March 2 (Sat) 12pm - The Chemistry of Combustion: A Molecular Look into Aviation Fuel

Event Date: 
Saturday, March 2, 2019 - 12:00pm


One of the first tasks a student pilot learns is to make sure during the preflight check that the proper fuel is loaded into the airplane.  This is a critical step since having the wrong fuel onboard leads to engine malfunction and failure. Sadly, misfueling accidents continue to occur on a regular basis. But what is it that differentiates aviation fuels and why is it critical to have the proper fuel for the airplane?

In this seminar, we will give a high level overview of the the different fuels used in aviation:  how fuel is produced from crude oil, what are the chemical differences between the grades of Avgas and Jet-fuel, and what is the chemistry of combustion and its relation to aircraft engine design. We will also address other issues such as the use of lead and discuss some misfueling accidents.

The seminar will lead to a deeper understanding of aviation fuel characteristics, and raise awareness about the critical importance of the fuel pre-flight check.


Michel Vidal-Naquet is a private pilot with about 600 flight hours.  He started flying in 2013 after settling in the Bay area to work as a computer scientist and engineer.  His passion for aviation began during his early childhood when his family first took him on international flights.  He brings a scientific point of view to his flying, and is always learning.


San Carlos Flight Center (SCFC) is the SF Bay area’s most dynamic flying club, committed to building general aviation thought safety, community, and adventure.  AOPA has consistently recognized SCFC in their Best Flight School survey, most recently in 2018 as the best flight school in the West.

SCFC is committed to promoting safety in general aviation through our regular safety seminar and guest speaker programs.  Space is often limited so it is important to sign up early.  SCFC members may choose to watch the seminar live over the web at home, or recorded at a later date.  Contact a SCFC member service rep at (650) 946-1700 for more information about online access.