From the June, 2013 Issue
Pilots decide to buy their own airplane for a variety of reasons. It could be a business decision, helping ensure coverage of a relatively wide sales area, or perhaps an aerial photography business. Specialized flight traininglike acro, or a quicky instrument ratingalso can be a reason. Recreation or personal transportation is yet another. One of my major motivations was safety.
Ive been teaching people how to fly airplanes for 28 years now, and at this point people tell me Im pretty good at it. One of the things I learned early on is that the cockpit environment is a horrible classroom in which to teach the basics of flight. Its noisy, full of distractions, occasionally unpredictable and constantly moving. It should not be a secret to even the newest flight instructor that all of this is a challenge to a typical primary students senses. Frankly, any sane human being is scared of it, at first, though few would admit to it.
The average small airplane in the United States is now 40 years old and the regulatory barriers to bringing new designs to market are resulting in a lack of innovation and investment in small airplane design. So states one of the findings in a new bill introduced May 7 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and four cosponsors. The bill, H.R. 1848, is named the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013, and its main goal is for the FAA to finalize its ongoing effort to rewrite FAR Part 23, regulations on certification of small airplanes, by December 31, 2015.
No matter how smooth and enjoyable the flight, your passengers always will remember the landing. Anything other than a single, bounce-free touchdown is ripe for comment and, if your passengers also are pilots, ridicule. While a good landing is a combination of many factors, the last chance you have to affect its outcome is in the flare. Whether youre flaring too high above the runway or too low, at too high an airspeed or too enthusiastically, theres usually a fix for what ails your landings. A lot of it can come down to how you transition from approaching the runway with the nose down to the ideal nose-up, power-off attitude, inches above the runway. Its not that hard.
Its been saidand confirmed, in a conference I attended at the FAAs Oklahoma City complex a couple of years agothat you can miss every weather-related question on every FAA Knowledge Test (written), from Sport Pilot all the way through and including the ATP, and still pass each test...and ultimately, pass every checkride. Our instructors and aviation periodicals implore us to become students of aviation weather, but only on rare occasions are we actually given the tools we need to make weather-related go/no-go decisions. Certainly one of the most common requests I get from my recurrent flight students is for help in understanding weather well enough to make informed choices that protect their families when they fly. So how can we quickly and methodically sift through page after Internet page of aviation weather data to make informed decisions?
Low-level, low-speed maneuvering is always a challenge, something reflected in the accident record. Whether we engage in this type of maneuvering because were showing off or trying to get around the traffic pattern, the risks are the same: There simply isnt enough altitude to recover from a stall/spin if we get into one. Add some stiff wind, gusty conditions and/or poor planning to our low-speed equation and things quickly can get out of hand. Thats presuming everything else is as it should be, including an airplane loaded within its weight and balance limitations. If its overweight, out of balance or both, youve just become a test pilot on a difficult day.