From the October 2014 Issue

Behind The Airplane

When everything in the IFR system works as it should, it can be a beautiful thing: Pilots coordinating with controllers to ensure safe, orderly flow of traffic to and from an airport, controllers anticipating a pilot’s needs and granting their every request. Everyone knows their role, and they take pride in doing their jobs with precision and professionalism. But when things aren’t working as they should, it can get ugly.

Current Issue

Virtual Glideslopes

One of the really cool things about modern avionics is what they can do with basic information. A common example is pushing the “Direct” button, entering a destination and seeing the device pop up the on-course heading, the current ETA and a great-circle route overlaid on a moving map. Long gone are the days when we’d ask ATC for a vector to a distant point and “follow along on the Loran.” Another cool thing many of these boxes and related software can do is calculate a descent rate or angle while we’re en route and looking for the point at which we can begin a constant-rate descent to our destination.

Briefing The Takeoff

Compared to landing, taking off is relatively simple. Our instructor lets us make the first takeoff of our very first flying lesson—or at least makes us think we made the takeoff. If everything goes right, it’s easy. But how do you know everything is going right? And how do you know what to do in the scant seconds available if something is going wrong?

Looking Out The Window

This I know: If you see something with your own two eyes, you probably can avoid it. Happened to me just last month. A regional airliner, working with ATC, was approaching its destination. I was working my way around the Class C airspace, at the center of which the airliner was aimed.

Proper Rudder Use

In his seminal book Stick and Rudder, Wolfgang Langewiesche states the rudder “...causes the greatest difficulty for beginners,” and “....even the more experienced pilot often has trouble using it correctly.” Commenting on improper rudder use as a contributing factor in accidents, he states, “In the typical fatal accident, which involves a stall and a spin, misuse of the rudder is almost always partly to blame....”

Building Margins

Over the past several years, the FAA and industry have promoted establishing and adhering to personal minimums as a way to manage the risk inherent in personal aviation. These are viewed as self-imposed limitations based upon personal experience, training and certification, equipment or other factors. Some people grumbled and others enthusiastically embraced the concept. Your reaction, as well as mine, depends on how you and I approach the subject. One way to look at personal minimums is to think of them as creating margins separating us from greater risk.


Your article “Keeping Me In Suspense,” September 2014, nicely explains the purpose of the OBS button on the Garmin GNS430/530 series when performing a missed approach. The GPS unit will “suspend” and stop displaying navigational guidance until the OBS button is pushed upon reaching minimum altitude. Although unrelated to an approach, this is the perfect time to mention the second purpose of the OBS button on the Garmin GNS 430/530.

Editors Log

On August 30, an SR22T crashed in the Atlantic Ocean after its pilot become unresponsive. The airplane had been cruising at FL210, then descended to 13,000, according to, before it went Nordo.

NTSB Reports: October 2014

The student pilot was on final approach for landing when he encountered a crosswind from the left. He corrected for the crosswind and proceeded to land. The airplane ballooned, touched down and pulled to the right. The student pilot applied full power in an attempt to abort the landing. The airplane went off the right side of the runway, became airborne and struck a large hay bale. Post-accident examination revealed the firewall was buckled, both wing leading edges were crushed, the nose landing gear was sheared off and the empennage was damaged.


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