"Unfinished Business" Is Not Finished Yet!

Discussion in 'Safety Forum' started by bf92, Jun 8, 2018.

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  1. Jun 8, 2018 #1

    bf92

    bf92

    bf92

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    Guys and Gals,

    I don't want to have to write this twice, so here is what I sent to Kevin. Such a simple mistake.

    Kevin,

    Thanks for writing. Steve Wolf called me yesterday, and I explained it all to him. The short of it is that it was a fueling error on my part. I had flown an ACE evaluation in Longmont, CO, then fueled up to come home. For some reason, unknown to even me, I fueled the auxiliary tank first, which I have always done last. Having done that, I put the caps back on both tanks like I always have done after fueling the aux tank, and flew away with 10 gallons less fuel than I thought I had on board. I was descending to land at Evanston, WY, to top off the main tank for the last 57 miles home, when the engine quit. This time, however, it didn't stutter or hesitate like it does when I run the aux tank dry. Thinking that I still had 10 gallons in the main, I thought the throttle linkage had broken because it just idled down like it would if you pulled the throttle off over about three seconds.

    With a 6:1 glide ratio, my best, and only, option, was I-80 westbound, even though there was heavy traffic. There were four semis to my left, and as I turned over the freeway I thought I was ahead of the lead truck. I even said to myself, "I have this made". I lowered the left wing slightly and gave a touch of right rudder to see the road ahead, and at about fifteen feet up I struck something beneath me. I couldn't see what it was because this airplane is so blind. I couldn't imagine what I had landed on, because I was certain that I was ahead of the trucks. The right wings struck something, a pole I think, and I was thrown off to the right side, and hit the ground nose down, then tumbled, landing upside down at an angle, like it has stopped at point 3 of an 8-point roll to the right. I was completely uninjured. I extricated myself, and a few minutes later a truck driver came over and said I had landed on top of his sleeper cab. Had I pulled that one off I would have called Kent Pietsch and asked to have "cartop landing" added to my SAC card.

    I examined the airplane on Wednesday, and removed the main tank cap, and nothing came out. I was expecting at least 8, and probably 10, gallons of fuel. I removed the cowling and found the throttle linkage intact. I have a fuel receipt that shows 27 gallons purchased, and that is exactly what I would have put in both tanks, 17 in the aux and 10 in the main, after the evaluation, so I was totally confused over where the other 10 gallons had gone. I checked my credit card history (this was after 4 days of pondering where the 10 gallons went), and that's when I found another fuel purchase for filling the aux tank. WHAP! The sound of my hand hitting my forehead! It was then I realized that after fueling the aux tank, I never fueled the main tank because I always close up both tanks after fueling the aux tank. Having done things out of order, I hadn't realized that I failed to fuel the main tank, and off I flew to oblivion.

    I will be bringing the airplane back to my hangar on Monday. The wings and landing gear legs are not salvagable, but most, if not all, of the wing hardware, flying wires, etc, can be used again, and I have all the jigs necessary to rebuild the wings. The fuselage is intact, although there is some minor damage to the tip of the fin and rudder. The insurance company will cover the costs of the rebuild.

    I never push weather, and I never push fuel, but I did get things out of order when I fueled, and was carrying less fuel than I thought, so that is on me. I just hope this tale keeps others from making the same type of mistake. The corrective action is obvious: ALWAYS fuel the main tank first!

    Danny

    PS: The g-meter showed +6/-6
     
  2. Jun 8, 2018 #2

    IanJ

    IanJ

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    I'm glad to hear you'll be rebuilding, and glad that the fuel error wasn't a fatal one. I had my own stupid moment last year, when I left the fuel cap off the left tank and took off into the wild blue yonder, because I didn't have a fueling protocol firmly established in my head. I was lucky that I only lost about 2 gallons to suction out the filler neck before I landed (completely unaware until preflight after lunch) and figured out what happened. A disposable nitrile glove and a ziptie got me home, feeling pretty stupid. Had I continued on to the longer tour I'd been pondering before landing for lunch, I would have run out of fuel somewhere on the coast, far from anything but rocky Pacific beaches for landing spots. The one time I've felt grateful for my desire for pie. :D
     
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  3. Jun 8, 2018 #3

    Jerry

    Jerry

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    Danny... glad to see that you figured out what happened... And, glad to see that you’re putting “Unfinished Business” back together again.
     
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  4. Jun 9, 2018 #4

    GoldenAge

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    Thanks for that great report Danny. This story will help many.
    So glad you were uninjured.
    As for your plane, I guess it gets some more of your time and attention. You are a great example of a wise pilot. Lots can be learned from you.
     
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  5. Jun 9, 2018 #5

    will moffitt

    will moffitt

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    But for the grace of only one tank, there go I. Or something like that.
    Takes a big guy to admit that.

    will
     
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  6. Jun 9, 2018 #6

    Larry Lyons

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    Great story,thanks for telling it. We all have done the stupid stuff, so glad it did tend terribly.
     
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  7. Jun 9, 2018 #7

    Dave Baxter

    Dave Baxter

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    My goal of being on the Biplane Forum first and foremost is to help others, so that they will not get hurt both physically or financially regarding building , buying and flying these wonderful biplanes. We all hate to make or admit mistakes in our airmanship, Danny to his credit has explained what happened, and it is sad his airplane suffered so much damage, but to emerge unscathed is not only circumstance, but also his piloting skill played a roll.

    Fuel systems and fuel management is has been and always will be a part of flying that will never change. When we build an airplane fuel system considerations such as fuel cooling fuel flow and proper venting are important considerations. Building the airplane followed by annual condition inspections and flying them one would think is challenging enough. So one would think that fueling them would be a no brainer, all this incident show is if it can happen to Danny it can happen to anyone of us. When one gets out of his normal preflight routine or in this case refueling differently or simply being distracted one can easily miss something.

    I can relate a fuel system problem that happened to me and my airplane 20 yrs and over 1800 hrs of flight time . When this happened, you would think that by then you would have experienced every possible thing that could happen, such as working Portland approach and being handed off to Hillsboro tower and being distracted to the point of forgetting to switch from your wing tank back to your main tank and have it run dry just about the time you enter the pattern followed by a mad scramble with selector valve and boost pump! I think we have all done similar things?

    But mine was a bit different I was coming back from Bartelsville OK and had been down at Flabob in southern Calif, and at the time was over Sacramento at about 8500' heading for Oroville, it was late in the day and getting dark I had cruise power and was running on the wing tank, once over SMF had started a gradual decent when the engine quit! My wing tank had always been good for a full hour plus and I had only been on it for about 40 minutes, it took several long seconds to fully comprehend what had happened, I went back to my main tank with the boost pup on and it seemed to take a longer than usual for it to start running again? Once it did I finally realized what had happened, with both outlets in the rear corners of the tank at cruise power and with the nose down all of the fuel had run forward and to a point to where it had unported both outlets. The wing tank is to be used only in level flight cruise, which I had always done before, but something so simple happened long after the first flight and so many hrs of flying, only goes to show that things happen, so ya all be careful out there ya hear? Dave
     
  8. Jun 9, 2018 #8

    Hinckley Bill

    Hinckley Bill

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    Found the story and this picture ...... so glad you walked away to fly another day!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Jun 9, 2018 #9

    Timbob

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    Hey Danny, again, glad your ok, thanks for sharing and for us souls we get to learn about building watching you repair UB I hope. I'm interested in if your fuel/tank system leaked or was damaged in the crash? Would it still worked out as well if your main tank had some real amount of fuel in it? If it survived could you show us your routing?
    Good luck on the rebuild and glad its just a story about a rebuild....
     
  10. Jun 9, 2018 #10

    Eric_Anderson

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    Great writeup. I finally got around to reading the Sport Aviation article about “Unfinished Business” where I learned about the massive amount of time, money and probably not a few tears to design and build her. So to now read such an honest and even humorous account after such a heartbreak is pretty uplifting. That you are willing to build her again is doubly so.
     
  11. Jun 10, 2018 #11

    StinsonPilot

    StinsonPilot

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    Glad everything is working out, thanks for filling us in.
    Like most, I've had my fuel moment too.
     

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