Even as a kid, I recognized the hyperbole in the old clich about my elders having it tough, walking to school two miles through heavy snow-uphill in both directions. So any time I start down the path of When I was younger… something inside me clicks and I quickly change gears. Until now.
Maybe its the looming specter of my 25th high-school reunion thats got me worrying about getting fat and sloppy. Living in the land where donuts and coffee are staple foods, Ive been passing on the former while muttering renewed resolutions about spending more time at the gym.
I was in the car with two other pilots while the guy in the back seat was reading out loud a column by a well-known aviation writer (whom we all respect): ... Now anxiously switching the Avidyne EX500 between the map/NEXRAD display, the on-board radar, the METAR and TAFs and the stored approach charts for KLEB, I was completely concentrated ...
Back in 1984, IFR magazine debuted as a full-color, glossy magazine. It dove deep into the minutia of instrument flying with a practical stance and acerbic wit, while respecting it for the high art that it truly is. The color didnt last long-too expensive to print-but the mission remained. In the ensuing 25 years, weve been exploring not just the chicken-scratch details of IFR, but the shade of the flecks in the chicken scratch.
This issue begins my third year at the helm of IFR-I survived the first two years without any airframe-threatening severe turbulence. But it hasnt been a smooth ride, either. Indeed, each month delivers at least some moderate chop.
One of the battlefields for continued airport existence is the use or misuse of hangars by the airport residents. A common argument cited by airports to justify their existence is the airports economic benefit. To document that economic benefit, airport tenants are shown to provide both direct (rent, fuel, taxes, etc.) and indirect (promoting business, transportation hub, etc.) revenue. If tenants simply store stuff in their hangars, neither of those purposes is served very well. To compound that problem, federal funds to build those hangars are predicated on aviation use to promote, you know, flying.
Recently, I witnessed a ground collision between an airliner and a baggage tug. While I tend to be rather stoic in such matters, in retrospect this incident left me surprisingly rattled.As Ive previously mentioned in these pages, by night Im editor of this magazine, but by day I wear the hat of an airline pilot.
I was having fun despite it being a slog on the airlines. Id spun a cancelation of my flight to La Guardia (due to a tropical storm shutting down the East Coast) into a direct flight home from Toronto to Portland. Circumstance even got me into an airport members-only lounge with cozy couches and free food while I got some work done on the laptop.
Ive come to believe that single-pilot IFR in a fully loaded, glass-cockpit-but without using an autopilot-can be the toughest IFR flying you can do. The past month has found me in the clouds with and without students in a couple different airframes that I hadnt recently flown. Thats important because I wasnt in the groove with known power settings and trim. Theres more load on the scan when the plane is less familiar and thats where glass shows its biggest weakness: Visual channel overload.
Technological advances in aviation are few, slow and occur in small increments. Aside from composite materials, airframes are essentially unchanged over the last 70 years. Engines? Well, there have been a few interesting attempts to modernize, but even the antiquated magneto spark remains dominant. So, the aviator seeking the latest advances has to focus on electronics, which, fortunately, are evolving at a remarkably fast pace.
Competition breeds innovation and lower prices. I think I read that a few decades ago in a business course. Sounds about right.
Last January, the FAA changed internal policy on reporting potential pilot deviations. The stated goal was to discover why adverse safety events happen and identify the risks. The real-world fallout of this is pilots are getting warning letters in the mail for events they would have blown off in the past.