April 2007 Issue

Fuel Gotchas

Its really a simple concept: To stay aloft, we must have fuel. So why do pilots continue trying to fly with nothing in their tanks?

I was painting myself into a corner. Id departed Louisville, Kentucky into a screaming westerly wind bound for Jefferson City, Missouri. Snow and icy clouds threatened to the north, so I steered the Cessna 172 slightly south of a direct course and crossed the Mississippi somewhere north of Cape Girardeau. Now making maybe 70 knots ground speed, I was over heavily forested hills, the few small airports below closed from a recent, heavy snowfall. I started to worry about fuel.

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