The Vietnam War was in full swing when I graduated high school. The economy was in the toilet and airlines were furloughing. There were countless military pilots looking for jobs. It was a terrible time to launch a professional pilot career.
Most of us know that the F in IM SAFE stands for fatigue. Now, fatigue isnt cited as a significant factor in many general aviation accidents, so we must be doing a pretty good job of being properly rested, right?
When I took my first flying lesson at age 18, I knew…nothing. I even thought a stall was killing the engine, like when I let the clutch out too fast in my car. But I learned, and after only a few hours I was performing aerodynamic stalls with aplomb, if not expertise. Years later, still a private pilot, a friend introduced me to a prolonged stall where you didnt recover and just keep the wings level with rudder. We called that the falling leaf after the swaying back and forth that occurred.
According to the FAAs body mass index guidelines, Im not obese but, like many Americans, I should lose some weight. Ive long known that I should retrain myself to reach for an apple-or better yet a carrot-when Im hungry, instead of some chocolate or junk food. Yeah, Im workin on it, um, real soon now. Now, the FAA is, too.
Three interesting news items came through my e-mail today. The first was the NTSBs findings that, while there were some contributing factors, the pilots of Asiana 214 simply screwed up, particularly in their use of the automation in their aircraft.
We occasionally get a letter from a reader objecting to the very substance of an article. Im not talking about those notes pointing out a goof or some other little error we may have made. Im talking about an objection to the article topic itself.
When I first switched from a comfortable career in hi-tech to the uncertainty and low pay of a regional airline pilot, I was frequently asked for advice about a career in aviation. Its a common joke among airline pilots to tell those seeking advice about the career to run away. Thats still the flippant advice I initially offer when Im asked, as a reader recently did.