Walk into any flight operation and they’ll tell you that safety is the top priority. As of 2016, accident rates across the board from GA to commercial operations have fallen to an all-time low. This is thanks to the cooperative efforts of pilots, controllers, technicians, instructors, and the organizations that support them. Given the great improvements in safety and the stringent standards that apply to everything from replacement of a torque link bolt to the handoff of an aircraft by ATC, it might seem strange that we’re approaching the year 2020 and busted TAFs (Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts) are still a fact of life.
You’re eager for your day trip to meet the gang and head to East Lansing, Michigan for a Spartans football game—provided you can get yourself to Tecumseh, southeast of Michigan State University. No big deal; it’s less than two hours’ flight from your home base and you’re in your trusty Cessna 182. So far so good, until you actually see what’s in store for you.
We’ve taken wireless connections granted for years now in our daily lives. But, when our airplanes play, it’s again pretty exciting. We wrote about Garmin’s Flight Stream 110 and 210 in February 2016. Now, the next generation of this device will cut your database costs and effort to boot.
It’s that time of year when we who have successfully covered up our own boneheaded mistakes snicker over the antics of those less fortunate flyers who have failed and got caught. This review of NTSB accident reports from 2013 makes no pretense of learning from others’ mistakes. The following acts of aerial mayhem are a reminder that no matter how bad your own decision making might be, there’s always someone eager to lower the bar. We skip fatal accidents and usually give errant student pilots a pass, because their brains aren’t yet fully developed.
Growing up, I enjoyed Vietnam War helicopter-pilot memoirs, like Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk. U.S. Army Air Cavalry helos were a lifeline for American troops, but clear landing zones were rare in the deep jungle. Pilots got creative when wounded soldiers and critical supplies were on the line. Mason describes literally hacking down trees with the main rotor of his UH-1 “Huey” to land where he needed to be.
Think about it. Can you do an engine runup without referring to the instructions? You probably already do the entire sequence without referring to the “check” list. You see, “Runup” on the paper, so you set the power, check the mags, cycle the carb heat or open the alternate air, cycle the prop and check the ammeter and vacuum meter. Then you look back at the paper and perhaps skip through the next seven or so items because you just did them without looking. There’s a better way.