February 2016 Issue

Are Two Pilots Better Than One?

To minimize risk, there can be only one pilot flying the aircraft. Everything else is a supporting role, and communication is key.

The day’s mission was to coach a friend of mine through his three bangs-and-goes using another friend’s Cessna 172. Although he had little time, if any, in Cessnas, he was in the left seat. I was serving as PIC from the right. Shortly after we secured the cabin and ran the before-start checklist, the mighty 160-hp Lycoming was happily purring away. We were getting ready to call for a taxi clearance when the engine stopped. No cough, no protest, no warning. “What did you do?” I asked. “Nothing,” the bang-and-go candidate responded. So we ran the checklist again. When we came to the floor-mounted fuel selector, I asked, “How did the fuel selector get turned off?” He said, “It’s not; I turned it to ‘both’ before starting the engine and haven’t touched it since.” Houston, we found the problem.

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