Tuesday I flew to Palo Alto (KPAO) for a meeting and was returning home on an IFR flight plan at 7pm. Slowly it was getting darker and at some point it became pitch black. Coasting on the autopilot I settled into a routine and turned on my XM. Scanning PFD and MFD displays with engine monitor selected.
After being interrupted several time by ATC, I thought to myself “Night is clear, no wind, perfect flying conditions and a working heater: may be I should cancel IFR and just go straight to Fullerton on my own”. I have done that before many times.
Just as I contemplated that thought, my attention was focusing on the main bus voltage. It started at 28, then 28.5 then 29, then 30 then 30.5v. A quick check of the ammeter, showed zero amps draw, and no charging. Within a few minutes everything went back to normal and voltage settled to 28.2 volts. Well I did not want to cancel my IFR flight plan anymore and decided to stay on it until my destination.
30 minutes before reaching the Fullerton airport I got the call “N521JL Fullerton airport is closed due to the airplane upside down on the runway. Runway is closed till tomorrow morning. State intentions.” . “Stand by” I said and started contemplating options. “N521JL request to land on the Taxiway, can you arrange for this”. Controller: “521JL contact LA Center on XXX.XX and pass your request”
Few minutes later, I am talking to LA Center and I finally made decision and said “N521JL would like to divert to KSNA. Can you call my wife and let her know that I am going to Santa Anna” After everything was arranged I was diverted and within the next 30 minutes I landed on the runway 19R and taxied to America Aircraft Maintenance to check my Alternator issue next morning.
Now I am driving back to Fullerton to pick up my car and sure enough there is a Cessna upside-down on the runway with big X placed on the approach end of RW24. In addition I see a black suburban parked across the taxiway Alpha at Charley. Holly smoke, I said to myself. If only I would attempt to land on the taxiway, I’d be dead.
Everything became crystal clear to me: every time I fly – no shortcuts, stay with the program, and follow the rules. I am glad to be here with all of you today.
2 Oct 2008 19:24