Flying

The Case of the Absent Avgas

Some accidents are preceded by warning signs. The takeoff into the teeth of an impending thunderstorm, the pilots smelling of alcohol, the stuffing of the last bag into an airplane already almost tipping over onto its tail—onlookers shake their heads or hold their breath. But some accidents arrive entirely without warning, and it is hard to know what or whom to blame.

A doctor, 67 years old, and a friend flew in a club Cessna 182E Skylane from Clemson, South Carolina, to Orlando, Florida, to pick up a crankshaft. The weather was fine and the flight apparently uneventful. After completing their errand at Orlando Executive, they took off for a 35-mile hop to Massey Ranch in Edgewater, possibly to get fuel there for the return trip. The price of fuel was substantially lower at Massey than at Executive, and

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