CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 12

ASI MESSAGE
level flight. Bumping around at low altitude over the West Virginia mountains, it can
be difficult to assess the fuel state from visual indicator tubes. We'd still have plenty
of fuel and reserves at our destination, but I was beginning to worry about having
enough fuel for the flight out.
We landed and my phone blew up with messages from friends and colleagues at
Frederick, each some urgent version of "are you OK?" or "call when you land" and
something about "fuel caps." They had received calls from the Morgantown line
shack. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I climbed up on the foot pegs and confirmed
both fuel caps missing. I mentioned it to Grant, who climbed up for his own look and
then turned a bit pale. He'd heard and read stories of fuel siphoning.
Our conversation around the campsite that night was dominated by the mistake. I
was embarrassed personally, in front of my son; and professionally, in front of my
colleagues. How could I commit such a blunder? What were the lessons learned and
how could I prevent it from ever happening again?
First, never move away from a fuel tank without replacing the cap. It takes a couple of
seconds to secure or remove a fuel cap. So, even if I intend to return with more fuel, or
additives, or for any reason I "temporarily" move away, just replace the cap. Second,
my big-picture look-over has been a part of my routine for years on stopovers. With
postflight and preflight complete, I step to the front and look the airplane over for the
big stuff: chocks, tiedowns, flat tires, leaks. There's an old saying: "You'll find what
you seek." If you go seeking an airplane ready to fly, you're likely to find it, regardless
of its actual status. So, I've implemented a more thorough and disciplined flow in my

big-picture look-over. Third, whatever the flight, in whatever circumstances, climb
up and check the fuel caps are secure right before strapping in. I broke my typical
refueling process by stepping down to check the fuel level. Then, I got distracted
talking to the line agent. The only way to ensure critical items are complete,
especially when you deviate from a normal process, is to insert a final safety check
that's independent of your normal process flow.
I don't know why more fuel didn't siphon from the tanks that day. Whatever the
reason, we were fortunate. I intended to give a lesson on weight and balance, but I
gave an all-too-real lesson on distraction and preflight inspection.
Go fly. Check your fuel caps one last time.

Richard G. McSpadden, Jr.
Senior Vice President, AOPA Air Safety Institute
Richard McSpadden is a commercial pilot and CFI with more than 4,500 hours
in 30 years of flying a variety of civilian and military aircraft. He has extensive
experience in aviation safety, including ground, flight, and special event operations.
As Commander and Flight Leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flight
demonstration team he headed the U.S. Air Force's flagship organization and
led over 100 flight performances. Email: richard.mcspadden@aopa.org

Educating pilots on improving their skills and enhancing GA safety is a core tenet of AOPA's Air Safety Institute
and its educational programs. Your contribution funds these activities and ensures we continue to address the
needs of pilots everywhere. Show your support with a donation today. www.aopafoundation.org/donate


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CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3

CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3
CFI Notes and Letters
From the Editor : When Will I Fly Again? Taking a Focused Flight Review
Checkride Day—5 Things CFIs Should Make Sure Students Have with Them
Safety Webinars: Hone Your Skills— Be Well-Informed
ASI Message: Check Your Fuel Caps One Last Time
CFI News
CFI Tips: A Dream Come True, Safely
Checkride Checklist: DPE Answers for Students and CFIs
Accident Case Study: Lake Renegade
Chart Challenge: Are TFRs Charted?
CFI's Point of View: Professionalism—From Day One
Reality Check: Costliest Insurance Claims?
You Can Fly: Introducing the Champions
Safety Quiz: Aircraft Performance
CFI Tools: Runway Safety
Chief's Corner: The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer
ASI Safety Tip: The Rudder—It Gets No Respect!
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - CFI Notes and Letters
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 3
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - From the Editor : When Will I Fly Again? Taking a Focused Flight Review
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Checkride Day—5 Things CFIs Should Make Sure Students Have with Them
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 6
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 7
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 8
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 9
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Safety Webinars: Hone Your Skills— Be Well-Informed
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - ASI Message: Check Your Fuel Caps One Last Time
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 12
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - CFI News
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 14
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 15
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 16
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - CFI Tips: A Dream Come True, Safely
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 18
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 19
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Checkride Checklist: DPE Answers for Students and CFIs
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 21
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Accident Case Study: Lake Renegade
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 23
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Chart Challenge: Are TFRs Charted?
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - CFI's Point of View: Professionalism—From Day One
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 26
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Reality Check: Costliest Insurance Claims?
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 28
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - You Can Fly: Introducing the Champions
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Safety Quiz: Aircraft Performance
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - CFI Tools: Runway Safety
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 32
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - Chief's Corner: The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 34
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 35
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - 36
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 11 Issue 3 - ASI Safety Tip: The Rudder—It Gets No Respect!
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