January 2008 Issue

Running Dry

Answering the “got gas?” question is only part of the battle: It still has to get to the engine. Thankfully, understanding your airplane’s fuel system is easy.

Some time ago there was an Internet debate on running a tank dry. Each side had some valid arguments and thought the opposing view was absurd. Debates are like that. One side was convinced airplanes would be falling out of the sky if pilots starting running tanks dry, then switching to one with fuel in it. The other side felt that airplanes would be falling out of the sky if pilots didn’t run a tank dry, if for no other reason than to verify capacity. As such arguments go, both sides were right. And wrong. But both sides agreed on a central point: There’s no substitute for thorough knowledge and understanding of your airplane’s fuel system. With that goal in mind, let’s set aside the other arguments for a moment, take a look at what goes into fuel systems and what we as pilots should know about them.

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