Scenario #1: Sometimes you don't know what you don't know until it is too late.

You are flying for a company in northern Saskatchewan. You started work about a month ago, and have been checked out in the Cessna 206. Work has been fairly slow for the Cessna and you have only put in about 15 hr of paid flying on the aircraft. You are paid a low base salary plus mileage, and your pay for this month is barely going to cover your living expenses. When there is no flying, the boss expects you to work on the ramp, loading and unloading aircraft, washing the airplanes or helping the mechanics in the hangar. Helping the mechanics is a difficult chore because they love to tell jokes about pilots, and they make you the butt of all their jokes. One day, another pilot did an air-turn-back, returning to base shortly after departure, because he had heard a loud banging noise in flight. He was clearly shaken up by the experience, but the mechanics laughed heartily. They pointed to a short length of rope hanging out of the baggage door. After putting the rope back inside the aircraft and re-securing the baggage door, they sent the pilot on his way while teasing him unmercifully. The boss reprimanded the pilot sharply for his inadequate walk-around, and the resultant waste of time and fuel, and the unhappy passengers.

This morning you are very happy because you have a flight that will take up a good part of the day. The flight involves a charter to drop off a couple of passengers and cargo to a small community that is about a 90-min flight away. On the return flight, you will carry a water pump that needs repair. It has been sitting for several days, waiting for a flight to come up there, because the owners of the equipment could not justify the expense of a round trip, just to get the pump out. But now there is a sense of urgency to get the repairs done quickly.

You load the aircraft, get the passengers in and buckled up and then start up. The run-up is normal and you take off. Shortly after takeoff, you notice that the oil temperature is higher than normal and is very close to the top of the green arc. It is a hot day, so you try to correct the problem by lowering the nose to increase the climb speed from 85 KIAS [knots indicated airspeed] to 90 KIAS, and confirm that the cowl flaps are open, but the temperature continues to inch upwards. As the temperature reaches the bottom of the yellow arc, you begin to wonder if you should turn back. You know that if there is nothing wrong you will face a great deal of kidding from the maintenance staff and the boss might get upset. The other instruments are reading normal, including the oil pressure and cylinder head temperature gauges. However, you know that the oil temperature has not been this high on previous flights, and it seems like this situation is unusual. What do you do?

Turn around immediately to have the problem looked at. You are only 10 minutes out from the airport and it won’t take long to have it looked at. You might take some kidding, and even some flack from the boss, but the peace of mind would be worth it.

Continue the flight, increasing the climb speed to 100 KIAS.  You know the 206 runs hot, and the hot day is probably making the oil temperature that much hotter.  All the other indications are normal, and if there were anything really wrong, the problem would show up on more than just one gauge. 

Level off from the climb right now. You are 2 000 ft below your flight-planned altitude, but you want to see if the temperature will start coming back down in cruise flight.  You feel fairly confident that the problem is caused by the hot weather, but decide that if the temperature stays high, even after levelling off and reducing power, then you will return.