February was a short month, but a lot has happened. More people have received their COVID-19 shots, but it seems like there is still a long path ahead to get away from this COVID-19 virus. It’ll be good when things can get back to normal again, whatever that new normal will be. Because we can’t have meetings like before, the Zoom type meetings have been good, and efficient, but the personal interaction during a meeting is certainly missed.
Fortunately, the flying weather has been good, and has been especially welcome while I’ve been getting my top overhauled engine “broken in.” Seems like it’s running better than new. The very end of January after I finished writing my report for the February newsletter, we did get some rain and a bit of wind that did do some damage to airplanes at the Glendale Airport. Thankfully, all the other airports in the area escaped the storm unscathed, only to get damp from the rain. Generally, I think we are very fortunate in that we don’t have to contend with the violent weather that some parts of the country have. It’s infrequent that we see damage and have our flying disrupted by inclement weather. Let’s take advantage of this cool weather while we can and go flying.
When we do decide to go flying, care needs to be taken to make certain that we do it safely and are complying with the requirements that are in place for what we are doing, and for the airspace we are flying in. This sounds simple, but if you were to look at the number of pilot deviations that occur in even a relatively short time frame you will realize this isn’t what’s happening. The reality of what really happens is a bit un-nerving.
As an example, from mid-January through the first week in February, there were seventeen pilot deviations recorded by the SDL-FSDO. During this time frame, there were five IFR pilot deviations recorded ranging from not maintaining radio contact with air traffic control (ATC) or not following flight instructions as given. There were four Class-B deviations ranging from entering the Bravo airspace without contacting or getting approval from (ATC) to not following directions given by ATC. There were four deviations reported that occurred in the airport Delta airspace involving both inflight and ground movements. There was one case of an aircraft taxing in the active control area without ever contacting ATC, and there were three cases where the aircraft did not follow inflight instructions issued by ATC, and in one of these cases, even despite giving a correct read back. And there was one case of an airplane entering the Class-C airspace without contacting ATC. Surprisingly, it was a military aircraft.
In conclusion, there were three cases of aircraft failing to hold short of the hold line for a runway. In one case, in spite of a correct read back, the aircraft crossed the hold line and moved onto the active runway with an aircraft on short final. I think that I would suggest that even when you are cleared to take the active runway, always take a look at the approach path to be certain it’s safe to taxi. On a rare occasion, pilots are not the only ones to make a mistake. Strive to always maintain a good situational awareness, because a good awareness could have helped stop some of these pilot deviations. These deviations are not just happening to student pilots, they are also happening to private, commercial rated pilots, and CFIs with students. Be careful and aware of what you are doing, and if someone is near you, please, always fly safe.
It appears that GPS Interference Testing is still with us. In this reporting period we received five last minute Flight Advisory notices of GPS testing that would be occurring that could possibly affect our air navigation while flying in Arizona. Two were for the Southern California Tactical Training Range, two were for the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and one was for the Yuma Proving Grounds. We once again want to remind you that if you encounter a loss of GPS signal lasting more than a couple of minutes to immediately contact ATC and advise them of the outage, providing the time, altitude, and location when the outage was encountered.
In case you haven’t heard, we have a new FAA Federal Air Surgeon, and her name is Dr. Susan Northrup. Dr. Northrup is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, a senior FAA aviation medical examiner, and is board certified in aerospace medicine and occupational medicine. Dr. Northrup grew up in an aviation family and is a private pilot.
Dr. Brett Wyrick, who served as acting federal air surgeon prior to Dr. Northrup’s appointment, will serve as FAA Deputy Federal Air Surgeon. Dr. Wyrick is also a U.S. Air Force veteran, is a senior FAA aviation medical examiner, and is board certified in general surgery and aerospace medicine. Dr. Wyrick is also a private pilot.
Realizing that changes in the FAA system are slow in happening, hopefully this new team will address some of the problems and delays associated with obtaining a medical or special issuance.
With the exception of the current skydiving issue at the Marana airport, the airspace world appears to be continuing to operate smoothly and calmly, and there hasn’t been anything that has come to our attention that would impact your flying activity at the moment. Just fly carefully and be aware of the airspace you are flying in, and aware of its limitations, and don’t commit any pilot deviations.
As a reminder, continue to be on the watch for TFRs. Before each flight, check for TFRs and NOTAMS, and always fly informed.
Winter weather is with us, and there may be times when you may be presented with questionable flying weather conditions, both when planning a flight, or in flight. When you are, whether you are instrument-rated or not, use extra caution. The Inadvertent or unplanned transition from VFR to IMC conditions can be deadly for both IFR and non IFR rated pilots. The recently released results of the Kobe Bryant helicopter accident unfortunately demonstrates that point for us. Let’s not push our luck, and remember, making the flight can’t ever be that important. Please fly safe.
From the FAA Safety team, they believe that many of our general aviation accidents are the result of inadequate Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) skills. To learn more about ADM, and how to apply its principals to your flying, go to the website: http://bit.ly/3cdmiv3 . Also, take a look at the ADM video: http://bit.ly/ADM57Secs .
This month’s safety summary contains nine accidents reported by the FAA and the Aviation Safety Network (ASN). Fortunately, none of them had serious injuries or fatalities, and it’s difficult to understand why we had this sudden dramatic increase in occurrences. For the first part of the year the numbers were down, and I had hoped they would stay down, but they didn’t. In any event, see my February Accident Summary in this newsletter for the details of what we have, and please, let’s try to improve our aeronautical decision making skills and continue to be a bit more cautious in our flight operations and fly safely.
Funding is currently being made available by the FAA, and several airports around the state have construction projects planned or in progress. Unfortunately, we don’t have the latest details of all these projects, so it would be a good idea to check for NOTAMs for your destination airport to see what may be occurring so that when you arrive, you don’t have an unexpected surprise. Always use caution and fly informed.
APA is presently working with a number of airports around the state assisting with the updating of their Airport Master Plans, thus providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process. Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), Grand Canyon Airport (GCN), and H. A, Clark Memorial Field (CMR) in Williams are currently in the Master Plan update process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO FLY FOR BREAKFAST:
Because of the present virus pandemic, some of the airport restaurants may have take-out service available. Call ahead.
The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), is on the first Saturday of the month, and the breakfast season is operating on schedule.
On the second Saturday consider flying down to Ryan Field (RYN) near Tucson for breakfast or lunch at Ritchie’s Restaurant. They are open from 6 am to 2 pm to serve you. They will have a breakfast special for you if you mention you are an APA member.
The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast is still on hold because of the virus pandemic. They are awaiting approval from the City of Mesa to restart. Here’s hoping for an October restart.
Grapevine is open full time, but the third Saturday of each month is a special time for a group camp potluck dinner on Saturday evening. Come and camp for the weekend! The camp host will prepare the main course, and campers, please bring a side dish or dessert to share. Always check for area TFRs because Grapevine, which lies within a National Forest, is heavily used by the Forest Service for fighting wildfires and by the Military for Special Training Operations.
The City of Casa Grande is still planning on refurbishing the food service area in their Airport terminal area formally occupied by the Foxtrot Cafe. They have issued a request for quote for someone to provide food handling services at the airport. Hopefully the Casa Grande Airport will again have a fly in breakfast available soon on the last Saturday of the month.
Check with the APA Getaway Flights program and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.