Proving once again that all the world is a stage, and that you can become an unwitting player at any time, a pilot and “former” friend, also a pilot, were flying back from a short, day, VFR cross-country. The Cessna 150 they were flying inconveniently ran out of fuel a few hundred yards short of the destination.
According to the NTSB report:
“During the recovery of the airplane a total of 1.75 gallons of fuel was recovered from both wing fuel tanks. The fuel tanks had not been compromised and had an unusable fuel total of 3 gallons. The commercial pilot reported to law enforcement personnel that they had not refueled prior to the return flight.
According to the commercial pilot, he was not acting in the capacity of a flight instructor, nor was he acting as pilot in command. He was occupying the right seat. According to an affidavit submitted by the private pilot, he was not acting as pilot in command. The commercial pilot reported the private pilot was occupying the left seat and was flying at the time of the accident.
Local law enforcement reported that the commercial pilot had consumed several beers prior to the flight and smelled of alcohol.”
Hmmm—somebody had to be PIC. The commercial pilot sued the private pilot, but the suit was thrown out on a technicality proving that perhaps there is still some restraint left in the legal system. It’s an interesting conundrum. Often, the senior pilot with access to the controls is tagged unless prior arrangement is made—that is, of course, discounting “selective memory.” Another way to look at it is that the commercial pilot had presumably disqualified himself from any PIC role with the alcohol consumption. The private pilot was then de-facto PIC since he was presumably qualified in the aircraft (we don’t know his currency status).
The crash occurred just about 1700 local time, so Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett apparently are on to something about time zones being irrelevant when it comes to happy hour. In aviation though, fuel consumption is an absolute, as is the eight hour rule. It also wouldn’t hurt to identify, in advance, who is PIC and to figure how much fuel is needed plus a bit extra. It can get really messy after the fact.
Unabashed ask for support.
If you’ve somehow managed to avoid all the publicity regarding the Foundation’s online auction, I’ll apologize for violating the pristine confines of the blog, but if you see anything below that piques your interest, and there’s some really good stuff, please bid generously. We can use the revenue.
To set up your account and start bidding, visit www.biddingforgood.com/aopafoundation.
Bidding ends between Tuesday, October 9, and Saturday, October 13, 2012, depending on the item, so be sure to visit the site and get your bids submitted!
Best of all, the proceeds for this amazing auction benefit AOPA Foundation’s mission to preserve and strengthen general aviation now and for future generations. Just a few of the items up for bid: