Items; ...Emergency Preparation; ...Flight Insurance Areas; ...Safe Flight Factors; …VFR into IFR...Statute of Repose; …Learning to Recognize; ...See and Be Seen; ...Use the System ; ...Ways to Prevent Mid-air Accidents; ...Flyer's Survival Kit; ...The Little Things; ...What Do I Do If; ...Getting Found; ...Situations; ...Distraction; ...Open Door; …Distractions; ...Watching for Traffic; …The Co-Pilot; …CRM (Cockpit Resource Management); …Common Unexpecteds; …What Is Abnormal?; …Abnormal Emergencies; …Safety Kit; …Emergency Maneuver Training; ...The Importance of Being Familiar; ... Spontaneous Flight into Deteriorating Conditions; … Making the No-Go En route; … Departure Strategies; … Accident Triggers VFR into IFR; … Low Level Options; …Emergency Descent Notes, …Choices; … Know Where to Look for Traffic Looking for a Midair; …Safety and Procedures Sequence; …Real Emergency Landing; … When What You're Waiting for Happens; …Teaching Accidents; …Flight Planning Considerations; ...Safety is not the equivalent of risk free; ...AOPA Air Safety Foundation Web Site; ...
--Wilbur Wright said in 1901, " Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous than deliberately accepted risk.
--Air Force used to tell pilot's when something bad happens "Wind the clock first".
--The bottom line was to slow down, analyze the situation, formulate a plan, and execute.
--When an investigator finds the ‘Easter Egg’ he knows the exact cause of an accident.
--A pilot is never expected to compromise safety for any reason.
--Insurance personnel are not allowed to be a part of the investigation.
--What you say and the way you say it is always open to misinterpretation.
--The experienced investigator does not know everything but he does know how to get help.
--Unqualified people in any field of endeavor display the fact by both actions and words.
--Investigators are trained not to expect surprises.
--The highest level of expertise relating to aircraft and their parts is through the manufacturer.
--Primary reason seats do not face backwards is the dislike people have toward riding backwards.
--Pilots very mistakenly tend to ‘pull’ the aircraft off on a short runway.
--A half-inch of ice will reduce wings lifting ability by half.
--Some accidents occur without a knowable cause.
--The U.S. has 66 percent of the worlds lawyers. They file 90 percent of the product liability suits.
--Engineers who resolve aircraft problems must beware of unintended consequences.
--The operational life of an aircraft engine after losing its oil is two minutes.
--It is normal for heavy smokers to have 1- percent CO in their blood.
--CO is slow to leave the body.
--Many pilots do not try to stay current with material vital to their safety.
--A major safety improvement would be having pilots not flying with known deficiencies.
--Aircraft that come apart do so usually because of pilot control input.
--Truth is, many pilots totally ignore weight and balance when flying.
--Nothing relieves the pilot-in-command of having an in depth knowledge of the POH.
--Nothing about flying appears complicated once it is understood.
--There will always be accidents so long as pilots on knowing the risks will still take chances.
--In flight breakups occur only when pilots induce aerodynamic loads beyond design limits.
--An Ivory Soap (99.44%) accident is easy to solve if pilots cooperate.
--Pilots inherently attempt to save the airplane not recognizing that it belongs to the insurance company.
--Any speculation before finding the facts will bias the judgment.
--In aviation and elsewhere we must learn to survive when things fail to function.
--Accidents in descending order derive from pilot proficiency, maintenance, and manufacture.
--Engine overhaul by a mechanic should be your last choice.
--When it comes to successful second-guessing time will win every time.
--There is no governmental responsibility to require aircraft to be fool proof.
--Flight crews are required to have only the minimums of skill and experience to meet the criteria.
--For every unfortunate event there will be a liability lawyer willing to look for a deep pocket.
--Low level flight causes about five percent of the accidents.
--Aviation fuel will not ‘stretch’.
--Fuel related accidents are more likely due to stupidity than poor judgment.
--Instructional dilemma is how far to let a student get into trouble before intervening.
--We will never be able to predict exactly the path a storm will take.
--Weather radar sees only degrees of moisture,
--The worse the weather the more important are independent pilot decisions.
--The hazard of complacency increases with experience.
--Pilots who are not increasing their knowledge are decreasing their knowledge.
--A pilot can never know too much about his airplane.
Flying at night reduces your accident survival options. Flying at night is an option if there is sufficient moonlight to allow seeing and avoiding clouds. I have considered the desirability of having a night vision monocular for flying at night. With improved night vision your ability to see a preferred landing site would be greatly improved. For one who plans to do considerable night flying it seems an economic option.
Every act of flying has an inherent risk factor that requires you have a back door plan available. Failure to make immediate use of a safety option is a not uncommon cause of complete failure of the option. Risk increases exponentially as the adverse factors enter the flight. The danger of each link in the chain leading to an accident is such that each link exponentially increases the probability of the accident. Risk factors do not just add; they multiply. The factors can be pilot judgment mistakes, changes in atmospheric conditions or aircraft malfunctions. Separately or together they require the pilot to come up with an option that will prevent this uncontrolled growth.
Any option that reduces risk has a primary ingredient of complete awareness
of where you are and where you should go for the greatest reduction of risk.
Your ability to have anticipated where you plan to go is to be preferred to
making the decision after the fact. The more nearly normal you can keep your
emergency procedures the better. Every so often your landings should be done
If you make, keep, and amend a fuel consumption log for an aircraft as you normally fly it, you should never run out of fuel. Check fuel and oil at every opportunity. Walk around the aircraft before you get in. An inadequate preflight is high on the list of accident causes. Most problems leading to accident begin as small annoyances. An annoyance can, if ignored, grow quite rapidly and unexpectedly. Safety relies on the pilot, more so than in any other kind of transportation. Keep your head about you. Know you airplane thoroughly and all of its systems. ----Know the limits of your performance and of the airplane.
--An emergency isn't an emergency if it is a procedure you have practiced.
--You must practice anticipating potential problems and vocalizing your solutions.
Flight Insurance Areas
There are many different kinds of time in aviation. The pilot must know these times, how much to trust the time judgments of others, how to determine total real time, remaining useful time, remaining legal time and how to obtain more time.
Extra time can be made available if you know what to do when to do it and then do it. The problems of flying can be directly attributable to misuse of time. If we take enough time to identify and make available our options and resources, and then manage them wisely, we can expect safer and more enjoyable flying experiences. You can't do this if you don't know where you are or what to say. If you don't know where you are...say so.
We begin with the aircraft manual. The manual gives various engine operation fuel times. The time will vary greatly with load, power, leaning, and throttle use. The book time figures are not for you or the aircraft as it exists today. They are at best approximations to which you must add an insurance factor. Still you must know them as a place to begin. During very cold weather alcohol can be added to fuel to combine with any water that may be in the tank. Sump draining should be carried to extremes under cold conditions.
A battery has a time factor rating known as amp-hours when new. With this as a datum from which we must make assumptions as to how much time we have for various aircraft functions. If the battery charging system fails, we can only rely on our knowledge of amp-hour time consumption available. From this knowledge we can figure the approximate useful time of the transponder, radio receiver, transmitter, lights, flaps and gear. Minimum electrical would be using just the transponder. A competent mechanic should be able to give you the information you want for a specific aircraft.
Altitude is time in the bank. Altitude gives you time to select options, to turn, descend and plan. Altitude can give you more fuel time. Altitude gives you more distance for the fuel time especially if winds can be used. At low altitudes there is less available time and fewer options. Altitude improves communications and usually visibility.
Always take the ground time to develop the "what if" choices you may need to make. The weather, preflight, charts, POH limits any your own condition should be checked during ground time prior to every flight. Making the go/no-go decision is as important as flying decisions get. It takes superior knowledge on the part of a pilot to say no to a flight or any part of a flight. Recognizing that experience may make a flight possible for you will make your refusal to fly all the more important.
Waiting a while on the ground before going is always an option as may leaving early. Fuel is time. Being surprised by the weather is going to be hard to explain. Never fly into a situation that does not have a back door escape route.
Only yesterday, 10-2-98 I flew with a pilot into the Sierras to retrieve an automobile. The weather was forecast to be good. On reaching Sacrmento, A solid cloud embankment extended to each side as far as we could see. Bases were at 7000' and tops about 9000'. This was completely unexpected. I had the pilot contact Rancho FSS for a weather up-date. They had no information on this solid overcast cloud cover. The Truckee AWOS gave Scattered clouds at 9000'. If not for that real time report we would have turned back. With that forecast we flew on and found that the Truckee Basin and entire eastern side of the Sierras was clear. The flight and return was completed in good flying conditions.
Safe Flight Factors
Competency to handle emergencies requires that the flight instructor control the practice conditions to reduce the risk. A competency program should exceed the FAR requirements that are expected to prepare pilots for reasonable expectations
Notams, PIREPS, temperatures, winds, spread, problems
Terrain, obstacles, landing sites, navaids, airspace considerations
Condition, fuel, performance,
Personal minimums, condition
If you do not practice skills, they will deteriorate.
VFR into IFR
Legal holds no guarantee of safety and less than safe can be legal. Less than safe would be what we call marginal VFR. Recognizably less than safe conditions can become safer if the pilot has the terrain and obstacle knowledge, procedure familiarity situational awareness, and flying skills to proceed safely.
In any flying situation the skilled pilot has anticipated the variations of circumstance the may shut the door to preferred options. The pilot always keeps an escape option open but this does not come with the same guarantee offered by getting on the ground.
Statute of Repose
The 18-year period begins all over again every time a new part is added to an airplane but only for that part. If a part fails that is over 18 years in use there is no damage liability.
In flying you are subject to two different liabilities--civil and regulatory. Civil usually means you have wronged another person and can expect to pay damages. Break an FAR and you can expect an FAA enforcement action. The facts of a given situation determine the potential liability and accountability.
There are rules about what angles radials are used to intercept at intersections.. When procedures are designed, the protected airspace takes into account things like fix uncertainty due to poor navaid geometry.
Learning to Recognize
Two sets of eyes have not proven to be better than one set as recorded by accident data. One fourth of mid air accidents have occurred with an active instructor in the cockpit. The instructor is then PIC and the responsible party. Result is the student relies on the lookout scan of the instructor. A student who has spent considerable time on a simulator is not likely to have a proficient exterior scan.
It has been suggested that instructors ask students what they saw during a maneuver as a means of bringing to their attention the need to look for aircraft as well as the horizon. I have written elsewhere about the levels of recognition that goes through the stages of looking, seeing, and finally to recognition.
The instructor who becomes engrossed in the student performance as shown on
the instrument panel is leaving himself vulnerable to a mid-air. For this
reason, I do not do such maneuvering unless under the additional eyes of
radar or in an area very unlikely to have aircraft. One of my favorite
playgrounds is within 3000 feet of the surface and only 500 feet below a
Class Bravo shelf. Another time in marginal VFR conditions I chose to do
maneuvers in the top 500 feet of a Class Delta airspace with the approval of
the tower. By monitoring the tower frequency I could be made aware of any
I never let a student make a turn without verbalizing and visually clearing the airspace being entered. A big part of seeing aircraft is knowing 'where' to look. 'Airways' are not just limited to those on charts. The little things that I use to avoid aircraft are deeply ingrained in my instruction. Just today I had two students depart the airport by climbing in the pattern. Low visibility made this a desirable way to get into the better VFR above 3000'.
From the student's viewpoint there is not enough available attention devoted
to flying to spend much looking for airplanes. Yet looking for and finding
airplanes is a skill that can be taught and developed. A student can be
taught that the most likely mid-air has several focal areas. Uncontrolled
airports, final approach, unorthodox departures, VORs, specific numbers
below 3000 AGL, reliance on radar, relative speeds and a mix of aircraft
types. See and avoid; see and be seen; look and look out; whatever will
never take the place of reality and probability. Staying away from other
planes has a great deal to do with where you decide to put yourself.
See and Be Seen
The basic FAR for traffic avoidance requires the pilot to be responsible for looking outside the aircraft to see other aircraft. You can look without seeing; see without recognition; recognize without reacting, and react inappropriately by instinct.
The physiology of the eye is such that it is able to focus at a distance only for a short period over a 15-degree arc of the horizon. If something is not brought into focus the eye will adjust to about a 20-food focal distance. Motion and attitude are best noted by peripheral vision. Peripheral vision will not accurately detect apparent motion the more distant it is from the fovea or focal center. At 25-degrees, 97% of motion is detectable while at 70-degrees it falls to 67%. The more motion involved the better something can be seen. If it moves you are more likely to see it. You are even more likely to see it if you can bring your visual focus to within 25 degrees of the motion. This means you must keep your eyes and head moving.
It is difficult to see an airplane ahead of you that is moving in the same direction. You can see things that move but the relative motion of an aircraft going ahead of you is hard to detect and will be even more difficult to see if it is below, as well. In a trainer this is not so much a problem as the fact that you may be the aircraft ahead and below. Be aware that following aircraft may not see you. Move your aircraft wings and change directions to help an aircraft behind you, find you.
Our brain senses the relative eye movement of each eye. As the eye focuses it provides the brain the data needed to provide depth or distance. A person with one eye can use relative sizes and familiarity to determine both depth and distance.
--We know that 'smaller means farther away when looking at objects of known relative size.
--Where one object blocks or obscures another we know this shows relative closeness.
--Parallel lines converge with distance. A runway on final forms a parallelogram that is narrower at far end.
-- As we fly to a runway or anything else there is a 'sweet' spot that does not move. Things inside the spot move toward us things beyond the spot move away. It is this relative motion that we learn to use in making our landing decisions. The approach is planned so the 'sweet' is the planned flare point over the runway.
--Your ability to discern distance is affected by how clear the view. Clear weather makes things closer and more colorful. Haze obscures the outlines and things appear farther away.
--We have learned to judge distance by observation of common objects such as people and automobiles. This same skill will cause a problem when judging distance of clouds. Clouds have no relative size or other characteristic that would allow judging distance.
--We can visually interpret shadows and lighted areas as relatively high or low.
The advantage of having two eyes for distance perception is limited to about twenty feet. At wingtip distances visual depth perception is not as reliable as the yellow line of a parking ramp. Even during landing we use visual cues all beyond the twenty foot range. One eye is just as good as two. Peripheral vision as the ground flows to each side of us is used to estimate height above the ground. A person with one eye loses 60% of this peripheral vision. All pilots should develop a 'swivel head' to extend their peripheral vision. Smokers even more so. Smokers have more car accidents, too.
Moving the head sideways is not enough. Relative motion between two approaching aircraft can be zero if altitude and angle are constant. Only moving the head forward and back will create the required relative motion for visual detection. This is sometimes called the 'Instructor rock". Use the horizon to determine relative altitudes of pilots and obstacles to your altitude.
When copying the ATIS or referring to a sectional, you should hold it up in the cockpit so that you give your peripheral vision a chance to detect motion. Looking down will move the center of gravity of the aircraft forward and initiate a descent as well as limiting your exterior lookout. You should divide the windshield into 15-degree arcs for aircraft detection. Since you cannot see when the eyes are moving, concentrate on distant points when possible and deliberately select 15-degree visual areas when you move your eyes. When you make clearing turns, always look at least 30-degrees to the rear of your aircraft. Slower aircraft are most likely to be impacted at a 30 degree angle from the rear at a slightly above or below impact angle. A minimum of 4 to 1 time ratio must be maintained between outside the cockpit and inside the cockpit visual attention.
--During any given 20 seconds that your eyes are open when VFR, 16 of the seconds should be out windows.Flyer's Survival Kit
--Know where near your airport you are least likely to experience other aircraft. It may be directly overhead.
--I have always made a practice to turn off LORAN and GPS on local flights.
--Inattention, distraction and complacency are the three-headed monster that causes aircraft accidents.
Use the System
Getting traffic advisories from ATC does not relieve the pilot from his see and avoid responsibilities. FAR 91.113 (b) requires vigilance to see and avoid regardless of flight conditions. Once you have indicated to ATC that you have visual contact, the responsibility for see and avoid is entirely yours. On occasion, it may be better NOT to 'see' an aircraft so that ATC will plan accordingly. Advise ATC immediately if you should lose visual reference with an aircraft, the airport, or your location.
Plan your flight references and altitudes to avoid those common 'freeways' used by most pilots. Train yourself to minimize your exposure to other aircraft. Always respond to ATC traffic advisories in such a way that your altitude and route is known. Request the same information of the other aircraft. Always check the possible route of conflicting traffic.
Being on radar can lead to complacency. Radar has the capability of being selective as to which aircraft are shown. As a pilot you are not privy to knowing what selectivity is used. You must keep an active watch because other VFR aircraft squawking 1200 may not show on the radar screen. Nearly half of all midairs occur below 500' near uncontrolled airports most likely while in the pattern. Flying within 3000' of the terrain is the region of highest probability for a midair accident. The fatality rate of midairs is quite high but half of those so involved do survive.
Ways to Prevent a Midair Accidents:
--Knowing where to fly is as important as knowing where to look.
--Scan in 15deg; segments and slightly above and below the horizon.
--Make clearing turns before maneuvers and when climbing.
--Get radar advisories but don't trust them totally.
--Use strobes, lights and transponder on Mode C.
--Fly uncontrolled patterns as AIM recommends.
--Be accurate with your position reporting.
--Don't trust the reporting of others.
--Use the radio as advised in the AIM.
--Watch for shadows on the ground.
--Use your passengers as lookouts.
--Clean the windshield.
The Little Things
Safety in flying is made up of many aspects large and small. It is the small aspects that reoccur most often and have the greatest probability of not being in a pilot's repertoire. What follows is a collection of small things that I do and teach because I have found them of safety value. Where a reason or justification may be required I will explain.
Except for the fortunate few, the cost of flying is a major deterrent. If money becomes part of the problem the potential pilot has compounded his learning difficulty. Even the most economical of flying clubs will take money like a sausage grinder. If you are not resigned to this expense and flow, wait. Have the funds set aside and readily available. After money, the student pilot must have time. You will learn faster and safer if you fly frequently. Daily is best only if you have sufficient time to keep the bookwork caught up. Minimum flights can vary from two to three according to the phase. Any less frequently will limit the efficiency of the process.
Get on the government mailing list. Their advisory circulars are mostly free as is the NASA 'callback'. Addresses on the internet. FAAviation News at $16 is a good buy as is Flight Training (6 months free to students), Get all the back issues you can. Many government texts related to flying can be obtained at the public library. (See: Sources)
Begin your flight training in the Fall. Weather problems will help you develop awareness of the local conditions that both affect your ability to fly well and determine whether you should fly at all. By beginning now you will develop the experience and judgment to make safe decisions. By the time such weather next comes around you will have had an extended period of good weather to improve your flight proficiency.
Use a full size cassette tape recorder with a patch cord into the intercom to record all your ground instruction, radio procedure practice, ATC radio communications, and the flight instruction as it occurs in the cockpit. Such a system eliminates engine noise. As a student you will be surprised at how much communication occurs without your being aware of what is said and especially its significance. It is equally important that a pilot know where other aircraft is in relationship to his aircraft as it is to know where he is.
You will improve your awareness by plotting your flight on to an airport and then locating the position and arrival direction of incoming aircraft. Departing aircraft can be plotted as well. This three dimensional chess game is played by ATC and pilots must learn to play the game as well. The sooner you start using the radio, the better.
On arrival at the airport I feel the wind, look at the flags and windsock. I want to develop my skill in judging winds where the ATIS or AWOS provides a reference check. I may need that skill where no references are available. By waiting to copy the ATIS/AWOS until the engine is started you will learn to copy it under adverse conditions such as will be required on your return. Nothing focuses the attention as well as something costing you money.
On preflight besides the things usually on the aircraft checklist I always roll the tires because the cord may be showing on the bottom. One cord layer missing uses up a lot of safety. Additionally, you have learned that a tire of improper inflation is deemed unairworthy by the FAA. A tire gauge is part of your flight kit. If in the starting process a student fails to check the belt attachments of the instructor, at some point during the takeoff the door seems to open.
Taxiing on the line gives me the greatest margin of clearance. I am considerate of other pilots by taking the smallest space in the runup areas that I can. During taxi and run-up I have my mixture leaned since it is a little known manufacturers recommendation. After runup, I position my aircraft to see both the approach and base legs prior to taking the runway.
I climb at trimmed Vy and at 300' AGL I check for runway alignment by letting go of the yoke and turning my head. Above 300' I do shallow banked 30 degree turns or Dutch rolls both to help seeing and being seen. Above the pattern altitude I enter a cruise climb when I plan to climb above 3000' AGL for improved cooling and visibility. Any lower flights are always flown to one side or the other of even 500s and 1000s which makes it possible to see and avoid. Once you start doing this you will soon realize the advantages along the busy flyways. Make a practice of flying to the right side of roads and valleys. Avoid VORs and other navigational aids, especially those that are part of IFR approaches. The lower the visibility the more important this last becomes.
The making of turns is one of the first four basics a pilot learns. Small safety factors that exist in this basic should be as much a feature of the performance as the turn itself. When making a series of turns, make the first turn to the left. Why? Because any passing traffic from your vulnerable rear is supposed to be passing on your right. Make a practice of saying, "clear right/left; turn right/left" when you first learn and continue the practice for you flying life. Those with you have a right to know your safety practices are in place.
When you depart home field VFR you never have absolute assurance that you will be able to return VFR. Make a practice of seeking out the minimum safe altitudes that can be flown from any direction. You must know where the power lines are, where the roads lead, where the antenna are, and all the major identifiable points within 15 miles of home field. And when you can't sneak in SVFR, know where the large airport with radar assistance lies as well as the best small airport may be.
When you have a problem, call for the first help you can. Declaring an emergency too early is less likely to get you into FAA type trouble than doing it too late. Given enough time ATC can find you, guide you, and in some instances land you. Your responsibility is to provide the required time.
Becoming a professional airline pilot could be equated with becoming a professional baseball player. Of the tens of thousands who have the 'want' only a lucky few are at the right place, at the right time, and knowing the right people. Every person with professional flight ambitions should plan their lives around a college major and an alternative career. If flying happens, you were among the fortunate. Personally, my childhood revolved around airplanes but I only became a pilot after 'wasting' my years as a teacher. I was able to incorporate my teaching skills into flight instruction at age 42. My oldest student was 81.
What Do I Do if...
You are unable to get all or any part of the ATIS.
During the two to five minutes of making a new ATIS the old ATIS will not be transmitted. Occasionally, essential parts of the ATIS may be accidentally left off. Like instructors, the FAA never makes mistakes, they just try to see if you are paying attention. Give a normal callup with identification, position, altitude and add the following..."unable ATIS". If you are unable to copy some part such as the wind, say, " Say wind and altimeter".
You are #3 to land.
Go immediately to slow flight. In C-150 apply C.H. power to 1500; trim down three, power to 2000; fly 60 kts. For better visibility add 10 degrees (4 count) flaps and trim up one and fly 60 kts. All of this is a good thing to do any time you get behind the situation. It gives you more time to consider the options.
You are told to do something you don't understand.
Ask ATC to say words twice. ATC is trained to give help to pilots. Don't hesitate to indicate that you need help or advice.
You are unfamiliar.
You are told to make an airport entry that you do not understand or do not know how to make. Advise ATC that you are UNfamiliar. Request to overfly the airport so as to become oriented. Request an arrival that you do understand.
You are lost or where you are going is misplaced.
Climb as high as VFR conditions permit. Go to 121.5 or another ATC frequency such as 122.0 or 122.2. Identify your aircraft.. twice. State your last known position ..twice. Requesting assistance .. twice
You don't know where to go on an airport.
State that you are UNfamiliar. Identify your aircraft and position as best you can. Request progressive taxi assistance to where you want to go.
You don't know a specific frequency.
Call any ATC facility, tower, radar, or FSS. Unfortunately this will let them know that you have flown without "all available information". You could indicate that your frequency information has fallen behind the seat or some such.
Anything unusual occurs with your aircraft.
Get on the ground as safely as you can. Do not try to get to your home field unless it is the closest. Get expert help in dealing with the problem. Make phone calls to make alternative plans. Call your instructor.
You come upon clouds that give you a choice of going over or under.
Turn back. Land. Get on the phone to your instructor. Do not get caught on top of clouds. Don't let clouds force you so low that good radio contact with an ATC facility is not possible.
You are not aligned with the runway.
You could fly at an angle until on the projected runway centerline. It is better experience and practice to use a side slip until the aircraft is on the centerline. Regardless of the wind, keep the nose parallel with the runway with the rudder. Keep the aircraft aligned with the center of the runway with an opposite wing low slip. Any time this cross control is required a forward yoke pressure will be required to maintain airspeed. Read about crosswind landings.
You are high on final.
Confirm you have maximum flaps for wind conditions. Reduce power in increments to off. Slow aircraft to short approach speed for weight. If you can't get on the ground in the first third of the runway go-around.
If you are low on final.
Apply full power to intercept normal glide slope. When nose visually touches the runway at normal approach speed, reduce the power and resume normal approach.
If you seem to close to another aircraft in the pattern.
Go to slow flight. Widen out your pattern. Advise ATC and request 360. At uncontrolled airport do any of the above. Get on radio and Advise other aircraft of what you are doing and why.
Another aircraft is on the runway.
Go-around to the right side of the runway unless instructed otherwise. Use the radio.
Your are nearing a strange airport for landing. Select a known point in the
vicinity of the airport. Get the ATIS or
listen on the frequency for a few minutes. Make your arrival call-up. If having difficult orienting your arrival to the runway. Use the radio to state your intention to overfly above pattern altitude prior to landing.
A towel suddenly covers the entire instrument panel.
You must be able to listen and feel the airplane so well that reference to the instruments is just a check, not a necessity. The final examination is when landings can be accomplished without the airspeed indicator. (For this I use a large Post-it stuck on sideways so that the speed can be safety checked from the right seat but cannot be seen from the left seat.)
Several situations can exist if you are lost, misplaced, or trying to locate an airport. Most of us have not been lost since childhood if ever. It is a mentally incapacitating phenomenon. Confusion, self-delusion, anxiety, and ?, combine to make a rational human into non-functioning jello. Do not wait for one difficulty-being lost to combine with another. One difficulty by itself is solvable but in combination difficulties cause accidents. Willingness to communicate on the radio is your best assurance of being helped.
Do not totally rely upon prominent checkpoints such as mountains and lakes. Weather conditions can cause them to disappear. The easy flight in severe VFR can be very difficult in 10-mile visibility. At night, clouds or fog layers can distort familiar light patterns so that even an experienced pilot will become disoriented. It is not unusual to have a confused pilot communicating with one airport while landing at another
SITUATION: Day, unlimited visibility, no terrain problem, non-emergency
Climb to at least 3000 AGL
--Increases visual range of checkpoints
--Prevents inadvertent entry into Airport Traffic Area
--Increases radio/radar reception
--Set heading indicator to compass
--Circle over known point-or
--Fly toward known checkpoint/cardinal heading
--Orient sectional to direction of flight
--Locate desired direction of flight-turn and fly
--Fold or draw line on sectional
--Locate best VOR(S) and select radial for intercept
--VOR tune-ident-OBS set-present radial-desired radial
--Communicate to nearest tower-FSS-Approach-RCO-unicom
--State situation and requested assistance
--Write down all transponder setting and frequencies
--Repeat back all instructions for confirmation
--Keep ATC advised of flight conditions, known points
-- problems, heading and altitude
SITUATION: Day, low ceiling, limited visibility, possible terrain problem, non-emergency.
Maintain aircraft control and eyes out of cockpit
--A A A Set Airspeed, Altitude, Attitude trim for glide
--Keep flying until it stops.
--Knowing where you are is half the solution
--Know 700/1200' transition requirements
--Fly away from rising terrain
--Fly to daylight/sunshine
--Fly heading to intercept road/river
--Locate/follow right side of roads
--Orient sectional to flight direction
--Avoid flying off edge of sectional
--Mark/circle possible obstructions within 20 miles
--Don't leave a known position without setting HI
--Be aware that preconceptions of direction can be wrong.
--Use your HI (set with compass)and sectional
--Climb if conditions permit. This will improve radio range.
--Communicate if possible/turn up squelch on radio
--Confess Last known position-flight conditions-fuel situation-pilot capability
--Comply -write/repeat back instructions
When all fails LAND
--Pick best safe area and get on ground
--Get down before darkness, fuel, weather are problem
--Situation may require ground activation of ELT
Regardless of the question related to distraction the first answer will always be the same, "Fly the plane!!" Fly the plane first, second, and always. You are flying in a world of distractions. Distractions are the gremlins inherent to your type of flying and your particular aircraft. 'Distractive' gremlins try to keep you from putting first thins first. They make you focus on a problem instead of thinking through the big picture. The most insidious distraction is one that is perceived as critical, requiring immediate attention because of incorrect assumptions or knowledge deficiencies. Distraction will short out the thinking that should precede doing the right thing.
Every pilot is subject to distraction in the cockpit. Knowing where and when these distractions are likely to occur is as important as anything you will ever learn in flying. About half of all accidents in general aviation occur due to pilot distraction. A distraction is any activity or situation that takes the pilot away from his first priority of flying the airplane. An operational distraction is one that diverts attention from flight awareness. Although it may seem as though you are doing several things at once, in reality we can only concentrate on one item at a time.
Workload distractions are those normally related to the flight task but not directly to flight control and safety. Any workload that reduces the 4 to 1 outside visual scan time is a distraction. Any deficiency in cockpit organization that reduces the 4 to 1 outside visual scan time is a distraction. A checklist can't fly the airplane, but it can distract the pilot from doing so. Don't become so fixated on a distraction that you fly into the ground.
An given maneuver is made up of many elements. Flight attention must be divided among these elements as they work in conjunction. A student may isolate and then fixate on some one element to the neglect of others. Your vision will 'tunnel' and limit your awareness of the total maneuver. Mastery of a maneuver occurs when your thought process and techniques work with all the elements of a given maneuver.
Distractions which are allowed to break into the thought/performance process are not a problem to the properly trimmed aircraft. Keep count of your trim and the flaps used so that you can make any corrections required for takeoff
Doors of aircraft open because they have not been closed or locked properly. An open door will not affect the 'flyability' of the aircraft other than by distracting the pilot and making noise. In retractable aircraft the most frequent result is the distracting influence of the open door causing the pilot to forget to lower the landing gear.
Cargo doors are the ones most frequency opening. POHs do not cover the effect of an open door. The poor locking door mechanisms of aircraft often is due to the sweetheart relationship between the FAA and the aircraft manufacturers.
Best pilot procedure is to confirm door security on the ground. If a door should open in the air, the best procedure is to land to close it.
There is no G.A. airplane that cannot be flow with its doors open. The same doors can be safely closed by reducing the pressure differential between the cabin interior and the outside of the door. However, it is more difficult to do with low-wing aircraft because the airflow over the wing adjacent to the door exerts considerable pressure holding the door open against the slipstream.
There are several closing options. The least difficult is to land and close the door. It is only slightly more difficult to open a window on the opposite side of the cockpit from the door and then push the door open just before quickly closing it. In Piper aircraft it is usually necessary to slow the aircraft down to slow-flight and slip into the open door while it is being closed. This is a two-man operation.
Faced with an operational distraction, you have four ways to deal with it...
1. Ignore it (door opening,
2. Delay it (communications,
3. Delegate it (locate a chart,
4. Handle it (drop in rpm,
The pilot is most likely to distracted by:
# 1 Distraction - Looking for the airport
# 2 Distraction - Communications
# 3 Distraction - Weather problems
# 4 Distraction - Charts
# 5 Distraction - traffic
# 6 Distraction - malfunction
# 7 Distraction - Checklist
A study of this list would show that pre-flight planning would eliminate the worst offenders. The pilot should pre-plan every airport arrival so as to minimize difficulty in locating. This often requires a phone call or discussion with a pilot who has "been there". Pre-determine checkpoints and visual markers that serve as location aids. Poor weather or visibility can and will destroy the best pre-planning. Pre-plan a weather alternative with those at your destination.
--Organize your cockpit as an essential to low stress flying. You can never have too many flashlights or writing tools. Have things stowed so they can be found without distraction. Use your checklists in sequence from preflight to shutdown. Remember, the pilot is management, everything and everyone/thing else is resource.
--Pre-plan your radio procedures. Select a call-up point well away from the airport. Monitor the radio well before that. Use radar assistance if available. Let everyone know that you are a stranger to the area. The more experienced you are the more willing you are to seek assistance. You are not supposed to know everything-ask.
--Study your route and charts so that you will know where to look for what. Never, never, look down into the cockpit to study a chart. Hold it up, pre-folded, to the cockpit panel. You can look at it and still keep a eye outside for traffic, obstacles and flight attitude. Keep your charts folded open for use and in sequence as required. Use your ears. Have a local road map ready. A local map is more likely to give the airport location relative to the city and identifiable points.
--Locating aircraft is a skill that can be developed. Aircraft are more easily seen when the sky is not bright blue or hazy. Aircraft coming directly away or toward you give a small visual print. If using radar be ready to request a vector for avoidance. Or just say, "Negative traffic--will accept vector. If pilots making radio contact with ATC include their altitudes it will provide another measure of avoidance. An ATC warning of traffic tends to focus attention and compound the distraction involved. Again, it may be easier to request an avoidance vector if you can't find the traffic.
--A malfunction may cause a distraction by the suddenness with which it occurs, the noise it makes, the vibration, smell or visual effects. Your flight training should have prepared your course of action. If not, you should make your own malfunction "what if" list of "what to do". It will be too late if and when it actually occurs. Regardless, the primary is to fly the airplane. Next comes the checklist. Nuisance malfunctions such as a window or door popping open seem to cause more distraction and accident producing because of the inability of the pilot to determine the extent of hazard involved. Nuisance distractions should be part of the flight instruction.
--The checklist can be a source of distraction. It shouldn't be. The checklist should segmented and be operationally specific and limited to a small number of organized items. The checklist should be available and in such a format that it can be used (held up) while maintaining your aircraft control. When to use the checklist is just as important as the list itself. Cockpit organization will prevent a major source of distraction.
--The most distraction-causing thing that normally occurs is ATC pointing out traffic. This is especially true in single pilot operations. Pilot overload occurs when he is performing routine but essential tasks that merge into a multiplicity of activity. This is usually due to coincidence, urgency or poor planing but it does and will occur. You should move as many items as possible to non-critical periods of the flight. Get as much into the before-taxi and before-takeoff lists as you can. By themselves, any one of the distractions may not cause an accident. In combination and in deteriorating weather distractions can/will cause accidents. Planning, organization and good judgment in making go/no-go decisions won't eliminate individual distractions but they can reduce their negative effects.
Watching for Traffic
The beginning student must be guided into looking outside the aircraft. The visual focus of a student is most likely to be 'tunnel vision'. This focus whether inside or outside of the cockpit is apt to trigger airsickness or at best a sense of queasiness. Much of learning to relax and enjoy flying rests on the development of peripheral vision and the anticipation of what will appear in that vision.
The human ability to focus eyes in one direction at one place is limited. Left to its own devices the eyes will default to only four feet. Binocular vision ends at just past twenty feet. The eyes can't even see while moving. Our peripheral vision detects motion best. Contrasting object and background is perceived most readily
Learning to scan depends on learning to move your eyes. When you scan, don't use your eye movement. Turn your entire head, how long you pause is a function of age. You must look at something in the far distance and wait for it to focus, only then can you make an immediate head change into another scan area. You only have a very few seconds before your eye defaults to four feet unless you can focus on something.
One pattern is to begin straight ahead and work to one side of the windshield in ten-degree segments. From the center quickly to one side of the windshield, then slowly scan in segments back to the center. Check the instruments. Straight ahead again and quickly back to the other side followed by a slow scan back to the center and down to the instruments. You are scanning for traffic and instrument indications.
You are using the peripheral vision for flying. You can see the full horizon
peripherally in relationship to the nose. You can see things coming into
view as you turn. You will set the aircraft attitude according to your
vision of the horizon. Once you have peripherally found 'level' relative up
and down pitch will follow easily.
You want to implant the feel and sounds of various horizon/nose situations so that they can be easily recreated by visual reference alone. Instruments are there just to confirm you operation. Use aircraft noise and sound as additional aids. Practice setting engine rpm by sound and feel.
Again, in a turn, use the relative position of the nose to the horizon to
verify the angle and quality of the turn. Peripheral vision can be used to
control the aircraft. Perform the four basics with the entire cockpit panel
covered with a towel. I am using this plan to teach a student who suffers
severely from airsickness.
The eye's time to focus increases with age. It probably changes by one second for every ten years of age. The focal point is of very limited value when seeking a stationary target. Remember, the plane that hits you will be stationary on the horizon. The recommended scan is difficult to maintain for more than several minutes without a break. Fact is that most midairs occur between airplanes when one overtakes from the rear. Any expectation of avoiding a mid-air may well depend on your aircraft speed. Faster is better for seeing and avoiding. Any reliance on ATC is apt to be misplaced.
You can improve your ability to see by looking as far as you can see before beginning your scan. When ATC is giving help be sure you get the azimuth and direction of motion, since that will be of more help than distance.
The co-pilot has a dual purpose, to stay ahead of the pilot and to stay ahead of the aircraft. The less conversation involved the better. Much of being able to do this is a matter of attitude toward helpfulness. The co-pilot will receive little if any credit for the success of a particular flight but must be ready to accept that the success of the flight was fully supported by the expertise, vigilance and preparedness of his activities.
The co-pilot is filled with anticipation. He is ready to confirm every action of the pilot as he meets the flight requirements. He anticipates pilot requests for navigational, radio, AF/D, and airport information. the co-pilot is the primary look-out for aircraft. Co-pilot anticipation is carried from the immediate all the way to the ultimate shutdown.
CRM (Cockpit resource
The greatest challenge now facing today's cockpit crew is and always will be the completely unexpected event that is beyond anything devised by the simulator. There is nothing that is more likely to focus the efforts and attention to the detriments of the normal routine. When such conditions exist, the entire operation becomes vulnerable due to inattention, interruptions, distractions or preoccupation with the unexpected.
Humans have only limited ability to do two things at once. We have two thought systems, one is the slower conscious control and the other is a habitual system such as we have when we drive the same route every day. We use our conscious system when the task is …
2. Seen as difficult or dangerous
3. Seen to require over riding habits.
4. A choice between things to do
Talking requires conscious processing to hear, interpret, and react to what others say and do. Flying, by an experienced pilot, is nearly automatic. There is always a risk of making a mistake if a conscious activity is interrupted. Practiced dual activities in flying if practiced enough can be successfully accomplished. Unique tasks such, as programming a GPS cannot be done along with another task.
Common Unexpecteds Are:
Communication in the cockpit or with ATC
Problems arose when crew failed to defer conversations. Communication is always better than failure to communicate or challenge.
Head-down cockpit applications
Preoccupation with duties precluded monitoring pilot flying. Head-down duties focused attention. Pilot flying seldom makes flying or taxiing errors.
Looking for traffic
Seeking pointed traffic by ATC or TCAS. This takes eyes off aircraft performance instruments and requires considerable mental efforts. The results of these efforts may linger for a while.
An abnormal occurrence
Requires delegation of tasks. Who flies; who works. Greatest hazard is to remove time from normal procedures such as resetting altimeter to ATIS. Mental flexibility is reduced with tunnel focus of attention.
1. No conversation at critical flight junctures
2. Avoid head-down except at specific points.
3. Shared attention during critical taxi junctures.
4. Split attention between multiple tasks including inside/outside cockpit.
5. Red flag interruptions
a. Identify occurrence
b. What and where was I before interruption
c. Get back where you were.
What Is Abnormal?
Any occurrence that is not a usual occurrence could be considered an abnormal event. The unusual focuses attention, increases adrenaline output and causes pilot to take unwarranted actions that cause compounding problems. Studies of event management have tried to get pilots to ignore and then organize what they do according to its importance.
Just last week I/we had an alternator failure that caused our intercom and radios to go South. Not many years ago being NORDO was an every other day event. This pilot (retread) had never had a radio failure and became quite excited, worried and tense. My telling him to take it easy, calm down and that it was not a problem had no effect on his efforts to make a useless radio work. He could not disengage himself from the failure to communicate. We can't land. We can't get a clearance to land. He could not prioritize the sequence of things we should do. He would not even turn toward the airport for a start.
I reached over and turned off the master. Then he accepted the fact that the radio (s) would not work. I turned on the battery side of the master and set the transponder to 7600. We turned toward the airport as I reviewed exactly what we would do.
It is nearly impossible to simulate an inflight emergency, as it would actually occur. The use of a simulator
can fail instrumentation and engines but the reality is missing. A systems failure requires that the pilot fully understand the immediate effects, the related effects and any effects that can lead to an emergency. Things are not always what they appear to be. The pilot had best read up on the following systems.
…Super 300mph gray tape
…Second set of keys
Emergency Maneuver Training
--Surviving upsets, loss of control, control failures, and off-airport landings.
--Program of stall/spin awareness, in-flight emergencies and aerobatics.
--Wingtip vortices can bounce off ground and go higher than causing aircraft.
--PARE for spin recovery. Power off; Ailerons neutral; Rudder full; Elevator forward.
--Danger of coupled (skidding) control inputs that cause spins.
--Emergency landings by Getting speed, Selecting site, Setting up the approach. GeSS
The Importance of
You are seventeen times more likely to have an accident when flying into an unfamiliar situation. Thus, statistically, out of every eighteen accidents, seventeen were directly related to pilot knowledge or lack of it. What this means is that every pilot should seek as much exposure into the unfamiliar when accompanied by a familiar pilot as possible. Otherwise, every effort should be made to incorporate as much as possible that which is familiar into every unfamiliar situation.
For many years I made it a point to make a day trip before going to any airport I expected to visit at night. I make it a point to fly a full pattern at unfamiliar airports. I want my first visit to high altitude airports to be at a time where density altitude is relatively low. I have never been into SFO or LAX and would not venture into them without an experienced pilot alongside.
Low time in type is an accident waiting to happen. Recently, on the internet there was a pilot who indicated that there was no FAR requiring a pilot to have a checkout in many transitions. This is a perfect illustration where legal does not make it safe. The best route to any new aircraft is to gain as much experience as possible in the safest manner possible. This means learn as much as you can through the sharing of experiences with those who have been there before. No one will live long enough to make all the mistakes needed to learn what is necessary for safe flying. We must make maximum use of the errors and knowledge of pilots who have preceded us. The highest level of learning lies in what we learn and do while building on other's past experiences.
One very important aspect of becoming familiar with the unfamiliar is anticipation. We need to prepare every flight into the unfamiliar by using available resources. We need to selectively and efficiently delve into the experieces of other as written, drawn or told. Much of a pilot's education and training relates to the acquisition of knowledge preparatory to flight. Foreknowledge is the best safety insurance a pilot can have. Reading and re-reading the POH over a period of time will bring additioonal insight into the working of your aircraft. Subscribing to magazines can give you an ongoing update of what is changing and what you need to know just to maintain proficiency.
into Deteriorating Conditions
--FSS briefer says you can beat the weather front
--Forecast is for MVFR
--Conditions getting worse before expected
--Failure to talk to locals
--Go decision should have been a no-go decision
Making the No-Go En route
--Weather changing faster than expected
--Weather sources mention mix of VFR and MVFR
--Front moving closer and faster
--Low sun position making visibility uncertain
--Talk to Flight Watch and listen to HIWAS
--Know if you are ahead of a cold front and behind a warm front with winds out of the south
--Turn away as preferred choice before descending
--Use ATC radar when available and before you get too low
--Declare an emergency and climb when you run out of options
--All available weather with phone call to destination
--Talk to locals
--Use radar advisories and flight watch phone nearby
--Use ASOS and AWOS information with reservations
--Observe speed of changes as they occur in weather
--Prepare for IFR flight
Accident Triggers VFR into IFR
--VFR departure in below minimums weather
--Scud running into familiar territory
--Error in determining weather change
--Mistaken estimation of how bad weather is.
--Insufficient weather data for flight
Low Level Options.
--Viable option if paid to fly low.
--Average of five deaths per month.
--Accident rate is 60 percent higher in Alaska
--Most often legal but not wise.
--Low altitude mixed with ignorance is a losing situation
Power off (Engine and Electric)
Dive for Vne
--Over speed of engine possible
--Survives higher Gs of turbulence
--Confirm with checklist
Power off (Engine and Electric)
Dive for Vfe
--Less chance of overspeed of engine
--Flaps only good for 2-Gs
--Confirm with checklist
--Always take closest landing site
--One out of four 'smoke in cockpit" incapacitate pilot before impact.
--Ignore structural limits if you must.
--Steep turns can cause vertigo
Know Where to Look
for Traffic Looking for a Midair
--Use your lights
--50% of those involved, survive
--80% pattern midairs are on final.
--Half occurred in all other situations
--Arrive low in the pattern in a low-wing
--Arrive high in the pattern in a high-wing
--Use any radar advisory service available
--High-wing vs low-wing are most common
--Clear all turns on the ground and in the air
--Half of potential exists in the traffic pattern
--Maximum inside time less than 40 seconds
--When on final scan the ground for shadows
--Aircraft 'blind spots' are invitations to a midair
--Make your first airborne turn to the left if able
--Turn slightly away from a parallel runway on takeoff
--Plan ahead to fly to the right side of roads land valleys
--Be alert for parallel traffic on final on a parallel runway
--Proficiency inside cockpit will increase outside looking time
|--Most likely impact of faster into rear read if slower at 30 degrees
--When solo looking outside with eyes stopped and focused 80% of the time
--Clear both base legs and final leg on a runway before getting on the runway.
--Within 3000' AGL fly at altitudes ending in _250/_350 or 0 and _650/_850
--Use Dutch rolls in climb to enable other aircraft to spot you and clear the path ahead.
--Plan your flight to avoid high-traffic situations such as military training routes and VORs
--Show your passengers how to look and insist that they help at least in the high traffic areas
--When unable to locate a radar 'point-out' immediately request a vector to avoid traffic conflict.
--Use your radio to broadcast your position off to the side of common reporting points and altitude
--Use a local area frequency listening watch to become aware of who is where and going where at altitude
Safety and Procedures Sequence
--The safety of a flight is directly proportional to the quality of the preflight.
--Your preflight confirms aircraft airworthiness.
--The pilot in command is the responsible party.
--Understand any maintenance inspection applies only at the instant of the inspection not afterwards.
--The FARs require legal, you future requires safe
--Don't let yourself become accustomed to defects.
--Taxi with power, not brakes
--Precision taxiing precedes precision landings.
--Always practice taxiing as though in strong winds.
--Lean, taxi and runup lean prior to takeoff
--Abortion of a takeoff is the first option
--Apply right rudder on rotation.
--Use one-degree of correction for every knot of crosswind.
--You will never be able to equal POH performance figures.
--Apply power smoothly and quickly.
--Apply and smoothly increase back pressure during takeoff roll.
--Use of 10-degrees of flaps on takeoff will reduce tire wear
--A low wing on climb-out costs 100 fpm climb rate.
--An out of center ball reduces climb performance.
--Use radar services at every opportunity.
--Know and maintain your fuel safety margins.
--Use a GPS to determine your best glide speed for usual loading
--A crash in landing configuration and landing speed increases rate of survival.
--Learn and practice a stabilized landing procedure and approach.
--Change airspeeds by using the nose not the airspeed indicator.
--A change in nose is a change in speed. Trim off nose changes.
--Full power is the best (only) solution for being low.
--Expect the end of every approach to be a go-around.
--Practice the Dutch roll to maintain crosswind proficiency
--Check the windsock on short final.
--A stiff windsock means 15-knots+, a droop occurs at 7-knots
--I you can't maintain the centerline and nose straight, don't touch down or land
--Every landing is made easier by doing a go-around
--Every accident is the end of a chain made of neglected links above.
Date: 2003-01-17 11:38:06 PST
Yesterday I had a pleasure flight planned from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, CA to Santa Maria Airport in Santa Maria, CA. I picked the destination because I was going to take advantage of this rare time of year where you can't get to anywhere across the Sacramento valley, because it is all IFR yet the areas along the coast stay relatively free of the coastal fogs we get in the summer.
So, after preflight and run-up I'm off. I'm at 7,500 going over the
hills that precede Salinas Airport which is my second waypoint (my first
waypoint was 3O7, Hollister Airport, in Hollister, California which was now
directly behind me). Suddenly I noticed the RPM dropping and first thing I
thought was that I had the mixture a little to lean,,, so I enrichened it, but
the drop became more pronounced and severe (like the engine was trying to
quit). So, I thought,,, no problem,,,, perhaps I picked up some carb ice (I
had heard a pilot calling into a local airport announcing that he had
picked-up and dispensed with some carb ice, earlier in my flight) so I turned
on the carb heat....... Fine,,, the engine seems to be running normally,
now.... Then all of a sudden the tach winds way down and the engine makes the
sound that you normally hear when you are shutting down the plane and pulling
the mixture to idle cut-off (but obviously I hadn't done this). I turn the
plane around 180 degrees to the flat area (since I was looking at nothing but
hills ahead and below me) and airport that was about 8 or 9 miles behind me. I
thought that perhaps the carb ice (if that's what it was) might clear at a
lower altitude (I had sampled the fuel and checked the tanks visually during
preflight, I knew that I had plenty of fuel and there were no contaminants in
the fuel). I began a descent that would take me (even if I lost all power) to
the Hollister airport and I had also picked out numerous landing options in
the nearby farmland just in case. Even at the lower altitude the engine
continued threatening to stop. Even though the engine would run (kind-of) it
kept making repeated 'threats' to quit and the rpm it was generating wasn't
even enough to maintain altitude. I was going to need to land and soon. So, I
eyeballed Hollister Airport (it has two intersecting runways) and announced on
the CTAF that I was experiencing intermittent engine failure and must land
immediately on 31. Actually, I never said 'must', I told them that I WOULD be
taking runway 31. I was at 2000 feet (1000 feet above TPA) because I planned
on having a 'glider' at that point and was not going to rely on power (which
kept trying to cut out to nothing, quite a few times already). So, I flew a
downwind and made a turn to base and final. All the way along pilots were
announcing that they would remain clear of the airport until I was down. One
very comforting thing (something I will personally file away in my memory for
something to share with someone else who is in a similiar situation) a pilot
calmly said to me on the radio were just the words, "Just don't
fall". I remember thinking that was an odd thing to say, because planes
just don't fall out of
the air without power, they continue to fly... I smiled a little, because it dawned on me that this was exactly what the point the other pilot wanted me to keep in mind (though I did know it already,,,, it was kind of
reassuring to hear someone else say it out loud, so to speak). While I was very grateful for the other well-intentioned calls made to me, at one point I told them all "thank you all very much but I have to land this plane.[then sound of engine sputtering like it is about to quit].... Damn the engine is starting to stop again", I said. From that point on (don't know if the other pilots heard my engine starting to die over the transmission) there were no other transmissions from pilots. And everyone seemed to be quietly watching. As odd as it sounds I apologized for the unintentional 'damn' <GRIN> by saying "sorry about THAT, but things are getting 'exciting' up here".
So, I announce myself on HIGH short final and the airport manager (I believe it was, anyways) tells me on the radio that I should be aware that the winds were at 8 to 10 knots at 270 degrees on runway 31 and that most of the flyers were landing on runway 24. I replied with "I am landing on runway 31 and I will just deal with the crosswind" [sound of engine trying to quit again] (i.e., I didn't have sufficient power to risk trying to get over to the other runway). The airport manager once again announced that all pilots would/were to remain clear for the pilot emergency. So, I'm on high final, engine doesn't have any useful/dependable RPM,,,, there is NO opportunity for a go-round (and I had NO intention of doing one anyways,,,, I had a glider, at this point, in my assessment) and notice the plane weathervaning for the crosswind, that was indeed there. I forward slipped all the way to the runway, rounded out straight-n-level, kicked in the crosswind correction without a thought,,, flared and touched down beautifully on the runway slowed down the plane and announced myself on the CTAF that I was clear of runway 31 taking taxiway 'XX' (whatever it was) and continued and told everybody "Thank you everyone, can't thank you enough,,, the pulse rate is returning to normal..... :-) " I heard some mic clicks in succession, 'saying' "your welcome" that sounded kind of like applause from the other pilots around and near the airport as a the clicks went across the radio. As I touched down and was slowing down for the taxiway I heard a voice on the radio say,,,"Now THAT was 'textbook',,,, great job"
The airport manager and a friend/coworker (not sure which) came up to me in a 'golf cart' to the tie down area where I tied down the plane. The airport manager (I think) got out of the cart and came over to me, smiling and shook my hand. He said, "Son,,,, that was 'textbook'!!!" (I then realized who the radio voice belonged to on my touchdown). I told them that I realized that I just had to 'keep my head' and all would work out just fine. The three of us talked for a brief while and I told them that after you get your 'ticket' you always hope everything you've been taught to do in an emergency will come to mind (and even after my ticket I have continued doing 'mental chair flying emergencies'), but you are never sure until it happens. Well IT happened and I'm proud to say that it was all there when I needed it, plan AND skills to deal with it. I told them that though the situation was certainly tense, I had no reservations to hopping in a plane and continuing to fly,,,,, if anything it made me feel even better about flying and what I 'knew'.
I walked over to the Ding-A-Ling airport cafe and decided that I would have a 'celebratory' hamburger (though I skipped the fries,,, 'cause I do want to keep passing those medicals <wink>). It was quite a contrast, sitting there in the cafe watching the calm chit-chat going about in the cafe and yet not more than 25 minutes ago, I was in the air performing an emergency descent to a runway with a decent crosswind...... and now I was sitting here peacefully sipping my root beer.... life is such a wonderful 'trip' isn't it? :-)
Well, while I was waiting for my hamburger I called the FBO that the plane belonged to at Reid-Hillview and told them what had happened and that they would need to send out some mechanics to Hollister airport to take a peek at the plane. Though I told them I had initially suspected carb ice,,, it had become less and less of a probability as the situation progressed and the engine needed to be looked at. So I left my cell phone number so that they could call me back after they decided what to do to get there. I got a call back from one of the mechanics telling me that they were going to fly out to Hollister with another plane and that I could fly the one they brought, back (if there was some reason that the plane required more work).
So, I had a wonderful hamburger,,,, (did I mention that the waitresses were really cute, too! <grin>) and as odd as it may sound to some, I just relished the whole experience and found it nothing but reassuring and positive.
The head mechanic took off the cowling off the C-152 and removed four of the plugs on the lower cylinders and showed them to me. The plugs had quite a few deposits and the mechanic was explaining to me what fouled the plugs was lead. The plane was just a 10 hours or so away from its' 100 hour. I told him that the only discrepancy I noticed during my mag check was that one of the mags had just a tiny hint of running rough so I increased the RPM for 30 seconds,,, leaned it a bit... throttled it back down and did the mag check (several times, to be sure) and there was no sign of the very minor roughness. I told them that I was always told that sometimes there will be carbon fouling and that increasing the RPM/engine temperature will burn-off the carbon,,, I had no idea that lead would cause the same problem. He explained to me that what probably happened was that some free moving lead had fouled a plug in a very minor way and that my engine rpm increase, just melted it so that it was free to run around again. I asked him how the free floating lead gets there and he told me that a lot of the excess (there is always some) is created by student pilots who refuse to lean their planes and the lead just accumulates in the rich fuel mixture (SO REMEMBER THIS STUDENT PILOTS/PILOTS the 'hind-end' you may save may be your own!!!! <<<<GRIN>>>>>).
So, they replaced the lower plugs, did a run-up check and told me it was clear to go and asked me which plane I wanted to take back with me. I told 'em the one I came in would do just fine. You can bet I did an unusually critical mag check during my run-up just to be sure. So I announced my intentions to take the active runway and headed back to my home airport (it was too late by then to complete my originally planned adventure). I will say that I found myself even more dilligent than I am already at picking out emergency landing sites along the way!!! I got ATIS, reported at 10 miles, got cleared for landing on 31R and found myself making a high final approach,,,, just in case the 'adventure' wasn't completely over yet,,,, and forward slipped down to the runway..... just wanted to be careful,,, just in case <GRIN>.
Until I got several messages urging me to share the story, I was
debating whether or not to post it on rec.aviation.student 'cause I didn't
want to scare any students or people lurking in the wings,, thinking about
whether or not to begin pursuing there life-long dream. It was then it
occurred to me,,,, THIS was the perfect story to tell because it shows that
your training will be there when you need it and that you just need to keep
your head and that there are MANY MANY stories just like this and they have a
happy ending because the pilot never, never, ever, never, never, EVER stopped
flying the plane! It was nothing but a GREAT experience for me, because it
reassured me about my capabilities (something you always question until they
have the chance to be tested, for real), damn I can't wait to go flying
Cecil E. Chapman, Jr. PP-ASEL
When What You're
Waiting for Happens
--After impact you and the aircraft are along just for the ride.
--Do not allow your aircraft to impact sinking rather than flying.
--If you survive the initial impact you should survive what follows.
--Occupants can be protected by aircraft design and pilot procedures.
--What you do as a passenger, pilot, and aircraft makes the difference.
--Know how to get out of the aircraft and prepare your exit before impact.
--Expect miscalculations, judgmental errors, memory lapses in your flying life.
--Impact from a stall tends to be mostly vertical and more likely to injure or kill.
--Once the motion stops, the egress must be both easy and rapid to be successful.
--Impact is measured by kinetic energy. Speed multiplied by itself = kinetic energy.
--Knots per hour times knots per hour. 20 x 20 = 400; 30 x 30 = 900; 40 x 40 = 1600
--The landing gear is a structure designed to take impact, use it as an absorber if you can.
--Experience is an accident factor when accompanied by complacency and overconfidence.
--The cabin structure of an aircraft is the strongest area to protect from intrusion or collapse.
--After initial impact survival depends much on how aircraft structure was used to absorb energy.
--Education in chain of events leading to accidents.
--Any reading of the FARs should take the reader to a historical accident and one coming.
--Aviation statistics are annualized in the AOPA NALL report every year.
--There is no reason to be ignorant of the basic statistics related to flight safety.
--80% of all aircraft accidents are due to pilots
--Inadequate preflight is a major leading factor in accidents. 25%
--Weather is a precipitating factor leading to poor pilot decisions.
--The required safety and flight training is available for life saving information.
--Learning from the mistakes of others derives the best safety information.
--Knowing what factors have led to an accident will aid in understanding and avoidance.
--Teach the flight skills designed to avoid situations leading to accidents in every situation.
--The instructor who has misconceptions as to the cause of accidents cannot teach avoidance.
--Accidents and their history are basic to every phase of good flight instruction.
--My accident instruction begins during the preflight relating to cockpit procedures, propeller, fuel, etc.
--Accidents occur in every phase of aircraft operation. 46% occur on the ground.
--Accidents occur when the pilot fails to accept that an accident can occur at a particular time.
--Risk is a constant in being alive.
-- Increased risk exists when we move.
--Greater risk arises when others are a part of the situation.
--The more people involved and their proximity increases risk.
--Only by knowing about potential accidents can avoidance be planned into flight activities.
--The human has unique accident avoidance capability. We can learn from the mistakes of others.
--One weakness in accident prevention and avoidance is the human inherited instinctive reactions.
--A second weakness is the previously learned reactions to situations prior to entering flying.
--The third weakness is first learned flying procedures that are either wrong or inappropriate to the situation.
--Much of learning to avoid accident situations is to overcome instinctive and previously learned behaviors.
--The list of misconceptions related to flying accidents is extensive enough to fill a book.
--Just adding power makes you go faster.
--Airplanes glide nose down.
--Airplanes land level
--Accident knowledge is related to risk assessment, situations, misconceptions, avoidance, anticipation, and survival.
Flight Planning Considerations
Airport Conditions Yes No N/A
Are the departure and arrival runways appropriate? (length, condition, and so on)
Do NOTAMs indicate my flight can proceed as planned? (no runway or navaid closures, etc.)
Do ATC services exist? (operating control tower, radar, etc.)------------
Are fuel services available (if needed) at the airport during the appropriate time?
Are the ceiling and visibility higher than my personal minimums?
Is the surface wind speed less than my personal limitation?
Is the crosswind less than my personal limitation?
Are the weather conditions acceptable? (no hazards such as thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, etc.)
Are the ceiling and visibility higher than my personal minimums?
Are the winds aloft acceptable for the flight? (Check for turbulence over rugged terrain, excessive headwind, etc.)
Are the weather conditions acceptable? (no hazards such as thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, etc.)
Are the ceiling and visibility higher than my personal minimums?
Is the surface wind speed less than my personal limitation?
Is the crosswind less than my personal limitation?
Are the weather conditions acceptable? (no hazards such as thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, etc.)
Am I flying over relatively flat terrain? (not mountains)
Am I flying over a fairly populated area? (not over water or a remote area)
Does the airspace in the area allow me to fly my route as planned? (Check for areas to avoid, such as TFRs, restricted or prohibited areas.)
Does my experience in this airplane meet or exceed my personal minimums?
Am I familiar and comfortable with the operation of the avionics equipment?
Are the aircraft inspections appropriate to the type of flight current? (airworthiness, 100-hour inspection, VOR check, etc.)
Have issues discovered on the preflight inspection been resolved? (low tire, low oil, nick in prop, etc.)
Have all prior maintenance issues been taken care of? (squawks, inoperative equipment placarded, etc.)
Is the avionics equipment adequate for the navigation required? (en route and approaches)
Is the required equipment working for the type of flight? (lights for night flight, onboard oxygen, etc.)
Do I have the proper charts?
Is appropriate survival gear on board?
Are takeoff and climb performance adequate for the density altitude and terrain conditions?
Is the aircraft’s takeoff and landing performance suitable for the available runways?
Can the airplane carry the planned load within weight and CG limits?
Is the en route performance adequate to clear terrain?
Is the fuel capacity adequate for the proposed flight legs?
Do I have a current flight review ?
Am I current to carry passengers?
Am I instrument current?
Have I had an appropriate airplane checkout?
Have I had recent refresher training?
Have I had a mountain checkout?
Hours in Specific Airplane 10
Last 90 Days
Landing s 6
Last 6 months
Night Hours 6
Night Landings 6
Strong Crosswind /Gusty Landings 2
IFR Hours (Simulated) 3
IFR Hours (Actual) 1
Mountain Flying Hours 1
Yes No N/A
Are the weather conditions for my flight within my personal limitations?
Minimum Ceiling and Visibility (Day VF R) 2000/10
Minimum Ceiling and Visibility (Night VF R) 50 00/15
Maximum Surface Wind Speed and Gusts 15 G20
Maximum Direct Crosswind 10
Minimum IFR Approach Ceiling and Visibility 50 0/2
Illness — Am I healthy?
Medication — Am I free of prescription or over-the counter drugs?
Stress — Am I free of psychological pressure from the job , worries about financial matters, health problems, or family discord ?
Alcohol — Have I abstained from having any alcohol for at leas t the previous 24 hours?
Fatigue — Did I get at least s eve n h ours of sleep?
Eating — Am I adequately nourished?
Fitness – I’M SAFE
Summary of Training
"Safe Is Not
the Equivalent of Risk Free" .
As ruled in 1972 by the U.S. Supreme Court
---Accident events must be compared to the exposure to risk. For example You are 100 times more likely to be murdered than to be killed in a light aircraft accident.
--Cars have about ten times as many nonfatal accidents per mile as do airplanes.
All things considered flying is not a safe as driving a car
--You do not acquire driving experience going around the block, nor flying experience going between familiar airports.
--As an instructor, exposure to the high accident area of landings, is higher than most pilots.
--In flying the statistics represent the unsafe acts that resulted in accidents but not the unsafe acts that did not result in accidents.
--Survivors are those who have learned more after becoming a pilot than the
learned getting there.
--The survivor is one who has survived the mistakes of ignorance.
--Statistics would indicate the it is the accumulation of hours that reduces
accidents, I would say that hours spent making judgment decisions of relative
safety is a better measure.
--The worse thing than can happen is to ‘get away with' an application of poor judgment so as to learn that you can do it again.
--Inexperience is the primary culprit for general aviation accidents.
--Experience is acquired by planning challenges to your present field of experience within limits.
--As soon as you ‘think’ you know what to do, it is time to be even more careful.
--Training in IFR is based on weather recognition and use of the system using hours that have built in safety beyond building hours.
--The higher level of training knowledge and control skills under IFR supervision is safer than most other GA training
--The FAA elimination of the hours needed for an IFR rating was a major improvement in safety. It placed more pilots into a ‘judgment environment’ and beyond a skills program.
--The weakness of flight training in the past, now undergoing a change, is that judgment can be taught.
AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Web Site, www.aopa.org/asf.
This site contains Online Safety Courses, and the popular new Minicourses, including Runway Safety and Weather Wise: Ceiling and Visibility. Learn how to minimize risks and cope with challenging weather phenomena, accurately navigate today's airspace, make the best use of ATC's services — and more.
Downloadable tools include Safety Advisors, such as Spatial Disorientation and Weather Wise; Safety Briefs for useful tips on Misfueling and Terrain Avoidance; and the Accident Database, where you can learn from the mistakes of others.
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Continued on 5.940 The Risks of Flying