Editor's Log

February 2001 Issue

Sitting on the Hot Seat

Donít hide from yourself or lie to yourself, just go out and do what must be done

I just didnít have time.

Yeah, that was it. I didnít have time in the last few weeks to go practice any approaches or any of the maneuvers research shows could save my life someday Ė including go-arounds and aborted takeoffs.

OK, well there were a few days when I putzed around the house, not really doing anything constructive. And I did watch a few football games that I really had no interest in.

So maybe I did have time. But the weather was too nasty.

Um, except for those few days when I went outside, drew in a deep breath of the crisp air and thought, ďWhat a fabulous day!Ē

Letís see, what other excuses might I have come up with? Didnít have the money to fly because of holiday overspending. That doesnít work. The airplane was broken. Nope, itís running great. I hate flying. Yeah, right.

As it turns out, pretty much any excuse I can come up with for not occasionally sharpening those tools I may depend upon for my life one day just doesnít wash. Do they work for you?

In fact, in the last month I have practiced most of those maneuvers. I did some steep turns with banks in excess of 50 degrees. I shot some practice approaches in perfect weather. I did some chandelles and some go-arounds.

Though most of the practice was just a matter of remaining proficient, I did discover that itís been a while on the go-arounds. In fact, I learned that I had a tendency to raise the gear before the flaps. Donít know where that came from; it just appeared. And few habits could jump up and bite me faster if the chips really were down sometime.

Next week Iíll work on aborted takeoffs. For me, itís been a while since I practiced those.

Practicing flight maneuvers is something most pilots forget about. They take their airplanes from place to place and endeavor to be as smooth as possible along the way. If they grease the landing, they feel pretty good about their skills.

Can you think of the last time you intentionally did something in an airplane that you really didnít know how it would turn out? If not, youíd better go fire up that flivver and try it Ė as long as the airplane is capable of it, that is. Donít try to do hammerheads in a Baron or roll a 172. Youíre there to learn something, not break something.

In fact, trying maneuvers you havenít done in a while can be a humbling experience. Maybe thatís why we avoid them.

A couple of flights ago I did a few intentional accelerated stalls while in a steep bank. The first time, I lost 2,000 feet before I recovered. Sure glad that didnít happen when I wasnít expecting it.

And isnít that the point, after all?

-Ken Ibold