Learning Experiences

April 2016 Issue

Let's Hear From You!

Have you encountered a situation or hazardous condition that yielded lessons on how to better manage the risks involved in flying? Do you have an experience to share with Aviation Safety’s readers about an occasion that taught you something significant about ways to conduct safer flight operations? If so, we want to hear about it.

We encourage you to submit a brief (500 words) write-up of your Learning Experience to Aviation Safety for possible publication. Each month, Aviation Safety publishes a collection of similar experiences sent to us by readers. Sharing with others the benefit of your experience and the lessons you learned can be an invaluable aid to other pilots.

You can send your account directly to the editor by e-mailing it to avsafetymag@gmail.com. Put “Learning Experience Submission” in the subject line; add your name and daytime telephone number at the bottom of the e-mail.

Your report will be considered for publication in the Aviation Safety’s readers’ forum, “Learning Experiences,” and may be edited for style and length. Anonymity is guaranteed if you want it. No one but Aviation Safety’s editor is permitted access to the reports. Your name and telephone number are requested only so that the editor can contact you, if necessary.

While we can’t guarantee your submission will get published, we can guarantee that we’ll closely review and consider using it.

All Learning Experience submissions become the property of Aviation Safety and may be republished.

Fuel Enough

Two months after gaining my private ticket, my friend asked if I could take him and his son from Michigan to New Hampshire, where he would leave his son to visit his grandparents for two weeks. No problem, I said, looking forward to my first long cross-country. I reserved a Cessna 172 from my flight school and, as the day approached, I kept track of weather conditions and filed VFR.

When I take someone up, I usually ask if they have any questions about what’s involved in being a pilot. Some say yes, some no. My friend was interested in many aspects of aviation, so we talked about it during the long flight. My route map was in my lap, and I pointed out the checkpoints as they came up. I explained the instruments and all the safety built into the system of being a pilot. He asked good questions and the flight proceeded without incident, although my instrument scan was probably not up to par, due to the interesting conversation.

As we flew over New York, on-course at 9500 feet, some few miles west and north of Schenectady, I was shocked to notice both fuel gauges hovering about ¼ above empty! The fuel selector was on “Both.” I halted all conversation as I checked my chart for the Schenectady frequency and requested a landing. I was thinking about leaking fuel, but could smell nothing out of the ordinary.

aircraft fuel gauge

It was a smooth landing, and I taxied to the FBO and shut down. As I sat there, thinking about “What now?” I found the trouble. I can’t believe I forgot to lean the mixture for the whole trip!

Needless to say, cockpit chatter declined a bit and the flight continued without incident after I did a complete review of the checklists. My friend was unexpectedly forgiving and respectful of each and every checklist in the book.

We both learned a bit more about flight safety than either of us expected. All my subsequent flights have proceeded with all pertinent checklists resting in my lap and respectfully touched from time to time. And, cockpit conversation is held to a respectable minimum.