Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mountain Flying

Poor PreFlight into Mountainous Terrain

Too many times you hear a message like this, " The CAP has ground rescue units and twelve aircraft in the area north of Longs Peak looking for a single engine aircraft with pilot and three passengers missing on a flight from Jeffco to Walden. 

The search started early this morning when the FAA reported the aircraft overdue on its flight plan."
  1. Ceiling and Visability Unlimited
  2. Light Load (80% Gross or Less)
  3. Flight Plan in Detail
  4. Oxygen for the Pilot
  5. Gain Altitude before Taking Up Your Heading
  6. Constantly Monitor Your Rate of Climb

Many people think they can win against the mountains. The problem, only mountain sheep can battle the mountains and win and, in some cases they may lose too.

If you visit mountainous country like Colorado you want to leave with a wonderful experience, not the experience mentioned above. Here is a simple example when to attempt and what to monitor!

For you and I, experienced mountain flyers, we don't attempt to out-climb the terrain.

Take the Jeffco to Walden flight route. The flat-lander will plot his course just north of Longs Peak.

He will figure 1000 feet to clear the top. He knows he has to get to 13,500 feet but knowing the rules going West he will go to 14,500 feet. 

Back in Michigan he gets a nice rate of climb of 600 feet per minute. Since it is 30 miles to the top and his indicated airpeed is 120 he figures he will have 9,000 feet in the 15 minutes he has. 

Whoop-dee-do! You know the rest of the story. As Groucho Marx is famous for, "Don't Bet Your Life on It!" 

Since his takeoff altitude is 5,640 feet he is not going to get his 600 feet per minute climb rate. Since it is a long trip he will have a lot of luggage, full tanks and, at best, a rate of climb less than one third of what he is used too.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Checklists - A Bible of Safety for a Pilots family!


Nothing is as important as a bound, readable (Think Big Print) short list of duties to perform from the following list of topics.

This is a different look at a Check List reminder.

Preflight Inspection (Interior)
Preflight Inspection (Exterior)
Before Engine Start
Engine Start
After Engine Start
Run Up
Before Takeoff
After Takeoff
Before Landing
Go Around / Missed Approach
After Landing
Shutdown / Terminate
Engine Failure During Takeoff
Engine Failure During Flight
Engine Fire During Flight
Electrical Fire During Flight
Alternator Troubleshoot
Spin Recovery
Lost Coms Procedures
Tower Light Gun Signals
TAC / SEC Scale Ruler

Take the time, if you have not already done so, to review your checklists. The few minutes you spend will save your life someday.

Look at these possible titles and construct your own. This is an area where pilot imput is urgently requested to help others.

I have included a link to checklists for almost any aircraft.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-Verbal Communication

In the training of fledging aeronautical aces the student-instructor relationship is influenced by both verbal and non-verbal communications that may be contradictory.

The increased pressure of training may cause a significant distortation of ordinary movements, by a students instructor, to the student pilot.

In a funny instance in my training, I was making great landings with perfect flare-outs at precisely the right time. My instructor wondered how I was doing that with only a few hours into my training. After several more "perfect" landings he noticed a little non-verbal communication he was uncounciously making with each landing I made. He was instinctively flexing his fingers back as if he was holding on to the yoke. In effect, he was using non-verbal communication to tell me when to flare. I, in my nervousness, was watching every movement he made to see any sign that I was performing what my instructor wanted me to do.

Next time around he sat on his hands while I attempted another landing. It was a real "laugher" that was completely blotched because his non-verbal cue when to flare was missing. He was sitting on his hands. Literally!

Students have conceded that under conditions of stress they may become oblivious to intructors, traffic tower instructions, instrument warnings and even aircraft attitude.

A principle stressed to overcome the last several stress induced actions/inactions is to replace a strong emotion with a stronger one. Prods, grunts, gestures, taps, a yell are all examples of a stronger emotion to push the pilot in the right response direction. Don't over-do the response so the pilot becomes too fearful to even fly!

You, I am sure, when you think back to your role as an instuctor or as a student can help out by commenting on your experiences and examples of non-verbal communication.