Undoing An Upset

Lets start by dispensing with the obvious: Loss of control in flight is a lousy explanation, and not much better as a description. Eventually well come up with something better, which hopefully will reflect the myriad ways pilots can let aircraft get away from them. Spatial disorientation in IMC is as different from a moose stall as wake turbulence is from sloppily flown S-turns on final. At best, the ICAOs accident taxonomy-adopted by the FAA and NTSB, presumably in the name of harmonization-provides snapshots of how accident sequences end with negligible insight into what triggered them or how they developed. As a safety strategy, Dont lose control is about as useful as Dont let the engine quit.

Landsberg Becomes NTSB Vice-Chairman

From the military to his long tenure at the AOPA Air Safety Institute, Bruce Landsberg has a long and respected career in aviation safety, years of experience that will serve him well at the NTSB, said AOPA President Mark Baker. We thank the White House for nominating him and the Senate for its confirmation vote. General aviation is safer than ever, and we look forward to working with him and the NTSB to keep improving and giving pilots the resources and training they need to fly safer.

Familiarity, Contempt

If youve been flying for very long, its likely theres a route you frequently use. It could be a quick out-and-back to the nearest $100 hamburger or cheapest avgas, or an hours-long trek to Grandmas house. Its something youve flown often and know well enough to almost do it without a chart. You understand the topography along the way, where the bolt holes are and how any weather may influence the flight. You may even have a couple of the frequencies memorized, along with expected ATC routings.


By the time you read this, itll be late September or early October. In some regions of the U.S., that means leaves changing color, frost on the pumpkin and winterizing the house, the vehicles and the airplane. In other regions, like where I am, it means shutting off the air conditioning, opening the windows and putting a final close cut on the yard. Cooler, better flying weather, along with some seasonal challenges, likely will confront us all soon.

Backcountry Culture

I appreciate David Jack Kennys take on the value of keeping up with performance and ground-reference maneuvers after the checkride (Maneuvers, September 2018). Ive found that they definitely help me to build confidence when Ive been out of the left seat for a while, and can quickly restore the feel of the airplane. The same is true when confronting an unfamiliar type or when assessing skills of a new pilot-acquaintance.

Separation Anxiety

If there were some way I could make a series of trips back in time to change things, one of the stops on my itinerary would be to somehow infiltrate the small cadre of early pilots and airplane designers to convince them to use a word other than stall to describe what happens when a wing exceeds its critical angle of attack. The word obviously has numerous other applications, and using it for this purpose has confounded student pilots and television news anchors ever since. That said, Im not sure what should replace it, and remain open to suggestions.

Download The Full September 2018 Issue PDF

Many of todays workplaces seek to create a formalized safety culture, an environment where employees practice behaviors that minimize accidents, look out for their co-workers and where reporting unsafe conditions is encouraged, not subject to retaliation, and frequently rewarded. It can be a great goal, but it often creates an exaggerated sense of safety where people need safety training to use a power strip and posters about how to get out of a car without tripping. The goal of creating a safety culture often ends up a corporate farce, since the best safety cultures are not created by artifice, but happen naturally because people really care.

Bad Yokes

During a scheduled inspection, technicians encountered corroded and bent control yoke boss attachment hardware that proved difficult to remove. After consulting with the manufacturer, the final recommendation was to remove the boss via cutting the bolts (p/n 2315152-33). Manufacturer was able to repair the yoke assembly using SB 31-27-11 and kit 2381602-801. Aircraft had been parked outside without gust locks.

Making GA Safety Policy

Recent, similar efforts involving the FAA and the GA community are picking up in tempo. Youve already seen some of the institutional changes: relaxed certification standards for installing advisory angle-of-attack indicators and the new rash of all-electronic attitude indicators, among others, which are designed to help minimize the classic loss-of-control inflight accident. These and other outcomes may be producing tangible results, but its too early to be sure. Regardless, by using a data-driven approach and producing specific safety enhancements, these efforts are creating some useful outcomes for GA pilots. The way this came to be is an example of why you never want to see sausage made.

NTSB Reports

The pilot later stated he selected the landing gear handle to the down position, but the main landing gear did not lock in the extended position. He then selected the landing gear handle up, but the landing gear did not retract. After maneuvering away from the airport, an attempt to pump down the gear with the emergency hand pump was unsuccessful. An airframe-mounted mirror indicated the left landing gear was down. During the landing, the right main landing gear collapsed and the airplane veered to the right and departed the runway surface, coming to rest on the parallel taxiway.

IMC Emergencies

We were in IMC at 4000 feet, on a vector for the VOR-A approach at the Wichita, Kan., Colonel James Jabara Airport. The airplane was an A36 Bonanza and I was in the instructors seat on the last approach of a day-long training session. This was in the era before GPS, long before iPads and moving-map handhelds, and the owner of this then-well-equipped 36 had ignored the short-lived Loran phase. So we were eastbound on a long downwind, and crabbing into a northerly wind before intercepting the westbound final approach course before circling to Jabaras north/south runway.


The landing was normal, and I took a close look at the left landing gear after shutting down but couldnt find anything amiss. The tire and wheel looked good, and there was no hydraulic fluid seeping from the strut. The brake was secure and had tested fine on the landing, and when taxiing in. There was no damage to the wing, the landing gear door or any other part of the airplane. Not finding anything wrong with the airplane I forgot about it, wondering if I had imagined it. Ultimately, I figured Id hit a dog with the landing gear and, sadly, someone had lost their pet.