A stunt pilot in Florida was in for the ride of his life when the engine of his tiny airplane stopped working, sending him into a quick descent toward the ground. Luckily, the pilot was able to regain control of the plane just in time—and the whole experience was caught on camera.
Chad Barber uploaded the incredible video to YouTube last October but states that the original footage was filmed in May 2017. The pilot filmed his normal performance of intermediate aerobatic stunts. However, the angle of the plane’s ascension into the sky made it so that the engine was unable to draw enough fuel from the plane’s 7-gallon tank in order to maintain combustion. As a result, the engine stopped.
The pilot had never experienced such an event and was in “a state of disbelief” as it happened, according to CNET. However, he recovered quickly and was able to restart the plane’s engine and steer away from the ground.
It’s relatively common for plane engines to cut off because of lack of fuel, especially those that maneuver like Barber’s. Sometimes, when the plane rolls or flips in the air, the fuel in the tank can float. This cuts off the supply of fuel to the engine, Air and Space Smithsonian reported. When this happens, the engine can suddenly cut off.
Engineers addressed this problem, in this plane’s case, by designing a flop tube, a flexible hose with a weight that is designed to keep a steady flow of fuel going from the fuel tank to the engine. According to Air and Space, the flop tube is meant to ensure that, regardless of the aircraft’s altitude, the fuel and flop tube always end up in the same place, not obstructing fuel flow. However, Barber explained that a malfunction with the fuel flop tube caused it to not be able to draw enough fuel from the engine.
The entire event lasted seconds. Barber was able to regain control of his plane and survive the experience with not only his life but also a killer story to tell.
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