Top Letters And Comments, July 1, 2022


Best Of The Web: The Death Of An Airplane

You can tie down an airplane as securely as you want, but Ma Nature has ways of defeating your best efforts. One day a long time ago a local Super Cub, well tied down and facing south (90° to the prevailing winter westerlies), ended up across the road, upside down when a freak gustnado came through from the south. The ropes didn’t break, but the airplane did: pieces of the wing structure were still attached to the (intact) tiedown ropes. And yet, gliders tied down on either side of the Cub survived unscathed.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Steve Z.

As a sailor and flyer, I’m often surprised by the thin frayed ropes used for tie-downs. Your typical 2000lb aircraft has a wing that will sustain 6g so a total lift of 12,000lb. Assume each rope carries half of that and you need a rope to sustain at least 6000lb. Assume that knots halve the strength so the actual rope needs to be good for 12,000lb. Add a 50% safety factor for wear and tear and you are looking at a 24,000lb rope. In a good quality polyester rope that gets you to something around 3/4″ diameter.

3/4″ diameter is clearly pretty impractical so we use a long length of 1/4″ Dynema (high-strength yacht rope) looped around four times. The rope breaking load is about 4000lb so for our 1250lb aircraft I’m pretty confident that something on the aircraft will give up before the rope does.

Peter B.

I flew Feeder Caravans for 25+ years and we used large ratchet straps to tie them down without any problem. I landed in, I think, Monroe, LA one night just ahead of a large line of thunderstorms, pulled up to the FBO looking for a tiedown, locked the brakes, chocked the mains and ran inside to see where I could tie down. The gust front hit just about then, darkened the airport and I couldn’t see the aircraft from 100 ft away. When things calmed down the aircraft was still there, undamaged, but there were three aircraft right in front of it that were on their backs in spite of being tied down, the cable system had failed. I ended up having to crawl into the inverted aircraft to turn off an ELT that was blocking the tower, which was on battery power. My aircraft was faced west into the wind and the damaged aircraft, including a Caravan were all tail on to the wind.

Greg C.

Propeller Overhauls: Neglect Shortens TBO

I finally convinced the co-owners of our 1961 Cessna to overhaul our 61-year-old prop that had never been off the engine in 4,000+ hours.

The OH shop found a crack in the center bore, which was not visible while on the engine. The crack was in line with a prop bolt and could have cause the prop to fail. So the prop was red tagged and we needed to find a replacement. The OH shop found a used prop, overhauled it and we’re flying again.

In 8 years, we’ll be sending the prop for overhaul, even though it will probably only have 800 hours on it. The $1,200 is well worth the effort to know we have a reliable prop.

Jim H.

Poll: With Avgas Prices Increasing, Have You Considered Using Mogas?

I operate an FBO. We have used and sold auto fuel since it was first legal. We take the following precautions–for aircraft owner protection, as well as our own.

We buy the fuel from a local refinery. Every load has a “birth certificate”–for our protection and the owner/pilot. It lists the minimum octane (most comes out at 94-96) and the Reid Vapor pressure (to eliminate blockages in warm weather–as well as the fuel batch number. All aviation avgas is transported in dedicated trucks that haul nothing BUT aviation fuel. Our fuel system has floating suctions and “dead stop” water detecting filters to prevent water issues–just like our 100 octane.

Years ago, we had a pilot stop through returning from Oshkosh with a BT-13. He was an attorney, and said “I think I got a bad load of gas.” I told him “You picked the wrong people to tell THAT Fairy Tale to–we can account for every drop of gas since we started selling it!” We never heard from him again.

We use it extensively in our own aircraft–and have never had a fuel-related issue. All aircraft have gone to TBO–and beyond. I tell those who may have a concern–“UNLIKE somebody bringing it in from a local gas station, we KNOW what the composition of our fuel is–and how it has been handled. We treat it just like we treat 100 octane–and have no issues.”

Jim Hanson

  • Already use mogas – with zero ethanol. The sooner 100LL is abolished, the better.
  • 91 Mogas is more expensive just outside my airport than 100LL.
  • No STC for my airplane, although the engine; Lycoming O360 would be far better on Mogas than Avgas.
  • I fly Rotax. Mogas is the only thing that’s ever touched its fuel tank. 🙂
  • CAP will not allow it.
  • Have considered it but the cost of mogas is so high that it’s not really worth it. If only 94UL we’re available anywhere around here, I would definitely use that as my engine is already approved for it.
  • Mogas here is all adulterated with ethanol. My airplane is approved for mogas, but not with ethanol in it.
  • I’m trying to support the development of unleaded fuels by buying Swift Fuel 94UL, since two local airports offer it.
  • We are fortunate to have Gate Petroleum supply great quality E-free 89. Although this is great for my low-compression XC Cessna, it would be better if we all had 94UL (even the lawn care guys and the marinas, and the Rotax flyers).
  • Not considering it—yet.
  • I’m in California. Avgas and mogas are neck-and-neck, so why bother (even if the Bonanza could burn it)?
  • Only alcohol-free mogas.
  • My engine prefers it.
  • I’m seriously thinking about using the family automobile. Getting price gouged for avgas, especially at the FBO chains, is infuriating!
  • Hard to find in my area. When I can find it, the price difference is only 20 to 39 cents different.
  • No matter what the price is at the pump, it is still far too cheap to represent the real cost of devastation of our environment in order to fill the tank with petrol. After 20,000 hours of flying and owning 6 airplanes, I have no burning desire to fly polluting airplanes anymore. My next airplane will be electric. I can wait. In the meantime, I burn electrons on my simulator.
  • I don’t have the STC, but I’d happily get it if MOGAS was available anywhere within 100 miles.
  • The RV12 can but Cessna 210 cannot.
  • Not as long as avgas is available.
  • Yes, my aircraft has mogas and SWIFT Fuel STCs.
  • I’m building my RV to be ethanol tolerant. That said, I’m not flying yet.
  • My airplane cannot use mogas, but possibly could with an electronic ignition with variable timing.
  • I’d use MOGAS if I could get it without ethanol but can’t.
  • UL94.
  • Non-ethanol fuel is about the same price as avgas.
  • Considered it before, but it just ain’t anywhere, so what’s the point? This game sucks.
  • No, if ethanol is present in mogas.
  • I want G100UL.
  • Mogas just doesn’t give you that extra umph when you get those fumes in your face while you fuel it. No matter where the wind blows it goes up yer nose.

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  1. Indeed, Jim Hanson.

    In the heyday of oil exploration in the High Arctic, I know that every barge load of aviation was sampled and analysis by a lab compared to what left the refinery.

    (Extra important in that case because some barges contained ‘arctic diesel’ which was essentially jet fuel without all the quality control, a cheap move by oil companies.)

    Checking for water is SOP I understand. Decades ago a B737 charter returning to eastern Canada from the Caribbean had one engine flame out on the taxiway. Airport fuelling tanks had just been filled from a barge that investigation revealed had got water in it somehow.

    • Barges are notorious for having water contamination in their liquid products. Mostly due to condensation from their high humidity operating environment, but also deck wash and wave splashing. Diesel and jet fuel are really bad about mixing with water, as is gasoline if it has ethanol mixed with it. Any operation that receives fuel by barge should have water separating filters in the inlet lines and should also test for water before selling or using it. Several years ago a client of mine almost destroyed a pair of 200 megawatt gas turbine generators from using kerosene brought in by barge. The barge apparently picked up salt water coming through the Gulf of Mexico and the client failed to test and filter the fuel before use. The salt in the water basically ate up the turbine blades in the combustion section.