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Features April 2015 Issue

Calling For Help

Got two radios, but only using one? Put number two to good use and monitor 121.5. You might just help a fellow aviator in need. It can also help keep yourself out of trouble if you botched a frequency change and ATC needs to reach you.

Calling For Help

Teamwork and sound decision-making by both pilots and controllers can turn a sketchy situation into a smooth save with no remnants other than “there I was” stories.

Flight is a study in contrasts, well beyond the obvious “thrust versus drag” equation. A brilliant blue sky rife with possibilities and adventure can quickly turn woefully lonely when your aircraft or the people in it are in distress. No good pilot intends for an emergency to happen. Each item on an aircraft checklist, every scan of an instrument and every word of a briefing is one more brick in the wall fending off a potential crisis. Still, even if you followed every procedure perfectly, basic human error, mechanical failure or plain bad luck can plunk you in the deep end of the pool. When you’re in the midst of a devolving situation, perhaps you’ll hear mental echoes of your flight instructor’s voice. Rely on your training. Go through your checklists. Keep a cool head and resolve the problem to the best of your ability. What’s the most important thing after flying the airplane? Remembering you’re not alone up there. Air traffic control has resources at its disposal that can help you put it down safely, and they’re just a radio call away.

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