Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), an AOPA member and one of the most ardent general aviation supporters in Congress, lost the propeller off his Grumman Tiger May 8 and made a successful emergency landing at Claremore, Oklahoma. Inhofe was unhurt, but his landing on the airport grass sheared off the Tiger’s nosewheel assembly.
Inhofe had taken off from the grass strip at Ketchum, Oklahoma, near his summer home at Grand Lake of the Cherokees, and was enroute to join President Clinton in Oklahoma City for a tour of neighborhoods damaged by the recent tornado. (Inhofe had spent much of Friday flying to smaller storm-damaged communities in his twin-engine Cessna T303 Crusader. He also owns a two-place Taylorcraft L-2.)
Inhofe told AOPA President Phil Boyer that the Tiger’s engine started to run slightly rough near Claremore, but he opted to continue because of his appointment with the President. About seven miles west of Claremore, he felt an “explosion” and the prop flew off. One prop bolt had exited through the spinner; remaining bolts were sheared. Inhofe immediately shut down the engine before it oversped and turned off the master switch.
He chose a field to land in but noticed the glide ratio was much better than he anticipated. He decided he could make it back to the airport.
“There’s hardly any drag without the prop,” Inhofe told Boyer. However, the aircraft did not handle well. Inhofe had to maintain about 100 knots in the glide to keep it under control. Shortly before landing, he turned the master back on to lower the flaps.
In a strange coincidence, the propeller was found by one of Inhofe’s high school classmates from Tulsa, who called the airport asking if anyone had lost a prop. G. W. Curtiss returned the prop to the airport and reunited with the senator, whom he hadn’t seen in some 40 years.
Inhofe is a certificated flight instructor with single, multiengine, and seaplane ratings. He has some 8,000 flight hours and has been an AOPA member since 1963. He is the sponsor of S.722, the “Hoover Bill,” to protect pilots from the FAA’s abuse of its emergency certificate revocation authority.
May 11, 1999