Well. that was an experience

Post maintenance surprise!

So I picked up the 340 from the avionics place that installed some stuff I had bought from another 340 dude. Upgraded the Aspen, moved some instruments, and fixed (mostly) the cockpit lighting.

Paid my bill, fueled up, preflighted and started the engines. Listened tot he ATIS, Called Clearance, got my IFR clearance, called Ground, “Ready to Taxi” ..They asked if I could take RWY36, or I could wait 10 minutes for 28L  and I said yes, even though it was kinda marginal, length wise (2600 ft). I figured I’d do a short field takeoff .

Pulled up to the hold-short line, did the runup, got clearance for take off,  rolled to the threshold of 36 and advanced the throttles. Being a cool day, the engines were at full 335 HP. We accelerated quickly.

My, what a surprise. Unbeknownst to me, the aileron trim was full left, the rudder trim was full right, and the 340A went kinda sideways for a moment. Plus the roll. It rook me a minute to figure out what the hell was going on and maintain level(ish) flight. So much so that the tower asked if I was ok, but I didn’t answer ’cause I was too busy trying to fly…..I did figure out the aileron roll and then the rudder trim, and got them more or less centered back where they belong (on the 340 the aileron trim is very sensitive) and got back to flying(ish) trim.

I then replied to the tower that I had some “minor” flight control issues and could I fly runway heading at 2500 while I figured the issue out?

They said yes, so that’s what I did., I didn’t wanna go higher into IMC and really didn’t want to turn or engage the autopilot until I got things settled, all the while managing the engines and all that. I was so busy that I didn’t even bring up the gear for about 4 minutes.

Once I got the trims more or less centered I then let the tower know I was ready for a climb and they moved me to Departure for my en-route stuff.

A lesson learned: Make sure no one has messed with the trims. It can cause a real issue. I damned near crashed my plane because I didn’t check that as part of the preflight (why would I?) and wasn’t expecting the resulting flight attitude. I mean, yeah, elevator trim sure…. But not the rudder and aileron trim. (gonna fix that once I get them set again, a paint marker line for the proper setting for easy visual confirmation from this point on….)


The rest of the flight was pretty normal at 11,000 ft. In and out of IMC all the way home. Minor rime icing but I never even bothered to inflate the boots, and a decent, if ham-fisted approach. Broke out of the clouds at about 800 ft on the RNAV and did a really smooth (if a bit long) crosswind landing. (why is it that your best landings are when there is no one else in the plane to witness them?)

I really need to get a safety pilot and do some more time under the foggles though. Hand flying in IMC wasn’t as good as it should have been. Autopilots make us lazy and degrade our skills.

8 thoughts on “Well. that was an experience

  1. paint marker line for the proper setting for easy visual confirmation from this point on…

    Sounds like a great idea

  2. If it’s that critical it should be a part of your more flight check list.

    • once the trims are set, no one (generally) messes with them. Elevator trim, yes, and that is part of the preflight checklist. But rudder and aileron are set and leave alone….generally.

      • I understand they shouldn’t be changed. But bad things happen and if being properly set is critical or safe flight it’s imperative they be checked every time before take off. It’s common sense and it prevents inadvertent tragedy. Check list are annoying and time consuming. But the alternative is worse.

        • As you say.
          You obviously have never seen a 340 cockpit….as your comment shows.
          The only way to find out if it is adjusted properly is to move the adjustment….which will un-adjust it if it is correct. It’s a design flaw. Or you can fly it and see.

          Lots of stuff like that in older airplanes.

  3. Oh, that had to really suck.

    Good job keeping it under control and keeping on aviating.

    Marking the trims makes a lot of sense.

    I wonder if the shop moved the trims to play with the Aspen on install or something. Not good on their part to move them and not put them back.

  4. Ouch! Lucky you saved that one! That’s usually a crash… And one helluva lesson learned.

Comments are closed.