All pictures on this page are owned and copyrighted, 2002, by Norman West. They are used here with his permission.
Norman and I went flying to Redmond on September 28th, 2002. I hadn't been over the Cascades in a while and wanted to build some more cross-country time. We flew over the Santiam Junction on the way there and returned by V269 and V356. That's a straight shot from the Deschutes VOR to the Corvallis VOR. With the kind of visibility we had that day, it wasn't really necessary to use the VORs. Mary's Peak is all the guide a pilot needs to get back to Corvallis on a clear day.
When we were still about 40 nm from Corvallis I noticed that the attitude indicator was off kilter. Some of the instruments are gyroscopic and powered by vacuum pump driven air flow. I'm not sure exactly why we lost suction, but it was reading zero. Everything else seemed fine and we continued to Corvallis without other problems. On thing is for sure, that experience is going to have me very interested in partial panel flying when I go for an instrument rating.
I am very safety oriented when it comes to flying. Once in a while, I have an experience that makes me very grateful for the safety lessons I've received from my instructors (and others). When we stopped in Redmond, I checked the fuel level because I hadn't flown this airplane much and wanted to monitor its usage. I got a low reading from the fuel dip tube, so I had the tanks filled. I don't think I let the tube fill long enough or didn't get a good seal because the reading was much lower than the actual level. Before we took off again, I checked the fuel caps and found that the lineman from the FBO had not replaced either fuel cap properly. One was not completely tightened, and the other did not have both tabs locked under the tank rim. I'm not sure if it's the case for Cessna 172's, but on some airplanes, the airflow over an open tank can siphon fuel. This experience made me very grateful that I was taught to always recheck the caps myself. I do this for fuel and oil caps. I also refuel when I arrive rather than waiting until I'm about to leave so that any water or sediment introduced has a little time to settle out and be detected before I fly again.
Norman has an interesting perspective on a lot of things. I think everyone who brings a camera along has taken a picture of me doing pre-flight or post-flight procedures with the airplane, and most take a picture of the runway when we're on final. When Norman showed me his pictures, I didn't understand why he took so many shots of the panel until I noticed the indications from the gauges. Take a look at them and you'll see that he has a great sequence of the takeoff and our arrival at cruise altitude. If you know how to read the gauges, you'll also see that I'm not perfect.