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Killer gas caps
> "Michael Petrie" <> wrote:
> Killer caps are right from Monarchs add. These caps are the
> flush mounted cap that have a small wing that you pry up and
> twist to unlock, they are actually recessed slightly and only
> sealed with an O ring and metal to metal seal they also have
> a large fuel opening simular to 441's Metro's and other turbo props.
> They tend to let water in and worse will vent all of your fuel
> overboard in a matter of minutes if the vent clogs.

Gee they really aren't that bad. My C185 had those gas caps
and they worked just fine for almost 19 years. Unfortunately
eventually did let me down one cold morning shortly after
departing from the Grand Canyon Airport. I think some water
got trapped in the caps from some rain a few days before.
Then the below freezing conditions turned the trapped water
to ice and broke the O-ring seals.

After more than 2.5 hours of flight I was just starting to get
a bit suspicious because the fuel gauges were reading FULLER
than I expected! A few minutes later the engine became very
quiet. I saw that I had a very nice road under me with no
traffic or power lines, so that was going to be my landing spot
unless a nearby field looked more attractive as I got lower.
However after descending a few thousand feet the engine started
again. Since I didn't quite suspect fuel exhaustion, I assumed
maybe there was ice in the fuel line somewhere at that the
decent allowed this to thaw enough to restore fuel flow. So I
climbed like a bandit and headed for the nearest airport (thank
you NorthStar Loran for the easy to use nearest airport mode).
Of course the real problem really was fuel exhaustion and the engine
probably restarted because my maneuvering allowed some of the
previously unusable fuel to flow to the engine. Although I now
had more altitude to play with I had left my nice road behind
so I was committed to finding the nearest airport - Melon Field
in Rocky Ford, CO. (I was talking to a controller who eventually
confirmed that this was actually the nearest airport to my current
position. Unfortunately this was one of those tiny airports that
seems to blend in so nicely with its surroundings. My wife and
I finally spotted it at the same instant. By then we were perhaps
only about 2000ft agl. As you know, this doesn't give you much
time, esp. in a C185 with a wind-milling prop. I noticed right away
that my glide path was going to come up 100 yards or so short,
and short of the runway was not pretty (trees, fences, etc).
I think I must have had a field in mind already, because I turned
to it without a moments hesitation. My wife claims that my
right wing tip was practically scraping the ground as I was
turning the airplane to align with the furrows. (I thought I
remember 10 or 20 feet spare). Lining up did make the landing easy
and also made the farmer happy since I didn't destroy much of his

I'll leave it to you guys to explain how the fuel gauges read
nearly full, my but only guess is that the suction due to the
venting fuel was enough to lift the tank up thereby pushing
the fuel sensor float up as well.

I thought it was somewhat ironic that just a week before I had
installed a new engine analyzer which included a fuel flow totalizer
which I had just painstakingly calibrated. (This was before the
days when such instrumentation became popular in aircraft such
as ours). During one of the silent glides I remember that my
wife and I were convincing each other that we couldn't be out
of fuel since the fuel totalizer claimed we had 4.5 hours of
fuel remaining!

Also ironic that my only other emergency landing happened in Minnesota
just a few days later for an entirely different reason. I'll save
that story for another day, but suffice it to say that it was
quite a bit scarier than the first. After a miraculous safe
arrival back at the airport, a mechanic helped us figure out the
problem and we were on our way a few hours later.

When my wife was willing to climb back into that airplane so
soon after defying death a second time I new I would keep her
forever. What pilot could ask for anything more!

You might enjoy reading an account of my first emergency written
by a reporter in Rocky Ford Colorado. (Attached). Of course like
most reporters he got almost every aviation related detail
incorrect. In the picture, my wife is the one in the middle
bundled up in the ski jacket, scarf and hat. I'm not sure where
I was at the time. (Perhaps, cleaning out my shorts