Sometimes, Ya’ Just Gotta’ Fly

The morning view from the “office,” flying four different planes across the desert mountains of northern Nevada.

It was almost ten o’clock last night when the text came in from an airpark neighbor—“$2.99 per gallon Avgas at Yerington tomorrow from 0700 until noon…or until they run out!” Well, sometimes, you just have to throw plans out the window and go fly!

I woke up at 0630, threw on some clothes, tossed the dogs some treats to hold them over until breakfast, and opened the big hangar door. My wife’s RV-6 was up front, which was good—it needed fuel the most, since she’d brought it back from a work trip almost empty a couple of days before. We don’t have fuel at our airpark, and sometimes with night closing in, we just come home empty and hop over to  a neighboring field before the next trip. I fired up, and landed at Yerington (O43) fifth in line for the pump out 0703. Sure enough, the pump was set for $2.99, and I took 27.5 gallons.

The siren song of below-wholesale fuel will always draw pilots!

With the airplane fueled, I rolled it to parking and found breakfast – a big knot of like-minded neighbors (pilots can never pass up cheap fuel or a breakfast) found a table and told lies for an hour, then it was time to head back across the low mountains and, for me, pick up another plane. I hopped out of the -6 and opened the shop door to let my RV-8 out of her cage. Five minutes later I was winging my way back to O43, a ten minute flight each way, fourteen or fifteen block to block. The folks running the show recognized me, and admired the “new” plane – and we pumped another 18.5 gallons. “You want breakfast?” They asked…”nope, got it last trip!” I replied, adding… ”but I might be back!”

The -8 wasn’t even breathing hard as I rolled her back in the shop, full for the next trip, and hopped into the RV-3 for the same quick round trip. She only needed 8.9 gallons it turned out, but I was on a roll… the going price for Avgas in our area has been hovering just above six bucks a gallon for awhile now! The event coordinator recognized my voice on the radio this time….”RV-3, I assume you know where the fuel pump is by now?”

Yerington is the “onion capital” of Nevada – every airplane got a bag. I told them I’d stop at two bags – guess it’s French onion soup time at our house!

Always pleased to get a quick hot-start in front of a crowd, I popped back over the hills once again, tired after three hours of back and forth, ready to call it a day. The Tundra needed fuel, yes, but it was all the way in the back of the hangar, and I’d have to re-arrange the ramp, and….oh what the heck! “Wow, that sure is different!” Was the radio call I heard as I taxied up to the pump (in the big bush plane) this time “You’re just in time – we’re about to swap it back to the regular price! Well, not before I steal 27.64 gallons more at the well-below-wholesale price you’re not!

Total flying time? About 2.4 hours, in four different planes. Total fuel purchased? 82.5 gallons at $2.99. Savings over the regular price at Yerington (which is going up with their next load of fuel)? $239 bucks (minus the $12 dollars for breakfast as I was just going to have a bowl of cereal at home).

Airpark living does have its advantages!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.



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