Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Know your plane

A good lesson today, in both the importance of a good preflight inspection and having some knowledge of your plane.

One of the disadvantages of not doing a checkout with Bob before flying off on my own is that I don’t have anyone to discuss the latest foibles of the plane with.

Please understand that all the planes I fly are meticulously maintained. Sure there might be some cosmetic issues but I’ve never had a piece of equipment fail on me yet, the owner does not take shortcuts when it comes to looking after the mechanical aspects of these planes. 

Even so, each plane has its own  little quirks and idiosyncrasies .JPM has an annoying rattle/whine at times, SAR used to like to nose up quite dramatically but seems to have been cured of that little problem after the last bout of work it had done.

Today JES decided to cause me a little mischief on the way to my run up and beyond. The left fuel gauge decided to oscillate wildly between full and empty. The needle bouncing around like it was on a pogo stick.

Luckily I knew two things, which made this an annoyance rather than a serious issue. First off all I knew that the tank was full to brimming and that the cap was secure. I knew this because not 10 minutes earlier I’d been up on the wing, checking the fuel and securing the cap. I also knew that because the tank was totally full, the float sensors get a little screwed up and don’t always read accurately. That and the fact that the right tank was also full, but with a behaving gauge meant that I was happy to continue the flight.

I will admit it irritated me a little, although intellectually I knew that everything was fine, my attention was more focussed than it need to be on the bouncing needle, it was a good reminder that the next time I’m grumbling about having to search the hanger for enough milk crates to do a decent visual inspection of the fuel , it really is very important.

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