Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The little stuff you pick up about aviation by living it

Clean New Gas Caps Before Using
If your gas cap is the thermos bottle type with the flip-over lever on the top and rubber stopper bottom, wash the rubber with gasoline before using a new one. They often come from the factory with something like mold release on the rubber, which makes them slick, and they don't want to grab the tank neck like they should. A little gasoline on a rag fixes that.

How Many Plug Threads Are Showing?
I was once doing a preflight and found one of my plug leads just hanging there doing nothing. It had backed completely off. Now, I make a habit of noticing whether more threads on the plug are visible than usual. Since then, I found one that was loosening, so the attention to that small detail paid off.

Use A Small Flashlight When Doing Preflights
When I started using a flashlight when preflighting my engine, I started finding lots of stuff going wrong sooner than before. The real eye-opener was when I spotted a big bolt laying in the bottom of the cowling: It was one of the through-bolts that holds the case halves together right at the main bearings. Scared the devil out of me. I was afraid damage might have occurred to the bearings, but I ran that engine another 1,000 hours with no problem. Without the flashlight, I would have never seen the bolt and would have gone on flying and probably spun a bearing, trashing my engine.

I generally do two to four preflights on my airplane a day. I NEVER saddle up without doing a complete one. My attitude is, what's to prevent something from going wrong as I taxi in on the last flight?

Progressive Bifocals Can Cause Problems
A problem with progressive bifocals is that they can be creeping into your field of view when your head is back on landing, and you don't know it. They distort your vision, very slightly complicating your landings. With regular bifocals, you know it's happening.

There's An Unlimited Amount Of Minutia
It's scary to think how much aviation minutia each of us is carrying around as the result of our varying experiences. It's even scarier to think that the majority of that stuff will never be passed along because we assume everyone knows it. But, that's not the case. At the very least, we should at least mention it to a flying buddy or two so the knowledge is passed along.

Someone ought to assemble as many of the tidbits we all accumulate into some kind of Poor Richard's Almanac (Google it, if you don't know it). And, no, that "someone" won't be me. Sorry, I'm too busy making mistakes that I can learn from.


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