August 2000 Issue

Full-Service Mistake

Self-serve fuel is a fact of life for automobiles, why don’t pilots pay more attention to what goes in the tanks?

For many pilots, the end of the flight is the beginning of a routine. They land, taxi to the ramp, go into the FBO.

If they’re planning another leg, they’ll order fuel, use the restroom, check the weather and maybe have a snack. They pay the fuel bill and walk back to the plane.

If they’re home or planning to spend a day or two, they put in a fuel order and leave.

Sometimes it’s the worst thing you can do.

For example, a Cessna 421C crashed in good weather in San Antonio, Texas, killing the pilot and one passenger instantly. Another passenger was seriously injured and died several days later. The pilot’s gamble came during the preflight and engine runup.

The flight was opera...

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