After this, we turned southeast to our final destination, Volk Airport in Hitchcock, Texas. I quickly came to admire this aircraft’s incredible climb rate, power and responsiveness, and we soon made it to 2,500 feet.
About 15 minutes into the flight, however, I noticed a decrease in fuel pressure and a reduction in engine power. As soon as this happened, we turned toward the nearest airport, Houston Southwest, which was about six miles to the north. I turned on the electric fuel pump as per the checklist, and the problem quickly went away as fuel pressure increased. I decided, however, we should make a precautionary landing at Houston Southwest since the fuel pump was not meant to stay on for an extended period of time. After a decent landing, we taxied up to the FBO and shut down. We talked to the line service representative, who proved to be somewhat of an expert on Rotax engines, and he quickly pointed out to us that the self-venting fuel caps were facing the wrong way. I was embarrassed by the amateur mistake, since I should have known better with my experience and time in aircraft that used them. We quickly fixed that problem and decided it was probably safe to take off into the wild blue again and head southeast toward Volk.
About 10 minutes into this leg of the flight, we started noticing the same fuel flow decrease, and it took more and more power to maintain altitude. Then, the engine started running in and out, losing a little power each cycle. The fuel pump surely didn’t fix the problem this time; it actually seemed to make the problem worse.
After thinking the options over, I realized that between us and the nearest airport was nothing but trees, power lines and roads. We had potentially a real problem on our hands, and we needed to get down as soon and safely as possible. We turned to the south and started looking for open fields. Our engine was still producing inconsistent power at 75 percent power or more, but the engine was smooth enough at 50 to 60 percent power settings to keep the airspeed up at a reasonable speed while slowly descending at around 100 to 200 feet per minute.
Soon, however, the engine started running inconsistently even at lower power settings. I made the decision to land on a field that my copilot had picked out that looked decently flat and excessively large for the 100 to 200 feet the Kitfox needed to land.