From the June 2019 Issue

A New Homebuilt And Rusty Pilots

A New Homebuilt And Rusty Pilots

They expressed their nervousness, which was understandable. Who wants to show their flight skills to a critic when those skills are at low proficiency? It is human nature to want to show your best side, but a rusty pilot flight review will show the naked truth. I explained there is nothing wrong with being out of practice, and a flight review is not a test, but an opportunity to learn. Their anxiety acknowledged, we moved on to the needed practice.


Current Issue

Dark Acceleration

I like to fly at night. The air generally is smoother, there’s less traffic, the ATC frequencies are not as busy and ground illumination, the moon and the stars can compete in one of the best light shows you’ll ever see. Of course, humans were never meant to fly in the first place, and we often have difficulty actually seeing things at night. So we need to be mindful of night flying’s risks and adopt procedures or limitations mitigating them.

Is ADS-B In Helping?

There probably are few pilots in the U.S. who aren’t aware of ADS-B and its In and Out flavors. The traffic and weather services ADS-B In brings to the cockpit have proven popular and inexpensive, portable receivers used with consumer-grade tablet computers have proliferated along with panel-installed equipment to bring enhanced situational awareness to even the lowliest cockpit. Yes, the data and information available through ADS-B In is for advisory purposes only—it can’t be used in lieu of airborne radar or collision-avoidance equipment required by operating rules.

Runway Incursions

There once was a time when piston singles were more prevalent at the Washington Dulles International Airport than they are today, and one evening I was in one of them, coming or going, on the ground control frequency. Another light airplane called for taxi clearance and, based on its position, was routed to a departure runway as far away as humanly possible from its parking spot. The pilot responded, “Uh, ground, that looks kind of far; do you mind if we just fly over there?”

Flying On The Ground

Your primary training probably included a diagram explaining where the elevator and aileron controls should be positioned based on where the wind is coming from while taxiing. When we have such wind conditions—and even when we don’t, if we want to be honest— we can and should use the ailerons to help control the airplane on the ground. Alas, we don’t always have that diagram available, and it’s easy to forget whether the upwind wing’s aileron should be down or up. (Hint: It depends.) Let’s try to come up with a one-size-fits-all understanding of when and how to use ailerons on the ground.

Flying Your Propeller

Remember that propeller blades are airfoils moving in a plane different from and usually perpendicular to the direction of flight. As an airfoil, the amount of lift the blade creates when moving through the air depends on its angle of attack, and its angle of attack—plus drag—can depend on a variety of factors, including the airplane’s pitch attitude. Remember, too, that the outer portions of long prop blades move faster—they cover greater distance in the same amount of time—than shorter ones.

Your Flight Service User Guide

One way to deal with this torrent of poorly presented information is to call Flight Service, ask for an abbreviated briefing and query the briefer about Notams for your proposed flight, and especially if there’s any new FDC Notam affecting the airspace or procedures you anticipate. Listen to the briefer; there might be some nuggets you didn’t know about. And at least you’ll be on the record when FAA’s enforcement apparatus asks you about a TFR bust. —J.B.

Child Is My Copilot

Squirreled away in a shoe box somewhere, I have a 3 x 5 print (remember those?) of my then-infant son bundled into the back seat of a Cessna 172. It was his first flight, and I’m proud to have been the pilot to initiate him, even though he doesn’t remember it. I don’t have a formal record, but both he and my slightly younger daughter have since logged enough time as my passengers to easily meet the minimum total time required for a private certificate. But before that first flight, his mother and I researched what steps we could take to make it successful.

Cockpit Stress

Knowing of the low overcast, if that pilot’s autopilot had this auto-capture feature, his motivation would have been to ease his workload and obviate spatial disorientation during transition into the clag. The effect of his action would have been to capture the airport elevation as target altitude. The TruTrak, at least, takes a few seconds to process and implement settings, so that the airplane would be expected to do exactly what it did: ascend into the clouds and a few seconds later return to the preset target altitude of the runway.

FAA’s Latest Forecast

According to the assumptions the FAA used in its forecasting, the U.S. economy is projected to grow during the period, but more slowly than any other region in the world. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.S. for the 20-year period is forecast at 1.8 percent while worldwide GDP growth is estimated at 2.8 percent. Only Europe, Africa and the Middle East are projected to see similar GDP growth, estimated to be 1.9 percent. The Asia/Pacific region leads the pack, with 4.0 percent growth projected over the next 20 years.

Buddy System

Normally, I might have panicked, but with my experienced copilot at my side, I stayed calm. We talked through our options and decisions along as I continued to fly the plane. I began a series of small adjustments to the throttle and mixture to see how the engine responded. We quickly discovered these changes only made matters worse, so we left the settings as is. My buddy reminded me to stay high—altitude is our friend—and we looked for landing spots in case things deteriorated.

Air Filters

Receiving inspection of new air filters (p/n P107336) revealed three out of four had a defective sealing surface, causing the sealing/mating surface to crack and crumble. This defective sealing surface could potentially enter the engine. The defective filters’ sealing surface has a light-gray color while the replacement filters we received, inspected and found to be in serviceable condition had a dark gray, almost black sealing surface. Suspect that the defective filters had improper material on the sealing surface or were improperly cured.

NTSB Reports

Radar data depicted the airplane flying northerly until about 1138, when it initiated a right turn to the south at about 400 feet msl. Witnesses then saw the airplane turn right to a westerly or northwesterly direction over land while radar depicted the airplane descending to about 200 feet msl. The airplane banked sharply left, and one witness observed the banner twist and separate. The airplane then banked to the right and impacted a 19-story condominium near its top floor. The airplane fell to the second floor deck and came to rest on its left side. Witnesses described the engine sound as either “sputtering,” “operating normally” or “being at a low throttle setting.”

Download The Full June 2019 Issue PDF

According to the assumptions the FAA used in its forecasting, the U.S. economy is projected to grow during the period, but more slowly than any other region in the world. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.S. for the 20-year period is forecast at 1.8 percent while worldwide GDP growth is estimated at 2.8 percent. Only Europe, Africa and the Middle East are projected to see similar GDP growth, estimated to be 1.9 percent. The Asia/Pacific region leads the pack, with 4.0 percent growth projected over the next 20 years.

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