GAARMS Report: May 2017 fred-gibbs
Fred Gibbs 

 

HERE WE ARE, 1/3RD OF THE WAY THROUGH 2017 AND OUR SAFETY EFFORTS ARE STILL HOLDING! WE HAVE NOW MADE IT TO MAY WITH NO MORE FATAL ACCIDENTS. LET’S HOPE JANUARY WAS JUST AN ANOMOLY, A “BLIP” IN OUR SAFETY EFFORTS.

If you all make it to the APA Annual meeting at the Scottsdale Airport Best Western on the 13th of May, you will hear a synopsis of the GAARMS 2017 program held back in March at TRANSPAC. Check our webpage for more details. This month’s article will be short. As I mentioned last month, I am very involved in several other business opportunities and on the road a lot this last month, leaving not much time to sit down and write an extensive article.

So, I thought I would talk about personal minimums - are you the “Here, Hold my beer, and watch this!!” type of pilot, or a “Yikes, there is a 5 knot crosswind, so I ain’t gonna push it!” type? Hopefully, you are somewhere in between. Personal minimums should be realistically aligned with your own capabilities and comfort level. And you should stick to them, sort of like “that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!” They should NOT remain steady state, but slowly, carefully expanded as you get smarter, more proficient, and receive more training. You should never stop expanding your horizons. Crosswinds scare you? Go get more training. Short runways scare you? Go get more training! Night flying scare you? Go get more training!

NOTICE THE THEME HERE???

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You can only get better at something by doing it more often, and learning to fly is continual training. Those improvements allow you to expand your personal minimums while remaining within your comfort level. Expanding your comfort level by experiencing different things with your favorite instructor is the best way to do it, not the “Here, Hold my beer, and watch this!!” type of approach, or actually being caught in unexpected weather conditions, like really gusty crosswinds which were not forecasted, and you made a really crappy, scary landing and your wife vowed to never fly with you again!!!

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Sometimes I like to use statistics to drive home a point, like so far this year, 50% of the fatal accidents here in Arizona have been directly related to VFR flight into IMC conditions. WOW! That sounds terrible. But wait - figures lie, and liars figure, or said differently, sometimes we use statistics to drive home a point. YUP, 50% of the accidents so far this year were weather related, BUT WE ONLY HAD 2 ACCIDENTS SO FAR THIS YEAR! So it is all in how the data is presented. How about if I say 67% of the fatalities so far this year are directly related to VFR rated pilots continuing VFR flight into IMC conditions!! What a terrible statistic, so we have to take drastic steps to reduce that number – OMG, now I sound like the FAA or the NTSB. Using statistical information can be misleading, and making things sound significantly different than reality. In reality, of the 2 accidents that occurred so far this year, one was weather related, and all 4 occupants in the (one) aircraft perished. Those 4 were 67% of the total occupants killed in the 2 crashes that occurred this year. So be weary of folks who throw around statistics to prove their points.

I had an interesting conversation with an instrument student (not one of mine) the other day. Seems he failed his instrument checkride. He told me he should have cancelled the ride for that day, due to strong winds aloft, but felt once he scheduled, he had committed to it. (We had a long discussion about “Get-there-itis!) What really got him was when the examiner (How dare he?) turned off the GPS and then asked him to hold at an en-route fix (intersection) just using 2 VORs. WHAT? Fly without the GPS – isn’t that blasphemy??? Where is the magenta line? How can I fly without the magenta line?? How am I supposed to know where I am?? So that situation, plus the strong winds aloft, totally befuddled him – his instructor never taught him how hold at an intersection just using VORs without the GPS for situational awareness. See, us old guys learned how to fly without GPS – Yeah, I am that old! Heck, we even learned how to do ADF holding patterns, and to hold at an en-route fix (intersection) just using one (1) VOR receiver! Don’t get me wrong, GPS is a great tool, but I am a firm believer in learning the pure basics of navigation – the VOR system – and situational awareness without the GPS, as well as using the GPS. Well, he went back to his instructor for more instruction, who, by the way, grew up always having and using GPS, and they learned the process. He passed his checkride the following week. He now understands a little more why I kept stressing that he learn on steam gauges…

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So I pose the following questions to you –

Could you fly this airplane cross country to Oshkosh? Without putting your portable GPS in it?? Or without your iPad loaded with the ForeFlight, WingX or Garmin App?? OMG - Without the MAGENTA line??

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Remember the term “Pilotage” ?? And paper charts? And ground check points?

Sometimes I think the art of flying is being lost. If all you want is transportation to somewhere, an automated airplane is what you want. We can incorporate auto-take-off, we already have autopilots with GPS steering coupled to the autopilot, and we can add auto-land (like the airlines can), and you can just sit there and be flown to your destination – a captive passenger but calling yourself a pilot.

Expand your horizons and flying skills – get involved with the backcountry guys, fly basic airplanes into challenging locations, learn how to handle mountain flying, go find those uncharted Shangri-La’s out in the wilderness, really learn how to FLY, not just drive an airplane. Turn off the GPS and then ask yourself – what do I do now? How do I get back home?? Consider challenging yourself by earning an instrument rating, learning precision flying and thinking, really learn about the best airspace system in the world - AND never settle for “Good Enough” – complacency kills.


SAFETY PROGRAMS:

There are a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months all around the state, so go to WWW.FAASAFETY.GOV and click on seminars and check them out. You might find one that interests you…

Should you desire a safety or educational program at your local airport, simply contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call me at 410-206-3753. The Arizona Pilots Association provides the safety programs at no charge. We can also help you organize a program of your choice, and we can recommend programs that your pilot community might really like. 

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