February 2008 Issue

Tools for Taking Off

Before taking off, we need to ensure the aircraft we’re using is up to the task.

I recently read an online comment from a wizened aviator to the effect that weather, by itself, has rarely if ever been responsible for an aviation accident. On the other hand, failure of the airplane’s crew to correctly fly the airplane in that weather will mean a bad day for everyone aboard just about every time. Since the airplane is an inanimate object capable only of responding within its limitations to what its crew commands, the comment is exactly on-target. One of our challenges as pilots is to bring the required judgment, skill and experience along in the airplane. Of course, the average general aviation airplane is a marvel of reliability and capability. Even when considering an older design, the advances in technology since its introduction make trivial the task of equipping it with the latest in automated systems, allowing its crew to benefit from detailed information and situational awareness only dreamed of a generation ago.

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