The last gallon of leaded was sold in Algeria in July, NPR reports; they excerpt a bit from an old ‘Car Talk’ episode to help celebrate
For cars, but not light aircraft, I think.
Still in light aircraft due to concerns about running with too low an octane rating.
I remember going to NASCAR races in the late 80’s when they were still using leaded fuel. The exhausts emitted a really distinctive sweet-ish smell. You don’t get that anymore. I’m sure it wasn’t good for you, but it really added to the sense of occasion for 10 year old me.
Correct. 100LL (“100 octane Low Lead”) is still used. Got $6.70 per gallon? That’s what I paid, for 63 gallons in my Piper Seneca last week, at KISP (Islip airport on Long Island.)
It wasn’t always that way (Avgas costing twice as much as Mogas). It always cost more, but not over twice the price
I think leaded gas is still available as a racing fuel too.
Most the larger racetracks have leaded race gas available from on site pumps with underground tanks. They also generally have unleaded high octane race gas as well. Some have race E85.
A gas station in town sells it, on the corner of Indian School & Juan Tabo - I thought it was mainly ethanol, which has an octane number of 108.
There are lead compounds that have a sweet taste. I remember a scandal when some company used a lead compound as an artificial sweetener, probably nearly a century ago.
They haven’t switched to nitromethane? hydrazine and liquid oxygen?
That’s exactly the thought that made me roll my eyes at this story, which I read before they issued the correction. NPR usually does at least a little better with the details than this. I was kind of surprised they didn’t note that piston aircraft still use leaded gas. Especially since the first search result you see if you google “is leaded gas still used” is “Leaded gas was phased out 25 years ago. Why are these planes still using toxic fuel?”
A couple of reasons come to mind…
Because the aviation industry is still flying lots of very old aircraft or newer aircraft using very old technology. The Lycoming O-360 4 cylinder was designed in 1952 and is still being produced and used today.
And it is so highly regulated, it is very, very difficult and expensive to change anything, and maintain the market support, as Porsche found out with their short run turbo flat-6 aircraft engine project.
No, they haven’t.
We had a long discussion of this 11 years ago:
Actually, hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide is the preferred fuel and oxidizer combination. Kinda dangerous, though. When loading spacecraft and rockets with that stuff, they wear scape suits. Wanna die fast? Open a can of either, and breath deeply. The workers below are working with hydrazine. They want to live at least a few more hours.
What did Ed use? I remember reading about an early Durin that used a Volkswagen engine.
I remember the smell, as well-…from feeding a lawn mover in the early-mid 1980s…
I hadn’t thought about that Mooney in years. Neat idea - you could brag to your friends that you had a Porsche and almost not be lying. Of course, if you can afford a new Mooney, you can afford a Porsche too.
It’s nice to see diesel engines gaining popularity though. I remember some folks thought Diamond was nuts when they started using 'em, but they’re singing a different tune now.
THAT caused me to do a little research… Thanks!
Pretty cool use of modern direct injection turbo diesel technology applied to light aircraft. High torque developed at low rpm with great fuel efficiency. And it runs on Jet-A or automotive diesel fuel. The only downside seems to be a bit more weight.
One of my wife’s cousins owned a Mooney until he crashed in it. A fuel pump went out. He crashed into a field. He recovered from the crash but the plane did not. I got a ride in his Mooney and got to fly it for a while. After 10,000+ hours flying for the Air Force he felt qualified to handle a narrow wing aircraft like the Mooney. As a fueler captain and trans-Atlantic airline pilot, he’s a very conservative pilot.
Yeah, Mooney’s are definitely not for novices. We just had one go down a few towns over from me. Preliminary suspicion is the pilot went VFR in to IMC and got disoriented. A security camera caught the crash. Looked like the wings had folded up before impact, suggesting a crazy-high-g pullout attempt.
Aviation is one of those pursuits that can bite hard if you’re not on the ball.
I have an ultralight aircraft that uses regular 87 octane gasoline. On a couple occasions I filled it up from the 100 LL self service pump at the local airport and noticed the exhaust pipe had whitish yellow deposits instead of the usual black. Hope someone can come up with a non leaded fuel that can work in these 1940s designed aircraft engines.