From the November 2014 Issue

The Ditching Option

The Ditching Option

Let’s dispel some myths: Ditching done well is not all that dangerous. My recent ditching was devoid of actual trauma. Most people—about 90 percent—survive a ditching, and those who don’t are usually the ones who did not take basic steps to prepare. Some recent incidents and my own experience demonstrate ditching usually is very survivable and taking a few precautions can greatly enhance the possibility of a favorable outcome.

Current Issue

Long-Range Risks

After learning to fly, many pilots want to use their new skills to go places. Whether they rent or own an aircraft, and whether it’s a high-performance or a simple fixed-gear single, many pilots want to use their machines for on-demand transportation. It’s a natural desire for a freshly minted private pilot, and for a long time was general aviation’s bread and butter.

All About Ailerons

Last month in this space we tackled “Proper Rudder Use,” pointing out that in many situations involving angles of attack (AoA) at or near the stall, rudder and not aileron should be the control used to maintain both heading and a wings-level attitude. We also explored how rudder is used to compensate for adverse yaw, and presented a simple exercise pilots can use to demonstrate both its proper and improper application.

Is ADS-B Ready for Prime-Time?

Some observers are not sure ADS-B will be ready by 2020 or, if it is, whether the benefits promised by the FAA will be available. In September 2014, doubters got a boost when the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General (DOTIG) reported “ADS-B benefits are limited due to a lack of advanced capabilities and delays in user equipage.” [IMGCAP(1)]According to the DOTIG, the FAA “has not sufficiently tested the entire ADS-B system” and what testing has been…

Leaving Elmira

Yesterday’s flight didn’t go as planned. You tried to get airborne early enough to beat a line of storms forecast across your route of flight, but they built more rapidly than expected. Evaluating your options and looking at the Nexrad imagery uploaded to your cockpit, you made a good decision—diverting to land at Elmira, N.Y. (KELM), an airport along your route, where the FBO was able to roll your airplane into a hangar before the…

Known Deficiencies

Under basic Part 91 rules for certified aircraft, everything aboard has to be documented and working. The aircraft can remain airworthy if failed equipment isn’t required for the operation, and is placarded and isolated from other systems. But an airplane is like any other mechanical contrivance: it’s subject to wear and tear: A system may function, but not as intended.A good example can be braking systems. Those on typical personal airplanes are hydraulically actuated, as…


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?


Aircraft departed but pilot could not retract landing gear. Pilot diverted to nearby airport without problems. Maintenance found a broken wire at the gear selector switch. Repaired wire, ops checks good. Part Total Time: 15,557 hours

Hot Water

In response to your October editorial, “Hot Water,” what I took from these two tragic accidents was that the culture of fear surrounding declaring an emergency is killing people. The FAA needs to change its policy calling for an emergency declaration investigation to address this fear.

By The Numbers

By The Numbers: U.S. Civil Aviation Accidents

Some Good News

In mid-September, the NTSB released its preliminary aviation accident statistics for 2013, which contained two pieces of good news. First, the preliminary numbers show an overall decline in the number of U.S.-registered civil aviation accidents, which dropped sharply, from 1539 in 2012 to 1297 in 2013.


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