Well, the weekend weather sucked, so I didn't get to fly until Monday. While the sky was unbelievably clear, with 100 mile visibility (very unusual for the east coast), it was pretty bumpy, even at 6500 and 7500 ft. I didn't want to do flutter tests at high speed in the bumps. I wanted to finish calibrating the fuel gauges, test the heat one more time, and get the last 1.6 hours in, to be free!
I did my standard loop - flying down to IJD from FIT at 6500 ft., turning west to PSF (same altitude), and then turning east to come back to FIT. It was extremely bumpy down at 5500 ft., so I climbed up to 7500 ft. where it was mostly calm. A very non-eventful flight (except for one issue that I'll discuss later) if somewhat cold (30 deg. OAT at 7500 ft.). Still no joy on the heat. I'm taking Thursday off to work on the heat issue (I'll examine the muff and seal the Carb Heat flapper valve) and to install an Aux. Audio input for the intercom so that we can have some music on the way down to SBY on Saturday -).
So, here's the one incredibly stupid thing that I did. Although I've been flying the COZY now for two and a half months pretty continuously, I've still got 27 years of mostly flying C-172's, with a fuel selector gauge that reads "BOTH" 99.9% of the time. You can see what's coming, yes? Even the 3 years of flying Warriors has not totally cured me of the complacency of expecting to NOT have to touch the fuel selector lever. Anyway, while taxiing for takeoff, I set the lever to the right tank, which was almost dry - I wanted it totally empty so that I could finish the calibration of the right tank sender unit. I figured that I'd switch to the left (full) tank just after the runup. I didn't, even though I was supposedly following the checklist, which called for a "fullest tank" check before pulling onto the runway. I took off on the almost empty tank, marveling at the fact that I was climbing at almost 2K ft./min, and had reached 2500 ft. after a 180 degree turn that put me at midfield downwind. Just about that time, the engine burbled and started to lose power. I immediately realized what was wrong, lowered the nose, and switched tanks. Within 5 seconds the engine was back at full power. So, one pint less fuel, the engine croaks at 200 ft., and I've got a pile of splintered fiberglass at best..... I was very lucky. I don't think that I'll have THAT problem again - I will have the fuel situation in mind at all times..... I know that __I__ had been warned about this a number of times in the past - hopefully some of you will be better at absorbing lessons learned by other people than I was.
That said, I put 1.9 hours on the hobbs, finished up at 40.3 hours, and signed off the logbook as having completed the requirements of Phase I. Saturday, I'm off to SBY!!!
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