Every flight has it’s ups and downs… but sometimes things go wrong and the downs come early. This ferry flight was the simple mission to move a Cessna 182 from Oklahoma to it’s new Ohio owner, Brian. On the way, we made the exciting discovery of a suction issue driven by an o-ring that was due for replacement. Read more to see why we made the decision to turn around and put the plane down for a night of maintenance rather than push for an on time delivery; leading each flight with safety is the ultimate key to success with any ferry flight!
Looking at a simple ferry flight with less than 5 hours of flying, this trip was quoted as a single day job with morning commercial travel arriving before noon and an evening arrival for the delivery. This aircraft was sold by Scott Jones Aircraft Sales and happened to be the airplane Scott Jones (pictured below) used for personal and client travel. The 1979 Cessna 182Q was in incredible shape and it was obvious the plane had been well taken care of. Pair this with flawless logbooks and we were ready to get underway!
After clearing up some final items from the pre-buy inspection, my co-pilot Landon (a friend interested in learning more about ferry flying) and I set off for our first fuel stop to KHSD. While enroute, we noticed an increasing fuel imbalance where the left tank was being depleted faster than normal and the right tank was filling up. This encouraged some further investigation and we discovered that the airplane was discharging fuel from the right tank!
After recording the fuel issue and taking notes from the engine settings, we explained to ATC our intentions to return to our starting point KPWA and changed tank settings from “Both” to “Right” hoping that we could use the remaining fuel in the right tank while conserving remaining fuel in the left tank by cutting off the cross tie. With lost confidence in the remaining fuel on board, we diverted to from KPWA to KCQB (an airport within gliding distance) to review our fuel quantities.
Once in the pattern at KCQB, we switched to the left tank, kept a high and tight approach then slipped down to the runway for an uneventful touchdown and taxi to the fuel ramp. Further inspection revealed that the right fuel tank was completely full and the left tank only had 7 gallons remaining.
After talking with the brokers and new owner, the decision was make to take the airplane back to KPWA. I topped off the left tank and completed this sub-30 minute flight home on the left tank with no fuel leaking issues. After tucking the airplane in for the night, we got ahold of the mechanic who completed the pre-buy inspection to take a look at things in the morning and bunked up in Oklahoma City for the night.
The next morning, I took the listing broker, Scott, flying to replicate the issue and discuss my thoughts on the way to the pre-buy airport, KHSD. While enroute, flying with the fuel selector on “Both” ultimately lead to the same outcome where left fuel was being pulled into the right tank and then pulled overboard. Switching to the right fuel tank – confirmed to be the fullest tank after the previous nights findings – we completed the flight into KHSD. After some discussion with the pre-buy mechanic, we verified the fuel vents and the fuel cap vents were clear in addition to replacing the weathered o-rings on the fuel caps.
After topping off the airplane once again, Landon and I departed KHSD for the first leg on our delivery mission. With conservative fuel management techniques and no apparent issues from cross feeding on the tanks we continued onto our first fuel stop in KMDH.
We made a quick stop at KMDH before filing the next flight plan into I69, confirming our non-ADS-B approval with ATC and talking with the new owner about our progress. With full tanks and no issues holding us back, we set off for Sportys!
The final leg of this trip didn’t offer the same tailwinds as the first. However, we were blessed with clear skies, smooth air and a great airplane to finish out the trip. Perhaps we made it too easy on ATC but two handoffs were never given on the journey. Looking ahead and anticipating our next frequencies made this a non-event.
After some night flying to cap off the journey, we tucked in the airplane to it’s new home at I69 and helped Brian (a pre-solo flight student), his CFI and family take a look around the airplane. The excitement and joy around receiving his new airplane is what makes these long days worth it. Brian, good luck finishing out your training and avionics upgrades, this will be an awesome aircraft for you and the family!