Learning Experiences

April 2009 Issue

In Detention

I am a moderately experienced pilot, having amassed approximately 3500 hours over 30 years of flying. This occurrence is one Iím not particularly proud of, but is instructive nonetheless. I was flying a PA-32-301T Saratoga to our home in Missoula, Mont. Fortunately I was alone; my wife might have decided right then and there to not fly with me in the future if she had been a passenger on this flight. I was over the valley, north of Bozeman. After reading a recent article in Aviation Safety discussing the pros and cons of the operation, I decided to run all the fuel from the right tank before switching to the left. As the last drops flowed from the right side, the engine coughed. I reached down and slammed the fuel selector to the left tank, hit the fuel pump and the engine died! I went through the emergence procedure by memory.

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