An anonymous forum to allow you to share those moments in flying that caused you concern. You can post without registering a username, registered users can log out to post
By Anon
Many of you will have read (over on GA) about the aircraft going down on 08/12/12. Firstly, my condolences to the family of the pilot.

Hatzflyer's very detailed and vivid account of his experience, caught in, around and over the fog bank in the area sent chills down my spine. Hatzflyer, very well handled, you kept a cool head and brought it down safely. His post and many others which followed really scared me and thats what led me to post my experience here, anonymously.

The one thing that was drilled into me by my instructor was 'always have plenty of fuel'. We never took off for a training flight >2hrs without ample fuel or full tanks (and proper fuel calculations). Frequent training diversions mid lesson etc all helped with confidence to deal with such situations should they ever arise.

Upon obtaining my license, I noticed a very very worrying trend. Not once, not twice but many times :-( Whenever I would hire an a/c from my school they were always mocking (maybe too harsh a word?) my decision to fill tanks up for my usually long xc trips. I would hear 'its plenty' 'it'll do you' 'tech log shows only 2hr used so 2hrs remaining etc' [note instructor had left, these were new owners of the club speaking to me]

I'm quite a cautious pilot, adventurous, push my boundaries by flying further afield etc but try not to take undue risks. But after a few of these 'talking to's' my confidence took a beating. The final straw was another chat as 'I shouldn't have filled up at that airfield, their fuel is expensive. There was enough fuel for you to get back'. At this point I knew I would no longer be able to fly with this club. I was not prepared to risk mine and others safety. A few of my thoughts for my situation

- The plane could have been almost on fumes many times :-(
- Tech log not always accurate. On cold starts over a few days engine would be run for 10-20 mins (per time) to start up/prime and get warm while de-icing.
- These times not entered, so slightly less fuel than stated in log.
- I am the PIC and its my responsibility to make sure I have ample fuel for destination and a diversion or two (as in Hatzflyer's case).

I myself am not really confrontational or argumentative. So I voted with my feet and went elsewhere within the UK to hour-build. To my friends still there and others who may be in similar situations, I just told them what my instructor told me 'Always have ample fuel. If you are flying long 2-3hr legs, spend time planning, alternate's, diversions, higher headwinds than planned, fog banks etc etc' 'Its better to have much more fuel than needed, we can't refuel up here!' (obviously exclusions if your getting into/out of a short runway have weight limitations etc)

Thankfully, new club are normal. I suppose they realize if I fill her up for a 3hr/4hr flight, upon my return the remaining fuel is not going to 'run away' or 'disappear'. In fact they always encourage tabs/full + fill away from home if cheaper :-)

Having read Hatzflyers post, that could so easily have been me, but with much less fuel and got into all kinds of bother or worse. Thats if I were still at my old club. Today i'd like to think I would keep calm and worry about flying the plane, navigating to a diversion correctly and seeking help from a LARS or d&d, not 'I wish I had more fuel to stay up here/get to there...'

Stay safe up there chap's/chapess's.
Good post.

There's old pilots and there's bold pilots.

The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire (or overweight)
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By Timothy
I am always inclined to have full fuel, even if that means being overweight.
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By Flintstone
Lay off the pies then.
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By Paul_Sengupta
Mmm, pies.

I never take off from my strip with full fuel. Mainly because we don't have fuel there and so I have to buy it elsewhere, and there will be full tanks minus however long it's taken to fly back from there.
On our training flights we fly with max 3/4 in both tanks, because otherwise the poor tecnam wouldn't even get off the ground with two 200 pound guys on board. Personally I don't think 'full fuel' always means 'full tanks'.
By Dominie
I think "full fuel" should be read as "maximum fuel taking into account what you are going to do with the aeroplane". I'd like to think this is what I always do, taking into account of a short strip and a 3 seat aeroplane which would certainly not get off that strip safely with 3 adults regardless of fuel quantity.

Having said that, I once found myself overnight at a strip with less fuel in the tanks than intended. I was very careful about the ten minute flight to a nearby airfield to pick up fuel the next morning; not a enjoyable situation.

There are of course some aircraft that you would only rarely put full fuel in, like a Jodel D150 which can take you for five or six hours on full tanks, but Hatz's point is well made - "just enough fuel" is not always enough!
Anon--you were absolutely right--safety is p[aramount. The first thing I check when flying after weather is fuel. We have a PA28-180 and would always set off with at least tabs--which gives 4 hours. As you say you never know---I recently had to orbit or divert from my home field due to an incident with a cessna 150 crunching on the runway spilling oil. Had plenty of fuel so orbited for half an hour while they removed the bits.
Clubs that place profit before safety are to be avoided.
Tabs on a standard PA28 would only give 4 hours with a fuel burn of just under 9usg an hour. Plan your fuel burn properly. CW (a bog standard 161) did 4.5 hours at fl85 and 70% power using 27litres an hour (7.2 usg) and another group member must've firewaled the throttle and gone full rich at 500ft cos he used 42litres an hour (11.1 usg)
Plan properly, don't get caught out.
Did I say plan properly?
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By dont overfill
I have owned a PA28 Archer 11 and flown others. My aircraft was rented out to a couple of different flying clubs. Students and renters were taught to lean and use 65% power settings using the chart on the visors.

Throughout the time I owned the aircraft the burn worked out at 40ltrs/hr. IIRC the manual suggested the equivelent of 30ltrs/hr. It is a 1978 aircraft built at the time of huge exagerations by the manufacturers. I would never attempt to fly four hours with fuel to the tabs.

The sister aircraft (G-NERI) crashed on a flight from Aberdeen to Bristol. The concensus was that he (more or less) ran out of fuel. ... 500898.pdf

Note the estimate of the fuel burn from the CFI, 38ltrs/hr which I think is much more realistic than the book figure.

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By Paul_Sengupta
Was it charged hobbs or brakes or tach time? You may find it burnt less fuel when charged tach time! :D
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By dont overfill
Paul_Sengupta wrote:Was it charged hobbs or brakes or tach time? You may find it burnt less fuel when charged tach time! :D

Used to be takeoff to touchdown. It was the only 200 knot Archer in the world :thumleft:
I like lots of fuel too. It adds another get out in many cases, and removes the stress and urgency of making diversions or replanning, and the ability to loiter at your destination if needed rather than divert often tends to ease logistics too