Tuesday, May 1, 2012

As I Offer Advice To An Older Pilot........

As I offer advice to an older pilot who hasn’t flown seriously for quite some time, I try to choose my words carefully. Thoughts are racing through my head. From, “what , are you crazy at your age?” To  “great  give it a try, you’ll love it.”  Somewhere in between lies the right advice.  My hesitation is in part, due to the fact that I’m talking with a busy professional.  A person with lots of responsibilities, including, being the head of a large family.So, what’s the big deal? The big deal, is that I believe flying takes a certain amount of dedication. A dedication of time, money and enthusiasm. Some of these are hard to share. Time here, means time in the cockpit as well as time taken to study and think about the complexities of flying. My personal belief is that to be a good pilot, one must fly often, perhaps as frequently as once per week. The more frequently one flies, the more familiar the whole thing becomes. Just jumping in the plane after kicking the tires and doing a fast walk around is not enough.  No, after your thorough pre-flight, sit quietly and think about what you are going to do flying wise. Things to concern yourself with include: weather, flight plan if one was filed, taxi instructions if at a larger field etc. In other words, confine your thoughts to this flight and all it involves. Leave everything else behind and get ready to fly. I’ll confess though, that as I flew a lot before quitting a few years ago, I shortened some routines of the pre-flight as I flew my plane daily. But I wouldn’t suggest that the casual flyer, who rents a plane do the same.

In that vein, I will have to admit to having done some things that I was lucky to walk away from. These were done in haste, and before I adopted a more thorough approach to flying. For example, hopping in a small Cessna and starting to taxi only to hear the scrape (luckily) of a still attached tow bar. Now that was early in my flying career, and never repeated. This kind of happening only reinforces how important it is to adopt safe, reproducible routines. For example: in your walk around, not only look at the control surfaces, but move them to insure things are ok. Not only check the oil level but look inside the engine compartment as much as possible, especially in the spring to check for bird’s nests. I won’t belabor this, but you get the idea.

Well, I am getting off my pedestal. If you decide to fly, give it all you’ve got. Fly as often as you can. Pay attention to your instructor and have a good time.

Before I sign off, I'll mention two recent aviation events. The first was another Cirrus crash. This occurred in North Carolina during landing take-off practice maneuvers in clear weather. No cause as of yet. I will await the NTSB report.
The other event, involved two ATP's(airline transport pilots) flying  an airliner, distracted by a cell phone on final approach, resulting in a go around. Yes, they forgot to lower the landing gear. Use their checklist did they?? 
Finally, another FAA "breakthrough". Apparently they have now authorized the use of IPad type devices for displaying approach data and possible enroutes as well. This makes me nervous as I don't fully trust digital devices as an end all be all. They can fail. When and if they do, will you have your paper back ups?

That's it for now. Be happy and fly safely and well.

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