The Big Lie


I came across an interesting article this morning entitled- The Sky Kings: After We Had Our Accident, that most interestingly talks about the “big lie”.

We’ve heard it, often enough. In fact, I have said this often enough when friends and family queried about how safe it was to fly: “There are more car accidents every second than there are airplane accidents!” Or as the King’s say:” The most dangerous part of the trip is the drive to an airport”

To paraphrase the King’s, “While this is true, if you are flying airlines, it is not even close for GA aircraft. You are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatality in a GA aircraft than a car.”

snf20Fortunately, the article also tries to address the lapses as well as provide options to address these lapses:

PAVE: Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures: the tool available to pilots to determine how safe the planned flight is going to be. The idea being, you identify the risks of the flight before they happen.

CARE: Consequences, Alternative, Reality and External Pressures. This recognizes that the moment you are airborne, all the risk factors can change.

And they leave us finally with another acronym- CHORRD: Conditions, Hazards, Operational changes, Runway required and available, Return procedure, and our Departure routes and altitudes. It is a great situational tool that helps you plan and execute your flight.

While my negative experiences are fairly limited (Thank Goodness!), I do follow a common logic, each time I fly:

  • I rarely fly, anymore, when I think I am not capable of safely flying either as the Pilot in Command, Safety Pilot or Passenger.
  • As I indicated in my previous post, I often fly with my flying buddy, when possible. This is terrific. Since I know my co-pilot’s strengths and weakness’ as she/he knows mine. Based on the applicable circumstances, this prepares me (or her/him)  to decide if it is safe to fly or not!
  • I/We constantly communicate with each other to determine if I/he/she feels comfortable flying the particular scenario such as in clouds/night/congested situation
  • When it comes to flying, or driving or life in general 🙂 Safety always comes first!

And it is okay to take calculated risks!

It is a great saying, and it is true for flying on the airlines. But sadly, it isn’t even close to being true for general aviation. You are seven times more likely per mile to be involved in a fatality in a GA airplane than you are in a car. To get that figure, compare the fatal accident rate per mile for cars from the National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration to the fatal accident rate per hour for airplanes from the National Transportation Safety Board and assume an average speed of 150 miles per hour for airplanes.

Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/technique/proficiency/sky-kings-after-we-had-our-accident#WxXweToC66wqHOfX.99

It is a great saying, and it is true for flying on the airlines. But sadly, it isn’t even close to being true for general aviation. You are seven times more likely per mile to be involved in a fatality in a GA airplane than you are in a car. To get that figure, compare the fatal accident rate per mile for cars from the National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration to the fatal accident rate per hour for airplanes from the National Transportation Safety Board and assume an average speed of 150 miles per hour for airplanes.

Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/technique/proficiency/sky-kings-after-we-had-our-accident#WxXweToC66wqHOfX.99

It is a great saying, and it is true for flying on the airlines. But sadly, it isn’t even close to being true for general aviation. You are seven times more likely per mile to be involved in a fatality in a GA airplane than you are in a car. To get that figure, compare the fatal accident rate per mile for cars from the National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration to the fatal accident rate per hour for airplanes from the National Transportation Safety Board and assume an average speed of 150 miles per hour for airplanes.

Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/technique/proficiency/sky-kings-after-we-had-our-accident#WxXweToC66wqHOfX.99

It is a great saying, and it is true for flying on the airlines. But sadly, it isn’t even close to being true for general aviation. You are seven times more likely per mile to be involved in a fatality in a GA airplane than you are in a car. To get that figure, compare the fatal accident rate per mile for cars from the National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration to the fatal accident rate per hour for airplanes from the National Transportation Safety Board and assume an average speed of 150 miles per hour for airplanes.

Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/technique/proficiency/sky-kings-after-we-had-our-accident#WxXweToC66wqHOfX.99

Flying Buddy


Do you have a flying buddy?

Once I got my private pilot license, I initially did a lot of solo flying. It’s fun. But is also quite expensive: if you rent.

rainbow3Eventually you start to think about getting your instrument rating. And I did, after a few months. This meant I flew with a lot of different pilots to complete the necessary cross country time as well as simulated time, using the hood, to enable my safety pilot to record time. And then you realize, you only pay half 🙂

Once you get your instrument rating, it is all about maintaining your instrument currency. With the requirement to have 6 approaches every 6 months, tracking radials, flying holds and other precision flying, you constantly need to have a second pilot on board for a lot of the flying you do.

Believe it or not, it all works out in your favor. Once I started my instrument training and constantly flew with other pilots, my confidence level increased in leaps and bounds.

Out in California, where people fly a lot and the 99s and other pilot groups are extremely active, I had no lacking of flying buddies either within the local 99s chapter, or my flying club. Once I moved east, finding such a support group or a flying buddy was limited.

My flight school did offer ample opportunities for, not only flying to new destinations, but also connecting with other pilots interested in group flyouts. I’ve had my share of flying with brand new pilots and veteran instructor pilots.

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Fortunately, fellow 99er and flight school member Linda, is often on the lookout for flying opportunities, and interested in flying, so very often, I don’t need to look further. Unless our schedules don’t match.

Do you have a flying buddy?

 

IFR & Night Current… Hurrah!


So…. I flew last weekend..

Believe it or not, after switching not once, but twice…

It seems my flight school doesn’t believe that I am capable of flying a C172 M, even though I have the most hours in C172, got checked out, not just in C172G1000 , but also the C172 M in the past, just, did not submit a form for that aircraft type, since they didn’t ask?

Which by the way, they let me fly that day… Considering that more than half my total flight time is in C172, and that is the only aircraft I am checked out in and fly quite frequently, at my current flight school, how crazy is that? Maybe one day in the future people will get past this foolishness, and ridiculous checkouts?

But, fortunately, a C172S was available and they did not have a problem to let me fly that!

So we set off in relatively calm weather, but on a busy Sunday afternoon, for some practice approaches. I had tentatively thought I might have to do some simulated approaches before the upcoming big Bahamas trip, but as luck would have it, the relatively mild weather meant, I could do some practice approaches with a safety pilot. That with the night time I snagged last month means I am now officially both night and IFR current!

Too bad….I had planned to shoot some practice LPV approaches which the C172M was capable off… But had to resort to the typical GPS, ILS and VOR type approaches possible by the typical GPS equipped C172S I got to fly.

Maybe I should be happy I got to fly at all..

Either way, happy that I am well equipped for my upcoming Bahamas Bash!

2013: Year in Review


As I kicked-off 2013, I promised myself to take my flying to the next level. 2013, has been an incredible year for flying.

After some training flights, getting IFR current and comfortable flying with iPad and Sratus (See iPad + ForeFlight + Stratus = Awesome), we headed off to the Bahamas for some exotic times in the Tropics at the peak of winter.

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Flying to the Bahamas in a C172 was an incredible journey. Not only was it my first longest cross-country ever, but the lessons learned were unbelievable. Once my feet were firmly back on the ground and no longer floating on clouds, I had a challenging experience of flying through ice/snow in C172. But all ended well.

Nothing could match Bahamas Flying. This was the year, I wanted to fly as much as I could. For the March flyout we planned a flyout to Blacksburg, VA.  Flying to Blacksburg brought back fond memories of fun times, old friends and even ones no longer among us.

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April was all about flying to Connellesville, PA to see Falling Water. While third year in a row, I couldn’t pull off this flyout, three of us pilots, decided to drive over instead and had a marvelous time!

IMG_3820Every two years, May means Bi-annual. Each of my flight reviews have been with a different instructor. They are always fun and most times, I come away learning something new.

After my original experience with gliding, I never really got back in a glider. This past summer, I took a fun ride in the Stemme S2 at the second highest airport in the country, Telluride, CO. I could absolutely try gliding again!

telluride1July-August is usually about Oshkosh and Airventure. While I have made it to Airventure 8-9 times, this year’s experience was unbelievable since I flew in to Oshkosh!

bitsandpiecesOctober it seems, is a bad month to plan for Niagara Falls. While we did not end up driving there, although I have done this a few times, maybe next year I will plan a different month.

Niagara2November flyout was to Hampton Roads: fun and enjoyable. Meanwhile I learned to quilt….

photo(32)December is a time to spend with friends and family. To wind down, rejoice, reflect and plan exciting new adventures next year. Bahamas is again in the horizon… How can I get to Oshkosh again any other way, than fly myself? Niagara, fall in the Northeast, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and so much  more! I did not quite finish my commercial as I hoped, but no rush for it.

I also attended several safety seminars and online webinars hosted by my flight school,  AOPA, EAA, Sporty’s etc.

Rusty Pilot Seminar
Rusty Pilot IFR Seminar
Night Flying Seminar

2014 is a whole new year with innumerable possibilities.

Have a safe and happy holiday season. And see you back here next year!

More on Safety Pilot Flying


Upon reflection, it felt like I had combined two different scenarios and presented them as one in my previous post on safety pilot flying.

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The first scenario is cross country flying. First off you don’t need a safety pilot to fly cross country. A lot of pilots might choose to fly with another pilot after obtaining their private pilot license as a means to cut costs, to gain confidence in flying and also to quickly attain the minimum required cross country flight time to qualify for the next higher rating.  To enable the second pilot to log pilot in command (PIC) time, it is necessary for the pilot in the left seat to wear a view limiting device.

To obtain an IFR rating in an aircraft, FAR part 61 requires (among others):

  1.  50 hrs of cross country flight time as PIC of which 10  must be in an aircraft
  2. 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time of which 15 must be with an an authorized instructor (CFII)

 The hours accumulated on cross country flights wearing a view limiting device can be used for 2. above. It is not only economical while getting your instrument rating to share costs with another pilot but also a fast way to accumulate the necessary cross country and simulated hours. Flight time with view limiting device need not only be during cross country flights but can also be to practice approaches with a safety pilot while under going IFR training. While both pilots can log PIC time, there is some confusion on logging cross country time. In order to understand how time can be logged  when flying as a safety pilot or with a safety pilot see here.

The second scenario is after obtaining the IFR rating. In order to maintain IFR currency a pilot must in the last 6 months, performed and logged, under actual or simulated in an aircraft or flight simulator or flight training device in the aircraft category:

  1. At least six instrument approaches;
  2. Holding procedures; and
  3. Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation systems.

To maintain this currency it is fairly common for a pilot to fly with another safety pilot, or an instructor. It is also possible to accomplish all this in a flight simulator. If you fly frequently, and fly in actual IMC, then this can also be accomplished without a safety pilot. If more than a year has lapsed, then an Instrument Proficiency Check with a CFII is needed.

For scenario 1 the general expectation is that both pilots are flying for mutual benefit and hence must share the costs as agreed upon. For scenario 2 the pilot executing the approaches to maintain currency has to incur the full cost of the flight. The safety pilot is already contributing his/her time and aiding in the effort.

In terms of sharing costs, it varies from one individual to another.  Some pilots prefer to split the cost in half, some prefer to split based on flight time that was flown by the pilot (during cross country flights). It is always best to lay down some ground rules on expectations in the cockpit and  how costs will be shared before any flight with a safety pilot.

What type of Safety Pilot are you?


At some point, every pilot needs a safety pilot. That is, if he or she is an instrument rated pilot. It is possible to complete the approaches and instrument procedures necessary to maintain currency of the instrument rating in a flight simulator. Although it is pragmatic to achieve this with a safety pilot in the right seat.

chs

It is fairly common for pilots seeking an instrument rating to fly with another pilot. To cut costs and achieve the 50 hours of cross country flight time required to apply for an instrument rating.  In order for the co-pilot to log pilot in command time (PIC), it is necessary for the pilot flying to wear a hood and fly solely by the aid of instruments.  FAR Part 61.65 clearly outlines the minimum requirements to obtain an instrument pilot rating and to maintain currency of that rating. After obtaining an instrument pilot rating, it is imperative that a pilot maintain currency every six months, in order to legally fly under instrument flight rules.

So at some point in time most pilots fly with a safety pilot. Since I obtained my private pilot license, I have had the opportunity to fly with another pilot in the right seat many times. Initially to gain confidence, save money and achieve the required 50 hrs cross  country flight time to obtain the instrument rating. And later, in order to maintain the currency requirements for the instrument rating. And later, to obtain the cross county flight time necessary for obtaining a commercial rating.

The experiences as a private pilot on a budget are different from a pilot attempting to maintain currency of an instrument rating. I had the distinct pleasure of flying with:

  • pilots like me who wanted to gain more confidence in cross country flying and less constrained with the cost of flying
  • to pilots on a budget whose goal was to achieve the maximum flight time at minimum cost, so they can move ahead towards their chosen goal of commercial flying for airlines;
  • to frugal pilots whose only goal was getting more flight time with low cost to themselves and
  • others whose only intent is to fly with no cost to themselves. 

In the air:

  • there are some, that relax, monitor and be exactly that: a safety pilot. Remind you of things you might be forgetting, check traffic and let you do your job
  • there are some that can’t sit still, fiddle with the knobs on their end, changing radios, GPS, nav radio, too swiftly to make sense or throw you off your course
  • there are some that are too aggressive, and want to start flying from the right seat leading to constant battling of who’s flying the aircraft
  • there are still other that all of sudden want to instruct you on how to fly, what not to do and what to do

In order to pick a safety pilot, you need to know the type of pilot you are:

  • If you are a pilot who loves to fly recreationally and improving your skills as a pilot are important to you for safety,  irrespective of the cost involved, it is best to fly with a certified flight instructor (CFI) or similar interest pilots.
  • If efficiency, time and cost are essential, since you are a pilot on a budget, interested in a career in airlines, then it is best to fly with like minded pilots.

When flying as a safety pilot, it is essential to know when to offer assistance and when to sit back and monitor traffic. If you have less faith in the ability of the pilot to fly, I say, don’t offer to fly safety pilot.

I have flown with some of the best and worst safety pilots. Being a recreational, instrument rated pilot enthusiastic,  passionate and ardent about flying, believe me, when I say that I don’t want my safety pilot taking control of my aircraft or flying from the right seat. Safety is an inherent goal to my flying adventures. I love to fly and most importantly I love to fly safely. So yeah if you are flying safety pilot to me, hands off!  I will ask you if I need help. And likewise to you, when I am flying right seat for you!

What type of safety pilot are you? Drop me a line and tell me about your experiences.

iPad+Foreflight+Stratus=Awesome!


Okay I agree I am way behind on the bandwagon… But I have not been flying as often as I would like to, the last year or two.

After my visit to California last time (see Hanger Walk Anyone?), I came away excited and enthusiastic to invest in a new iPad and ForeFlight for iPad. But the iPad I had was wifi only and so all I used it for was pre-flight planning for almost a year.

I saw Stratus in action a few months ago on a $500 hamburger run with fellow 99s and friends Pat and Linda. We dodged clouds and traversed the VFR corridor through the DC SFRA. Wow! I thought, I need to get me one of those!

But like I said, my meager flying these days did not justify another almost $1000 investment. My handheld GPS, handheld radio, intercom, etc all expensive, all useful and essential backup avionics in an emergency lie unused and rarely touched these days. Gone where the days I flew older aircraft with minimal avionics on board that necessitated carrying backup avionics for safety. Granted even in the newer aircraft carrying backup is prudent, but I seem to rarely do so.

Last October as we planned our fall flyout to Niagara Falls to check some fall foliage and the falls, I knew it was time to invest in Stratus and so I did. The flight got scrubbed (see Tangier Again) and the Stratus lay tucked away for the last three months.

It was bright and sunny, as Linda and I departed on our short cross country. It was perfect weather to familiarize ourselves with the new gadgets we had: my iPad + Foreflight + Stratus and Linda’s iPad with 3G. We had double backup as we plugged in our flight plan into the on board GPS and our two iPads and turned on our devices to see the little blinking aircraft make it’s way along our route of flight.

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The only difference I noticed between my iPad and Linda’s iPad with 3G was when I opened the approach plate to fly the RNAV GPS approach into CGE. Mine no longer showed the aircraft overlayed on the chart, while Linda’s continued to track even on the approach plate. And a major difference also lay in the ability to use the iPad with 3G  anywhere one wanted to whereas with the wifi I was limited to using it where ever free wifi was available. On the ground, Linda opened her iPad while we had our $500 ham (veg) burger at Kay’s at the airport and quickly and easily filed the return flight plan.

The double back up proved very useful  on the return trip as we erroneously entered the flight plan wrongly into the built in GPS and drifted way off course. Flying that close to the prohibited area surrounding the DC area, we were glad to catch it in the iPad a lot sooner and fix it. Truth be told we were drifting away from the prohibited area rather than towards it, either way it was doubly satisfying to use all the tools we had at our fingertips and fix it.

Too bad there was not a cloud in sight. Maybe next time. Stay tuned for more adventures in the future. Am happy to be off to a flying start in 2013 and hope to do a lot more flying this year!