Learning Experiences

May 1999 Issue

Full Tank, No Fuel

“If I had not ... deviated from my clearance I may have ended up a statistic”

I was on a cross-country flight in instrument weather with my family in a rented Cessna 177RG. We were headed from Houston to Graham, Texas, which is west of Fort Worth.

This model 177 does not allow selection of the right fuel tank or left fuel tank only. It’s similar to a 152 in that the choice is either fuel on or fuel off. I was surprised when I checked out in the airplane and flew an instrument refresher two days prior to the trip that a complex airplane was designed in this manner – and I have more than 5,800 hours in light aircraft and another 2,200 in jets and turboprops.

I was at 4,000 feet when, after about 1 hour of flying time, I became convinced I was experiencing a fuel i...

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