Learning Experiences

May 2009 Issue

The Correct Fuel

There are many stories about pilots loading jet fuel in a piston-engine aircraft, but using aviation gasoline in a jet engine is less dramatic. I had departed an air base in northern Japan on a cold January day, en route to a base in southern Japan, flying an F-84 fighter jet shortly after the end of the Korean War. During the flight at about 25,000 feet, I noticed the left tip tank was not feeding its main fuel tank. After landing at an emergency base in central Japan, the aircraft was refueled with 100-115 octane aviation gasoline, the only fuel available. While climbing out, I noticed the fuel was burning faster and at a higher engine temperature. The destination had a 100-foot ceiling and one mile visibility. Because of the rapid fuel burn, a diversion was out of the question. I made three ground-controlled radar approaches without seeing the runway because the controller kept losing me in clutter.

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