How many time have you run out of gas?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Captain, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. Captain

    Captain Final Approach

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    Seems like an unusually high number of stories of pilots running themselves out of gas. Cirrus guy in IMC and coked up dad sparked it.

    So, why? Why would anyone even come close? I've done a ton of dumb things in my life but never have I tried to fly further or longer than the gas would take me.

    Is it equipment? Do we need better guages or low fuel warning systems? Complacency? What?

    Seems like a really dumb way to kill someone...
     
  2. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Never ran out of fuel,only once did I land feeling I cut the flight to close.
     
  3. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    "Next-gen" will solve this problem.
     
  4. SmashTime

    SmashTime Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Having 4 tanks in the cherokee, I have suffered from no fuel left...in a tank. Scary as hell. But total fuel exhaustion, no.
     
  5. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Excellent topic.

    Once. I'm paranoid about running out of gas, especially in the plane. But the one time it happened to me, it was a perfect storm of events.

    It happened in a motorcycle. A BMW 1200RT to be specific. The BMW has a fuel gauge, most motorcycles don't. I always go off the trip odometer when judging range, but one quick of the BMW is that the display will randomly show either the odometer, first trip odometer or maybe the second, but not the last display selected. It's quite annoying actually. And, the other problem is that the fuel gauge, which is a resistance strip, will fail but not go to zero or full, but it will fail in the last indicated level.

    So I get on my bike for my morning commute. I've become complacent with the trip odometer because the fuel gauge has worked great so far, so I don't bother to reset the display to show it. I get on the freeway, then, the bike slows to a halt.

    WTF I say to myself. Then I cycle through the display and low and behold, 313 miles. Yep. That's about my range. The fuel gauge indicator showed a quarter of a tank. F**k. The one time I let my game slip, it gets me.

    I'm a p**y when it comes to flight planning. I know what legal VFR and IFR planning minimums are. F that. I'll double them. Triple them. If I have less than a "comfortable" appearance on the gauges, and I'm on my way back, I'll be going through the charts and calculating fuel burn, if not just topping off to remove the stress.

    I don't like to run out of gas.
     
  6. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Came all-too-close once. Made a flight that should have been a comfortable range for the airplane. Unfortunately, it burned about one GPH more than the book said to achieve cruise speed. The extra fuel use amounted to about 40 minutes of flight time (alternately, 40 minutes less reserve fuel). Being a novice, I trusted the POH to plan the flight, and landed very light on fuel. I was very surprised (sobered, actually) by how much fuel they added when I had the FBO top the tanks.
     
  7. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've been flying since 1982. I've never run out of gas. With proper flight planning and following the regs regarding reserve fuel required for your flight, why would you? I suppose I'm pretty conservative with my decision making. I want to live to fly another day. I imagine that too many pilots don't properly calculate the effect of flying into a headwind and the extra time and fuel burn that will consume on a long cross country flight.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  8. Cpt_Kirk

    Cpt_Kirk En-Route

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    The closest ive come to running out of gas was landing with the legal IFR reserves on an IFR day. It wasnt an issue, but it sure made me uncomfortable. I really dont like being backed into a corner option-wise.
     
  9. alfadog

    alfadog Final Approach

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    Landed with legal minimum fuel maybe twice. First time unknowingly while training, second time knowingly trying to stretch to my home airport. Didn't like the feeling I had flying along that second time and resolved not to do that again.
     
  10. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    kind of an invalid survey... only fuel exhaustion/starvation survivors can answer "yes"

    but, I'm in the "haven't run out of fuel" group, in the airplane or car, but in a boat, the small 3hp outboard motor ran out a few times.... not a big deal in a 12' pram.
     
  11. jaymark6655

    jaymark6655 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Have never ran out; have had the lights come on once, but was doing pattern work. Seems like maybe lack of pencil and paper flight planning and not dividing a direct flight up into check points might be playing into this. Flying along, GPS just updates the time if a head wind becomes stronger and if you weren't tracking time between checkpoints I could see this being easy to miss. Also does Foreflight add in a reserve? Does it plan a flights fuel burn? I have never used it, but I thought it calculated fuel burn based on what gph you supplied. Fly different settings and your plan says you will make it, but your plane is now using more fuel than you planed.

    I have also heard of not sticking the tanks or at least visually confirming the level. Why?

    Most recent one, Cirrus in NC, seems like the guy wasn't flying with any reserve. Shot an approach with only 17 minutes left. Isn't IFR requirements 45 minutes reserve after landing; seems like he should have landed a lot sooner than his first attempt approach.
     
  12. bikert

    bikert Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Never for planes or land based transportation. I've run out of gas with a lawnmower... And a tug... :lol:

    Closest I've ever been is 30 minutes remaining fuel and I was sweating. I like to land with at least an hour remaining.
     
  13. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    NEVER run out of gas in a plane... 1/4 tank, and I am on the ground filling up...

    On the race track...... More then once...:redface::redface::redface::redface:
     
  14. jaymark6655

    jaymark6655 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If we are counting land based vehicles, once. I worked fast food so I didn't have money and it was an hour walk one way to get gas (before anyone normal could afford a cell phone). Did teach me not to do that again.
     
  15. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    Never. I've run really, really low in a car, but only within an hour on a plane. Thought I was lower once, but when I filled up I had almost an hour left.

    Now, I've locked my keys in my car at least 3 times. Now I'm obsessive about checking my keys before I shut the trunk. Last time I thought I threw the plane keys in and it was the car keys instead. Didn't do me much good standing there with the plane keys with the car locked. Sigh.
     
  16. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Many times in the lawnmower.

    I leave it sitting there while I go to the gas station to fill the container...
     
  17. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Yes, I'll admit I did run out of gas once. It was in my 1970 Monte Carlo, the gas gauge had failed near 1/2 tank and I didn't know it yet. There I was, on the way back from the movie.

    I made a call and got a tow home, mostly a non-event.
     
  18. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Well, my VW Beatle in high school had an inop fuel gauge. I would scrounge $2 every couple days for the tank, but more often than not, would run out of gas on the way home from school.

    Does that count?
     
  19. Mason

    Mason Pattern Altitude

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    There is no legal reserve requirement after landing. The requirement for reserve is before takeoff.

    Nevertheless, it is not smart to burn into your reserves.
     
  20. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    I landed at night about 25 years ago in our 182, with my dad. We were both worried about fuel and almost landed 8 miles short of out home field! We had 7 gallons in the tanks! That's about 30-40 minutes and it was way too close for comfort! :eek:
     
  21. alfadog

    alfadog Final Approach

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    You are correct, and that is a distinction worth making.
     
  22. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    My engine stopped due to fuel starvation and I landed at the airport that was right in front of me. I was not out of gas just had the fuel selector on one tank.
     
  23. Cooter

    Cooter Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Never ran out, but have come pretty close. Landed once IFR without enough fuel for a go-around. Went to idle at 40+ miles out and never came off the idle stops until taxiing clear. It is amazing how little gas a properly flown bingo profile will burn.
     
  24. Mutts

    Mutts Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Once in a car 30 years ago because the gauge was indicating falsely.
     
  25. GlennAB1

    GlennAB1 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Once, on my motorcycle.
     
  26. ytodd

    ytodd Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Never in a plane or a car. Lawnmower is a different story.....
     
  27. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    In a boat once.
    We drifted and drifted and drifted until we washed up near someone's lake house.
    He had a gas can w/ ~ 5 gallons in it.

    Got us to a gas station.
     
  28. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    0 times, and Ive done some dumb stuff, but never run out of gas.
     
  29. rbridges

    rbridges En-Route

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    I don't think I've ever landed with less than an hour's worth of fuel. I'm extremely paranoid about fuel exhaustion.
     
  30. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    Usually what triggers it is something unusual happens. You have to divert or get excited about some other issue. One case I know about, the pilot called to have the rental plane filled with fuel, they filled it, then it was rented to someone else for an hour and he flew it thinking it had full tanks. Someone else tried to land in a crosswind, did a go around, landed at a different airport with no fuel, didnt look at his fuel situation and ran out on the way back to the original airport. He had enough fuel for the PLANNED trip, but not enough to do all that. There's always some distraction...
     
  31. pikespeakmtnman

    pikespeakmtnman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just one time in a car and that was 20 years ago.
     
  32. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's true for VFR flight but not for IFR:

    "(a) No person may operate a civil aircraft in IFR conditions unless it carries enough fuel (considering weather reports and forecasts and weather conditions) to--"

    That's applicable to VFR and IFR flight.
     
  33. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As a teenager I lived on a canal that connected to a large lake (Lake St. Clair in Michigan) and spent a lot of time on the lake in a boat. Several times I ran out of gas and had to paddle a few hundred feet to the house. This was actually almost on purpose as it was my desire to return with both portable 6 gallon tanks as close to empty as possible so I could get both filled (it was easier to fill an empty tank since that used the entire pint of 2 stroke oil) on the next trip to the gas station. I never ran out in the lake and always made it part way down the 1/4 mile long canal.

    I've never run out in a car but I had to rescue my wife at least twice when she ran her Karman Ghia out. She was used to being able to drive several miles with the gauge on empty but in that car (wh 2.5 hr flight with the gauges on the pegs and it was pretty stressful. I didn't want to land for fuel because I wasn't night current and a fuel stop would would have added enough time to make the destination ETA after dark. I also remember adding a little power to get the ordeal over with sooner. The fact that busting the night currency regs would have been a much smaller issue than running out of gas just didn't make it through the mental haze on that trip. It turned out that I had (barely) enough fuel to meet the VFR flight planning requirements (3.5 gallons) when I landed but I honestly didn't know that at the time. I think this was my first XC in the Skyhawk and probably the first time I ever needed to consider fuel requirements. It was also the last time I ever got my fuel quantity low enough to make me sweat.

    My SOP these days in the Baron is to always land with at least one hour of fuel and whenever it looks like that's not gonna happen I do something about it (land sooner than originally planned, reduce power, change altitude, etc). In my little 65 HP VFR only taildragger I'm comfortable landing with only 45 minutes in the tank (about 3 gallons).
     
  34. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Never in anything but the snowblower and that was planned.

    Closest I've come was a planned leg coming home from OSH where we had planned to land with one hour of fuel remaining, but didn't pay attention the the fact that we got trapped under a 3000' AGL overcast and we were flying at altitudes where our engine will actually burn more and produce more power. We were enjoying the extra speed until after we landed and realized we had 30 minutes left in the tanks, not the planned hour.

    Lesson learned about flying a 182 below 6000 MSL... And luckily not the hard way.
     
  35. noobJohn

    noobJohn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've never landed with less than 1 hour's worth of gas in the tanks. Once I landed at a podunk airport to drop off a buddy. I did the usual dipstick measurement and had 1 hour's fuel on board. I was 30 minutes from my home airport. I just couldn't talk myself into taking off even though it'd be legal. 30 minutes of fuel ain't much on a 172. Podunk airport didn't really want to sell me gas but they did and I flew home with peace of mind.
     
  36. Mark57

    Mark57 Filing Flight Plan

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    Actually, to legally operate IFR, I was taught you need to have the legal fuel reserves at your destination and alternate. That requires you to monitor the fuel state during flight and take appropriate action if you won't have the expected reserve. The reg for iFR flight is worded differently than the one for VFR.

    The VFR rule 91.151 begins:"No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed—"

    The IFR rule 91.167 begins: No person may operate a civil aircraft in IFR conditions unless it carries enough fuel (considering weather reports and forecasts and weather conditions) to—"

    I suspect the distinction is intentional. Wen IFR you need to be prepared to declare minimum fuel, as well as declare an emergency if necessary to prevent fuel exhaustion.
     
  37. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    The range of most airplanes exceeds the range of my bladder by 2x and my wife's by about 4x so no issue assuming you start out full fuel.:wink2:
     
  38. Captain

    Captain Final Approach

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    You are allowed to burn into your reserves under IFR just like VFR. What's the alternative? Shut the engines down to save the required fuel??

    The requirement is to plan the flight to land with reserves and if you require an alternate then you need to plan to go to you destination, then your furthest alternate and have reserves.
     
  39. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    The one time I had a ride in the back seat of a police cruiser, it was because I ran out of gas in a car.

    I pulled to the side of the road as the engine sputtered, and I then started walking on the shoulder to the nearest gas station, about half a mile away. A police officer pulled up. She asked if I had run out of gas, and offered me a ride. But she said that I had to ride in the back. Because of the rules.

    The back seat back is a hard plastic bench. And it's very low. If she ever needs to arrest a seven-foot drunk who barfs in the car, she will be well equipped.
     
  40. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I made a mistake in my math once while flying from Kotzebue to Barrow in a C-207. On paper I could see I was going to be 20 minutes short on fuel.

    It was a ferry flight, no passengers or revenue on board, during winter with ice in the area and after dark.

    After I landed, still with fuel in the tanks, I found my mistake. But I'll tell ya, I did not have the heater on and was still sweating bullets. I added 20 gallons per side, but I wrote down 20 gallons total instead of 60 gallons total on board.

    One reason for ferrying the plane? To fix the %$& fuel gauges.