From the December 2014 Issue

Zero-Zero Departures

Zero-Zero Departures

Last year I read in a major aviation publication that lifting off in zero-zero conditions was one of the “riskiest and dumbest decisions” in all of flying. In late October 2014, I attended the annual convention of a major flying club, where I heard basically that same conversation and conclusion. If I had any hair on my shiny bald head, I would pull it out in frustration.


Current Issue

Mastering The Zen Of Flying

Around 600 BCE, Lao Tzu quit a good government job to seek his fulfillment in nature. He summarized his resulting thoughts in the Tao Te Ching, which can be translated as something like “The Way of Nature.” Its central tenet is that wisdom can be achieved by accepting reality and its causes, and responding accordingly. Questioning or pushing back against nature causes disharmony. In essence, one must go with the flow of nature to avoid unhappiness.

Hold Me, Thrill Me?

You want me to do what?” You didn’t say it aloud, but you may well have been thinking it when the controller directed, “N12345, hold northeast of XYZ on the 050 radial, 20 DME fix, three-mile legs. Expect further clearance at 45 past the hour; time now 20 past the hour.” A hold? Who holds anymore?

POH Fiction

My 1954 Cessna 180 was mostly stock when I bought it. That didn’t last long. I quickly added a STOL kit, wing extensions and bigger tires. As a result, the stall speed went down, useful load went up and, to a degree, the pilot’s operating handbook, POH, became a work of fiction because it no longer matches the actual airplane. This outcome is not uncommon.

Zero-Zero Departures

Last year I read in a major aviation publication that lifting off in zero-zero conditions was one of the “riskiest and dumbest decisions” in all of flying. In late October 2014, I attended the annual convention of a major flying club, where I heard basically that same conversation and conclusion. If I had any hair on my shiny bald head, I would pull it out in frustration.

Extreme Maneuvering

Most pilots are content do drone along in the straight-and-level, rarely banking beyond 30 degrees or pitching up and down beyond 10. Meanwhile, aerobatic pilots enthuse in their ability to fly upside down, vertically and in all combinations. Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes are what the FAA calls “performance maneuvers,” generally thought of as those required on the commercial airplane pilot’s practical test.

Throttled

Engine failure. Take a breath and collect yourself. Hopefully you have a flow memorized to try and restore power, and maybe it includes the fuel selector, mixture control, boost pump, magnetos and more. But what about the throttle?

Bulletproof

As a pilot gains ratings and experience, he or she usually transitions to bigger, faster and more capable aircraft. Progress quickly enough to aircraft with enough bells and whistles in them and it’s easy to become impressed with all the capabilities at your fingertips. Equipment like airborne weather radar, approved de- or anti-icing and two powerful engines translates into an almost-all-weather airplane. With all that capability eventually comes a desire to use it in the belief the aircraft was designed to reliably detect and avoid anything Mother Nature can throw at it. And then, every now and then, someone discovers no airplane is bulletproof, and no pilot can handle everything, either.

Virtual Glideslopes

Your article on GPS approaches featuring WAAS-enhanced glidepath generation was very informative and clarified a number of points. There is also another approach which is not an official FAA approach and, as far as I know, is only available using Garmin WAAS navigators. It is a LNAV+V approach, and you will not see it on the minima section of an approach chart.

NTSB Reports: December 2014

The unregistered aircraft was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain at an unknown time. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The accident pilot was last observed flying the single-seat gyrocopter at about 1350 on the day of the accident. The wreckage was subsequently located the following day about 0915, about 750 feet east of the departure airport’s Runway 26 threshold. The private pilot held a rating for single-engine land-based airplanes.

Air Conditioning

I’ve been thinking about recent attempts to produce and bring to the market refurbished aircraft, especially of types no longer in production, like the Cessna 150/152. These are worthy efforts, and can be a good option when the economics work out. There’s a lot of life left in Cessna’s 150/152 series, and modernizing them for the flying club market can make sense under the right circumstances.

Briefed

It had been a long day: Several hours breathing O2 in the low teens, covering more than 1000 nm. But I was on the ground, safe and sound, at Cheap Gas Muni. I was all topped off and on the takeoff roll for the short hop to Cheap Hangar Field. I had to do some broken-field running to get here late on this summer afternoon, but thanks to Nexrad and ATC, I was able to avoid the big bumps and hadn’t even gotten wet.

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