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Out of gas

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Nov. 1st, 2014 | 08:14 pm

I write in this journal to remember important milestones in my journey to have fun in the helicopter. If you've been following for six years and one day then you know that goal is pretty much met.

The R44 is still out on a contract assignment and the weather appeared to be decent for the first half of the day so I resolved to get the R22 (N991KE) and go flying. I texted a potential passenger, got an approval, and showed up at the airport. (To be frank, I texted several people in sequence, but went with the first viable candidate.)

When I got there, CFI Phil was already there, and he helped me move the helicopter out from the hangar to the fuel trailer. The fuel indication was about 4 gallons (eep!). We know it's "off" so I said "let's add 5 gallons and see what it shows." We added 5 gallons (4.5indicated as the gauge is off by 10% high) and it showed 17 gallons. HOLY CRAP! Clearly there's stiction on the foat. Wow.

Anyway I started doing the preflight inspection only to have Manny the Mechanic come up and give us the bad news. Today is November 1st, and the aircraft transponder certification expired... yesterday.

You know I like to point out regulations, so here we go. The Mode C transponder reports not only the 4-digit octal code but also encodes the altitude. As per FARS 91.411 this has to be re-certificated every 24 months.

Darn.

While we're not finger-pointing, who is responsible for this? The aircraft owner is responsible for DOING it. The Pilot In Command ("PIC" - me) is responsible for verifying it.

What did I learn? Next time - check the logs. Normally I check the Hobbs time, the SB for the main rotor blades, and compare to next-due-time. Now I will add checking transponder timeout to this...

We wheeled the aircraft back into the hangar -- now 17 gallons of fuel loaded -- and CFI Phil will fly it to get it recertificated on Monday.

E

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