Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Watching the Pros do it!

Yesterday was heavy overcast (300/1) at KCLT, and as I needed a flying fix, I drove out there and stood at the approach end of 36 center. The planes came in out of the mist, landing lights announcing their presence. One after the other, rain/water vapor streaming off their wings, all on the glideslope. One heavy scared me a bit as it was very low overhead, touching down just beyond the threshold. Well, so what? I guess the thing that strikes me is that there is one thing in common to all these perfectly executed landings: precision. Precision is achieved only by following accepted procedures practiced under all conditions over and over again.
So, don't expect to fly an ILS with both needles centered down to minimums without having done it many times before (using the auto-pilot for a coupled approach is not considered here,as autopilots can malfunction). One of the key things in any procedure such as instrument approaches is planning. Planning for all sorts of contingencies. For example: you are a bit low on fuel and #1 on approach when you are told to go around because a plane is on the runway. You must comply and that could mean another ten to twenty minutes in the air depending on airports and traffic. Or the glide slope has gone off the air and now the minimums are too high to land at the airport and you must go that alternate you quickly gave as you filed your flight plan. Both of these complications can be handled if you planned properly and have enough fuel aboard.
Many other things can and do go wrong all the time. So Practice, Practice and Practice again. Realistically and with a good competent check pilot.
Years ago in the Army Sgt, Keller gave us this acronym: PPPPPP-Prior Planning Prevents P-s Poor Performance. I have never (well almost never) forgotten it.
Posted by Walter F. Erston at 10:33 AM

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