Engine instruments: when things don’t look right

C42 engine instruments

When something doesn’t go right for the first time it can be pretty daunting and a little bit scary. It’s happened to some of us and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, chances are it will eventually.

Today we’re talking about odd looking engine instruments. We are used to doing the checks before our flight and checking our engine instruments every 15 minutes in flight through our FREDA process. However, when things actually go wrong and things don’t look how you expect them to look, things can start to get interesting.

Rob Holmes Microlight Pilot

This is what happened to one of our members, Rob Holmes. Having not long received the most expensive piece of paper he owns through the post, Rob was looking forward to getting out and enjoying his bit of paper. Rob soon did, hopping over to Popham and hiring one of the south coast’s most popular microlight school’s C42s.

After being in the air for not very long, we’re talking, just escaping the circuit, Rob noticed that the oil pressure gauge was reading completely off the scale. Rob had not noticed any small or gradual increase and so it came as a bit of a shock that it was reading off the scale. However, with all the thoughts that were running through Rob’s alarmed brain (aviate, navigate, communicate) his first reaction was to return to the airfield. So that’s exactly what he did.

C42 instrument panel

Upon arriving back at Popham and parking up on the stands outside AirBourne Aviation he reported the issue immediately to the office. The staff had a look and it turns out it was simply a faulty connection with the gauge.

It was really a non-event in the end.

Rob Holmes

That may be so, but Rob didn’t know that at the time. Returning to the airfield as priority was the right thing to do. Rob monitored the aircraft all the way back and although he was very close to the airfield at the time, if he was further away, he would have been conscious of potential landing locations in case the problem developed further.

I was keen to share Rob’s story as an interesting example of what to do when things aren’t right. Rob could have easily carried on based on the decision that he didn’t need that instrument to fly, but because he didn’t know the cause of the issue, the situation could have been much worse. Especially if it had been a problem with the engine.

How do I know all this? Well, Rob managed to catch the whole thing on video! I certainly recommend taking a look:

Rob Holmes’ video on oil pressure gauge maxing out in flight

You can also find Rob’s microlight flying channel on YouTube and I would encourage you to subscribe and take a watch. I’m not brave enough to share my videos so my hat comes off to those who do. Sharing experiences such as this help others learn which keeps us all safe. So, if you have learnings you think others would find beneficial, please do get in touch.

Disclaimer: This article was written for information and entertainment only and was up to date at the time of writing. Please always ask a qualified instructor for more information and discuss airfield operations and the use of aircraft equipment with a suitably qualified person.