Test Pilot or Moron, there is a fine line.

Living on a lake has it advantages. I have cut a ramp on my front lawn down to the lake so that I can get my 701 amphib up and down since my hanger is up on the flats off my driveway. The grade of the ramp is about 7% and it is about 80 feet long. As you can see in the picture, to overcome this grade I have set up a winch in the back of my hangar and using a remote control I can activate the winch all the way down to the shoreline.

However: Today I got a bit too adventurous; and decided to become a test pilot. Rather than hooking up the winch and riding down at a nice slow pace which takes about two minutes, I opted to ... yes here it comes ... taxi down the ramp. Before I go further, no there is no damage other than a bruised ego and a strong sense of "stupid".

Anyway back to the adventure: I sat on the driveway atop the ramp and diligently went through my taxi checklist, mags, fuel, carb-heat, temp, EGT... all is good. I rev'd up and started to the top of the downhill all the time testing the toe brakes and edging closer. The nose pointed down the ramp and she started to roll gently as I closed the throttle back to idle. All was great. Then...

I did not realize the grass was still slightly wet from the morning dew and the mains began to skid. I swear I almost hit V2 on the way down. It felt like I put the toe-breaks through the firewall. CUT THE ENGINE I though as she continued to skid straight down the ramp. "Stopped --- yes stopped". I came to a gentle stop on the shore with the water just licking at the floats. "All is good, no damage", but what a rush - my heart pounding!

Since I had logged my 5 seconds of 'almost air time' I thought I had enough for one day and water-taxied her around so I could winch her up the ramp. In my hanger I went over her again and found she was no worse for wear despite my super-human gorilla grip on the controls.

Some folks can say they had a rough landing, I can say I had a rough downhill. Next year, I am going to put down some cement patio stones which should resolve the wet grass issue and I will once again become a test pilot but this time I will make sure I have a backup plan. Lesson learned - check the "field" conditions. :-)

John AKA - Test Pilot, or maybe lucky moron.

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Comment by Bob McDonald on September 10, 2011 at 7:39am
John I just read this post to my wife...she almost wet her pants laughing. :>)
Comment by Jake Reyna on September 27, 2010 at 6:27pm
John, didn't take me long to prove that I'm an idiot ;-) just in case anyone was wondering.

Comment by Bob Pustell on September 25, 2010 at 8:52pm
Maybe you should move from a waterfront home to a runway home. I settled in an airpark almost six years ago, preparing for retirement. I cannot recommend it strongly enough! I recommend airpark living and retirement, both, but in the context of this blog, I refer to airpark living. I LOVE stepping out back and opening the hangar to go for a quick local flight. I should have done this decades ago..............
Comment by Craig Smith on September 24, 2010 at 6:56pm
Great story, nice airplane!
Comment by Sebastien Heintz on September 23, 2010 at 10:09am
Great post!
Comment by Chris Aysen on September 23, 2010 at 9:01am
Newton's first law neglects to mention the rapid heart beat effect. Glad to hear everythings OK..... I had the rapid heart beat thing a few months ago when my nose wheel went flat on landing. I was intentionally running low pressure when the tube stem was severed.
Comment by Jake Reyna on September 23, 2010 at 6:35am
John, I remind my wife on a regular basis that I'm an idiot. I do this for 2 reasons. 1. I'm an idiot. 2. When I have one of those moments I can remind her that I'm an idiot ;-)

Great story. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Tim Garrett on September 22, 2010 at 9:56pm
Thanks for sharing and we're all glad there was no damage or injury. Where is that reversable pitch prop when you need it?
Comment by Bob McDonald on September 22, 2010 at 4:23pm
I could also remind you of the effect this "down hill" will have on your taxi speed when on skis. Although knowing your part of the country you probably have waist deep snow to slow you down. Maybe if your lucky a nice gentle snow drift from the lake will take some of the grade out of the slope. Skis & float operations both have "no brakes". Glad there was no damage.

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