From the September 2014 Issue
One of the reasons many fly personal aircraft is to travel. Even simple, slow airplanes can be used for personal and business transportation, within limits, and theyre the preferred solution for many. And when trying to get from one location underserved by the airlines to another, theres really no better solution.
As an active instrument instructor, I frequently see confusion in my customers about making the transition from an approach to the missed-approach procedure using a GPS. Even many pilots with a great deal of instrument time dont demonstrate mastery of a GPS navigators suspend mode, or know how vital its proper use is to safely executing a missed approach.
My brother slipped me a piece of paper on which hed jotted three numbers: 260, 240 and 180. If you havent guessed, theyre weights. Add me and the load is 860 pounds well-marbled (not 170-pound), above-average Americans. Add full tanks, 56 gallons of fuel and we would approach gross weight. I had yet to add backpacks, fly-fishing gear and food for a week, but after that Id have to start trading fuel for payload, and worry about CG as well. Welcome to the world of gross-weight ops.
When it comes to preflighting an airplane, there is nothing more true. Sure, you can follow the diagram laid out in the pilots operating handbook, or routinely drone through a do-list of items a mile long that are spelled out in the aircrafts preflight check list, but if you dont understand what problems you are looking for, whats the point?
Every primary student whos at least been ready to solo has experienced a few stalls and recoveries. If theyre lucky, they also are introduced to different kinds of stalls, and how the ways we enter them can help determine their characteristics. Along the way, we learn ways to recover from them. We learn these maneuvers for three reasons: So well recognize, avoid and be able to recover from them.
Many of us fly, or have flown, some rather capable high-performance single-engine airplanes providing excellent long-distance transportation value and utility. Flying a Cirrus, Centurion, Bonanza or Mooney and cruising between 150-180 knots allows you to operate over the entire country on a practical basis. You can, however, achieve almost as much utility from simple fixed-gear airplanes, providing you know and account for their limitations, your utility envelope and certain associated risks.
This passage from As We Know It, the July 2014 Editors Log, caught my attention: What weve seen, instead, is the proliferation of smaller, lighter airplanes, often with range and capabilities that seem limiting when compared to what was the norm 30 years ago. This market is populated by storebought LSAs and experimental aircraft. Theyre great for a $100 hamburger run, and possibly even an overnight getaway to the mountains or a beach, but the destinations need to be close, the load light and the weather good.
When comparing new personal aircraft to old ones, there are two major developments that stand out to me: Using composite materials to construct airframes and the proliferation of advanced, GPS-driven avionics in their panels. Eventually, these developments will be joined by modern powerplants to truly revolutionize how and what we fly, but the technology and economics for advanced engines arent quite there yet. In the meantime, using composites and installing advanced avionics result in aircraft lighter and more efficient than ever, plus theyre easier and safer to fly, thanks to the automation.
Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents