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Age, Your Senses and Fatigue
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Old Age; ...Age as a Factor in Flying; ...You and your License; ...Medical Questions; ...Legal Problems; ...Resources; ...Medical for CFI/safety pilots; ...Condition of the Pilot; …The eye; ...Monocular Vision; ...The Eye Reacts to Flight Conditions; …Light color test; ...Vision; ...Where’s Your Balance? ...Proprioception; ...Hearing; …Your inner ear; .Head Cold; ...Ear Block; ...How to Reduce Ear Pressure Pain; ...Fatigue; ...Fatigue Misconceptions; ...What To Expect from Fatigue; ...Vibration Fatigue; ...Subtle Fatigue; ...Sleep; ...Sleep Suggestions; ...Meniere's Disease; ...Nutrition; ...Death; …Fears; …Helping Memory; ...Jetlag Prevention; … Fatigue Causes, & Effects; ...Effects; ...20/20 Perception; ...Aging Pilot Study; ...Why Air Sickness; ...Importance of Water; ...

Old Age
The first sign of old age is when your medical examiner, minister, instructor, and flight examiner are younger than you are. Memory is the second thing a pilot loses. Can't remember the first. Old age, knowledge and deceit will defeat youth's skill and energy, every time. Over 60, senior rules apply. After age 26 we lose two grams of brain tissue every year. There is a decline in cognitive memory, perception, and learning ability.

The way you learn changes markedly with age. The young tend to think that they are more knowledgeable and capable than they really are. Above age 30 you begin to have some doubts and uncertainty as to just where the truth hides. By age 60 you begin to have and are feeling some physical inadequacies and your memory occasionally takes a vacation. Flying problems tend to bunch up at both ends of the flying spectrum. I learned to fly at age 42 and am past the 37-year mark now. As an instructor I am exempt from the making of mistakes. However, I am constantly doing things that check to see if the student and ATC are paying attention.

New things in flying I learn relatively quickly because I have a foundation to build on. Changes in the FARs and Charts occur just a bit at the time. The actual flying changes little unless it is the amount of anticipation required in a higher performance aircraft. Still, when checking out a retired Air Force Command Pilot the other day I noticed that I was able to interpret any slowness to perform as smoothness in performance. The quickness of youth becomes smoothness with age.

An older student may have done more flying of different types than a younger person and may have accumulated a greater backlog of common misconceptions. Physical dexterity is not an essential in flying but some mental dexterity is required to perform the multiple sequences of required tasks. Much of any student's difficulty in learning a particular skill such as landing is more a factor of the instructor's ability to head off problems than a student learning disability.

The reinforcement of initially acquired learning is just as essential to the old as it is for the young. Considerable unlearning is required by both the young and old. There will be significant differences in what and to what extent the unlearning process requires instructional time and consideration. The older student is more ready to accept the necessity for additional time and practice prior to solo. The time and financial pressure is not likely to be so great on the older student.

Age as a Factor in Flying
The average General Aviation pilot was 39 years of age in 1990.
Pilots over 60 have 2.1 times more accidents than pilots in their 50's.
Pilots over 60 are safer than pilots in their 20's and 30's. The accident rate goes up after 60 perhaps due to subtle age-related deterioration in cognitive function. The older you are the dumber you get! My wife agrees.

Older pilots like to think that what has been lost in ability has been made up in experience. By the age of 60, pilots lose some mental and physical abilities. By the age of 50 everyone has some vision loss known as presbyopia. This is caused by hardening of the lens. As we age we become less efficient in getting and using oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. Hearing by itself does not affect the ability to fly but it does make a difference in the communications area. Like vision, hearing the higher frequencies drops with age. Physically we become victims of some stiffness of the joints and extremities with age. Dehydration is going to have greater effect with age. We are all different in the way we age and the way our aging affects our flying.

The intangibles of flying that accrue with time just cannot be force-fed or taught by programs. Flight time alone cannot be an indicator. 99% of my flight time has been within 100 miles of my home field. I have probably averaged over five landings per hour of my flight time. On the other hand, I have not been in a twin since I passed my checkride over twenty years ago. I only have five hours of taildragger and aerobatic time. Thus my hours and experience are deep in only one specific area and with a very few types of aircraft.

Get me out of California and I am less than a 100-hour pilot. Not all experience is transferable from area to area. California IFR is certainly not Wyoming IFR, Missouri IFR, or New York IFR. Still the skills and experience I have acquired can be modified and transferred to some degree. One type of skill that is applicable in most any flying situation is recognition of my own deficiencies and exercising appropriate caution when in unfamiliar territory. Better than most, I know what I don't know simply by comparing a situation with what I do know at home. I recently had an invitation to fly to Alaska. I turned it down because of my lack of experience. My age at 76, was a confirming factor. I would be useless in any emergency survival situation.

You and your License
If the FAA should wish to revoke your license they can send or deliver a voluntary surrender letter for your signature. You don't need to cooperate, sign nor surrender the license. In case you don't cooperate they can cause an emergency revocation letter to be written in a few hours. This is a demand for the seizure of your license. You do have the right to appeal and have a hearing about this or any FAA action. You will lose. Interestingly, anyone demanding immediate surrender of your license is going to be in trouble when the case goes under review.

You will never have a problem with the FAA until there is an incident or accident. (Never say never.) In most any case the FAA can call upon the careless and reckless operation FAR. It is totally subjective and any defense is subject to an FAA second guess as to the sequence of events in terms of relative importance.

An airman with a history of a disability may be gives a discretionary medical certification through...special issuance provision that determine the pilot can fly without endangering the public. This is known as a waver. The pilot has to demonstrate a practical evaluation and a special medical evaluation that he is able to perform as a pilot.

If a condition is static and non-progressive a SODA or statement of demonstrated ability may be issued. SODAs never expire.

The FAA does not blindly approve of medicines. The individualized reactions possible makes it impossible. Drugs that generally have no apparent adverse effect are often not approved for pilots. Occasional bad side effects are enough to make the FAA withhold approval. Since there are no certain way to determine who and when bad effects the FAA takes the safe position.  Likewise the wise pilot chooses the same safe position by avoiding all kinds of medicines.  

The taking of any drug is always a judgment call. A decision by an aeromedical doctor is going to be more in line with FAA strictures than from any other doctor. Optional means of medical procedure always exist. Finding FAA approved ones may be difficult.

Medical Questions
-- Visits to doctors needs to include treatments, examinations, evaluations and counseling.
--Most medical sources tend to emphasize the positive aspects of drugs. A pilot should be cautious about any treatment or medicine..

Legal Problems
--Anything that has a connection to drugs or alcohol.
--Criminal Convictions
--Anything other than traffic

Physician's Desk Reference
Physician's Desk reference for Non-prescription Drubs
Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs
The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs
Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs

Medical for CFI/Safety Pilots
FAR 61.3(c) requires current appropriate certificate when you at as PIC or as required crewmember. As a CFI or safety pilot without a medical you must confirm that the PIC has a current and appropriate medical, flight review, required takeoffs and landings, and instrument currency.

The CFI without a medical must not allow the PIC to practice any hood work. While acting as 'safety pilot' the CFI must have a current medical. A CFI without a medical may give in-flight instruction and flight reviews so long as the PIC is fully qualified for the flight involved. A rated pilot who is taking instrument instruction may log PIC time as sole manipulator of the controls.

Condition of the Pilot
The physical condition of the pilot will affect the way decisions are made. As accident findings show, it is the pilot who needs the most preventive instruction about his own physical well-being and mental condition.. The pilot is often trained to know more about other things related to flying than about himself. The physiology and humanness of the pilot make him subject to many failings.

The Eye
Of all our senses, vision is our most reliable sense. However, in conjunction with our other senses it does disrupt and affect the way we interpret what we think we are seeing. The eye's sense of up, down, left, right and level can come in conflict with these senses and cause vertigo.

Your one inch eyeball is more capable than any camera to make lens changes that focus and re-focus light arriving through the cornea, pupil and lens on the rear interior of the eyeball called the retina. All these adjustments are muscular. The functions of the eye are various; you have a central vision, a peripheral vision, coordination and balance information, and the sleep clock.

The convex lens inverts the image on the retina which consists of multiple layers (10) of sensors that make the conversion from light to electrical stimuli applied to both cones and rods. The cones electrically respond to both light and color input. The brighter the light the better the cone response. Cones exist mostly in the central fovea area and around the outer region. Rods are only light sensitive but are able to react to very little light but with no color. Rods are not at the fovea and are most numerous in an arc 20 degrees from it. Looking directly at an object at night in poor light will not allow you see it. The eyes see a 160-degree spherical arc with only a 5-degree cone of focus. The cone of 10-degrees; cannot see better than 20/100. We can only see three colors, red, green and blue. The brain mixes these to 'see' all other colors.

The eye has two lenses, one fixed and one variable. The outer part of the eye 'window' called the cornea is the fixed lens. Muscles that change its shape by making it thinner or thicker adjust the interior lens To focus as needed. There is no surgical correction for the effect age has on the ability of the eyes to focus.

Light adaptation occurs 90% in the first half-hour but will continue for an hour with the rods. Rods can detect low light levels down to that of a full moon. You cannot see using the center 5 degrees of focus. This adaptation can be destroyed in an instant by a bright light. Ability to keep one eye closed when using a light in the cockpit is a handy skill.

You have motion sensors in the ears and neck that stabilize the eyes to see in one place when you move your head sideways. These stabilizers do not work up and down. You cannot see while moving your eyes. All you will get is a gray blur.

There is a type of nearsighted deficiency that is common at night. Detection of this requires a special test that is worthwhile if continuous night flying is a project. Night vision depends on rhodopsin, commonly called visual purple. The production of rhodopsin in your body is strictly an individual matter dependent on genetics, health, diet, and age. Know your limitations.

Oxygen and the lack of it dramatically affect night vision. Altitude causes lose of retina efficiency from 5% to 40% from 4000' up to 16,000'. Smoking can add 7000' to these altitudes. Night vision is also subject to dramatic illusions. Bright lights and reflections will not only destroy your night adaptation but will give false impressions of proximity, speed, attitude, and changes.

Monocular Vision/ One-eye pilots
I've worked with a couple of students who had monocular vision - each of whom had to take a medical flight test with an FAA inspector. The inspector was actually very helpful and told us exactly what would be required on the test.
This included:
(1) Reading, identifying, and explaining airport signs and markings.
(2) Reading charts in the air and identifying landmarks.
(3) Tuning radios in flight. (4) Identifying objects on the ground (power lines, roads, railroads, etc.) and selecting areas suitable for emergency landings.
(5) Simulated emergency landings.
(6) Short-field landings (basically treated as an accuracy landing for the purpose of the test).
(7) Collision avoidance - being alert for other air traffic and following ATC instructions with respect to pattern operations ("follow the Bonanza turning final").

Note that the inspector will most likely be looking for performance at the Private Pilot level. It might be a good idea to review the Practical Test Standards (including the introduction) to get a general understanding of what will be expected of you.

Although both students reported that the test was relatively "painless", it was fairly lengthy - approximately 1.5 hours. I attribute this to the location (a very busy international airport in Class C airspace).

Interestingly enough, the students were allowed to log this flight as "PIC", even with the FAA guy on board (the inspector is neither a passenger nor an instructor).
E. Roberts, CFI

The Eye Reacts to Flight Conditions
--The smoker will have reduced vision, specifically peripheral vision. A smoker is more likely to miss seeing an aircraft approaching the side
--The pilot who is under stress will tend to fixate on one thing. This may be the runway or the altimeter. Cockpit myopia will destroy the very importance of a variable scan and focus.

--Certain background conditions make it difficult to impossible to separate an aircraft from the background clutter of clouds, sun glare, or rooftops.

--Haze makes it very difficult to judge distance. This is especially true at night. The military is presently experimenting with using light to camouflage aircraft. Certain placements and intensities of lights on an aircraft in daylight can make an airplane harder to see.

--The eye can see only when it stops moving. Stopped the eye will focus on a 10 degree arc. To make a focused scan move your eyes in 10-degree jumps. To make a full scan move your head. Peripheral vision detects movement. Use peripheral vision at night for things you want to locate.

--Binocular vision is good for measuring distance up to about 20 feet. Beyond 20 feet we must depend on shadows, relative size of similar objects, overlapping, or other clues. Clouds are particularly difficult to judge for distance because there are no references.

--Empty field myopia is caused by haze or fog conditions that give the eyes nothing to focus on at a distance. The eye defaults to a distance of about 20 feet. To break this you must focus momentarily inside the cockpit and then outside. This process must be repeated frequently since there is no way of knowing when the default distance has kicked in.

--Red is a poor warning color. Green and yellow are much better.

--Red light in the cockpit should be avoided since it reduces the ability of the eyes to accommodate to reading. Military now uses blue cockpit lighting.

Light Color Test
On failing a day test you may take a night test and even if you pass your license will be restricted by a note. It is possible to improve red/green discrimination by wearing ruby colored contact lenses.
The first thing to try if you flunk the color-dots test is to ask to immediately retake the test standing by the window, where the test sheets are illuminated by natural sunlight. Typical office fluorescent lighting distorts colors; if your color vision is marginal, looking at the test sheets in natural sunlight may be all that's needed to pass the test if you flunk it under fluorescence.--
Roy Smith, CFI-ASE-IA

Seeing is a practiced art. The eye sees images that may or may not be transmitted to the brain. The fovea of the retina is the region of sharpest vision. This is only one degree of conical field. By taping a quarter to a window and backing off slightly more than four feet you have measured your fovea vision. Our eye can move and see a vertical arc of 135 degrees, 60 above level and 75 below. Your horizontal field is 160 degrees total with 100 of these to the side and 60 across the nose.

With the best vision in the one-degree fovea cone, at 10 degrees your ability to see is only 1/10 as good. In poor visibility your foveal focus fades in less than 90 seconds to a point just in front of the aircraft. To avoid this it is important that you constantly re-focus your fovea on the most distant object available.

The eye has some functional peculiarities that are of particular importance to the pilot. The eye can see only about a 15-degree arc of space at one time. The eye cannot see while moving. The cone sensors of the eye are centered in the back of the eye. Cones give us color and sharp detail focus in bright light conditions. The rods of the eye are what we use to see in poor light conditions. The rods are to the sides of the eye and to best utilize them we must look slightly to the side of where we actually wish to see. A single flash of white light can destroy the ability of rods to function for over half an hour. The older you are the more time required to adapt to darkness. Red light is still the best light to use if you wish to retain night sight even though it is lacking in color and detail. The preferred color of the Military is now blue.

Objects that are farther away look smaller since they use less of your visual field. We know this because the brain must convert the two-dimensional vision field into three dimensions. This is possible because we have two eyes, which give us stereoscopic views. This binocular ability is good only for about twenty feet.

 Beyond twenty feet we must make use of other abilities. We have acquired a concept of perspective. This makes objects viewed appear to be near or far according to the vanishing lines of perspective. Also, objects that are near or far appear to move in opposite directions as we move. This can be shown by selecting an object across the street and another on your side of the street. As you move your head the objects move in opposite directions. 

The next element of vision has to do with your knowledge of relative size. We know the size of people, cars, most buildings and many airplanes. Their size in relation to other known objects makes it possible to judge distance.

–Vision is source of 80% of your total information
–Visibility--Contrast—movement—window post obstruction.
--You cannot see when moving your eyes, move your head and not your eyes.
--You have 100% vision only in 1-degree of your eye’s focal center.
--You have 20/100 vision in five-degrees of your focal center.
--You have 20/200 vision at 20-degrees of your focal center.
--It takes 10 second to spot, identify and react of what you see.
--If you have a window post where you are looking, your brain cannot correct, move your head.
--If you have nothing distant to see, your eyes will default and focus within 20 feet.
--Normal eyesight will let you detect an aircraft out to about four miles but only if you know where to look.
--A change in eye focus takes one to two seconds.
--Age increases the time required to change the focus of your eyes.
--Knowing where and how to look may compensate for all the other problems of seeing. MAY that is.
--The smoker is far less likely to detect aircraft due to always-present hypoxia.
--At night an aircraft must be much closer before being detected.
--If you look only ten-degrees to the side of an aircraft you will not see it until it is inside a mile.
--In my opinion any evasive maneuver should be up or down. Turning exposes too much airplane.

Where’s Your Balance?
Whenever you distribute weight evenly so as to insure stability you have created balance.
–The combination of nervous system, muscles and brain form a feedback-loop that make the body system work.
–Orientation comes through vision, vestibular and somatosensory senses.
--Eyes see and inform the brain which give directions to the muscles by processing feedback from the eyes.
--Close your eyes and sound becomes an alternative but inferior system.
--The somatosensory sensory system in our muscles have proprioceptors that give position an movement data.
--The test of somatosensory balance is to close your eyes and touch your nose with one finger.
--Proprioception skills can be trained by musicians, athletes and pilots to give ‘muscle memory’.
--It is the vestibular senses that are the most sensitive balance system of all. the inner ear canals.
--The canals are on three axies, fluid filled with hairy sensors.
–The vestibular senses are those that make you dizzy, airsick and get vertigo.
--Age decreases balance skills. 1/3 of people over 65 fall every year.
--Balance skills can be practiced and improved. Stand on one foot when waiting in line is a start.

Proprioception is what we feel in our muscles. The most sensitive areas are in the neck and knees. Our muscle senses tell us the position of the body.

The vestibular sense is related to our hearing. The vestibular organ gives us balance. It has three semicircular canals which at 90-degrees; each with the others. Additionally, there are two otoliths, nearby. Otoliths are linear accelerometers or motion detectors. We sense gravity through our otoliths. These senses have threshold levels below which they are not able to detect any sensations. Of the two, the otoliths are the more sensitive.

Our senses can be dangerously fooled but the vestibular sense is the one most susceptible. Even in VFR conditions we can get the 'leans' when the fluids of the semicircular canals fail to warn us of a slow turn or if a turn continues long enough the hairs in the fluid stabilize and give no sensory indications.

A takeoff or climb can, if not countered by noting airspeed and the AI, be felt as an extreme raising of the nose which if countered by lowering the nose can result in an CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) accident. Reliance on your instruments is most important when you do not have visual cues.

Humans detect from 16 to 20,000 Hz but speak between 250 and 2,0000 Hz. The sounds of most G.A. aircraft exceed 90 dB (decibels). Such sound energy is capable of actually breaking the hairs that connect to the cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. These hairs and cells are not replaceable.

Your Inner Ear
--Determines balance, orientation and equilibrium
--About pencil eraser size
--A 3 axis gyro with each canal at right angles to the others.
Canals are filled with fluid the flow of which affects bunches of sensory hairs (cilia) that are capable of sensing only rate changes in fluid acceleration. A steady change will cease to be sensed. Any gentle smooth turn or change below the threshold of inner ear perception will not be detected. If visual reference is obscured then disorientation can/will occur.

Head Cold
The head has eight sinuses paired across the face and extending back to the spinal column. Each cavity is filled with air. They all open to the nose. The air pressure of the cavities is constantly being equalized with the outside atmosphere. Additionally, the eardrum vibrates as sound moves the outside air. On the other side of the membrane the air is equalized by way of the Eustachian tube. For proper hearing the air on either side of the membrane must be equalized. Never take a decongestant that contains antihistamines at altitude.

During ascent the air easily leaves the Eustachian tube, it is during descent that a collapsed tube can cause excruciating pain due to the unequal pressures. It is necessary to use a small muscle in the back of the throat to hold the Eustachian tubes open. A 5000' difference in the air pressures can rupture the drum.

--You can open your Eustachian tubes by using the Valsava maneuver. Pinch your nostrils, close your mouth and try to exhale through the nose. This should clear your nose. 

--You could try the Frenzel method. This requires you to move your jaw as far forward as you can. Swallowing at the same time will improve your chances of clearing the tube.

Ear Block
Earblock or sinus blockages can cause differential air pressures to exist between cavities of the skull and the exterior. If it is not possible to equalize these pressures by slowing or removing the pressure changes severe pain results. Do not fly if you suspect such a condition exists or above 8,000' within 24 hours of scuba diving. Gum chewing and jaw movement are preventive. The Valsalva maneuver consists of opening the mouth wide with the jaw wide, as though yawning. Do this over and over because opening the mouth helps open the Eustachian tubes. Next, pinch your nose closed, shutting the mouth, and blow gently as through your nose.

How to Reduce Ear Pressure Pain
Blow air into your nose while holding the nostrils closed. Pinch low on your nostrils and blow gently. Be sure that your nose balloons out over your fingers. (Otherwise, blowing lifts your palate, blocking the Eustachian tube that you're trying to de-congest.) If pressure persists in one ear, turn your head, putting that ear forward (this relaxes the throat muscles that may be constricting the Eustachian tube) and blow. 

Acute fatigue occurs when a long period passes with a lack of sleep. Chronic fatigue occurs when several acute fatigue periods occur without adequate recovery time between. While some fatigue is related to lack of sleep, not all is. Fatigue can result from inadequate nutrition and over exertion. More information needs to be obtained on fatigue distinguished from sleep as a factor in accidents.

Some factors of physical condition are controllable and some are not. Stress is the result of events causing preoccupation, reducing external awareness, and making activities subject to distraction. Stress causes the taking of risks that would otherwise be unacceptable. The mental/physical condition resulting from fatigue and stress may cause the pilot to make unwise decisions.

There are many causes of fatigue: lack of sleep, hypoxia, noise, time zone factors, temperature extremes, dehydration, stress and more. When you are fatigued you are more irritable and easily annoyed, you will suffer for lapses in short term memory, your attention will fixate to the exclusion of all else, your performance skills will decrease and you will be unaware of any impairment.

The causes of fatigue are primarily lack of recent sleep or a chronic sleep deficiency. Additional fatigue arises from our physiological reaction to noise and vibration, illness, hunger, caffeine "down time", unresolved stress, hypoxia, dehydration, errors in judgment and extended mental and physical demands.

We are far more likely to recognize the impairment of fatigue in others than in ourselves. There is no test for fatigue, but the start of fatigue is the gateway to all the "causes" of accidents. The usual reaction time that a pilot has under normal conditions may be tripled. One-second becomes three, three-seconds becomes nine. This extension of time has nothing to do with training and everything to do with sleep. Degraded performance can kill.

The body responds to lack of sleep and disturbance of the circadian rhythm by showing fatigue. Symptoms of fatigue are sleepiness, irritability, depression, apathy, and emotional isolation. Loss of appetite, slurred speech, visual fixation, impaired perception, decreased alertness, channeled thinking, lack of concentration, slowed reactions, requiring greater stimulus, impaired short-term memory, poor judgment, loss of accuracy, error accumulation, neglect of tasks, erratic performance, and increasing reliance on habitual behaviors.

High altitude, noise, vibration, G-forces, heat, and dryness can aggravate all of the above symptoms. Physical factors such as fitness, diet, hydration, weight, rugs, alcohol, medication, caffeine, and tobacco are pre-disposition factors.

Fatigue can be overcome by sleep. The time of sleep is not so important for recovery of lost sleep time as is the depth of sleep. Older people sleep less and less deeply. Older people are more easily disrupted from sleep.

Fatigue is a treacherous hazard to safe flying since it is not apparent to person and will lead to accumulation of errors and eventual accident. Person cannot respond to events in a safe and thoughtful manner. Any fatigue high enough to interfere with decision-making will be greatly influenced by illusions.

Fatigue Misconceptions
--Rest is as good as sleep
--You never know just how tired you are.
--I have flown this tired before
--My motivation will solve the problem of fatigue
--I can fly well even if tired
--I don't need much sleep.
--Coffee is all I need
--Pills will cure fatigue
--One cure works for everyone.

What To Expect from Fatigue
--Reduced ability to concentrate
--Reduce awareness of deviations
--Reduced vigilance
--Reduced comprehension of ATC instructions
--Fatigue increases if you are "doing nothing"
--Increased temper excursions
--Increase in 'know-better' mistakes
--Increased rationalization of errors

Vibration Fatigue
A sustained mechanical oscillatory disturbance as while flying a helicopter can cause vibration fatigue. The body reacts by tension of the muscles, the muscles get tired, fatigue sets in. Manual agility, dexterity and precision are reduced. Concentration weakens and flight judgment is impaired.

Subtle Fatigue
This problem often begins with a distraction that causes fixation on an instrument or occurrence. Complex flight operations are the first skills to deteriorate.
--Knowing where you are becomes a problem
--Heading excursions take place
--Instruments are ignored
--Attention and vision fixates
--External references begin to fade from consciousness
--Seat posture relaxes
--Silence prevails
--Writing becomes less linear
--Movements decrease and slow
--Clearances cannot be copied in total
--Eye/hand skills begin to fail
--Pilot accepts what exists as O.K. without checking
--Bad judgment prevails

The most common cause of diminished alertness and proficiency is lack of sleep. This condition is said to affect 30% of the U.S. population. This may be due to an actual loss of sleep or a change in a sleep pattern called the circadian rhythm. Pilots tend to neglect their need for sleep. The need for sleep is a defining limit to pilot mental capability. You must have sleep or your mind will fail. Once beyond the limit pilot performance deteriorates and can become irrational. Sleep is a restorative and can be both stored and deprived within limits set by the biological clock of the individual. As you grow older you will need less sleep. Jet lag sleep patterns are worse when flying from west to east. Accident rates climb precipitously when your body begins demanding sleep. The average American gets about one hour too little sleep each night.

Sleep serves as a restorative to both body and mind. Every day we resent our 25-hour biological clock. This extra hour makes it easier for us to stay up late than to get up early. Your energy cycles and you are susceptible to daydreaming or drowsiness at the lowest part.

Accident rates rise in the afternoon and become significant at night. Postponing sleep causes a sleep deficit that as it increases an accident becomes more likely. Jet lag is a type of sleep deficit. A sleep deficit can best be resolved by going to bed early, not by sleeping late. A large deficit cannot be made up in one night. 21% of aircraft accidents cite sleep deficiency as a factor.

Sleep begins when you stop knowing what is happening around you. You have stopped getting external information. The circadian rhythm makes you feel the most sleepy between three and five in the early morning and mid-afternoon. Your performance will suffer most when you have missed your normal sleep period and are staying awake for an extended time. You will be slow to recognize flight problems, slow to react to the situation, and will have difficulty selecting the best option when you are sleep deprived.

When drowsiness occurs, you cease to monitor the instruments. You will tend to fixate and drift off mentally. We go into a mental autopilot not thinking of what we are doing. This is the lowest level of alertness. The best level of alertness is one in which you are in constant search-and-scan, seeing what you are looking at, hearing what is said and asking questions. This is the "flying" mode from pre-flight to shutdown. 

Gradual deterioration of alertness is best observed in watching others. It can creep up on you and influence your flying without your even noticing. Your alertness rises again when you have located a problem. You focus on it and prepare to execute a solution. This might occur when required to make a crosswind landing. The highest level of alertness is when adrenaline begins to flow and survival becomes a factor.

Naps can be planned or unplanned, the brain has signals that it sends to the body. The more sleep is needed the more brain signals are sent to the body. Most people get about two hours less sleep daily than they need. Over a few days this sleep deficit must be corrected. Deeper sleep is one way. Longer sleep periods are another. Naps are still another. Avoid caffeine after 5 p.m. A cola has the caffeine equivalent of a half-cup of coffee. Sleeping pills and caffeine are addictive.

Sleep suggestions
--Do not exercise before bedtime.
--Avoid food or drink before bedtime.
--Avoid sleeping pills
--Take naps of less than an hour.
--Do cockpit exercises.

Meniere's Disease
Meniere's disease usually occurs over age 40. Exact cause is in doubt but seems related to fluids in inner ear. Initial symptoms affect hearing but may be followed over a period of time by sweating, nausea, blurry vision and fatigue. Vertigo strikes and continues as intermittent lifelong condition. Affects personality. Occurrence and severity unpredictable.

A study of helicopter accidents has shown that three times as many pilot error accidents occurred during the lunch hours as at other times. Considering the time it takes for the body to benefit from eating, a good breakfast is highly recommended.

Food when converted into glucose is the source of brain energy. Glucose cannot be stored. As blood sugar it requires constant renewal. If glucose is not renewed the body and the mind shows evidence of fatigue, mental confusion, faintness, headache, memory loss, dizziness, vision problem, cold hands and feet.

Reduced blood pressure, tension, depression and hunger are all symptoms of hypoglycemia caused by the lack of a balanced meal for over five hours. Ten hours without food will severely affect decision-making ability, alertness, coordination, and perception. Skipping breakfast causes fasting hypoglycemia. All hypoglycemia types can be aggravated by other physiological factors.

Altitude can incapacitate a pilot through dehydration. Increase your fluid intake prior to and during flight. What you eat is just as important as just eating. Reactive hypoglycemia can cause lack of consciousness. This is a reaction to the doughnut/candy bar meal. The student pilot who does not eat because of possible airsickness is endangering himself if flying solo. High sugar meals cause the pancreas to create excess insulin. Insulin allows the body to use sugar. Too much insulin and deplete sugar to such a low level as to incapacitate the body and mind. Adding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine acerbates the problem. Flying should be preceded by a balanced meal. Neuronutriments are the vitamins and minerals that the body can change into neurotransmitters. Trace minerals such as potassium, zinc, iron, and chromium are essential to control the body's sugar burning process. The more balanced our meals the better will be our mental functioning and memory.

Death acquires significance only when it occurs close at hand.
A far off death is just an idea and the near death at hand forces you to give it notice. Aviation death is hidden under a cover of optimism. Pilots live in flight but chose to ignore that flight is the handmaiden of death. Death in flying happens just often enough that we should not ignore the existence and possibility.

We do not discuss death except in broad shallow terms. Only when it occurs close by, do we pay attention to the fact that our mortality has been served notice. We deal with life as a continual stacking of multiple decks of cards full of memories. We think about death only occasionally. We all do. Some of us more than others. As a pilot becomes older they become both better and more conservative. In one sense older pilots have died by losing their youth and all its blessings and faults. Life is backwards, we acquire the required wisdom without the youthful energy required to make it useful. The best we older pilots can do is to leave a legacy.

The fears of falling and heights are inherent and instinctive. For some of us it is more apparent and inhibiting.

First, you should accept your concerns as perfectly normal.

Second, consider a program of gradualism. This might begin just be walking along a wide board placed on the ground. Work out a way to raise the board a bit at a time as you practice walking along it and raising your confidence level. Do the same with an extension ladder up the side of a building. Skill and confidence can be acquired.

After thousands of hours of flying I gave a pilot a flight review in a J-3 Cub. No doors. Was I apprehensive? Yes! I learned to enjoy the difference and appreciate the security I have with an enclosed cabin. More of an illusion than a reality. Fact is the open cockpit and closed cockpit has only comfort and not safety as a defining difference.

Had a lady once as a flying student who was determined to overcome all her fears. She learned to scuba dive, parachute jump and fly. There is no end to what you can achieve when you look at every obstacle and something to overcome.

Helping Memory
Our brain is ever changing and rebuilding itself. Limit your fat intake.
1. Improve your ability to remember times-three by writing out the material. Put it into your long-term memory by reviewing it three times the first day.
2. If we think of something as important we can remember it. Make a post-it of material that is important.
3. Review out loud material you need to remember tomorrow just before bedtime. Do not allow other sounds while studying. Check your memory recall the next morning.
4. Just as hearing a sight fail with age so does smell and taste. Eating properly maintains brain function.
5. You must have some activity for a considerable part of the day that provides brain stimulation. TV is not a brain stimulant.
6. Stress is the major cause of forgetting. Continuous stress can kill brain cells.
7. Meditation and similar activities will reduce stress and improve memory.
8. Focus on the pleasures begot by good memories. Be positive in your expectation to be able to remember.
9. Seek out and hang on to new ideas. Review the new ideas from lessons in the recent past.
10. You will remember new ideas if you can associate them with history and events.
11. Read and study applicable texts with emphasis upon vocabulary improvement.

Jetlag Prevention
An over-the-counter NADH nutritional supplement named ENADAlert has been shown to improve memory, attention and visual perception The coenzyme NADH was given after a four-hour time zone change with tests given an hour and half later and again four hours later. This has been found effective against the dull feeling, sleepiness and inability to concentrate due to fatigue and jet lag. FAA is interested. No adverse effects were found.

Fatigue Causes, & Effects
--Failure to drink liquids
--Skipping meals
--Passing through time zones
--Low blood sugar
--Extremes of heat or cold
–Chronic sleep deprivation
--Disrupted circadian rhythms

--Difficulty staying awake
--Difficulty organizing tasks
--Inefficient use of resources

20/20 Perception
---Perception is more than seeing, it is also hearing and feeling,
---Turning an aircraft is more than just the bank angle, it is correcting loss of airspeed and lift as well.
---Recovery from a bank requires anticipation with timing smoothness and perception inside and outside.
---The student who limits his perception of maneuvers to one sensory organ is not using a full deck.
---The ability to use eyes, ears, and other sense organs to advantage is fundamental to successful flying.
---Perception depends on the general mental trend and attitude of the pilot.
---The pilot who relies on only one sensory organ as in a bank is not able to exercise adequate control.
---The illusions common to aviation are caused by taking for granted information from only one sense.
---Illusions of the eyes exist when tunnel vision and peripheral vision give confusing information.
---Vertigo is created when the inner ear and eyes give conflicting information.
---The perceptions of the inexperienced differ greatly from the perceptions of the experienced.
---The perception of the pilot who reads the IAS is different from those of the CFI who reads the nose.
---Perception is different between every person in every situation due to interest, background and intent.
---Perception can be developed and improved in flying by learning what, when and where to perceive.
---Interest and need speeds perception even as it quickens the imagination. (Night without cockpit lights.)
---The better one perceives one aspect of aircraft attitude the more relationships with other things.
---Control difficulties of student pilots are more a matter of perception than of control.
---It is just possible that perception in flying is ‘knowledge by chance’ that occurs in spite of instruction.
---A flying student cannot ask a question of something not perceived.
---The instructional problem exists because there is no adequate check for perception as required in flying.
---The pilot who has ‘perception’ is far more ready to start asking ‘why’ questions.
---My preferred student is one who asks, "Why?"

Aging Pilot Study
James D. Deimler to oversee its Aging Pilot Study. Deimler, who was the program manager for the FAA's Age 60 Rule Study, has co-authored several research reports for the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) and is an AOPA member, pilot, and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Using knowledge gained during the FAA Age 60 Rule Study, James will provide guidance to AOPA on those aspects of aging and performance that are relevant to general aviation pilots. He will be valuable in preparing the study design, analyzing data, and producing the final report

AOPA's Aging Pilot Study will utilize the extensive research resources of AOPA The findings are expected to reveal what kinds of accidents older pilots are having, what causes them, and what actually happens to pilots' skills as they age. Today, some insurance companies are adding escalating surcharges for pilots over 60. See AOPA Online


Statistics suggest that the older you are, the harder you'll fall. FAA and NTSB records show that pilots older than 50 have a significantly greater chance of crashing than younger pilots. The stats perhaps take on even greater significance considering the fact that the average age of pilots is now 47. The accident rate went up with age, and that those in their 60s were at a roughly proportional greater risk of crashing.

Older pilots were also in more fatal accidents. Pilots older than 50 were involved in 55.8 percent of accidents over a five-year period even though they constitute only 36.8 percent of certificated pilots. And, apparently, the older a pilot gets, the greater the risk. Pilots between the ages of 50 and 59 had 26.4 percent of accidents, marginally higher than their percentage of the pilot population, which is about 22.1 percent, but those 60 and older had 23.6 percent of accidents even though they make up only 14.7 percent of certificated pilots. The research also determined that those under 50 consistently had proportionately fewer accidents throughout the five-year sample period.

However, it should be pointed out that any number of factors, including pilot experience (complacency?), history (old, bold pilots?) and aircraft type (higher income equals higher performance, equals higher impact speed?) were not factored into the research and may have influenced the results.
Sport pilot certificate allows pilots of "low and slow" light sport aircraft (LSA) to skip the biannual trip to an aviation medical examiner and use a driver's license as proof of medical fitness. The new certificate "made it easier for older pilots to obtain and keep licenses to fly certain smaller planes." All pilots, regardless of age or certificate level, are responsible for self-certifying their medical fitness before every flight.
Medical incapacity continues to be a minor factor in accidents. Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Jon Jordan did, however, suggest that we might be a little more error-prone and slower to react as we age. "We don't see too many aviation accidents that are related to a medical cause. The increase in accidents (with age) may be due really to cognitive factors,"

Why Air Sickness
When you are subject to high stress or fear, particularly when combined with mental and emotional uncertainty, we instinctively react physically with the "fight or flight" reaction. Your body eliminates unnecessary activity and processes usually digestive from both ends. The means of prevention is more mental than physical. Remove or reduce the stress and confusion by replacing it with knowledge. .

The high gravitational forces and rotational and centrifugal forces of aerobatics usually makes it so that our inner ear is giving conflicting data from that given by our other senses. We don’t know what we are doing or how we got there.

When the inner ear confuses our brain messages from what we see, we are unable to resolve our situation. The absence of a certainty such as the horizon creates confusion, doubt, stress. Training in unusual attitudes is directed to solving the horizon problem by having you focus on the attitude indicator. You are given a new constant for the horizon.

By studying an aerobatic maneuver so as to really know why the aircraft reacts as it does, your brain becomes a part of the process. Reliance on the AI attitude indicator allows your brain to ‘know’ what to believe and disbelieve of the senses available. Even better you can anticipate the mix of sensations yet to come. A maneuver and its sensations becomes expected rather than unexpected. Goodbye stress, confusion and sickness.

Importance of Water
1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.
4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.
5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

And now for the properties of Cola:
1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of coke in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of coke and it will be gone in 2 days.
3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous China.
4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.
5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.
8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.
9. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.
2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.
3. The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!
Now the question is, would you like a coke or a glass of water?

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