After takeoff, it is best to stay above the runway and not drift to one side. Many students have trouble with this and the skill builds with experience. Continue reading “How to stay over the runway after takeoff”
Who can be a professional pilot?
Being a professional pilot does not mean that you work for an airline or fly a jet.
In fact, even a student pilot can be a professional. This is because professionalism is not a job or a set of skills, it is a choice.
What is professionalism?
It can be fun to think about your flight as a mission instead of a trip, but this is a dangerous way of thinking.
When flying a trip: Continue reading “Your Flight is Not a Mission”
I was on a progress check flight early in my commercial training and the Chief Flight Instructor decided to play a trick on me. I learned an important lesson from this flight.
We got the plane started at Chandler (KCHD) and he asked me to fly him to Gateway (KIWA). I noticed the 2 class D airspace areas are squished together with no space in between! Continue reading “Flying Between Towers”
It was a routine training flight with the student and I practicing touch and go landings. We touched down, took off, and continued around the pattern. As we turned final I said, “Look, someone is on the runway!” Continue reading “There is a Man on the Runway”
A Beechcraft Baron pilot was flying home after a week of watching airshows at a popular fly-in. After watching so many loops and barrel rolls he was certain he could easily do the same. He executed the maneuver correctly, accelerating and then entering a climb before rolling. But as he was upside down, pulling his way through the roll, his aircraft began developing too much airspeed and his attempts to get through the roll caused a complete structural failure leading to a wing separating from the aircraft, killing him and his passengers.
Macho means that you believe you can do anything. This hazardous attitude is marked by the need to prove that you are the best. It can lead to deadly and highly avoidable choices.
Signs of a Macho attitude
It’s not too hard to spot a macho attitude, especially in others! If you find yourself thinking some of the thoughts below (in bold) then you are experiencing a macho attitude to some degree.
- “Come on! I can do this.” Wrong! You do not know all of the factors involved. You should get formal training from someone who knows.
- “I am a better pilot than others. I’ll show them!” Wrong! Flying is not a competition and safety is the skill that really makes a good pilot.
- “I will prove that I am the best.” No, you are not the best. In fact, your macho attitude makes you one of the worst kind of pilots. Shake off this attitude or never fly again!
Don’t be foolish
If you are the type of person that needs to compete and prove yourself be very careful about aviation. You really need to control your attitude and avoid getting into any kind of competition and never try to show off your aviation skills. Trying to show that you are the best pilot is a recipe for embarrassment or death.
The FAA response to the macho attitude is “Taking chances is foolish”. Do you persist and think that the chances are improved because you are so great of a pilot? I’m going to stop you right there. You are wrong about your skills and your macho attitude is a serious hazard to yourself, others, and the safety record of aviation. Please stay away from planes if you can’t get over yourself. I have seen too many pilots put their passengers lives in serious risk because of their macho attitude (which probably stems from insecurity)! GET HELP!
I saw this question on Facebook recently:
Do you call yourself a pilot after you have your PPL? I don’t do it but tried once recently during an interview as a kids aviation interest group instructor and she asked which airline I’m in. I said I’m not an airline pilot in which she replied, “Then you’re not a pilot!” Share your opinion.
A student and I were practicing ground reference maneuvers near our local airport, minding our own business when I caught sight of some traffic approaching our area. I advised the student to turn to the South to get clear of the area so we could get back to maneuvers.
The other aircraft got closer and I recognized it as a Yak trainer out of one of the T-hangars from our airport. Continue reading “Is Formation Flying Legal?”
Do you ever resent the FAA for making so many rules? This is an anti-authority attitude. It can be very hazardous because it can lead to poor decision making out of spite.
It’s ok to question the FAA about their many rules and feel free to even publicly denounce their many rules…..but only while on the ground. When you are in the air, you must fight against your anti-authority tendencies and remember this:
The rules are written in blood!
Most of the rules are there because somebody died doing something that was legal at the time. The rules don’t guarantee your safety but they do provide a framework of general safety limits.
Signs of an Anti-Authority Attitude
If you find yourself thinking some of the thoughts below (in bold) then you are experiencing anti-authority to some degree.
- “Don’t tell me what to do.” The rules are usually telling you what to avoid, and while this may be inconvenient, there is a usually a pretty good reason. Follow the rule for now and find out why that rule exists after you land.
- “This is a stupid rule.” It very well may be a stupid rule but professionalism and strict adherence to rules and procedures greatly enhance your survival chances.
- “These rules don’t apply to me because I’m a better pilot than those who died.” Incorrect, you are a worse pilot than those who died in many ways. For example, you are letting yourself succumb to a hazardous anti-authority attitude. Those pilots who died before this rule existed were significantly more professional than you are being right now. Put down your pride and be safe.
Anti-authority goes hand-in-hand with invulnerability and is particularly dangerous because it leads to some of the most dangerous activities. Pilots who fly VFR into IMC or break up the plane doing unscheduled aerobatics usually suffer from both of these two delusions.
The rules and safety
Are the rules safe enough? No.
As pilots, we need to have personal minimums that are more restrictive than the rules. This is a personal decision and it will be different for everyone. For example, you only need 1 statute mile of visibility to fly in class G airspace, during the day, under 10,000 feet.
However, sticking to a higher minimum like 3 miles is probably a good idea.
Have you ever heard the phrase “8 hours bottle to throttle”? It means that you need to leave 8 hours time between drinking alcohol and flying. A better personal minimum that many use is “24 hours bottle to throttle”.
Be well aware of this attitude and decide in advance that you will be a professional pilot who follows the rules, even if you disagree with them.
When I was a student pilot I had to fly a night cross-country flight with my instructor. I carefully planned the route and filled out my navlog. We took off in a Cessna 152 and proceeded to the destination, Carol County Airport in Maryland. About halfway through the flight, I was able to see the rotating beacon in the distance and I continued towards it.
I was 100% sure I had found my destination. I descended towards the airport and entered the pattern. As I landed I noticed that the runway number was wrong! This meant that the facility directory must not have been up to date. I taxied off the runway and then my instructor gave me the news. I had landed at York airport, in Pennsylvania. These two airports are 20 miles apart!
If I had not been 100% sure I would still have been evaluating the situation as I flew. That is why I will never tell you that I am more than 99% sure. This is a safeguard to ensure that I keep thinking and taking in new information to find the truth.
A huge 1% difference
My choice to be 100% sure meant that the new information (wrong runway number) was immediately treated as wrong! But if you take the 99% sure attitude, then you will treat new information as the truth and constantly reevaluate what you are seeing. If I had been 99% sure then I would not have put down my map and navlog. Instead, I would have seen rivers and cities and roads all in the wrong place and figured out where I really was.