Airmanship

Buddy System

Normally, I might have panicked, but with my experienced copilot at my side, I stayed calm. We talked through our options and decisions along as I continued to fly the plane. I began a series of small adjustments to the throttle and mixture to see how the engine responded. We quickly discovered these changes only made matters worse, so we left the settings as is. My buddy reminded me to stay high-altitude is our friend-and we looked for landing spots in case things deteriorated.

Your Flight Service User Guide

One way to deal with this torrent of poorly presented information is to call Flight Service, ask for an abbreviated briefing and query the briefer about Notams for your proposed flight, and especially if theres any new FDC Notam affecting the airspace or procedures you anticipate. Listen to the briefer; there might be some nuggets you didnt know about. And at least youll be on the record when FAAs enforcement apparatus asks you about a TFR bust. -J.B.

A New Homebuilt And Rusty Pilots

They expressed their nervousness, which was understandable. Who wants to show their flight skills to a critic when those skills are at low proficiency? It is human nature to want to show your best side, but a rusty pilot flight review will show the naked truth. I explained there is nothing wrong with being out of practice, and a flight review is not a test, but an opportunity to learn. Their anxiety acknowledged, we moved on to the needed practice.

Child Is My Copilot

Squirreled away in a shoe box somewhere, I have a 3 x 5 print (remember those?) of my then-infant son bundled into the back seat of a Cessna 172. It was his first flight, and Im proud to have been the pilot to initiate him, even though he doesnt remember it. I dont have a formal record, but both he and my slightly younger daughter have since logged enough time as my passengers to easily meet the minimum total time required for a private certificate. But before that first flight, his mother and I researched what steps we could take to make it successful.

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Checking the weather for a short afternoon flight showed visibility of more than 10 sm and clear skies locally, with a barely moving front off to the west. The forecast showed nothing unusual, although clouds and limited visibility were expected to arrive with nightfall several hours after my anticipated landing time. The temperature/dew point spread was narrow, but around the Great Lakes, we often had high humidity content at lower altitudes as moisture blew in off the water. Seeing ground-level dewpoints only a few degrees away from temperatures wasnt concerning. Overall, the weather looked great for a local sightseeing flight in the late afternoon.

Cockpit Communication

I recently had the chance to chat with a long-time friend and pilot about some issues he had with an instructor while working through a flight review. The friend was concerned about the instructors critique of his flying, which included comments like, I didnt expect you to do that, and I would have done it differently. The friend wasnt necessarily complaining about the critique itself but the after-the-fact manner in which it was supplied. Ultimately, it undermined his confidence and he chose not to fly with that instructor again, taking his chances with someone different.

Local Phenomena

Checking the weather for a short afternoon flight showed visibility of more than 10 sm and clear skies locally, with a barely moving front off to the west. The forecast showed nothing unusual, although clouds and limited visibility were expected to arrive with nightfall several hours after my anticipated landing time. The temperature/dew point spread was narrow, but around the Great Lakes, we often had high humidity content at lower altitudes as moisture blew in off the water. Seeing ground-level dewpoints only a few degrees away from temperatures wasnt concerning. Overall, the weather looked great for a local sightseeing flight in the late afternoon.

Three IFR Curveballs

Flying IFR can get deceptively routine. Most of the time, it means taking off, climbing, cruising, descending, and an approach and landing-all along well-defined routes and usually in VMC. The majority of IFR pilots tend to fly the same routes and procedures again and again, to the point they might memorize communications frequencies and even approach minimums. Its possible to be extremely proficient at the type of flying you usually do while letting other skills atrophy.

Superior Pulls Engines From Service

When we first learned of the breadth of the detonation problem, we contacted XP-400 engine owners and paid to have them ship their engines to our facility for evaluation, Superiors Bill Ross told sister publication Kitplanes. We disassembled, inspected and tested the key components in each engine, he said, but even after adjusting the ignition timing specification, the results were still unsatisfactory. In response, the company decided to ground affected engines and create a buyback program.

NTSB Reports

As the airplane was vectored to avoid cells and areas of heavy precipitation, the controller queried the pilot about his inability to maintain assigned headings. The pilot reported that his autopilot had kicked off and that the winds are really weird up here. At about 1310, the airplane slowed to about 70 knots groundspeed on a northeasterly heading before it began an accelerating 90-degree right turn to the south. By 1313, the controller again asked, ...appears you've turned back to the northwest and...are you going to turn back eastbound? The pilot replied, I don't know what's going on up here. I'm working on instruments…acting really goofy here. Shortly thereafter, the airplane turned and descended from a northerly heading sharply to its right. The radar track tightened to the right as the target rapidly descended, then disappeared at about 1315 in an area that depicted heavy precipitation.

Bad Bushings

Found damage on shock absorber assembly. Damage caused from the top boss contacting the shaft shock absorber shaft. The bushing was discovered missing on three aircraft at the same flight school. The manufacturer was notified of damage, affected parts replaced and the aircraft was returned to service. The quality/airworthiness department is currently reviewing work orders in an effort to isolate aircraft affected by this missing bushing. All three aircraft with missing bushings had between 1300 and 1400 hours total time.

Losing Attitude

All other things being equal, one of the benefits of a primary flight display (PFD, which presents flight instrumentation on an electronic panel) is its use of a solid-state attitude and heading reference system, sometimes known as an AHARS. By using an AHARS to determine which side is up and in which direction the airplane is pointed, the vacuum-driven system is avoided and usually only an electrical system failure or failure of the display itself can eliminate the flight instruments. (Certification rules require backup flight instruments when a PFD is present but not when steam gauges are energized by a vacuum pump.)