Solo student handles in-flight emergency

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Courtesy photo

A Buckeye, Arizona, man maintained calm while following his training when he responded to an in-flight emergency that resulted in a safe landing of the airplane with no damage to pilot or aircraft.

Nick Sherman, 18, took off from Glendale Municipal Airport during a training solo and was not expecting to deal with a broken throttle cable on the aircraft despite the cable being recently replaced.

Sherman is in the Air Force ROTC program at Yale University, Connecticut, where he is a junior in mechanical engineering. He plans to follow his father’s example by becoming a military pilot.

Sherman, who was born on Luke Air Force Base where his father flew F-16 Fighting Falcons,  decided to start with an FAA Sport Pilot license last summer.

Sherman trained with Phil Corbell, flight instructor, at the Glendale airport through Arizona Flight Training Center in a Remos GX, a light sport aircraft. The sport pilot license requires a minimum of 20 hours of flight instruction and includes five hours solo time.

“Nick quickly learned the performance and ground reference maneuvers flying in the training areas within the Luke special air traffic rule airspace,” Corbell said. “He also performed normal, soft field, and short field takeoffs and landings at local airports. The training also included engine failure procedures, and electrical or flap failure which would require a no-flap landing. Sherman soloed with only about 10 hours of flight instruction.

One of the main things to remember when flying, including during any emergency, is to aviate first, then navigate and communicate afterward, Corbell said.

“On this solo flight Nick did an outstanding job using excellent judgment and making good decisions to handle this rare type of emergency, he said.

“His good judgment began when he changed his plan to go to the training area to practice maneuvers because of rain showers forecast in the area. Instead, he decided to practice his landings at the airport. He had done two touch-and-go’s, and was going for a third when the incident occurred.”

Sherman was wearing a GoPro that recorded his calm and cool demeanor during the incident.

The Remos GX aircraft has a 100-horsepower engine and takes off at max power at about 5200 rpm.

As Sherman rolled out on a left downwind for Runway 19, he pulled the power back to the normal 4200-4400 rpm. When he was opposite the Runway numbers, he pulled the power toward idle (1,800-2,500 rpm) and put in half (20 degrees) flaps. He noticed that the power would not go below 4,000 rpm. He tried to reduce power by both throttles a couple of times.

“The main thing is he continued to first fly the airplane,” Corbell said.

He lost altitude with the higher power setting, so he brought the flaps back up.

“Good decision,” Corbell said. He continued to fly the final approach although at a higher than normal airspeed and only when he knew he had made the runway, did he shut off the engine.”

The prop continued wind milling until it slowed airspeed. He did a no-flap landing with the prop abruptly stopping as the aircraft slowed. He rolled off the runway, after checking for other aircraft, started the engine again and used the brake to control the taxi speed at the high rpm setting, getting it to its terminal parking spot. He completed his after-landing and engine shutdown checklists.

Subsequent inspection found that the throttle cable had broken.

“Nick did a great job landing that plane,” Corbell said. “He kept his cool and followed his training.”

Sherman will complete his flight training and check ride, and receive his FAA Sport Pilot license in Airplane Single Engine Land when he returns from college at Thanksgiving.