By Jim Timm
Fall is rapidly approaching and and hopefully cooler flying weather. We are beginning to see an increase in the number of flying events taking place and our winter flying snowbirds should also be returning shortly. Fly safe and I hope to see you at some of the upcoming events.
In reviewing the accident reports over an extended period of time, you would think the accident rate should be going down with all the fantastic new technology many of us now have in our cockpit. Glass cockpit displays, digital auto pilots, GPS navigation, datalink weather and the list goes on. One would tend to think that all this technology would vastly improve safety, but actually, it appears to be having little or no impact at all. There continues to be the problem of pilots loosing control of the airplane, and all too often with fatal results. On take off, on landing and cases of controlled flight into terrain. Is it because of how pilots are being trained or is it because we are becoming so entranced with all this new technology that we are letting our basic stick and rudder flying skills erode away. I have heard comments from the airline community about some airline captains becoming so accustomed to letting the avionics fly the airplane that their hand flying skills are being compromised. Are we in general aviation doing the same thing? Have we maintained, or did we properly learn in the first place, the fundamentals needed to safely hand fly our airplane in all flight regimes. When was it that you went out flying and did some of the basic flight maneuvers to the standards required when you got your private or commercial license. Try it and be honest about how you do. You might want to get an experienced instructor to go flying with you. To learn rudder control, get a tailwheel endorsement when you get your next bi-annual, or sooner. Or better yet, get a glider rating. In flying a glider you really do learn what the rudder and other controls are for. It will also certainly improve your planning, as every landing is a forced landing. You don’t get to go around if it isn’t right. Even if you don’t want to get the rating, give it a try just for the learning experience. It will be worth it. In addition to sharpening your skills in effectively using all the new technology you have at your finger tips, also do what ever you can to sharpen your basic stick and rudder skills. Your life could depend on it.
Last month, just as we hit our publishing deadline, we received a note from Phoenix-Mesa Gate Way Airport (IWA) that there were going to be some severe restrictions on instrument operations at the airport for an extend period of time. Shortly after we had published our news letter, there was a reconsideration and the severe instrument operations restrictions were rescinded. However, please be aware, that during the lengthy construction period there may be occasional restrictions for both VFR and IFR operations at the airport. It would be wise to check NOTAMS before flying into IWA for the next several months.
A big kick off for our flying season will be the Copperstate Fly In later this month on the 24, 25 & 26th of October, and it will again be at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). Because of the government sequestration, the FAA will not be providing air traffic control for the event and the airport will operate as an uncontrolled airport as it normally does. While COPPERSTATE’s usual NOTAM will disappear along with the tower, much of the Fly-In information previously provided by the NOTAM can now be found in a Notice To Pilots, published on the COPPERSTATE website (www.copperstate.org). This information is provided as a courtesy to pilots, who are reminded that all operations during the event are at the pilot’s own risk and discretion.
Be sure to continue checking for NOTAMS before departing on a cross country flight. A significant number of airports around the state are still planning runway repair/upgrade projects. You don’t want to have a surprise when you arrive at your destination and discover the runway is closed for resurfacing or repair. We will try to advise you when we receive specific notices of projects being started.
Again, Luke Air Force Base has advised us that the Luke Aux. 1 ILS has been under utilized by general aviation. We need to get out there and use it. Do use caution and be aware, it may be shut down from time to time because of a continuing problem of vandalism and theft of the equipment.
Unarmed repair teams have also been reluctant to enter the area on occasion because of what appeared to be drug dealing activity. Because of the remote location of the equipment, Luke and the sheriff's departments do not have the manpower necessary to prevent the theft and vandalism. Perhaps the best and only thing we can do to help, is to immediately report to the Luke RAPCON any suspicious activity that we may observe in the area. We need to do what we can to help preserve this asset.
Aviation safety has to be a concern for all of us. From the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) records, there were seven accidents reported in the last reporting period. Of the reported accidents, one resulted in a serious injury. None of the other accidents reported resulted in injuries. We need to take a careful look at what has happened in these accidents, take note, and do what we can to prevent something similar from happening to one of us. See my October Aviation Accident Report for the details of these accidents.
We are continuing to work with airports around the state providing a general aviation user perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. We are presently working on the up dating of the Bagdad Airport, the Gila Bend Municipal Airport and the Nogales International Airport Master plans and an update of the Phoenix Sky Harbor FAA Part 150 Noise Study.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
The first Saturday of the month fly in breakfast at Coolidge Airport (P08) has been halted until this fall.
The last Saturday of the month there is still a Fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Airport (CGZ)
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 am. The Casa Grande breakfast will continue through the summer as it is held in the air conditioned airport terminal.
(Both of these fly in breakfasts are put on by a service group in their respective communities to raise funds for community service projects.)
The third Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) @ Southwest Aviation
(Rumor has it that there may be special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)