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Old 08-02-2019, 09:55 PM
Don Patrick's Avatar
Don Patrick Don Patrick is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: GTA, Ontario
Posts: 877
Default Food for thought....know your emergency check!

I thought I would share this experience so that others may take something away from it.

Last evening I went for a quick flight in my 8 from my local airport to a BBQ about a 25 minute flight away. Nice enjoyable flight with no issues.

I have noticed that my right fuel tank drain has had a slight drip coming from it and my plan was to replace it this week with a new one.

So, I decided I would run my tank as low as I safely could instead of draining a large amount.

I have a D180 with capacitive plates that were calibrated about 74 hours ago. I have noticed that my left tank was far more accurate than my right tank and it was also time to do another recalibration.

On the way back home last evening, I was about 4.5 miles from the airport and decided to do some steep turns. I was showing about 5 gallons in my right tank and I had 16 gal in my left tank. I?m into about 270 degrees of a steep left turn and then it happened. My engine started to quit.

I was a 1000 ft AGL, and immediately rolled the wings level and picked a field and went to 90 kts. After realizing what happened, I immediately went into my FMS checks (fuel, mixture, switches) switched the fuel to the left tank, boost pump on, mixture rich, and checked mags on both. The engine sputtered and the came roaring back.

I immediately climbed and turned toward the airport came in and landed.

Number of lessons learned here...

I check my fuel levels before flight visually and do not rely on my EFIS, but I did push my luck with the level being at 5 gallons showing on the EFIS when I knew it wasn?t as accurate as my left tank.

I should have flown back on the left tank instead of trying to maximize my fuel burn from the right tank and physically drain it instead of burning it.

I realized how important it is to know your emergency checks and to act quickly and calmly. I?m fortunate that I have the opportunity to practice emergencies during our checkouts every year with the flying outfit I?m with. I also do checkouts on our staff, which I think had prepared me a little more for what happened.

Over 30 years of flying, I have only ever lost a mag...this was the first time I ever had the ?oh ****? moment.

If you ever get yourself in an unnecessary bind like I did, which can totally be prevented, always go FMS..Fuel, mixture, switches...and fly the plane.

I?m not sharing my stumble to get flamed. I just want others to hopefully learn from what mistake I made.

I changed the fuel drain...some fuel lube got into the o ring and trapped some debris. And after draining the tank, I had about 5 oz left.....not 5 gallons....


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Old 08-02-2019, 10:23 PM
bkc3921's Avatar
bkc3921 bkc3921 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: DuBois,Il
Posts: 163
Thumbs up Thanks for the reminder// Here's another story

Thanks for the reminder and lessons learned...Slightly off your topic, but since you were talking about safety, I thought I would throw this in...

About 10 days ago, I was flying on a very nice, beautiful day in my 7A tip-up. Not hot, no issues, 6 minutes from my home airport, which is very close to a large lake. While flying at 2800 feet, about 3 miles from the lake, out of absolutely NOWHERE, I hit a thermal/inversion/whatever you want to call it...

The airplane dropped..and I didn't. Hit my head on the canopy, which I thought was surely cracked, but wasn't. Felt like my wife hit me over the head with a frying pan. I feel I was very close to being "knocked out"..It knocked off my headset and gave me an instant severe headache (probably a mild concussion) and really rang my bell. I headed for the airport, made a straight in approach and landed without incident.

Lessons learned: I have a 5 point Hooker Harness, which I THOUGHT was properly adjusted, but apparently wasn't. I'm 6'1 and have about 3 inches clearance from headset to plexi. There was enough foam in the seat and play in my harness adjustment to send me into the canopy. I've been jostled like all of us, but in 40 years of flying, nothing like this. Sudden, violent..and potentially deadly.

When I got my wits back , I readjusted my Hookers until I was trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey. They need to be tight almost to the point of very uncomfortable...until you can barely move, in my (new) opinion. This was totally my fault (not the harnesses) and avoidable. I will be smarter next time.

Please check your harnesses for proper adjustment...!
Brian K. Morrow
N433BC "Muttley" RV-7A Flying
N433BM "Dastardly" RV-12is EMP, FUSE, WINGS, Done..FINISH almost done..Powerplant soon to arrive
Official Repeat Offender
"Maintain thy airspeed...Lest the earth arise and smite thee..."
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Old 08-02-2019, 11:53 PM
Eddie P's Avatar
Eddie P Eddie P is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Aptos, CA (previously Reno, 21 years!)
Posts: 251

Hi Don, really good story, thank you for taking the time and being generous enough to share for our benefit. The proverbial chain was working against you. Add the steep turn maneuvering at 1000 feet to also stack the deck against you in terms of available time to diagnose issues. FMS was a great thing to fall back on. But more importantly, as you stated, you "flew the aircraft" when the dynamic situation began. On speed, landing site committed, etc. Just had enough time for that FMS flow too. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. The thing forgotten sometimes is "mitigate" comes before the aviate, navigate and communicate part. One thing I personally got from reading about your situation was to always recall the plan for risk mitigation when planning a lower fuel state in one tank or when planning to switch tanks. Keep excess altitude, slam dunk landing field and no maneuvering ops in mind until the active tank is switched again to the full tank. Thanks again Don, glad it was a positive learning experience and glad the fuel drain was an easy fix too BTW!
Flying is Freedom
RV-8: IO-360, WW RV200 CS Prop, P-Mag-Slick Combo, Advanced EFIS 3500 SOLD
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Old 08-03-2019, 12:08 AM
erich weaver's Avatar
erich weaver erich weaver is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: santa barbara, CA
Posts: 1,762

Yeah, regarding the seatbelt adjustment story, because of the geometery of the way the seatbelts are anchored (at least in a -7A) it?s tough to get them adjusted so that you are securely restrained from vertical movement. This is particularly true for shorter folks whose shoulders are below the top of the seat backs. An extra cushion under the butt makes a lot of difference in that case; safer and better visibility as a side benefit.

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Old 08-03-2019, 06:26 AM
Capt Capt is offline
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 714

Good to read real life stories
Most engines quit abruptly due fuel starvation unless of course there was nasty noises and or vibrations.
During my initial twin training my instructor switched one supply tank off to an engine without me noticing it, the donk stopped dead, that was a small poo event!
Just for the record both my drains had been dripping, I replaced them with both tanks about half full, there is a trick to it without needing to drain the tanks but I didn't want to put myself in the same situation as the author here
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Old 08-03-2019, 07:50 AM
Rich Pulman Rich Pulman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: CYQA Canada
Posts: 84
Default Question from a low-time piston pilot..

?some fuel lube got into the o ring and trapped some debris?

What the heck does this mean? I?m asking because someone recently advised me to use a fuel additive (Marvel Mystery Oil) and now I?m wondering if that?s a good idea; especially since I only have one fuel tank.

Thanks for sharing your experience Don.
RV-3A (C-FARV) bought
RV-8 (C-FRAP) building

Donated 2022
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Old 08-03-2019, 07:55 AM
BillL BillL is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Central IL
Posts: 6,365
Default Thanks for the reminder, keeping us safe!

Thanks Don, my takeaway is the calibration check for fuel readout. I have not been using that as I had float sensors and they are clearly not accurate above 7 gallons. I have not considered they would or could become inaccurate. The last time I did a use-by-tank flight I got one to 2 gal on one tank and it was pretty darn accurate. Not sure about the other.

Upcoming cross countries are not a good time to learn this . . .

My 10-Friend and I have been recently focusing on distractions that lead to potentially unsafe issues. This is a excellent reminder for an additional category!

Thanks again for sharing . .

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Old 08-03-2019, 08:06 AM
SmilingJack's Avatar
SmilingJack SmilingJack is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Hilton Head Island
Posts: 1,105

Originally Posted by Rich Pulman View Post
?some fuel lube got into the o ring and trapped some debris?

What the heck does this mean? I?m asking because someone recently advised me to use a fuel additive (Marvel Mystery Oil) and now I?m wondering if that?s a good idea; especially since I only have one fuel tank.

Thanks for sharing your experience Don.
I think what Don is talking about is since ?fuel lube? is very think it made some debris stick to the o-ring and inhibit the fuel drain from sealing, hence the leak.

That?s why most keep extra o-rings on hand for the fuel drains. I also keep an extra fuel drain so I can swap them quickly and then clean the old one.
John Mastro
10 years of Awesomeness!
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Old 08-03-2019, 08:22 AM
kaweeka kaweeka is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Roseville
Posts: 464

Thanks for taking the time and having the gumption to share your experience. After 6000 hours and nearly 40 years of flying, I am always humbled reading someone else's emergent experience and wonder how I would do if I were in that situation. These make me stop, think and re-assess my knowledge base and skills. Guess what I'll be doing on my next flight......
Glad you were on spot with your skills so you could share.
Best wishes,
RV-9A N435KR, Vans calendar March 2018
LIO 320 B1A, Dual LS Plasma III, AFP injection
G3x touch
Roseville, Ca
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Old 08-03-2019, 09:15 AM
FLY6 FLY6 is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Burlington On. Ca
Posts: 176
Default Blessing in disguise

It is lucky you did your steep turns when you did. If not your engine failure could have happened at a time when you did not have the time or altitude to recover the engine.

Glad you made it home safely.
Al Grant
Flying RV6, O-320, 160hp
Burlington, On
Dues Paid
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