From the May 2015 Issue

IFR Training In IMC?

IFR Training In IMC?

I’ve never felt it appropriate that a pilot could obtain an instrument rating without flying in clouds. From a safety standpoint, it seems ludicrous. I received instrument dual in IMC and have done my best to make sure my instrument students get experience in the clag before taking their checkride. Nevertheless, I recognize that there are flight schools and instructors who will not give dual in IMC for various reasons. Over the years, I’ve spoken with a number of them about the issue.


Current Issue

Out Of Control?

The FAA, NTSB and the aviation community have spent a lot of time and effort analyzing how and why pilots lose control of their aircraft, historically the leading cause of fatal general aviation accidents. A recent report by the FAA/industry General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC—see the sidebar on the opposite page), closely looked at the reasons why, highlighting dozens of recommended mitigations to reduce loss-of-control (LOC) accidents. Many of its recommendations have great value.

All Stressed Out

Bolts, screws, rivets and skin—they keep all the parts flying in formation. When they are properly tightened and well fitted, with metal specifications, thread pitches and torques all carefully considered, you and your aircraft parts should land simultaneously. Despite the best care of aircraft designers and mechanics, however, aviation does not always proceed according to expectation. Component failure, the culmination of repeated stresses known as metal fatigue, can mean you and your parts landing in different locations, a situation best avoided.

Misfueling

My first ride in a DC-3—way back in the cheap seats—could have been my last. It was the mid-1980s, and the old girl had been outfitted to demonstrate early moving-map technology. The tech was so early, in fact, that a DC-3 was needed to accommodate all the electronics that now fit into a smartphone. To make a long story short, a 30-minute demonstration ride became a lengthier weather- and fuel-related diversion. As the crew and passengers disembarked to stretch our legs before the last leg home, a fuel truck pulled up to add some much-appreciated dinosaur juice. It said “Jet A” on the side.

IFR Training In IMC?

I’ve never felt it appropriate that a pilot could obtain an instrument rating without flying in clouds. From a safety standpoint, it seems ludicrous. I received instrument dual in IMC and have done my best to make sure my instrument students get experience in the clag before taking their checkride. Nevertheless, I recognize that there are flight schools and instructors who will not give dual in IMC for various reasons. Over the years, I’ve spoken with a number of them about the issue.

Thrill-Seeking

I admit I am a bit of an adventure-seeker. It may be just one big rationalization, but I want to defend the concept of aviation adventure-seeking, at least to a degree. For example, after watching a particularly challenging backcountry landing video found online, I mused over the many comments it drew, typically along the lines of “Not for me,” “No way,” and “Crazy.” My reaction—and I was not alone—was, “I want to do that.” But I also want to balance that activity with a healthy does of risk management and accident prevention, i.e., the mission of this magazine.\n

Top Five Landing Tips

If you’re doing it right, and everything works as advertised, that takeoff you just made eventually must be followed by a landing. While takeoffs pose their own challenges, landings can be problematic for many pilots. You might have a problem with airspeed, or with when and how to flare. You might have a problem with picking an aiming point, or what to do when pointing the airplane at it becomes elusive. But thousands of pilots make thousands of successful, we-can-use-the-airplane-again landings each day, and none of them are super-pilots. You can, too.

Losing It

Spatial orientation is the body’s natural ability to maintain orientation and/or posture in relation to the surrounding physical environment, both at rest and in motion. It’s a highly evolved ability, which uses visual and vestibular (inner ear) sensory inputs, as well as our sometimes unconscious ability to understand positioning of our body and its various parts. Together, these senses tell our brain what our body is doing and what is happening to it.

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