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Squawks & HeadlinesCessna runs out of fuel before reaching Hawaii from California

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Cessna runs out of fuel before reaching Hawaii from California

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HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Coast Guard crews rescued a pilot who ditched his plane about 13 miles off the Big Island because he ran out of fuel. Brian Mellor, 65, was flying a Cessna 310 twin-engine aircraft from Monterey, California to Hilo. He sent out a distress signal around 12:30 p.m. on Friday when he realized he was running low on fuel for the 2,200 mile journey. (www.hawaiinewsnow.com) More...

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Philmar341
via dutch harbour is afew hundred shorter thats the way the C208 AMPHIBS COME
conmanflyer
connor oslie 0
Someone once took a 182 about that same distance, i wonder what is the range difference?
linbb
Boyd Butler 0
They do it all the time they tank up the AC and off they go we used to have them do that all the time when I worked for Robertson STOL in Seattle. They also installed an oil hand pump along with an oil tank in the cockpit so they could add oil in route. They would measure the oil and test fly the airplane then check and see how much it burned so they could add as needed. These were single engine AC and the tanks were made specal for the jouney. They would Use the island chain from Hawaii and run to the next one. We only lost one while I was there and launced about ten,they never knew what happened either just didnt show up.
scs411scs
looks like he tried the same thing out of OAK 2 days ago and turned back before he got too far out to sea...
pilot62
Why not divert to Maui? Run on one engine? Had to be an option, just because he's a pro doesn't mean he didn't screw up. Get there itus, has killed many good pilots......
pilot62
My bad thought Maui was closer, duh he would have planned that route.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 0
Great video in the linked article.
freckld1
Diane Eoff 0
it was still a good landing, no one was killed or seriously injured.
rwf1001
I'm wondering who fueled up his plane....because I'd think if he had a full fuel tank, he would've been able to make it from Monterey to Hawaii. I don't know....I'm not a pilot, nor do I know anyone who owns a plane of that size, but I'd still think that would be the case.
FedExCargoPilot
In response to the diversion, the island may be closer but was the airport closer? Probably he was running low on fuel 100 miles away from the islands and tried to get as close as he could, probably should have declared an emergency before it happened.
sheka
mark tufts 0
by the way it sounds i would say unexpected headwinds as headwinds can and will make any aircraft burn extra fuel and i also think that the tanks were no topped off also
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
Why do you guys keep saying "if he had his tanks full?" How do you know that he didn't??? Do you know the difference in normal and ferry tank capacity for that airplane???
airclaxon1
Paul Claxon 0
Life is rough, it's rougher when you are stupid !
30west
John Miller 0
Reference diverting to Maui, the Hilo airport is closer to MRY than Maui's airport. Twenty-five miles to be exact.
jimquinndallas
Jim Quinn 0
Had a co-worker force-land (fuel exhaustion) ON the fence at ADS some years ago. He thought he could make it from some airport in Mississippi and passed up NUMEROUS airports with fuel just to save a little time. No kidding--his aircraft was straddling the fence with the runway being a few yards away. How embarrassing! Trouble is that ADS even almost 30 years ago was a very populous area. He endangered himself, his wife and a number of people on the ground due to his decision to stretch his luck. I always thought it would have been better to go down some distance away rather than on the airport fence! Winds can change....
racerman
larry clement 0
No one would be dumb enough to leave on a trip like that without full tanks. He made it 99 1/2 % of the distance, so a small change in winds aloft would make the difference in getting there or not. A small error in fuel mixture setting would also make the difference.
MIKESWICK
MIKE SWICK 0
expensive screwup
zac21737
Ive had to turn back after encountering unforecast headwinds a few times, and it is easy to get trapped.
"Ferry pilot"
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
How is he an idiot???
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
I've noticed most of the negative comments are from people with private and recreational certificates. I am not being biased, but I have to wonder how much experience and understanding you have in a ferry operation. A long distance overwater ferry like this is a calculated risk, a carefully calculated one. Some say pilot error, tanks not full, a professional that takes a risk. How do you think airplanes with limited range are delivered around the world??? Any airplane could go anywhere, you just have to have the fuel, in this case, ferry tanks, or a fuel stop. Is it pilot error when a 757 coming from Europe to New York has to stop for fuel in the winter because of stronger than forecasted winds??? Are they not topping the tanks off??? The man in the 310 may have been unsafe as some of you put it, but I'm willing to bet that wasn't the case here, something else contributed to him not making it.
bkallsen
Bruce Kallsen 0
Greater headwinds than forecast encountered past the point of no return.
ExCalbr
Victor Engel 0
If headwinds are stronger than forecast, what about flying lower?
Chieftan
Rod Ovens 0
Would be interesting to know what his PNR and CP were for this flight and at what stage of the game, if at all, the winds factor raised its head.
Chieftan
Rod Ovens 0
Would be interesting to know what his PNR and CP were for this flight and, at what stage of the game did the question of winds start to raise its head, if at all.
jrfly182
Joe River 0
Maybe the headwind was a factor in running with out fuel
wksracing
Paul Cline 0
Prior proper planning prevents.....performance!
sharries1
Scott Harries 0
We are all just one mistake away from being " one of those Stupid Pilots"! Give the brother the benefit of the doubt! Would you really risk your own life and airplane to chance? I think he did his best and the weather got him. I was in Maui the week this happened and the weather system that probably got him was extremely variable at best all week long,
RAYDRSR1
RAY RIEDER 0
The 310R probably had 180gal useable in onboard tanks plus a ferry system in the cabin. He filed 180'KTS' at 5,000msl, but estimated 2326
'smls' flight distance. (Both KTS and SM used to file flight plan?)
We don't know his planned time to climb, departure delays etc. The Winds aloft are 'forcast' only, not actual 'reported' winds for his planned flight time. Since he was apparantly making the delivery for his own ferry operation, and an experienced ferry pilot, I can't believe he didn't cover all the normal planning requirements for the trip!
I opt for unexpected winds en route, and/or mechanical problems with either the onboard or engine fuel system. I'm a 1999 retired DHC6-300 Captain out of LAS, and flew a brand new 310P for my ATP training and 1966 FAA flight test; plus I've delivered more than one 310 across the North Atlantic to the UK etc., while employed by John Hawke at Airspeed Int. out of the FLL Executive Airport. Ferrying tanks were not used, but we had the 180 usable onboard. Goose Bay to Narsarawaq, Greenland, Dublin,and across the channel privided enough usable over water. Give the guy a break...he did a great dead-stick water landing, by the book, and was in contact with the right people, at the right time before having to ditch!!
Sunny9850
Sunny9850 0
People that call this pilot an idiot should look in the mirror. The longer a flight is relative to the aircraft endurance the more unfavorable ACTUAL winds vs forecast winds can screw with your carefully laid out plans.
The PONR or point of no return itself is based on the forecast winds and then continuously updated with actual flight conditions. But at some point you still arrive at that point...you can only push on in his situation.

Unlike the real idiots among my pilot "friends" who run a perfectly good airplane out of gas over terra firma with many other options available because they try to stretch their 4 hour aircraft to make a 5 hour flight, assume a flight will work out again today just because it happened to work out last week along the same route, simply assume that they have enough gas because it takes sooooooo long to actually check levels, this guy really had no option once he passed the PONR.

Aside from winds he might have experienced mechanical issues inflight that changed this flights outcome. One or both engines could have experienced issues that required him to run a little richer mixture settings and again that change may have come a long way into his flight.

While I have absolutely nothing but disdain for my fellow pilots who run out of gas over the CON US endangering the public and giving the rest of us a bad name because they are too lazy, too full of themselves or jaded to give each flight preparation and operation the care they deserve I acknowledge that this is by definition an extraordinary flight. If it wasn't no pilot I know would every pay someone else to make a ferry flight.

The guy did a great job during the ditching keeping his head. So my hat is off to him.

Cheers
Stefan
RAYDRSR1
RAY RIEDER 0
Stefan,

I concur with your comments...thanks for giving the pilot his rightful dues for doing the professional thing beyond his PONR.

Unless one's been in a potentially similar situation, they should withhold their negative comments until all the facts are in!

Safe Flight
-RDR-
mjsracing1
Steve Shaw 0
Gutsy flight in a 310 anyway. Goes to show all the flight planning in the world can't beat bad luck. At least the pilot is alive to talk about it. There are other 310's out there. Blue skies all.
9thLife
Dale Lewis 0
I wonder what his log book will look like? IE; Flight from Monterey was uneventful until the last 13 miles. Ditched customer airplain. Has some salt water damage. I am glad he's OK.
jbarragan79
Wow what a brain to think that a cessna would make it to Hilo
jhwenger
jhwenger 0
I wonder if you can "draft" a C-130 like you can a semi on the freeway?
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 0
Wow what a brain to think that a Toyota could make it from NJ to NY
jbermo
For info - in terms of “Equal Time Point” - one of the longest over water routes in the world (if not the longest) is California to Hawaii. Other over water route destinations offer islands with which to divert to, but on a California to Hawaii flight there is nothing...
jbermo
Many a WWII bomber successfully completed a “low on fuel” over water flight by flying in ground effect flying within an altitude of one wingspan), a gutsy choice!
h3xme
I'm in Hawaii and one of the extra depressing things when returning home from Las Vegas is the added one hour flight time. "Jet steam", you know.

I don't know what weather conditions prevailed that day, but an extra boost of headwind that day might have been all that mattered.

Not to state the obvious, but several unexpected MPH headwind over the course of a 2000+ mile journey adds to extra fuel consumption. If you don't have that extra fuel.....

Seeing the USCG video of Mellor's touch-down brought to mind Sullenberger's landing on the Hudson.
flybyman
flybyman 0
There is no way he could fly from Monterey to Hawaii without aux fuel tanks. Probably 55 gallon drums. A flight over 2200 miles could have unexpected increase in headwinds beyond the half way turn around point. In which case he was committed to get as close to Hawaii as possible. I believe he would have had to carry at least an extra 300 gallons of gas. Those engines will burn total about 36 gph at low altitudes and the trip take 16 hours or more. I haven't checked his flight path and time and I am taking this from my experience owning and flying a Cessna 414 which has bigger engines is faster and drinks more fuel. I was surprised he le during this time of year when the headwinds are typically higher and if I remember there was a frontal systemt happening around his departure date.
hmillerjr
Harold Miller 0
Can't believe all the negative comments about the pilot here. If you would have taken 3 seconds to Google the pilot's name, you would have found that he's an FAA instructor and has been running his own aviation company for 26 years. Being such a long journey, I'm sure he triple checked everything pre-flight, including his tank levels. Pilot error is HIGHLY unlikely. The probably cause was weather or mechanical related. I'm sure that if he had known about either, he would have returned if it was an option.
cko299
I agree with Scott Campbell, many of the causes of accidents is that "Proffesional Experts" do things they sould not do and take many unnecessary risks.This doesn't mean that Mr. Mellor is a great professional, but what was wrong?
normandean
Norman Dean 0
In the immortal words of Maxwell Smart..... "Missed it by that much".......
ggjohn
John Kejr 0
According to Bill Cox (Plane and Pilot Magazine), Strong headwinds typically greet pilots leaving California which gradually shift to tail winds which push the plane the last stretch into Hawaii. Ferry pilots count on this. This trip is near the maximum endurance level for many planes, even when equipped with maximum ferry tanks, so everything must work perfectly. After the point-of-no return, if forecast winds don't match up with projections and the reserves will be exhausted, unfortunately there is no other choice than to head in a direction as close to help as possible, declare an emergency, and ditch the plane when necessary. It sounds like the pilot did everything right, but just had bad luck with the winds.
Sunny9850
Sunny9850 0
What a brain....to still make a comment like this after reading all of the above postings detailing how such a flight is done by the professionals from a ferry company.
Don't base your comments on the sensationalist news media and their "aviation experts". They know what sells copy....but quite often not much about aviation.
airclaxon1
Paul Claxon 0
Apparently he didn't !
Sunny9850
Sunny9850 0
I thought about that possibility myself after reading the accounts of a bomber crew, think it was a B29, using that same trick after loosing two engines at just about the half way point. The obvious reduction in available power meant that they had to run the remaining two much harder and as I recall were not able for what ever reason to use the fuel on the dead wing.
Not sure what WX was over water during this day....flying close enough to water to use ground effect, within half a wingspan of the surface, would be quite a challenge for this sort of a distance.

Of course given the situation....I'd certainly give it a try.

Stefan
rwf1001
First off I believe I was the one that questioned about whether the pilot had his tanks full or not, because it seems to me that if he DID he should have been able to reach Hilo from Monterey. Unless, the fuel mileage, like on most cars nowadays, doesn't go as far as it used to. Also, like I said, I'm no pilot and I do not know anyone who owns a plane similar to the one in question here. It was a simple inquiry, that's all.
chiphermes
Chip Hermes 0
Unless it was a fuel leak or similar, how is it NOT pilot error?
normandean
Norman Dean 0
In my aviation maintenance career I've been involved in quite a few over-the-pond ferry launches and recoveries. Most of the accidents I've known involved poorly or improperly installed or improperly operated ferry tanks. We lost a Herron when both engines on one side were fuel-starved and the airplane crashed with plenty of gas in the tanks... just not feeding to the right side. Ferry pilots tend to be a different breed... at least my stereotype of them is that they are great sticks, enjoy the adventure and are willing to take calculated risks that the average pilot might avoid. When you do that, you'll get bitten by bad luck every once in a while. No reflection on ability or judgement... it's just luck of the draw. "Fate is the Hunter" (Ernest Gann).
ggjohn
John Kejr 0
Answer 1, the pilot may have already been flying at the altitude where winds were best (which may or may not have been the lowest)

Answer 2, the pilot was on an instrument flight plan. Not all altitudes are available by air traffic control, and radio communication may be limited lower.

Answer 3, planes use more fuel at lower altitudes

Answer 4 other hazardous conditions may be have present at lower altitudes.

Answer 5, the pilot may have desired to be as high as possible to have more gliding distance and time in case of fuel starvation. As he ditched only 13 miles off shore, a couple of minutes more of fuel would have put him in gliding distance if he had sufficient altitude.

Answer 6. Climbing consumes fuel. If the pilot found lower wind worse than what he had found up higher, and would lose fuel by having go back to where he was.

You can be assured that once the pilot declared an emergency (which he did while he still had some fuel), he and Air Traffic Control were discussing all possible ways to possible get him safely down on the nearest airport or as close to it as possible.
209flyboy
209flyboy 0
I agree. I knew this plane and where it came from. Weather that day had not been as predicted. He flew at high altitude for over 2 hours with a stiff headwind and decided to fly a a lower altitude too late to gain ground speed. This plane had been 'tanked' for this trip. Unfortunately the pilot did not excercise good judgement when he encountered the high headwinds. All he could do was continue for the predicted end.Just be happy that he wasn't injured.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 0
What is incorrect?
rmust3
Thomas Musticchi 0
Amen to that!
rmust3
Thomas Musticchi 0
I think you are right on....
rwf1001
that's what I think....I mean, if the pilot had his tanks full, I'm pretty sure he would've had enough to complete the trip with no problem. I will say that his water ditch kind of reminded me of Sully's water ditch in 2009.

mattnyc
Matt Molnar 0
FlightAware indicated that he had actually arrived in Hilo more than an hour before he actually ditched when he was still over 100 miles out.
preacher1
preacher1 0
I doubt full tanks were an issue. OEM range on this AC is about a grand and this is a little over 2500. I believbe the articles makes mention of extra fuel tanks. Just because he's an experienced pilot don't mean he couldn't screw up but a lot less likely. This was not his first rodeo. I would go with headwinds, and I believe that's what he said too.
airclaxon1
Paul Claxon 0
Wind, man, Wind !
hmillerjr
Harold Miller 0
Never said it was NOT pilot error. I said it was unlikely. This wasn't some recreational pilot looking to take a trip to Hawaii.
bkallsen
Bruce Kallsen 0
Encountered headwinds greater than forecast past the point of no return.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 0
Ahh. Possibly he squawked 7700 or some other anomaly in the emergency caused the problem.