's worth practicing airmanship, 'cuz every now and then it really does matter!



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