87 Night IFR Electrical Failure: ATC and a Cell Phone Save a Doctor – Interview with Controller Phil Enis
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On Super Bowl Sunday, Dr. Peter Edenhoffer was flying IFR at night in a Cessna Cardinal when he lost his electrical system. He’d already texted his son to say goodbye. Then he received a text message from Fort Worth Center which gave him hope for surviving when he realized he wasn’t alone. Max interviews NATCA’s Archie League Medal of Safety President’s Award winner controller Phil Enis about this save. Watch the NATCA video to hear more of the ATC radio transmissions and see more of the text messages from this save. It also includes a link where to where you can watch Dr. Peter Edenhoffer talk about what was going through his mind as he was alone in the dark.
Here are some ideas you should consider on future IFR flights including:
1. Include a cell phone or satellite phone number in the Remarks section of your IFR flight, so that controllers can attempt to reach you by phone or text, if they lose radio communications with you.
2. Bring a handheld radio when you fly. Set it up and test it ahead of time so that you know that it works. Handheld radios in metal airplanes receive OK, but often don’t transmit well because they’re essentially inside a shielded cage (the airplane!). Installing an external antenna on your airplane will greatly improve the transmit capability of a handheld radio.
3. If you have an electrical failure, use an EFB app like ForeFlight to navigate to an airport with better weather.
4. If you have cell phone service, consider calling 911 and have them pass along your cellphone number to an air traffic controller.
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