January 2009 Issue

Going It Alone

I enjoyed Decemberís article on tips to manage the workload of single pilot IFR flight ("Six SPIFR Tips"). One thing I think is often overlooked on this topic is the distinction between single-pilot and solo-pilot IFR operations. I use my plane for business and Angel Flight operations in the northeast, which presents the opportunity and need for a considerable number of LIFR flights into Class B airports. On most occasions (obviously excepting Angel Flights), I fly not only SPIFR, but solo operations. My observation is, from a safety standpoint, I would rather fly solo in demanding conditions than with non-IFR rated passengers. Why? Simply because inexperienced passengers can be distracting and unpredictable. When flying a SPIFR approach, one needs to find time for a passenger briefing amidst all the other approach chores. And even then, Iíve come to expect the unexpected: passengers waving a hand in my face after breaking out to point out an airliner on parallel final as Iím establishing my crosswind crab angle, reading back my landing clearance and keeping my speed below VLE.

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