Today’s weather was supposed to be mostly cloudy. However, just before lunch I noticed the sun was shining outside my office window. I called AWOS and heard good news, so I headed to the airport at lunch. The wind was calm, so I was hoping to get the landing practice I had attempted during my last flight. Most of the preflight was normal, until I noticed the right main tire looked a little low. Once the tire was aired up, it was time to fill the tanks. Left and right were both about half full, but I like to fill them up prior to each flight, just in case. I started fueling on the right wing and got to 4.5 gallons when I noticed there was no more flow – probably because there was no more fuel in the trailer. Not a terribly big deal. I took the fuel stick and visually checked the levels in each tank – one was at half and the other a bit over half with the added fuel. Well over two hours of fuel on board – plenty for a one hour flight in the pattern practicing landings. I finished the startup checklist and taxied to runway 17 for a runup. I noticed the oil pressure seemed low (right on the edge of the green) at idle, but came up during the runup. I almost aborted the flight right then. I ran the engine up again to make certain that it was in the green, and decided to proceed.
I departed 17 and flew around the pattern, making my first landing. After the touch and go, I noticed there was an abnormal smell in the cockpit. At first I couldn’t determine if it was electrical or exhaust. Either way, the decision was easy – land ASAP. I made my crosswind turn a little early and got back on the downwind, setup and landed uneventfully. On shut down I noticed the smell as well, and it seemed to be and exhaust odor. After putting the plane up form the shortest flight I’ve ever made in it, I shot a text message with the squawk to our A&P to have it checked out.
I learn something new every time I enter the airport gate. I hope that never ends — Todd Middlebrooks (@pilotodd) December 28, 2012
So, that was it – about 0.4 hours in the logbook. However, I continue to learn something new every time I enter the airport gate. Maybe I should’ve called the flight off earlier. Everything ultimately checked out okay in the preflight. When a more serious situation presented itself, the decision was easy to make – and I know I made the right one.