What fuel does Santa burn?


As Christmas approaches, we wondered what fuel Santa Claus will be using this year? With the average price of avgas having risen from $1.81 in December 2008 to nearly $6 in December 2012, the nice folks up on the North Pole must be thinking about alternatives, just as many pilots are these days.

The image here from a Christmas card in 1909 hints, though, why Santa is smiling. He is flying what appears to be a Curtiss pusher, whose powerplant was typically a 20-hp Curtiss E-4 water-cooled engine that ran on < 64 octane gasoline, since that’s all there was over a century ago.

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Aviation fuel problems — they do happen

How often are we told that aviation fuels are superior to other fuels as they must meet one common, exacting worldwide standard, are produced with more stringent controls, are transported, stored, filtered and dispensed from dedicated equipment? Given these tough requirements, one would expect contamination or misfueling to be near impossible, yet it does happen. Here are four different incidences from recent years:

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Mogas OK, but avgas hard to get to Havana

As reported recently, the Havana Regional Airport (9I0, Havana, Ill.), located 31 nm SW of Peoria, offers lead-free, ethanol-free mogas from a 24/7 self-service pump. When pilot Michael Gallagher stopped by recently to top-off his RANS S7S, the pump was out of order. Ken Smith, a spokesman for the airport, quickly responded that the problems have been solved, but commented on the availability of mogas versus avgas there:

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Ethanol testing made easy

GAfuels readers already know of the many advantages to using mogas in aircraft approved for its use. Not only does its save them $1.40-$1.50 per gallon compared to avgas, but these pilots are making real progress in reducing lead emissions from general aviation, the only significant consumer of leaded fuel on the planet.

While your bloggers would always recommend obtaining aviation-grade mogas directly from a fuel terminal, and have it delivered and stored in aviation-grade fuel equipment at your airport, in many instances the gasoline obtainable at retail gas stations and marinas is quite suitable for aircraft, provided it has the correct octane (AKI) rating and contains no ethanol. It is absolutely necessary to check each and every batch of fuel obtained from retail sellers of gasoline for the presence of ethanol, regardless how the pump may be labeled. (Fuel contamination is rare, but occurs for every type of fuel, including avgas and Jet-A).

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Petersen Aviation launches new website


Petersen Aviation, known best as the world’s authority on the use of mogas in aviation, has launched a greatly improved web site to make the conversion to mogas even easier than ever.

The new site includes the means to quickly determine if a mogas STC is available for your engine and airframe combination. The choice of airplane images on the web site depicts the wide range of aircraft that are covered by Petersen STCs, from the Piper Cub to the Douglas DC-3.

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When will the FAA get it?

There is a rather clarifying paragraph in the EPA Notice published Nov. 16 that denied a waiver on ethanol blending quotas that was requested by several states, resulting from the effects of the drought on the corn crop this summer. I turn your attention to pages 27-29 of the document, which clearly outlines the changes happening in the gasoline production environment and portends the end of premium unleaded gasoline as we know it:

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Cherokee owner saves $2,550 a year with mogas


Mark Wiley of Murfreesboro, Arkansas,who flies a 1963 Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee, contacted your bloggers some months back when his efforts to lower his costs lead him to mogas. Since then he has obtained a mogas STC from Petersen Aviation, installed a simple fuel system next to his hangar, and found a fuel supplier that brings him 93 AKI ethanol-free mogas in small loads. He recently reported on the savings he’s seeing and how he intends to use them:

Mark and Thomas Wiley

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