Search news

Monday, June 21, 2021

Dry pumps cause of aviation aggravation

What’s Up
By LeRoy Cook

The final week of Spring 2021 was more like high summer, with scorching heat blasting up from the southwest. Bill Koons flew his Cessna 172 up from Tucson, where it was 107 the morning he left; he found our humidity level matching the feels-like temp, even at 10 degrees cooler.

Our Friday morning flight found a warm 45-knot wind flow at 2,000 feet above ground level, from 220 degrees. Even so, the ride was smooth once above the wind shear, just slow when southbound. Lots of traffic was out that day, including a Cessna Citation jet making the RNAV 18 low approach. Randy Shannon bounced in with his Zenith CH750SD homebuilt, seeking fuel.

Other traffic observed this week was a Beech Bonanza K35, a Cessna Skylane, a Piper Meridian turboprop, and a Cirrus SR22. Locally, Roy Conley flew his Grumman Tr2 to Paola Saturday morning, Brandt Hall had his Lark Commander out, Jeff Arnold and Jeffery Adams made Cessna 150 flights and I made a one-way maintenance trip to El Dorado Springs.

About 20 years ago, self-service airplane refueling took over at smaller airports, and as an alternative at big fields, replacing attendants waiting for airplanes to land. The flexibility of 24-hour gas access, like automobile pumps, seemed to make sense. Even so, pilots would rather have someone drag out a heavy hose or drive a truck up to their plane, at a reasonable price. The problem we’ve had is that computers don’t always cooperate, card readers can be finicky, and the fuel pump doesn’t work at times. And if the operator is out of gas, you won’t know until you get there unless a NOTAM has been published.

I’ve experienced all of these at self-serve airports in recent times; always have enough fuel to reach an alternate facility, one that you’ve verified as having fuel. One pilot who found dry pumps here went to Harrisonville, couldn’t get his credit card to work, and had to go on to Lee’s Summit to get gas. At Columbia one cold day last winter, the avgas truck wouldn’t start, so we left without refueling, and at Joplin a couple of months back the only truck had differential problems and wouldn’t move, so we had to bring the plane to the truck instead of vice versa.

This being the last weekend of the month, Saturday morning would be the time for the Fliars Club to have a breakfast flyout. Weather permitting, we should assemble on the Butler ramp at 0730 hours, whereupon we will determine an appropriate course of action. At least there’s plenty of early daylight this time of year.

The week’s question asked what was a “toilet paper cutting” contest, as sometimes staged at old-fashioned airport fly-ins. The trick is to toss a roll of TP out the window, where it unrolls in the wind as it falls. The pilot who can cut the streamer the most times before running out of altitude wins the prize. For next time, tell us how WW-2 fighter squadrons obtained cold beer in the South Pacific, far from refrigeration. You can send your answer in to