At the end of 2004 I was flying for a company specialized in anti-hail fight.  I was instructor of cloud seeding in a Piper Cheyenne PA-31T.  We had to ferry an airplane from our operations hub in Mendoza (Argentina) down south 112 NM to San Rafael in a 25 MIN flight.  My partner that day was a fellow captain recently checked by myself on the aircraft.  When the operations order came and we discovered we had to fly together we made a few jokes about it and I decided to assume the copilot’s duties that included preparation of flight plan and verify if the cloud seeding stuff.  The external inspection (walk – around) was always copilot responsibility and mistakenly we both assumed that was done by the other part.

In this particular airplane there was a fuel gauge failure, for moments the needle was moving from indicating full to empty tank and, for that reason the cockpit fuel indicator was not reliable.

After discussing for a while who was pilot flying, I decided to be pilot non-flying for this leg.

Once in the air, we received the order to patrol some active cells that were growing en route.   After joking for a while in a relaxed atmosphere, the LOW FUEL light came ON.  The obvious question was:  – Did you verify the fuel?, isn’t it?  – No, I thought you did it..

And, the worst case scenario, there was a wall of thunderstorms in mature stage between us and our destination.  0destination.

In contact with San Rafael tower, we requested a high speed straight-in approach.

Fortunately both engines continued running until we arrived and taxied to the ramp, total fuel on board: around 5 min.

This is my first flight experience to share with all of you




Capt. Gonzalo Martin


PA-31T / SF34 / A340


“if we professional pilots share our experiences, we are making a safer aviation”

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