I take issue with Mr. Sigmon’s argument that a history of failed checkrides doesn’t necessarily indicate a substandard airman (Unicom, June 2023). As a pilot of nearly 63 years (and still flying), 37 of which were with airlines, 34 with a major U.S. carrier, plus eight transport category type ratings and nine years as a check airman and flight manager, I can attest that there are just some people who aren’t mentally or physically equipped to fly professionally. These folks are definitely in the minority, but they do exist. A litany of failed checkrides and marginal performance definitely raises a red flag, as well it should!
A pilot’s training background isn’t necessarily a smoking gun either. I’ve seen military pilots who were just as lacking as their civilian counterparts. In my opinion, a pilot is a pilot; you either have it or you don’t.
Another key is attitude and the desire to excel. That seems to come naturally to some, while others have to work at it, and do so! Having spent an those interesting nine years as a check airman and hundreds of hours sitting in airliner cockpits watching crews operate, I think I’ve pretty much seen it all. Most pilots just seem to think like pilots, have a natural ability to prioritize situations and use good judgment, while a few don’t and they stand out vividly! I’ll say it again—some pilots should have never been pilots, and their training records usually reflect it!
Jim Piper – Via email
Thanks, Jim. Our response was space-constrained, but we would have raised many of the same points you do. Bottom line? We’ve never met a designated pilot examiner who wasn’t rooting for the applicant to succeed. Those people do exist, of course, but in our experience there’s usually a reason for failing a practical test.
I own a Stemme S12, funded through my software business, so I can spell “computer,” but a tip of the hat to you for not eliminating the paper version and going totally digital. My wife puts each issue of Aviation Safety next to my TV chair, for easy access, so I read every issue. If it were online, I probably wouldn’t read many issues since I get hundreds of emails every day. Again, thank you so much!
Rick Lederman – Swanton, OH
I’m addicted to my iPad anyway, so please put me on the list of readers willing to go strictly digital when reading Aviation Safety.
David Shepherd – Via email
That day may come, but for now we’re going to keep publishing on paper, with an electronic version available for subscribers to download from our web site at aviationsafetymagazine.com.
Laughing Out Loud
I just finished Matt Johnson’s “Precautionary Landings” (May 2023) and found myself laughing out loud by the end of the article. I have not read anything as entertaining in a flying journal since Gordon Baxter’s Bax Seat column in FLYING magazine.
Cary Conrad – Via email
About That Cover…
As an oldtimer, I missed not seeing a dipstick together with the other items in the April 2023 issue’s cover picture. Mine never lied, and always worked pretty well for me. Or did OSHA abolish them?
R.C. Thompson – Via email
Ha! Thanks to the dihedral built into a Bonanza’s wing, a dipstick doesn’t do much good at partial loads. Peering into the filler opening with a flashlight, and wiggling the wing to determine the fuel level is about as good as it gets. And there is no truth to the nasty rumor that a version of that scene includes a cigarette lighter.