When I sit back and look at the world, I find it a fascinating place. For me, the most interesting details relate to people. Specifically, their actions and reactions.
If we slow down enough, there are a great many lessons to be learned from our fellow citizens of earth.
Mark Howell is a pilot, mechanic, and all-around creative guy from North Carolina. He also owns Cardinal Aviation with his wife Donna. A few months back, Mark sent me “a few rants” that I think make for interesting reading and an opportunity to learn (or re-learn) a few things.
“Pay attention. I had a customer fly in and pick up a towbar. When we walked out to his Cessna 177, I noticed fuel dripping from the cowling area at a pretty good rate. When he had sumped his quick drain it had not resealed. Note: After sumping take a minute to make sure it is resealed.”
I fly a friend’s 1946 Piper J-3 Cub that has a quick drain at the base of the header tank. While I believe I take the time to confirm the quick drain has resealed, Mark’s rant is a great reminder. Those precious seconds could make all the difference during a flight.
Where Are The Log Books?
Mark has a customer who has not seen – or asked to see – his aircraft logs in four years. He asks, “Why do aircraft owners do this? The records can be 15%-45% of the value of the aircraft. Why not trust and verify? Before your next annual I would suggest the owner review the records (log books) for Airworthiness Directives (AD), typos, past ADs, ELT test and battery due dates, Altimeter/Static checks and other time critical items. Sometimes they get missed. Especially in this cut and paste world.”
- Keep all records in a safe, dry, fireproof place. “I have found them in the back of an aircraft with mold on them from a leaky window.”
- Audit and know what is being stored with your log books. “I have seen logs from other aircraft get mixed in the wrong folder, box or whatever.”
- When the work is complete, confirm log book accuracy. “In this cut and paste world it is easy to miss dates, times and calculations.”
Habits – both good and bad – can take on a life of their own. Unless we actively debrief our activities, we can find ourselves far down the road – or airway – and wonder, “How did I get here?”
How did I run out of fuel so quickly? By not making it a habit to follow the checklist, we failed to notice the quick drain didn’t re-seal. How did I miss that Airworthiness Directive? I didn’t have – or follow – a process to regularly review the maintenance records for my airplane.
While I fully trusted the mechanics who maintained our aircraft over the years, I realize after reading Mark’s rant that I had far less knowledge of the myriad compliance items than I should have at the time.
I wish you a happy end to 2017 and better 2018.