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Day 6: Fuel Shower

The next morning I was planning another IFR flight plan. Not because the weather was bad, but because my VFR charts of the Chicago area weren’t delivered in time. I loaded up my belly with another batch of free cookies, watched a few minutes of an enormously subjective report of a famous trial about some killing mother, enjoyed the last launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, and got in the plane.

An uneventful 4 hour flight later, I arrived in Lansing (KLAN). This time, I did my homework and I knew there was a cheap manual fuel pump on the field. This would be the ideal moment to check out my ferry tank, to confirm there were no leaks in the tank. The fuel pump looked like a relic from better days a long, long time ago. It did accept credit cards however. Only problem: you had to guess how much fuel you needed in advance. There was no “top up” option, which resulted in some orders from 20 USG and 5 USG to fill up the main tanks. Filling the ferry tank was a bit harder. The plastic ferry tank had been stored air tight for a while. This meant the fuel cap was very difficult to remove, and because of some curves in the hose attached to the tank, the fuel had some trouble flowing through. Using the high pressure pump at maximum power to blow it into the tank was not the best idea. The fuel just bounced of the tank and a few gallons was spilled in the airplane and gave me a fuel shower myself. Interesting sensation. The whole bottom was wet and the plane smelled very badly. By the time I found a rag in the baggage compartment, all the fuel had already vaporized. This saved me the trouble of cleaning up the airplane, but made the smell only worse. By now, some white dead skin had formed on my arms. Thanks to the heat, the fuel vaporized before it could cause any further damage on myself.

I tried to vent the plane as much as possible. Since I was still parked at the fuel station which made it impossible for anyone else to fuel, I needed to taxi to the General Aviation apron. This meant I had to engage the battery and starter switch, something one isn’t really enthusiastic about when the whole plane is drenched in fuel…

Luckily the plane didn’t explode and I was parked at the apron a few minutes later. Again, the friendly FBO people looked up a hotel for me. I enjoyed my –for the next weeks- last US restaurant and tried to get all the paperwork in order for the border crossing the next day. This was remarkably straightforward and –dare I say it- easy. It involved filling in an online form to keep the US people happy, and calling a friendly border inspector to keep the Canadian people happy (no less than 2 hours before departure).

My Canadian contacts did not reply on my phone calls, so I left some messages, which worried me a bit. After all, I’ve only had internet and email contact with them…

If all went well, I would sleep in Canada the next evening.

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