Pilot's tip of the week

Selecting Fuel Stops

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Subscriber question:

"How do you select fuel stops on long trips?" — Vance M.

Bob:

“Naturally we need to pick a stop that’s within range. Your airplane’s endurance might exceed your own personal endurance. For me, a three-and-a-half-hour flight is plenty.

The range of your airplane depends on the way it’s loaded. Most light aircraft are unable to carry a full load of passengers, plus full fuel, and still comply with weight and balance limitations for the airplane. Understand that the legal minimums for fuel reserve might not be enough, even in good weather.

What if you arrive at your fuel stop to find the fuel pumps are out of service?  You’ll need enough fuel then to safely get somewhere that does. Call that planning for a ‘fuel alternate.’

Clearly, you’ll need to choose an airport with either good enough weather for VFR or approaches available for IFR. But there are some less obvious features that often go overlooked. You don’t want to get grounded away from home. So choose an airport with maintenance services over one without. Consider FBO hours, courtesy car availability, and nearby restaurants—especially if you’re arriving in the evening or on a weekend. Check ForeFlight for FBO comments and general airport remarks, and consider calling the FBO in advance.

And finally, check the fuel prices. ForeFlight’s fuel layer is great for seeing prices at a glance. A small price difference adds up on a 50-gallon fillup.”

Have you ever planned a stop solely for cheap fuel and later regretted it?

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