Friday, August 20, 2010

Take on minimal fuel

One of the things I was told as a brand new EMS pilot was to take on the minimal amount of fuel necessary to get back to base where the fuel is cheaper.

Any of you out there who are successful business people know the importance of saving a buck here and there if you can.

Night flight patient delivery to the big city of Memphis followed by refueling at Memphis International Airport. Minimal fuel, minimal fuel, minimal fuel... Memphis to Cape Girardeau. Okay, I made my choice and decided what I needed.

Many pilots will tell you that the only time you have too much fuel onboard is when your aircraft is on fire.

Well I took on minimal fuel, climbed to altitude where you get better fuel consumption and hopefully favorable winds.

Only head winds on this trip back. God, we seemed like we were moving slow. The fuel gage needle wasn't though. Do I have enough to make it back? One thing in aviation and stacking the deck in your favor besides always taking on extra fuel is to have contingency plans.

Well, there I was over the top of Blytheville Municipal Airport at a point of decision. Do I chance it and see if I can make it with truly minimal fuel or land and get some more gas?

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The conservative side of me had me land. At midnight the airport was closed. I called the sheriff who got the airport manager out of bed for us. No way was I going to tell the man to give me a couple of gallons. I said, "Top it off!"

Always better to be safe than sorry. And, who knows when I might need the man to get up out of bed again for just a little bit of fuel.

After that experience I always took on a little more than just the minimal amount of fuel necessary to make it back.

If the powers that be didn't like that, they could dang sure come and fly that bird their own self.

Ciao! and, if you fly: FLY SAFE!


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