January 2011 Issue

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Some of the most important speed limitations arenít depicted on the airspeed indicator and easily can be exceeded at high altitude.

One of the reasons people become pilots is we like the idea of going fast. As children with a Radio Flyer wagon at the top of a hill, we learn very early going fast can be fun but also has some associated dangers, usually summarized as "going too fast." Even though weíre older, presumably wiser and flying what might be the latest airframe with all the whiz-bang gadgetry in it we can afford, thereís still such a thing as going too fast. Once the aircraft leaves the surface, using visual cues to determine the speed at which we are moving through the air isnít possible. Even while on the runway, if there is any surface wind, pilots know airspeed can be substantially different than the speed we appear to be moving.

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