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  1. They call it gaining experience. It can and does build firm convictions when you survive. I was about to get one. Anyhow I was a fng brand new wojg fresh out of Army Flight School in the Republic of South Korea. I was assigned as co-pilot flying with the operations officer, a seasoned Vietnam vet, on a special two aircraft mission. This wasn't my first flight in country, but I still had a ways to go before I could be considered for PIC. The typical practice was to meet at the aircraft one hour before launch to preflight, so I asked my PIC when he wanted to meet at the aircraft. He said, "We'll get around to it, just relax." So I did. Thirty minutes before launch I asked my PIC if we were going to preflight. He said, "For these missions maintenance is required to do a special inspection on the aircraft, so we don't have to preflight. Just meet me at the aircraft 10 minutes before launch." I was the fng and co-pilot, so who was I to argue? I said, "OK with me". (Note: this would be the only time in my aviation career that a preflight was neglected regardless of who was supposed to do what.) Well we climbed in without preflighting and cranked. The fuel gauge indicated zero. My PIC took a quick look in the log book and sure enough it was written up as inop, but didn't ground the aircraft. The assumption was that maintenance had everything taken care of with their special inspection, so surely the fuel tank was topped off. We took off to make a 45 minute flight across the mountains from Uijongbu to Chuncheon where we were to refuel before continuing the mission. Once landing on the tarmac and shutting down all the pilots headed to the snack bar while the crewchiefs remained with the aircraft while they were refueled. The four pilots sat comfortably in the snack bar with our coffee or whatever we ordered that day waiting for the crewchiefs to arrive. When the crewchiefs finally arrived they looked directly at me and my PIC with the strangest "you're never gonna believe this" look. Then they said, "You know what?" We all said, "What?" The crewchiefs looked at the other crew and said, "Their aircraft took 40 gallons." Then they looked at us and said, "Your aircraft took 140 gallons!" My PIC just shrugged his shoulders and gave a grin portraying what assumptions can do when they don't hold up. Hmmm, my nascent flying career could have easily came to a premature end due to fuel starvation over the mountains in South Korea and an operations officer too lazy to preflight. We didn't get there, but the assumption is surely my PIC would have believed the 20 minute light and realized maintenance had let us down where fuel was concerned regarding their special inspection... right? How inconvenient to find out the fuel gauge is inop after you are already cranked and expected to launch. But then of course those who had done the special inspection surely would have taken care of the fuel too. So, no reason to delay the flight... right? Lesson learned and conviction gained; probably not a good idea to trust your preflight to others and if you do, at the least better personally check and know your fuel status regardless of who you're flying with. ps Including this ops officer with his preflight indiscretion, I found the majority of Vietnam Vets to be excellent pilots and mentors.
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