I am a student pilot with 42 hours of flying time and am just getting ready for my flight exam.
On Sunday I was practicing touch-and-goes and after my first landing, I retracted the flaps, added power and started to climb out. I immediately noticed that my climb rate was lower than normal.
The water tower directly ahead started to look larger and larger. I knew I had full power but wasn’t getting the climb I normally would on a cold day, at 11 degrees F.
I looked out the window and was shocked to see that the flaps did not retract and were in the full flaps configuration.
I immediately slowed the 172 to 65 knots so there wouldn’t be any structural damage and tried to reset the switch three or four times to no avail.
I checked the circuit breakers and they were all in so at this point I decided to concentrate on flying the airplane and to land ASAP.
Everything was fine on final, on glide path at 65 knots and looking good until all of a sudden the 172 took a steep nose dive. My first thought was a bad downdraft so I first reduced power, pulled back on the yoke to slow the 172 back to 65, and the added power to maintain altitude.
When I looked out the window, I was again shocked. The flaps had fully retracted.
I floated more than usual and landed a little fast but had plenty of runway to manage the landing.
I notified the FBO and placed notes in the airplane indicating I had pulled the breaker for the flaps since they had malfunctioned. The FBO immediately took the 172 out of service and put it down for maintenance.
As a beginner pilot I learned several lessons.
First, when doing touch-and-goes I will look and verify that the flaps have retracted prior to adding power for takeoff.
Second, if I ever have the flaps fail to retract, I will leave the switch in the full flaps position which would have avoided the flaps retracting on final. I had left the flaps switch in the “up” position.
Third, I think concentrating on flying the airplane rather than worrying about how to fix the flaps was the best decision.
In closing, I hope this provides a lesson for all new pilots.