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Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Teaching & Learning Techniques, Study & Practice.

Re: Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Unread postby KeithSmith » Sun Nov 01, 2015 12:15 pm

Cary wrote:although I'd be hard pressed to find the post in the other forum.


I had some time to look at old posts and here it is: http://studentpilot.com/interact/forum/showthread.php?42296-First-lesson-in-complex-HP/page3

We had to park on a slope, so to preclude one tank of the Skylane draining into the other and out the vent, I turned the selector to off. I turned it on again during the preflight, loaded the family, then went into the FBO shack to get my clearance. As I came out, I discovered that Wife 1 had unloaded the kids and dog, so that the kids could go potty one last time. I reached into the airplane to turn off the fuel again, because it was coming out the lower vent in a steady stream. The kids and dog were reloaded after going potty, and my void time was coming up, so I hurriedly fired up and taxied the full length of the runway to take off. I pulled into the runup area, did a complete runup, and pulled out onto the runway for take-off. I firewalled the throttle, and a moment later, just as the AI was coming alive, the engine quit. I knew what had happened, but by the time I could turn on the selector, we'd used up too much of the 2181' runway to take off over the trees at the south end.


What it says in so many words is: You put your family in an airplane. You failed to use the checklist during engine start. You again failed to use the checkist during runup. You call what you did a "complete runup" although it didn't involve checking the fuel selector. By pure luck you had the engine quit during the takeoff run instead of 30 seconds later when it may have been disastrous. Then, you actually considered moving the fuel selector during the takeoff run and departing on an IFR flight and the only thing that stopped you from doing so was the length of the runway.

Normal human behavior is to perform at the highest level of caution and safety where their family is involved. If that is the level of judgment and the degree of care you demonstrate when you have your family aboard, I can only imagine what you do when you're solo?
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Re: Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Unread postby widgeon5 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:34 am

As an aside to the larger issue, turning the fuel selector to either left or right will stop the crossflow, and the engine will still run.
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Re: Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Unread postby KeithSmith » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:05 pm

widgeon5 wrote:As an aside to the larger issue, turning the fuel selector to either left or right will stop the crossflow, and the engine will still run.


The "best" thing to do is still an unsettled question in my mind. I know of an event where a student was flying an airplane that required switching tanks. It wasn't a Piper, but it was the same kind of fuel system. The student was sent out on a cross country flight and upon reaching the limit of one tank, had the engine quit. The student did a perfect job of putting the airplane down unscratched in a field. Believe it or not, the root problem was the student's instructor had never taught switching fuel tanks. So then I thought maybe it would be better to put the selector in the off position. This would prevent the next pilot who gets the airplane from making a mistake since the engine would quit before they got to the runway. Well, as the quoted comment indicates, if a person goes fast enough, there is no guarantee the engine will quite before takeoff. The result could be worse than having the engine quit unexpectedly a couple hours after takeoff.

Personally, I will put the selector in left or right during refueling if we're going to top it off and then put it back to both before I leave the airplane.

Taking that a step further, I used to fly Beavers on wheels. there were three belly tanks and another tank in each wing. We would start on one tank, taxi on another tank, and runup and takeoff on another tank. The idea was that tested the fuel lines and content from all three belly tanks. However, now I tend to wonder if a runup was enough time on that tank to be 100% certain there wasn't a problem in the tank used for takeoff.

I'd be most interested in hearing the thoughts from others as to where you put the fuel selector, when you switch, and any experiences you may have had related to the subject.
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Re: Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Unread postby RKittine » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:09 am

Have lots of time in lots of Piper's. some, like most of the twins, that not only require switching tanks, but multiple tanks and only after cert burn offs accomplished. Similar to both of the Aeroncas that I recently owned. Only one tank actually feeds the engine and the other is used to "Replenish" the main tank, so if you turn on the fuel transfer value too early you end up with an over flow situation in the main tank. Add that to a Model A car fuel gauge or a wire on a float sticking out of the nose tank fuel cap, it is best to be well aware of time flown and act accordingly. Training in what to do and when to do it is important.

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Re: Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Unread postby KeithSmith » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:37 pm

The Beaver has a similar feature. If you transfer from the wing tanks and lose track of time there is an auto-reminder feature. It's the smell of avgas that fills the airplane as the fuel vents overboard.
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Re: Question for "real" seaplane pilot instructors.

Unread postby RKittine » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:58 am

The Aeronca has a redundant warning system. You first see fuel bubbling out of the tank cap moments before you get the warning smell. fortunately seems that the overflow is carried back and down and not onto a hot engine.

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