2021 TO DATE:

As a group, we Arizona pilots are doing a great job of flying safe.  As of the last week of March as I write this, I remain pleased to report that there have been NO fatal accidents across the state of Arizona thus far into 2021.  Yes, we still have had our share of fender-benders, but nothing really serious.  All I can say is keep up the good flying, but keep down the accident/incident rate!

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While total flying hours are still down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, here in Flagstaff it looks almost like business as usual.  Our ramp is full of high-end jet traffic, the Army helicopter traffic is almost normal, and just the other day our ramp space was loaded with two C130 Hercules from the Little Rock, Arkansas Air National Guard passing through on training missions. And, oh yeah, about mid-March we had three – yup, count ‘em, three, F-35’s out of Luke make very low approaches to the airport.  I must say, they did make a lot of noise when they shoved the throttles up and went around at only 50 feet!!!

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March is upon us right now, and with it came our notorious March winds. Unfortunately, we expect them to continue on through April, so if you are planning on coming up to Flag in the near future, please brush up on strong wind and cross wind landings. And always remember, whatever the weather in Phoenix, it is very possibly NOT what the weather here in Flag is. April still brings days of snow flurries, IMC conditions and snow on the ground as well as the winds, with rough rides, moderate turbulence and Low Level Wind Shear (LLWS) alerts, so always check weather closely before launching for the north country.

And as a reminder – again – when you get your Coronavirus vaccine shot, the FAA says to cool your jets for 48 hours to ensure no side effects.  Fortunately, after both shots I had none; but I know several folks who did, and they reported it was not fun for a day or two…




Fred’s Perspective

Flight Instruction – To some of us, it is a profession, to others it is a hobby and to some others, it is just a rite of passage to endure until they get enough hours to move up into the airlines. All are understandable, and each has its place. I, myself, figure I fall within the first two categories.  I am a professional flight Instructor, but I fly as a hobby because I do not need to make my living flying.  I live to fly, not fly to live. I work hard to be a professional, and to instill professionalism in my students, because I take great pride in being a professional.  I guess that’s what 30 years of professional air traffic control background does to, and, for you.  I try to live up to the motto “Be all you can be” and try to instill that into all my students.  I do not like mediocrity: I know trying to be perfect can be debilitating. Heck, even I am not perfect, because I know that is an almost impossible task.  Just ask my wife – I am still a work in progress even after being married 23 years! But I do believe constantly striving for it is the goal of a successful life and career. Flight instruction is a constant pushing of the student to get a little bit better every time you fly.  Keep repeating the maneuver until it becomes almost natural, until you can fly it subconsciously. It is like being a musician/singer – if you have to think about the chords and the words, the song becomes really hard to do, but the muscle memory for the chords and the deeply embedded words in your memory just come out easily, and the song – the maneuver – just flows. That’s when you know you got it!  I still remember the words to multiple songs from the 60’s – and please, no smart remarks about my age – as well as the checklists for landing my airplane, and I can recite them driving my Vette down I-17 while listening to 60’s on 6 Sirius radio!

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On an entirely different subject, I am having a hard time understanding why some examiners are so focused on how to determine, or should I say, calculate, density altitude. We deal with density altitude almost every day here in Flagstaff, as do my students. It is a way of life. A standard day here in Flagstaff is 34 degrees Fahrenheit/1 degree Centigrade with an altimeter setting of 22.92 inches of mercury. Pressure altitude is readily available from our transponders as well as by dialing in 29.92 on our altimeters. We simply multiply the difference in current temperature from the standard temperature by 120 to get a number, i.e., 20 degree difference times 120 equals 2400 which we add to the pressure altitude for our guesstimate of density altitude, then call Ground for an actual readout from the ASOS to see how close we got.  This instills that density altitude awareness in the student. And, lo and behold, density altitude is but a radio call away to Ground control, who can give us the density altitude directly from the AWOS without having to calculate it! Unfortunately, our two density altitude signs, one at each end of the runways, are inoperative due to parts unavailability, so we always recommend that transients ask ground control for a density altitude readout.  I believe that being aware of density altitude and its effects on the performance of the aircraft is much more important that coming up with a number that may mean nothing to a student. Said a different way, I believe it is critical for the student’s to know and understand what density altitude does to the performance of the aircraft.  This includes  how a higher than sea level airport is affected by temperature, how a higher than standard temperature affects performance, how to determine the standard temperature for any airport elevation, and an awareness that a higher than standard temperature exists creating a density altitude condition rather than just knowing how to determine the actual density altitude. Is there really any significance between an estimated density altitude of 9200 feet versus an ASOS readout of 9400 feet???  Or is the awareness and understanding of the impact of density altitude the ultimate end?


Fred’s pop Quiz…


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  1. During a spin to the left, which wing(s) is/are stalled?
      1. Both wings are stalled
      2. Neither wing is stalled
      3. Only the left wing is stalled.
  2. What must a pilot be aware of as a result of ground effect?
      1. Wingtip vortices increase creating wake turbulence problems for arriving and/or departing aircraft.
      2. Induced drag decreases: therefore any excess speed at the point of flare may cause considerable floating.
      3. A full stall landing will require less up elevator deflection than would a full stall when done free of ground effect.
  3. What causes an airplane (except for a T-tail) to pitch nose down when power is reduced and controls are not adjusted?
      1. The CG shifts forward when thrust and drag are reduced.
      2. The downwash on the elevators from the propeller slipstream is reduced and elevator effectiveness is reduced.
      3. When thrust is reduced to less than weight, lift is also reduced and the wings can no longer support the weight.
  4. When does P-factor cause the airplane to yaw to the left?
      1. When at low angles of attack.
      2. When at high angles of attack.
      3. When at high airspeeds.
  5. The amount of excess load that can be imposed upon the wing of an aircraft depends on the
    1. Position of the Center of Gravity
    2. Speed of the airplane.
    3. Abruptness at which the load is applied.

See bottom of article for the correct answers.


Safety Programs

There are NOT 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 , click on “Seminars” and check them out for any Webinars you might be interested in.  You might find one that really is right up your alley!!  Should you desire a particular safety or educational program at your local airport or pilot meeting in the future (post COVID-19), 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 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.

Quiz answers:  1.a  2.b  3.b  4.b  5.b



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