East Texas pilots say they will fly by ethanol

Dave Zimmer
Dave Zimmer
Airport Manager Mary Uresi
Airport Manager Mary Uresi

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By now, almost every gasoline station in the area is selling fuel containing ethanol. However, motorists aren't the only ones having to adapt. So are pilots.

As pilot Dave Zimmer, gets ready to take off with his plane full of automobile fuel or "mo fuel," as the pilots call it.

"All the smaller ones. Anything under probably 125-horsepower can, that includes most of your light sport planes. Most all of them will run on auto gas," said Zimmer.

That is if the "mo fuel" doesn't contain ethanol. The conversion to E-10 was completed on April 15 for this area. Pump stickers tell buyers so, but they can easily go unnoticed. It did for one pilot. Luckily, he had friends looking after him.

"So we spent the next three hours draining out 60 gallons of fuel out of his airplane," said Zimmer.

Planes can't run on ethanol. Warnings remind pilots each time they fill up.

"For sure, we would have been illegal and all your aircraft mechanics will tell you, you can damage, in a hurry, if you get any alcohol in it," said Zimmer.

The more expensive aviation or jet fuel is really the only alternative. "Right now, you can self serve 100 low lead, it's $3.84, said Mary Uresi, manager at A.L. Mangham Jr. Airport.  "You compare that with what I just paid for $2.78, so it's a dollar more a gallon."

The city sells the aviation fuel for the convenience of pilots.  A few more customers are expected, but not so many to create a windfall.

"It's usually your older, smaller aircraft that have run on auto gas, so if we see an extra 20 gallons per month, I would be surprised," said Uresi.

Pilots will have to get used to the federal mandate. Older planes are difficult, if not impossible to convert to new fuels, so are old habits.

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