By Fred Gibbs


Well, again this month, according to the latest NTSB report I was able to pull down, there has been only one fatal accident here in Arizona since the beginning of the year. That was the Van’s RV-7A that crashed under unknown circumstances near the Triangle Airpark (AZ50), White Hills, Mohave County, Arizona. The pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. No other information was available from the NTSB website.

The fact that we are now 4 months into 2022 with only one fatal accident so far is encouraging, and I certainly hope we can keep that safety record going. It has certainly been a wild season up here in northern Arizona. We have been dealing with very strong winds, with wind advisories many days this month. We have suffered through strong winds (up to 30-40+kts), strong crosswinds (20-30 or more knots), and lots of Low Level Wind Shear (LLWS) alerts here at the Flagstaff airport. Fortunately, there have been no incidents, no runway excursions, or anything close to an accident.

2022 may gaarms plane

An added benefit to all this wind and wind shear issues is that our student population is learning all about how to deal with and handle crosswinds. There are the demonstrated crosswind component values within the POH, crosswind/headwind calculations, crosswind control surface settings/requirements, crosswind takeoff and landing techniques and practice, setting and observing personal minimums for such occurrences, and risk management, starting with preflight actions, to takeoff and landings, and right down to the GO/NO GO decision. Hmmm, let’s see here, our students must learn how to handle strong crosswinds and low-level wind shear during the spring, density altitude and the associated aircraft performance issues all summer, thunderstorms and microbursts through monsoon season, and winter flying conditions, including FICON’s and TALPA on runway conditions, come November through March/April. I think it is safe to say that we turn out some pretty well rounded and experienced new private pilots…

PS – If you don’t know what FICON and/or TALPA stands for, maybe a little extra training might be in order…




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Well, I am pleased to report that someone actually read my article in the April newsletter and caught a mistreak, oops, I mean a mistake, and sent me some information on the FAA’s interpretation on the issue of safety pilots. The FAA’s letter of interpretation says:

Regarding your question (reference safety pilot requirements - sic), our opinion is that the safety pilot would need only a private pilot certificate with an airplane category and single engine land class ratings. While our opinion is that there is no regulatory requirement that a safety pilot have a high-performance endorsement to act as safety pilot, we are advised by the General Aviation & Commercial Division of the Flight Standards Service that they have always encouraged those pilots who act as safety pilots to be thoroughly familiar and current in the aircraft that is used. We are also advised by the General Aviation and Commercial Division that the FAA is currently in the process of reviewing the appropriate parts of the FAR to determine, among other things, if a safety pilot should be required to have a high-performance endorsement.

This interpretation has been prepared by David Metzbower, Staff Attorney, Operations Law Branch, Regulations and Enforcement Division; Richard C. Beitel, Manager. This interpretation has (also) been coordinated with the Manager, General Aviation and Commercial Division, Flight Standards Service.

Therefore, if the flight is done under VFR conditions, the safety pilot DOES NOT need to be instrument qualified, DOES NOT need to meet the recency experience of three takeoff and landings in the previous 90 days OR EVEN HAVE A CURRENT BFR! As long as the safety pilot acts only in the role as a safety pilot (in accordance with FAR 61.3(c) and FAR 91.109), (and never touches the controls) none of those requirements apply to you as the safety pilot. However, if you assume the role as the PIC at any time, those rules NOW APPLY to you, so beware…

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In summary, as a private pilot with a current FAA medical and the appropriate category and class ratings (but not necessarily a high performance, complex or TAA endorsement – my interpretation), you can act as a safety pilot for your friend doing practice instrument approaches under VFR conditions. Notice that it says a current medical is also required: FAR 91.109 says a safety pilot is a required crew member, and FAR61.3(c) says all required crew members need a current medical certificate. So, you need, at a minimum, an FAA class III medical.

(NOTE: a basic Med apparently does NOT qualify – again, my interpretation.)

But what are the requirements or qualifications needed to actually be a legal safety pilot for doing practice instrument approaches in a SR-22T with a G1000 instrument suite? Well, FAR91.109 (c)(1) says the safety pilot must (only) hold at least a private pilot certificate for the same category and class ratings that you are flying in. (I stated in last month’s article that I believe that it should also include complex and/or high-performance ratings if flying in one of those, and you should be TAA rated (sic) if the aircraft is a TAA certificated aircraft – but that was only my interpretation and certainly remains my requirement for a safety pilot in my aircraft.)

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So, it leaves me, and you, with this question:

Would you want a non-instrument-rated pilot to act as your safety pilot doing an approach under the hood down to minimums who does NOT have a clue what a satisfactory instrument approach should look like relative to accuracy in tracking, descents (MDA, DH, glide slope and/or localizer deviation parameters), or missed approach procedures?? Or the appropriate aircraft configuration for approach or especially missed approach/go around procedures? If the safety pilot is not high performance, complex or TAA trained, how would they know what you are doing is correct, safe or as specified by your POH? How would a non-instrument rated safety pilot know if you executed the missed approach procedure correctly? Or would know to ensure you take the GPS out of the suspend mode? Or remembered to put the gear down (what the heck is that irritating sound?) during a hurried approach?

I guess all I am saying is if you want a safety pilot to just ride along, that is all you get. Why would you want a safety pilot in your Bonanza or your Cirrus who is not qualified to fly that caliber of aircraft to act as a safety pilot if something goes wrong? However, if you want a safety pilot to both ensure safety as well as critique your flying skill, he/she needs to know what the correct aircraft configuration/set-up for the approach is, what a satisfactory approach should be, i.e., CDI and/or glide slope deviation allowances, what a satisfactory missed approach should be as well as knowing what an acceptable holding pattern entry and hold should be. After all, currency is to ensure proficiency, not to just check off a box! Three crappy, sloppy approaches and a blown holding pattern may make you legal logbook-wise, but certainly not proficient. The day you need that proficiency could turn out ugly!

2022 may gaarms plane2


If you go beyond the 6 months requirement without having done 6 approaches, the only way to get current is to do an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) with your local CFII. It is like an instrument check ride, but you can’t fail. However, like a BFR, you can also not pass if you are not up to snuff on your approaches and flying skills. Your CFII may want better performance from you before he/she will sign you off.

ANOTHER PS – It is not easy to tell a friend that their flying skills have deteriorated, and they need to be better. It is even harder to tell a friend it may be time to hang it up. We all get there sooner or later, either physically or mentally, and flying is a passion none of us ever want to give up! It is like admitting defeat, accepting the fact that we have gotten old! I have old friends, several whom have passed away now, whose lives were crushed (not literally) by the loss of their medical and facing the heartbreak of no longer being allowed to fly after a lifetime of flying…



Why is ‘dark’ spelled with a k and not c? . . . Because you can’t "c" in the dark.  



Hi. I’m from the FAA and here to help you – and remember, we are not happy until you are not happy… so please read the following:

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  1. The POH for my airplane states that the demonstrated crosswind value is only 15 knots. My crosswind calculation shows the crosswind value for takeoff right now is 18 knots, can I legally take off?
    1. Sure, why not? It is only a demonstrated value…
    2. Nope, it exceeds the POH’s limit.
    3. Well, yes, but if I have an issue and damage the aircraft, my insurance won’t pay for the damages because I was careless and reckless (FAR91.13).
    4. Well, yes, but if I have an issue and damage the aircraft, the FAA could accuse me of being careless and reckless (FAR91.13).
  2. My route of flight takes me over top of a class C airport. The top of the class C airspace is at 7600 feet, and I intend to cruise at 9500 feet, just below 10000 feet where a transponder is required, but high enough to not penetrate the class C airspace. Can I do this legally without ADS-B “OUT”?
    1. YUP, only need ADS-B “OUT” if above 10,000 feet.
    2. YUP, as long as I stay out of the Class C airspace.
    3. YUP, as long as I stay above the Class C airspace.
    4. NOPE, ADS-B “OUT” required if overflying Class C
    5. Airspace, even if below 10,000 feet.
  3. What kind of clouds are depicted in figure 1? 2022 may gaarms clouds
    1. Ugly nasty looking
    2. Cirrocumulous
    3. AltoCumulous
    4. Cumulonimbus mammatus
  4. Looking at the winds aloft forecast for tomorrow For a flight in my Lear jet out of Flagstaff heading to Poughkeepsie, NY (the home of IBM), I notice  the winds at FL 410 reads as follows –  759961 - What is that telling me?
    1. It must be a typo!
    2. I have no clue.
    3. The wind at FL410 is 61kts.
    4. The winds at FL410 are southwesterly in excess of 199kts.
  5. What does this symbol (A4) denote? 2022 may gaarms symbol a4
    1. This is some kind of light system, right?
    2. This is a pilot-controlled approach lighting system.
    3. This is only a tower-controlled lighting system.
    4. This approach lighting system only has 4 lights.

(Answers at bottom of Safety Programs)



I’ve started telling pilots about the benefits of eating dried grapes. . . .

It’s all about raisin awareness! (Go ahead with the groans!!)




There are NOT a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months around the state, but hopefully that will change in the near future. Simply log on to the Internet and go to WWW.FAASAFETY.GOV , click on “Seminars” and start checking for any upcoming seminars, but don’t expect a lot during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there are a lot of great webinars online, each about an hour long, and worth credits towards your WINGS participation. You might find one that is really right up your alley or “tickles yer fancy”!!

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, our “Winter Wonderland” snow season special, or my newest one on LIFR approaches discussing the how’s and pitfalls of shooting an approach all the way down to minimums and missed approaches, 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, but c & d are good risk factors to really take into consideration…

2.d 3.d 4.d and 5. is – c (with explanation)

c. This represents the type of approach lighting configuration for the runway. In this example, "A4" means the lighting is a medium intensity or simplified short approach light system, which can be a MALS, MALSF, SSALS, or SSALF. In this case, it's a MALSF, which is labeled at the top of the box. If the symbol is white with black letters, it is only tower controlled: if the box is black with white letters, it is pilot controlled, necessary when the tower is closed at night.

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