Waiting, planning, and more waiting

Friday, August 16, 2013
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Nothing like something routine turning into a quasi disaster!

The last leg of the Atlantic crossing trip was to get Maggie situated in her proper new home in Berlin . This meant taking Maggie with Ciaran and Tom from Berlin's big Schönefeld airport (EDDB) to Strausberg (EDAY). It was a fun, uneventful flight with a smooth landing. That was important because with friends on board the last thing I wanted to do was freak them out! The airfield at Strausberg seemed in great shape and the personnel very friendly.

Long story short, you can see from pictures that Maggie was in great shape when we left her at her new hangar in Strausberg. A couple weeks later I wanted to get her oil change and bit of other work (left speed brake, auto pilot course hold) done in Bavaria at Straubing airport (EDxx). She was also looking just as I left her when I did my pre-flight for this flight. Spoiler alert: the prop was fine.

What isn't fine is the taxiway from the hangar in Strausberg to the avgas fuel station. It's pretty bumpy in one section. And I jostled around some. Still, I didn't think anything of it. After filling up & paying, off I flew to Straubing . It was an interesting flight as this was my first solo in Germany, and my first VFR flight Ina long time. I was so used to filing IFR that I didn't really know what to do with all this flexibility! Scattered cotton-ball cumulus clouds also lined my path at exactly the altitude I originally chose, so io had to find a hole where I could ascend higher. Maggie flew great though and it felt good to get back in the air.

My landing in Straubing was smooth and the taxi to the maintenance shop (Piloten Service Rieger) straightforward. After greeting the friendly folks there and wanting to tow the plane to parking, they noticed the disaster. The prop tips were bent! Prop strike! Un f-ing believable! I don't know how it happened. My landing was fine, I noticed nothing wrong at pre-flight, and she flew fine to Straubing. I felt I did nothing wrong but here I was with a major repair on my hands.


To make matters more interesting, here I was having just switched insurance companies less than a month prior . Suspicious. And I just happened to be flying to an airport with on site repair facilities? Very suspicious, understandably...

Fortunately enter Johannes to the rescue. He drove to Straubing to help manage the situation and dealt with the insurance company as much as possible. As a smoother talking Bavarian with many connections, his expertise has been most helpful.

So where are we now in the process? Very importantly, insurance will cover the costs! To date the engine has been pulled and stripped. It looks like the crankshaft is undamaged, but that in the stripping they did find that the 5th cylinder piston was badly scarred from overheating (probably by Maggie's previous owner). In this case then there is a silver lining! Yes, I'll be out lots of personal money, but we'll have a better engine for the long journey. There will be a new McCauley prop installed as well.

The big question of timing still looms. It looks like the proposed departure date of Aug 10th is out the window. Folks know our desire to take Maggie on a big trip ASAP so are working hard. There's also the question of breaking in the new engine. We don't want to take a new engine untested over the Atlantic...
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