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A Few Recent Issues...

Homer Phillips

HI All,
I have recently encountered a few issues I wanted to share with everyone.  First, a few weeks ago as I was departing my home airport, just past the numbers on the departure end of the runway I heard and felt a loud bang that sounded like it came from underneath the plane.  At first I thought I had a bird strike of some sort, and asked folks on the ground if they could see anything, but they were too far away to be of help.  The plane was flying and sounding normally so I just made a full circuit and landed.  Turns out my right cowl flap departed the plane.  Luckily I was able to find it later so I didn't have to shell out $1200 for a new one from Cessna.  I guess the point of my story is that it is impossible to observe the front hinge of the cowl flap (which is what failed) without removing the lower cowl.  When it departed it also broke the actuator cable that turns out is a major pain in the butt to replace.  In other words, this is something that cannot be prevented by observation in a normal preflight inspection because you simply cannot see them.  I know, because I look up inside the cowl flaps before each flight.  Just food for thought the next time you have your lower cowl off to give those hinges a good inspection.
Next, I have had a problem recently with my landing/taxi lights going dark on me, usually right before I'm ready to land at night at an airport without approach lights.  The first time it happened the lights simply went out-no popped circuit breaker, nothing.  The next time it happened (different flight) the circuit breaker did pop.  I've had my mechanic look at the lights and wiring twice now and he has been unable to spot the problem.  His only suggestion was to completely rewire the lights from the switch to the bulbs to ensure everything is as it should be.  Seems like an expensive solution to an intermittent, but potentially dangerous problem.  Someone else suggested replacing the GE bulbs with LED to lower the current draw.  Anyone else had this problem?  I've had the plane for about 7 years and never had an issue until now.  No idea what has changed.