How CiES Fuel Senders Saved My Life

I have a 1956 Cessna 182. Serial number 10! When I refurbished the airplane a few years ago, I took out the old wing root sight gauges. During my G3X upgrade, I installed the CIES senders in their place.  Now I can see the fuel levels on the display right in front of me.

I flew to Tradewinds in Amarillo, Texas, and had the line guy fill up the plane.

This old aircraft had recessed fuel tank caps, with a cover that latched on top of them. The fueler was a new young person in training, and he did not tighten up the fuel caps all the way…maybe 1/8 turn loose. Then he latched the cover. I did not think about this before I departed.

mark colman cessna
Mark Colman’s Cessna 182

Amarillo Preflight Checks

On my preflight home to Alamosa, Colorado, I did not open the covers and check the fuel caps. In my plane, it has the high gear, and I did not pull out the ladder to check. (my bad!)

About 30 to 45 minutes into the flight home, I looked at the fuel tanks and noted that they showed about half fuel left. Hmmm…My wife is in the plane, and I am dogging little cloud bursts. Let’s watch it for a few more minutes. The fuel flow was showing normal at about 11GPH…so I figured I would fly 10 more minutes and see what happened. 

Ten minutes later, the fuel had dropped another 5 gallons or so on the right fuel level gauge and maybe 2 on the left, but the fuel flow showed about 2 gallons used. I made the decision to divert to Clayton, NM about 10 minutes away. Told my wife there was a problem, and we may end up spending the night in Clayton. 

mark colman cessna 182
Mark Colman’s 182

Unplanned Stop in Clayton, NM

I got on the ground uneventfully and taxied up to the self-serve pump. As I walked around the right side of the plane, it was covered in blue dye….OMG! 

I climbed up the ladder and looked under the cover…it was sloshing fuel under there and around the cap. The fuel cap was about 1/8 turn loose. The suction over the wing had pulled the fuel out, and the drain on the right side dumped the fuel overboard — but behind the wing, where I did not see it. 

I put in 30 gallons of fuel at Clayton; I hold 55 Gallons. I expected to use around 25-30 gallons to get to Alamosa. Both caps were loose, but in the old 182, the fuel moves to the right wing via the vents, so all the fuel dumped out of that side.

I put the caps back on and flew home, watching the fuel gauges like a hawk!

mark colman stefan cessna
Mark Colman (right) and a friend

What If I Still Had the Wing Root Gauges?

If I had the old wing root gauges, would I have looked up at them enough to notice? They were always bouncy and not very accurate. And then I thought of Pinion Canyon that I was about to fly over at dusk. An emergency landing in the canyon would have been my fate. Or worse… up over the Rockies with no place to land at night. 

CIES and the G3X system saved our lives!

I have since changed the fuel tanks to use new caps and removed the fuel cap covers with the Cessna service bulletin.  Now I can easily check that the fuel caps are tight!

– Mark Colman, Depot Avionics

(In loving memory of Mark Colman. Mark passed away abruptly in 2024)

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About CiES Inc.

Established in 2012, CiES is now the largest supplier of aviation fuel quantity probes and senders. They are the recognized leader in the design, development, certification, and manufacture of electronic sensor solutions for original equipment manufacturers, as well as direct-to-market consumer products. Through the creative application of cutting-edge technologies, CiES creates complex end-to-end solutions. This is a company that is changing the game in aviation technology and revolutionizing the way we navigate the skies. Aiming at future growth and innovation, CiES is pushing the boundaries of what is possible.​

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Next Generation Can Trust Their Fuel Gauges.

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