2021 TO DATE:

With only a week to go to a fatal accident-free 4 months, I went to Santa Fe with the Mooney Aircraft and Pilots Association Safety Foundation to do a weekend safety clinic for a group of Mooney owners. After 2 days of stressing safety issues, a day of classroom and a day of flight instructing, I came home to 2 fatal accident reports! The first fatal accident occurred out by Williams (KCMR), with 2 fatalities. It was found after a search for an overdue aircraft on a flight from Sedona up to the Grand Canyon airport. The 2 fatalities were both from California, not from our Arizona-based pilot community. The second fatal accident occurred out by Holbrook. As I write this, very little is known about the cause of the crash or if the 2 occupants were Arizona-based folks.

So, here we are now 4 months into 2021 with two fatal accidents. That is not the plan or results we are looking for. All I can say is please keep striving to be the safest pilot you can be. YES, we still have our share of fender-benders, but kudos go out to several pilots for making very successful off-airport emergency landings.

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Our safety record, APA and state-wide, is quite outstanding when talking percentage-wise, currently running at 100% perfect or, stated a different way: 0% fatal accidents. There are about 26,000 pilots in the state, and should we have one fatal accident with one fatality, our safety “rating” would drop to 99.9996 percent. Or, heaven forbid, if we should end the year with 5 fatalities, our safety “rating” would drop to 99.9807%. Per the statistics from the AOPA, the Nall Report and the FAA, as of the end of 2019, there were an estimated 664,565 active certificated pilots in the US. This number has been declining gradually over the past several decades, down from a high of over 827,000 pilots in 1980. Data shows that 381 people (or 97 percent of all fatalities) were killed in general aviation operations in 2018, compared with 331 people in 2017. The NTSB calculated the fatal accident rate in general aviation as 1.029 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, compared with a rate of 0.935 in 2017. Doing quick math on the number of fatalities per pilot population, as I did above for Arizona, the national average is 99.9426, a lot worse than our state-wide average. The bottom line from all of this is the fact that we, the pilot population here in Arizona, have a record much safer than the national average!




Flight Instruction –

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I just returned from a weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico – NO, not a vacation, but a 2 ½ day Mooney Aircraft and Pilots Association (MAPA) Safety Foundation safety program for 28 Mooney pilots. Now I know most of you know I fly a Bellanca Super Viking – aka “The Speed Monster,” and I get great enjoyment parking my classic wood and fabric airplane amongst all those Mooneys. So why would a Bellanca driver be teaching at a Mooney program?

Well, I have been instructing for MAPA for almost 25 years now, and I’m quite proficient in almost all models of Mooneys, with all kinds of equipment and all levels of experience. The pilots who attend range from the retired 25,000-hr airline pilot with his/her really well-equipped high-end Mooney, to the rookie Mooney owner who just bought one and wants to get the right kind of training that the safety foundation offers. The course has 8 hours of classroom instruction on Friday on specific Mooney issues and operations, rules and regulations, and includes an inspection of all the aircraft looking for very specific items and problem areas identified by the factory from 40 years of experience. Once satisfied that the aircraft are A-OK, each pilot gets at least 4 hours of instruction on Saturday and Sunday morning, ranging from basic flying skills to landing techniques, including crosswind practice and engine-out emergency procedures. Interestingly, every pilot in attendance was instrument rated, ranging from not so good to really good! BFR’s and IPC’s were part of the training. I flew with a retired airline captain with 20,000 plus hours in all kinds of big iron in his very nice, well-equipped M20J and an architect with about 3,500 hours in his turbo’d M20K. He was a very interesting guy to be around – a Vietnam helicopter pilot who had been shot down three times and never flew a helicopter after leaving the Army, but who bought a Mooney, got his fixed wing ratings, and travels the eastern half of the country. We reminisced about all the same airports we both flew out of in the old days!! Good old Santa Fe tower did a great job of keeping us all separated and safe, but I reckon we looked like a swarm of gnats converging on the airport from every direction.

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The flight from Flag to Santa Fe in the “The Speed Monster” Thursday afternoon was a… um… real treat: light to moderate turbulence all the way, with some really hard moderate turbulence, bouncing the O2 bottle right off the seat and sending stuff flying around the baggage area. And then, of course, there was the crosswind landing at Santa Fe! At 11,500 feet with the wind at my back, I was really humming along, 170 – 180 kts ground speed, and already dreading the flight back to Flag on Sunday afternoon, but Mother Nature would be kind to me. We were able to finish up all the flying Saturday afternoon (it was a long day), and because of the winds (both current and forecasted), several of the participants chose to head for home. And home for them was quite a ways off, like Houston, TX; Naples, FL; Chicago; Memphis; etc. We had a great gathering of Mooney pilots Saturday night – there must be a name for that – and lies and war stories were abundant. I was able to depart early Sunday morning before the winds picked up, blasted up to only 10,500 and made it back to Flag in 2 hours 10 minutes, landing in winds gusting to 31 knots on short final! All in all, it was a great time for all, and it really felt good to spend some time in the Viking, versus all the time I spend in Wiseman Aviation C172 trainers!

gaarms flight instrruction in santa fe sedona fire department


Sedona airport is in the news again with their third crash so far this year. The C182 pictured here lost control on landing, ran off the runway and hit the fuel truck and another aircraft! Both occupants were injured, but nothing life threatening. WOW, this could have been a lot worse. The winds up here in northern Arizona have been vicious this spring, and as I write this article, there is another high wind advisory in effect all day!! If you plan to fly up north, be very, very careful regarding strong winds, Low Level Wind Shear and nasty crosswinds!! You do know the max demonstrated crosswind limitation of your airplane, right??



Fred’s pop Quiz…


  1. When must a pilot who deviates from a regulation during an emergency send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator?
    1. Within 7 days
    2. Within 10 days
    3. Upon request
  1. The minimum flight visibility required for VFR flight above 10,000 feet MSL and more than 1200 feet AGL in controlled airspace is
    1. 1 mile.
    2. 3 miles.
    3. 5 miles.
  1. What information is provided by the radar summary chart that is not shown on other weather charts?
    1. Lines and cells of hazardous thunderstorms
    2. Ceilings and precipitation between reporting stations
    3. Types of clouds between reporting stations
  1. What are the standard temperature and pressure values for sea level?
    1. 15*C and 29.92 Hg
    2. 59*C and 1013.2 millibars
    3. 59*F and 29.92 millibars
  1. The normal radius of the outer area of class C airspace is
    1. 5 nautical miles.
    2. 15 nautical miles.
    3. 20 nautical miles.

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.c 2.c 3.a 4.a 5c

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