Your connection with the sky

DOING A GOOD PREFLIGHT REALLY PAYS OFF

Today’s weather was made for flying. Slightly overcast and absolutely no wind. So I decided to skip my chores and head for the airport. I’m trying to get in all the flying time I can before I leave for Oshkosh on July 19. I want to practice one-wheel landings, short-field landings and takeoffs, dead-stick landings, etc., etc., etc.

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I pulled the Talon out of the hangar and refueled, then began my preflight. I have a set order for doing the preflight; I begin at the left- front and work my way back, around the tail feathers, and then forward to the right-front. I didn’t get very far today. Those of you who have seen algae scum on a pond know what I was looking at – two fairly large pieces of ‘pond scum’ in the filter. I looked at the rear filter and it looked clear. So the front filter was doing its job.

I thought of just cleaning the filter, replacing it, and going flying. But in 22 years of flying, I’ve never seen this sort of scum caught by a filter. I’ve heard stories of problems with fiberglass fuel tanks, especially now with ethanol added to auto gas. I took off the fuel hose where it enters the neck of the tank, and saw that the inside of the next was delaminating. There were small specks of what appeared to be resin on the inside of the neck. Whoa! Who knows what it looks like inside the tank itself?

This tank is black, with a 1” diameter neck. There isn’t any drain valve at the bottom, and even with a flashlight you can’t see inside. So all I could really see was the ugly delamination and resin specks in the neck – nothing inside. Rather than take chances,
I’m going to have to have a new fuel tank built. There’s a talented builder, Ed Griffen, at our airport, and he’s been manufacturing aluminum fuel tanks for years.

Sigh..no flying for me today. But for a good reason. I’m REALLY glad this happened now, instead of a day or two before leaving for Oshkosh! Or worse yet, on the flight.

3 Responses to “DOING A GOOD PREFLIGHT REALLY PAYS OFF”

  1. Troy Whistman Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Good catch! A thorough preflight is critical to flight safety. As my youngest daughter used to say, "Daddy flies safe, because he always checks for bad gas." Always made me laugh.

  2. Jake Brodsky Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Great Catch! I had a similar experience with a Piper Dakota one winter day. While preflighting the airplane I pulled off the gas cap and heard a puff of air. Knowing that the tank is supposed to be vented, I got curious. I was about to sample the fuel anyway, so I looked down a the vent below the wing. I grabbed a small stick, whittled it down and gently poked it up in to the vent tube.

    I was rewarded with a small gush of AvGas along with some bits of slush. There was snow on the ground and it was below freezing. Had I decided to fly without checking this, I could easily have starved the engine of fuel. I've even heard of cases where the fuel tank imploded due to a blocked vent.

    Fly Safely!

  3. What a breathtaking experience shown on this blog! Now, I can't stop dreaming to be come a pilot and to experienced this kind of fly.

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