Symposium in Deer Valley 

GAARMS Report: February 2018  

fred-gibbsFred Gibbs 

(Your guy in Flagstaff)


The seventh annual APA General Aviation Accident Reduction and Mitigation Symposium – GAARMS VII – will be in Deer Valley on Saturday, March 31st, 2018.

The safety program will be held at the AeroGuard Flight Training Center (the old TRANSPAC facility), 530 W Deer Valley Rd, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85027, courtesy of Matt Lindberg, Safety Manager at AeroGuard. The safety program will start at 0900 and finish up by noon. Watch for the FAASAFETY.GOV notice in early March for registration (although not required to attend) and WINGS credit.

In case you missed last month’s issue, 2017 appears to have mirrored 2016, with the total number of fatal accidents (6) staying the same. But unfortunately, the total number of fatalities jumped from 9 in 2016 to 13 in 2017. The GAARMS VII symposium will take an in-depth look at the 6 fatal accidents in an effort to pass on to you what might have happened and how they could possibly have been prevented.

gaarms 2018 2 fatal accident trend analysis

This year we plan to present the GAARMS VII program 4 times: at DVT, TUCSON, YUMA and PRESCOTT. Dates will be announced through the FAASAFETY.GOV notice process for registering. Stay tuned…

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2018 is off to a good start, with NO fatal accidents reported for January – better than last year so far. If you plan to fly up to northern Arizona, be careful, watch the weather, and be sure to check NOTAMs, especially the FICON NOTAMS. FICON NOTAMs??  YUP, Field Condition NOTAMs that address runway and taxiway conditions… Remember black ice? Snow berms? Braking action reports?

And it is cold up here. As I write this article, it is 16 degrees outside!!! If you plan to remain overnight, will your airplane be frosted over by morning? Engine cold as a block of ice? Cold starts are really hard on engines, so are you well versed in cold start procedures? Oh, and by the way, we do not have any heated hangars available to overnight in, but the FBO can pre-heat your engine using their portable heaters to help you get started. And don’t forget to dress warm!

As the instructor at the only flight school here in northern Arizona (north of Prescott, that is), I get to see and fly with a large variety of pilots, from zero hour new students to several thousand hour pilots for BFR’s and IPC’s. I spend time in many different aircraft, from (under-powered) PA-28-140s and an occasional C150, 160hp C172s in the flight school and a lot of C177s, C182s and C210s, plus Bonanzas, Mooneys, a smattering of twins, an occasional taildragger, Cirruses, Cessna TTxs, and of course my Bellanca Super Viking. Variety is certainly the spice of life here!

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The variety and quality of pilot is also very, very interesting. Student pilots come in all varieties, from quick learners to, well, maybe this ain’t for you after all!! I get a lot of calls from out of the area for C172 checkouts from both new private pilots, as well as long time private pilots looking to fly up over the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, I have to tell them that we do not allow our trainers over the Grand Canyon; it is company policy as well as a function of the complexity and sensitivity of the Grand Canyon special airspace. However, there are other things to see up here in northern Arizona. The quality of some of the “out of area” pilots is mind boggling, to say the least. I encounter pilots who do not know how to lean, or use trim, can’t hold altitude within 300 feet for more than a few minutes, are scared of stalls, can’t stay on centerline, don’t know the difference between Vx and Vy, don’t use checklists, have no sense of procedure, and the list goes on… I even had an instrument rated pilot show up needing another IPC, and when we talked about his last IPC, it was totally bogus!!! He admitted the instructor had only required him do one approach, some airway navigation, a DME arc to the one approach and signed him off! Believe me, he could no more fly IFR than the man in the moon!!! Fortunately, he realized that, and that is why he showed up at my front door.

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What is happening to professionalism? Where is pride in performance? Of course not all of us are this way, but it takes effort to remain safe and professional. Good enough is NOT good enough when your life may depend on being the best you can be when called upon! How is your knowledge level? Could you pass the 2 – 2 1/2 hour private pilot oral? Ironically, you only need to pass the FAA written with a 70% passing grade (you can miss up to 18 questions and still pass) but on the oral, students can fail by missing 2 or 3 complex scenario questions. Can you expect a student pilot to be able to solve a comprehensive scenario problem with having NO experience yet?

Oh well, I will just stick with my values until the day I hang it up, because I care enough to send the very best, um…, er…, I mean, I care enough to try to teach a professional way, teaching basic “stick and rudder” skills, the art of map reading, pilotage, using VORs to navigate, knowing and understanding airspace and its requirements, being able to read and understand weather and NOTAMs, having procedures and processes for flying, and always striving for perfection in everything I (and you) do. I teach that none of us are perfect, but that all of us should always strive for perfection – to try to make that perfect landing, to hold the heading and altitude right on, to be able to make the airplane hold a desired airspeed, and to NOT accept “good enough”! Even when everything is going to S*#@*t, with apologies to Bob Hoover, “Never give up flying! Use all of your skills and fly the damn thing all the way to the scene of the crash!” (A controlled crash is much, much better and more survivable than an uncontrolled crash!)



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 particular safety or educational program at your local airport or pilot meeting, like the BasicMed program or our “Winter Wonderland” snow season special, 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 these 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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