March came and went pretty fast, and it seemed like I was on a treadmill in trying to get things done. We did have a little unsettling weather on a weekend or two to add to the flying challenges, but all seemed to work out ok. I have become aware that the days are getting longer and I have to get up earlier to take advantage of the smoother cool morning air. It won’t be long, and the rough summer flying will be on us. So, let’s go flying now to take advantage of what we have, but fly safe.
When you go flying the next time, please exercise a bit more caution, comply with the regulations applicable for the airspace you are flying in, and accurately read back and comply with the ATC instructions received. All this may sound rudimentary, but in reality, this is not what is happening all the time based on the pilot deviations that are reported to the SDL-FSDO. In the time frame from February 11 to March 11 there were twelve pilot deviations recorded. These deviations were made by student pilots, private pilots, CFIs with students, commercial pilots, and military pilots. No one class of pilot was exempt from committing a deviation.
There were three IFR altitude deviations with two of them being military pilot deviations. There were cases of pilots entering the runway or crossing a runway without permission. In one case the pilot correctly read back the hold short instruction, but subsequently taxied onto the runway in front of an aircraft on short final. There were some Class Bravo and Class Delta airspace intrusions without getting permission or contracting ATC first. There were also cases of pilots flying in controlled airspace without radio contact, not following specific flight instructions in the airport traffic pattern, and to taxiing in a controlled area without contacting ground control. It’s a given, we live and fly in a very complex and busy airspace. So be careful, be aware of what you are doing, maintain a good situational awareness, and please, always fly safe. Don’t commit a pilot deviation.
Because of the COVID-19 virus, much of the aviation information has been a bit difficult to gather. While some meetings are continuing online, some that were a good source of information have been discontinued for the duration, and hopefully that situation will be corrected in the near future.
The GPS Interference Testing is still with us. In this reporting period we have again received several last minute Flight Advisory notices of GPS testing that would be occurring that could possibly affect our GPS use while flying in Arizona. The AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) are making efforts to have the military minimize the effects of its GPS jamming testing on general aviation, pointing out civil aviation’s growing dependance on reliable GPS, and its impact on flight safety. If you encounter a loss of GPS signal lasting more than a couple of minutes, immediately contact ATC, and advise them of the outage, providing the time, altitude, and location when the outage was encountered.
The Mobile airport located in Rainbow Valley on the west side of the Sierra Estrella mountains has been sold to Dillon Air and their plan is to use it for contract parachute operations. The ILS equipment is inoperative and is in the process of being removed. It is advised that the site be given a four- or five-mile radius of clearance to avoid a conflict with drop operations. No date was given for start of operations. The area north of the airport is intensively used by ATCA Flight School at Goodyear Airport (GYR) for German Air Force formation training. There is also an aerobatic box located in the area that is being regularly used. It would be advisable to use considerable caution when flying through the area.
Presently, the rest of 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, so before flight, check for TFRs, and NOTAMS, and always fly informed.
FAA Safety Team Notice NOTC1747
When to activate the ELT after the engine goes silent.
All pilots should be thoroughly familiar with the operation of their aircraft’s ELT, whether it’s the analog 121.5 and 243 MHz model, or the newer 406 MHz digital ELT. This familiarization should include knowing how and when to manually activate the ELT during an inflight emergency. We asked Larry Bothe, Master & Gold Seal FAA Certified Flight Instructor, and seminar presenter at EAA’s Air Venture, to share some insight on this important subject:
I think of early ELT activation the same way I think of (and teach) the early declaration of an emergency. If the engine quits, or some other emergency occurs requiring an immediate off-field landing, declare an emergency, and activate your ELT right away. As soon as the immediate flying tasks (pitch for best glide, set the trim, pick a place to land, and turn the airplane to go there) are done, you need to squawk 7700, declare an emergency, and activate your ELT. Don't wait until you have gone through your other checklist items, and then call at the end. By that time, you may well be too low to call (line-of-sight), and down in the ground clutter, out of sight of radar. The idea is, that since in reality you probably won't make a perfect textbook emergency landing, you need to get help on the way to take you to the hospital and tend to your injuries. If you don't summon help while you can, you may survive the crash, only to die of exposure in the wreckage because nobody knows you are there.
That’s why I recommend manually activating an ELT while still in flight. If you rely on the crash to set it off, and you are injured, how will you know if it activated or not? You want to be found, RIGHT AWAY! If you have remote activation capability, turn the darn thing on when you are squawking 7700 and declaring the emergency. Let people know you are in trouble. Make yourself easy to find, and be rescued, for sure. All the modern 406 ELTs have panel mounted remote switches. Just push the button.
What if you manage to "fix" the emergency (belatedly figured out that the fuel selector was in the wrong position, and the engine really will run), or end up landing without damage or injury? You have already summoned all these people via radio and ELT. Simple. If still in the air, use that same radio you used to declare the emergency to call it off. I did that once with Memphis Center, and they were happy it worked out OK. I didn't hear a word from the FAA later. If you are on the ground, cancel the false alert by calling the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at 1-800-851-3051.
The whole idea here is to get help coming so you and your passengers can be rescued, really fast. One of the ways to do that is to manually activate your ELT early. It's also important to register your 406 MHz ELT with NOAA so they know who the device belongs to and who to call if it’s activated. Here is the website for more information and to register: https://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/beacon.html
For more information on ELTs see:
The Airman’s Information Manual (AIM) https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim_html/chap6_section_2.html
Aviation safety in this past reporting period has been rather good based on what happened last month. Even the accidents that happened this month, they really didn’t need to have happened. As a pilot, take a careful look at these accidents and make sure you don’t commit the same type of errors.
The NTSB finally launched their new accident reporting website, and unfortunately, it’s not very useful in providing helpful information in the preparation of a safety summary. What it does is advise that an accident has occurred that involved structural damage to an airplane, the date of occurrence, the airplane type, if a Preliminary Report is in process and the extent of injuries incurred, if any. If a Preliminary Report is in process, it is inaccessible for accident details. NTSB forms are sometimes available with Aircraft/Operator Information, Meteorological Information and Flight Plan, and Wreckage and Impact Information with only single word responses to the form items. Unfortunately, the accident list for each month does not seem to be sortable, to list only accidents occurring in Arizona, not the entire U.S. Until something else happens, we’ll continue with the limited information reports from the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), the SDL-FSDO, and APA Members. For details of accidents that have occurred this past reporting period see the March Accident Summary in the newsletter.
Funding is currently being made available by the FAA, and 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 at your destination airport to see what is happening, so that when you arrive, you won’t have an unexpected surprise. Use caution, and always 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 the Willams, H. A. Clark Memorial Field (CMR) 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 will re-start awaiting approval from the City of Mesa. 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 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 TFRs because Grapevine, which lies within a National Forest, is heavily used by the Forest Service for fighting wildfires, or the Military for Special Training.
The City of Casa Grande has refurbished the food service area in their Airport terminal area formally occupied by the Foxtrot Cafe. They are in the process of getting the myriad of paperwork signed off and they have several possible food service providers in line for consideration. Hopefully they may be able to reopen sometime this summer.
Check with the APA Getaway Flights program and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.