Fuel Management

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bryancobb
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Location: Cartersville Georgia

Fuel Management

Postby bryancobb » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:21 am

Hey Folks,

Although my little 520# helicopter is not an LSA, I am about to tell a recent story about what happened to me...that DOES APPLY to sport pilots in several ways.

It will best fit into the category of "I Learned About Flying From That 2018," stealing the title from the popular series in FLYING magazine.

I had been out zipping around the Cartersville, Rome, Cedartown, Rockmart area on this clear, cool Sunday morning and was very pleased how my Bluehead Rotax 582 was carrying my 260 pound self around. It was time to call it a day and fly to my house to eat lunch. The last stop...was to the local airport to get gas since I always want to land in the confined area at my house with 5 gallons. This leaves me enough the next time I fly, to get to the airport to fill-up. At 260# I cannot get out of my yard with more than 5 gallons.

At the end of my flight on this day, when I landed at the airport I only had 2 gallons. I removed the gas cap and laid it in the seat. I walked to the FBO ( I park a fair distance away in consideration of people who dislike helicopters because of their dust and debris...FLY NEIGHBORLY ) to use the restroom and ask the fuel truck guy to put 5 gallons in the tank. I only live about 8 miles away.

In the FBO, I asked the manager about Basic Med and If I'd be able to rent their 172's. A local, busy-body Doctor and Lawyer were in there and started voicing their opinion that the FBO should NEVER allow that and they probably would NOT! The discussion got a little spirited and distracted me 100%. I TOTALLY forgot to ask for fuel. You can see what's coming...

I eventually left the discussion and walked to the helicopter. I replaced the gas cap and in my mind, I was confident the truck had put 5 gallons in the tank, JUST AS I HAD ASKED HIM TO DO.

I made a leisurely, 8-mile trip home with only TWO GALLONS in my tank. Now in cruise, the 582 burns about 5.5 per hour in the helicopter with my "big-boned" self inside. I safely landed and exited the little MH-6 Special-Ops IMPOSTER. I removed both side panels and started my post-flight. I was perplexed at the absence of a blue tint to the lower part of the translucent white polyethylene fuel tank. I had begun that day by filling-up at my friend's hangar with Sport Fuel 93 Non-Ethanol which is clear, but I expected to see 5 gallons or so of blue 100LL during post-flight.

Well, upon close inspection, I saw the level of clear sport fuel and it was LITERALLY EVEN WITH THE UPPER O.D. OF THE BLACK NEOPRENE PICKUP LINE!!! I was flushed and my heart was pounding hard. I sat down on the grass and thought about how close I came to running the Rotax silent. I was certain I had gotten fuel. How could this have happened? My corrective action to keep me from making this possibly fatal mistake again was...I will always remove the key when I need gas and place it on the pitot tube ( The key has the Pitot Cover and Remove Before Flight flag on it. ). Hopefully having to "wonder why" the key is on the pitot tube will sober me enough to say "Check to make sure helicopter was serviced with fuel." I also promptly installed a BeLite LED Fuel Gauge so I didn't have to look back on the firewall at the sight tube. It was hard to turn my head that far in flight.

Here is a picture of the tank just a few minutes after I landed !! I estimate I had 20 to 30 seconds of usable fuel left. THE "1" AND "2" MARKS ARE GALLONS!
fuel tank.jpg
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gauge.jpg
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Runup little .JPG
Runup little .JPG (59.32 KiB) Viewed 299 times
Last edited by bryancobb on Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Bryan Cobb
Sport Pilot CFI
Commercial/Instrument Airplane
Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter
Cartersville, Ga
bryandcobb@att.net

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drseti
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby drseti » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:53 am

I see you dodged the bullet on that flight, Bryan. Thanks for sharing.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
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FastEddieB
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby FastEddieB » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:26 am

Thanks for that.

I think this shows that even conscientious pilots can be struck down by what I think are technically called “brain farts”.

Im pretty sure any pilot who’s been around awhile can recount such incidents. It happens. It usually takes the form of, “I always religiously do X, but this time events conspired so that I didn’t this one time.”

This is very different from what’s being discussed in another thread, the blatant disregard of rules and regulations. And much harder to avoid.

One of my fairly recent “brain farts” led to this placard in my Sky Arrow:

Image

Maybe a “FUEL LEVEL VISUALLY CONFIRMED?” placard might be in order? :wink:
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
CFI, CFII, CFIME
FastEddieB@mac.com

TimTaylor
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:35 am

But, are these the things we sometimes do that we never did when we were younger? I have dialed in the wrong frequency twice in the past year or two. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but it could be depending on the circumstances. I think, as we get older (I'm 71), we need to take additional precautions to prevent these "brain farts" we never used to have. It's also why I think light sport and Sport Pilot privileges and limitations make a lot of sense as we get older. "Grow old gracefully." We should acknowledge and embrace where we are in our aviation careers, not try to empress someone by flying high performance, highly complex aircraft just because we have the money to pay for it.

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drseti
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby drseti » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:51 am

TimTaylor wrote:I think, as we get older (I'm 71), we need to take additional precautions to prevent these "brain farts" we never used to have. It's also why I think light sport and Sport Pilot privileges and limitations make a lot of sense as we get older.


Absolutely, Tim! I'm only a bit older than you (though working hard to make sure you never catch up). ;)

When I turned 50, I made the voluntary decision to give up night flying. I had no medical or legal reason for this. But I recognized that my night vision wasn't what it once was, and I had no compelling reason why I had to fly at night. I figured if I couldn't get home by dark, I'd just land at the nearest airport, check into a hotel, and head home the next morning. This decision was made not after a scare, but rather following an absolutely gorgeous night flight on a crystal clear night with a full moon, sparkling stars, and smooth skies. I figured this was a good time to quit a winner. (I still do enjoy flying, however, between sunset and civil twilight.)

At around 60, after a scare involving a failed autopilot, an ILS down to minimums, heavy fog, and a botched missed approach, I similarly opted to voluntarily give up instrument flying. I've since waited, halfway across the country, in a hotel for a couple of days until weather improved enough for me to continue.

In my 70s, even though I have Basic Med, I've decided not to fly high-performance complex aircraft anymore, except as second in command, with a qualified youngster in the left seat.

Some day, I know, I'll have to hang up my spurs altogether, and go back to something safer. Like sports cars and motorcycles!
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
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SportPilotExaminer.US

TimTaylor
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:09 am

I gave up drag racing 4 years ago. Nothing like 205 mph in a dragster.

I didn't give up night flying and IFR intentionally, but I would have if my medical had not expired. I was dealing with chemo when my medical expired and not thinking about flying at the time. Doc said I would be dead by 2012.

Burger flights in the SkyCatcher are my mission now. As much fun as I have ever had flying airplanes. Really, the art of flying is the same regardless of the airplane you're in.

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drseti
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby drseti » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:19 am

TimTaylor wrote:Doc said I would be dead by 2012.


So glad the doc was wrong! :D
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

TimTaylor
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:26 am

drseti wrote:
TimTaylor wrote:Doc said I would be dead by 2012.


So glad the doc was wrong! :D


Thanks. Me too.

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ShawnM
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby ShawnM » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:48 pm

Thanks for sharing Bryan. Does your Mini 500 not have a fuel gauge?

This is another reason that we have and should use our checklists. I'll bet that "fuel quantity" is on your checklist. It's on mine. I know many of you think you are "too cool" to whip out a checklist but it could save your life oneday. Just sayin'. :mrgreen:

Also good points by Tim and Eddie about knowing your limitations. I'm sure it's not easy giving in and giving up something as you age but it's just a smart decision for you and those you love.

bryancobb
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby bryancobb » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:52 pm

ShawnM wrote:Thanks for sharing Bryan. Does your Mini 500 not have a fuel gauge?

This is another reason that we have and should use our checklists. I'll bet that "fuel quantity" is on your checklist. It's on mine. I know many of you think you are "too cool" to whip out a checklist but it could save your life oneday. Just sayin'. :mrgreen:

Also good points by Tim and Eddie about knowing your limitations. I'm sure it's not easy giving in and giving up something as you age but it's just a smart decision for you and those you love.


NOW IT HAS A GAUGE. As I said in the original post, the original fuel sight tube works great, I was just a little to "plump" to turn around enough to see it in flight.

Usually a pre-takoff check in a small piston heli goes...

RPM 2900
25" of Manifold Pressure
30 Gallons of fuel
Systems Instruments Check
Priority
Spacing
Groundtrack

Yes, if I had done that, it would have caught it before takeoff.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

3Dreaming
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby 3Dreaming » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:37 pm

Back in the late 1990's or early 2000's I flew my dad's Taylorcraft to Oshkosh to drop it off ahead of the fly-in. I had a pilot who flew pipeline for me come and pick me up in my Piper Warrior. He brought a pilot friend along to get some flying time. It was lunch time, so we stopped at Fon Du Lac to go get some lunch. I ask that they top it off. When we returned I went into the office and paid for the fuel. The ticket had my N number and was about the correct amount. I crawled into the back seat and sat down and they got in. They were just about to start the airplane when I ask if they had checked the fuel. They hadn't, so they got back out and checked. The airplane hadn't been fueled. Lesson learned.

TimTaylor
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:52 pm

Here's a lesson I didn't learn, but decided for myself. I never have and never will ride in the back seat of a private airplane (except a tandem).

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ShawnM
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby ShawnM » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:22 am

bryancobb wrote:NOW IT HAS A GAUGE. As I said in the original post, the original fuel sight tube works great.......


It only works great if you actually LOOK at it during your preflight checklist. :mrgreen:

I'm familiar with light piston helicopters and the very first item on my Rotorway 162F Checklist was:

1. Verify fuel quantity using calibrated dip hose.

Which is far better than a fuel gauge. I also made one for my SportCruiser and use it before the engine is ever started. Just sayin'

Glad you made it home with no issues.

Do you bring your Mini down to SNF? If so let me know via PM and you can stop in Lake City on your way down. A friend on mine there has a Rotorway gathering twice a year and one is right before SNF. I'm sure you'd fit right in with your Mini and the guys would love to see it in action.

bryancobb
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:35 pm
Location: Cartersville Georgia

Re: Fuel Management

Postby bryancobb » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:49 pm

ShawnM wrote:
bryancobb wrote:NOW IT HAS A GAUGE. As I said in the original post, the original fuel sight tube works great.......


It only works great if you actually LOOK at it during your preflight checklist. :mrgreen:

I'm familiar with light piston helicopters and the very first item on my Rotorway 162F Checklist was:

1. Verify fuel quantity using calibrated dip hose.

Which is far better than a fuel gauge. I also made one for my SportCruiser and use it before the engine is ever started. Just sayin'

Glad you made it home with no issues.

Do you bring your Mini down to SNF? If so let me know via PM and you can stop in Lake City on your way down. A friend on mine there has a Rotorway gathering twice a year and one is right before SNF. I'm sure you'd fit right in with your Mini and the guys would love to see it in action.


I have been limited on how far I can fly it because the MRGB lube temperature creeps up slowly and exceeds limits. About 1 hour is the most I can fly without it getting too hot. I installed an oil cooler on top of the radiator and use a Weldon hot oil pump to circulate lube through the cooler and filter. The Weldon pump is noisy and draws a lot of current.

I have a tiny Meggitt hydraulic motor that does a superb job pumping about 1/2 gallon per min. on my drill press at 650 RPM. It is silent. I'm building a second MRGB to be bullet-proof and I'll put the Meggitt pump on it. SNF will probably be no problem then.
Bryan Cobb

Sport Pilot CFI

Commercial/Instrument Airplane

Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter

Cartersville, Ga

bryandcobb@att.net

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ShawnM
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Re: Fuel Management

Postby ShawnM » Wed Jan 16, 2019 9:16 am

I'm very familiar with the Weldon pumps. They are power hungry but work.

I had only assumed that you could trailer your ship down to SNF that's why I asked. Most, if not all RW owners I know have trailers just for those long trips behind their vehicle or RV.


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