Return to whittsflying Home Page
A Collection of Little Things (That are nice to know)
The Most Difficult Parts of Learning to Fly; ...The Ways We Learn and Remember; The Heading Indicator; .Sum of the Digits; ...Heading Bug; ...Sectional Chart Folding; Getting Information in Uncommon Ways; Common and Uncommon Frequencies; Radio Use, Distinctions and Differences; Talking beyond ATC; Listening Options; Saying Numbers; Popular Checkpoint Avoidance; Checkpoint Selection; Uncontrolled Airport Arrivals and Departures; Controlled Airport Arrivals and Departures; When to Turn Downwind; 270 Departures; On Course...; Clearing the Approach and Bases; Saving Your Life Once Is Enough? About Tahoe; Aircraft Annual Checklist; Airspace and Altitudes; Newer Seat Restraints; Density Altitude and Humidity; Unknowns about Your Medical; Publications of all FAA Texts; (Free); Distant FSS Phone Numbers (Free); Special Services; Fanny Pack; Levels of Assertiveness; Dutch Roll; Course Reversal; Longitude; Flying Winds; Why 30-Degree Banks; IMMEDIATE; Why Steep Full Flap Approaches; Radio Talking; Good and Dirty Words; Emergencies; ATIS at End; Writing Radar Frequencies; Use of Digital Recorder; SVFR Warnings; Direct Line to Rescue; California’s Division by Eleven Miles; Begin Finding Checkpoints From Your Destination; Even Spacing of Checkpoints; Safe Altitudes; Numbering System of Roads/Airways; Flying with Rudder; Trim Check; Efficiency in Preflight; Economy of Operations; Specific Aircraft Checklists; Throttle Operation; About Trim on Cessnas; Flaps on Piper; 'Approved' Game on the Radio; You and the Naval Air Stations (GCA Exists); Made a Low Approach Lately? Acknowledging an ATC 'Point-Out'; Leaving the Mixture Lean at Run-Up; Clearing Turns; Finding Airports; Surviving Loss of ALL Gyros and Compass; Advection Fog; Radiation Fog Escape Plan; Radar Surveillance Approach; Saving Your Life Once Is Enough; Nationwide Toll free AWOS and ATIS; NORDO Procedures NORDO Practice; Changing into a Survival Mode; Radio Exercise; Taxiing Exercise; An Invalid Taxi Instruction by ATC; Six Ways to Vegas, IFR SF Bay Tour; Declare an Emergency; Making a Gene Whitt Radio Procedure Flip Pizza; Vertigo Simulation;
The Most Difficult
Parts of Learning to Fly?
In my opinion there are three nearly equal aspects of learning to fly of equal difficulty.
Unlearning is first on my list. I may go back to they way you first played with toy airplanes where all your landings were no flare greasers. Works for Sirrus Design though. Part of unlearning is needed where you have been first exposed to thinking or procedures that are basically incorrect. I believe the most damaging thing that can be done to a student pilot is to be taught any aspect of flying the first time incorrectly. The problem lies in the learning law of primacy where under stress you will usually revert back to the first learned instruction.
The second area of difficulty trying to learn without due consideration of
what is required to become a pilot.
Desire is a basic but must be accompanied by willingness to put in the time required for reading and flying.
two hours of study for every hour of flying as a minimum while being able to afford the cost without financial stress. If money is a problem it is always better to wait. The last requirement is frequency. You must be able to fly regularly over a few months at worst. Daily for a month will work. Your frequency of training also depends on having both an available aircraft and instructor. Any part of this matrix missing is going to be a problem.
The last of the three difficulties, I believe, is knowing where to look. Even when looking you must see specific aspects of what you are looking at, the way the scene changes is a most important aspect of seeing. Every student looks but only when you see what you should be looking for will you be able to recognize the required course of action. This looking, seeing and recognizing aspect of flying is why so much of learning to fly requires repetition. I honestly feel that one of the weakness of past and current flight instruction is the failure of instructors to teach toward this aspect
of all flying procedures.
The Ways We Learn and Remember;
I have been a teacher for as long as I can remember. I have not always been successful but I have succeeded where others have failed. I have opinions about teaching and the teaching of flying. Over the years I have tried and failed far more often than I have succeeded as I wished. The most successful experiences I have had, the "A Haaas" of my students have occurred when my students and I are in agreement that they have succeeded. Their success is also mine. You in my audience, when we agree I have succeeded.
Those who find, with little difficulty I might add, fault with my opinions,
ideas, practices, collectables and writings are entitled to disagree.
Disagreement has developed just as many good things as has agreement.
Those who disagreed with my use of tape recorders have adopted the digital
recorder as have I. In putting my digitals on my computer I have decided
that I sound too much like an old man with far too many grunts, moans, and ahaaa.
Ahaaas without the Ah in front. We agree to disagree. But, I know
that what works for me may not be for anyone else. Those who disagree most
fervently will remember well what I say and do.
Remembering is a major part of learning. Bad experiences with total disagreement are learning experiences.
Some teaching and learning involves the making of lists. Often it grows
and grows until we are existing with a list of lists such as checklists. As with
rules of thumb the unused list is as bad as no list at all. Teaching and
learning hold no lasting value unless we have a means of remembering. The
making and using of durable lists adds efficiency to what we do.
Efficiency of effort is the hallmark of the craftsman who is good at what he
does. Lists are good.
One way of making good lists is by keeping things together that belong together. This works for the mind and remembering as well. It is called associating. We will do better remembering if we have as many particulates floating in our associative memory bank as possible. The problem is that we have a broad collection of instinctive particulates that tend to override those we learn. Another hindrance is that the things first learned tend to take precedence over that which is learned later. The most difficult part of learning anew is overcoming that which has been learned before. Learning to taxi is a good illustration of how association can be a negative factor in learning and remembering. Unlearning is the most difficult part of learning.
When we are able to take new material and blend it through association into what we already know, both the learning and remembering becomes easy. Much of teaching is building upon a student's existing bank of knowledge that can be safely associated with what we are teaching. Keeping the good factors and blocking out the bad factors is a major difficulty in teaching anything and especially flying.
The Heading Indicator
The heading indicator is one of your gyroscopic instruments that is usually vacuum driven. The failures I have seen have always resulted in continuous spinning. Every operating HI (heading indicator) has to be set after several minutes operation to normal speed. In the air it must be a part of your instrument scan to have the compass heading and the HI reading the same. A vertical plate compass will read the same as the HI when the HI is properly set. The numbers of the more common compass will have all the numbers that can be seen reversed to those of the HI.
You must double check the setting of the HI by reading the two numbers on each side of the compass lubber line and then pick the one it is closest to as your reference. To set the heading indicator you must pick the two numbers as on the sides of the compass. Turn the heading indicator until the two numbers are on both sides of the heading reference and then put it closer to the same number as the same compass number. These numbers are backwards on the compass and the HI. In setting the HI you must adjust for this difference. .
Sum of the digits
On the heading indicator the sum of the digits a little known way of remembering how to make 90, 180, or 270 degree turns. It works for all the numbers of the heading indicator.
Pick any number say 030 add the digits and you get 0+3+0=3
A 90 degree turn takes you to 120 1+2+0 = 3
Another 90 degrees and you are at 210 2+1+0 = 3
Next 90 degrees and you are at 300 =3
This works no matter what number you start with.
45 turns work as well but a bit differently since they will all end in a 5. When you use the sum of the digits system you keep adding the digits until you have only a single digit. 335 adds to 11 adds to 2. 45 degrees from any heading ending in zero will always end in a 5 beginning at 360 = 9 a 45-degree right turn takes you to 045 = 9 Every 45 degrees to the right will always equal 9. 090=9 135=9 180=9 225 =9 270 = 9 315=9. When making turns in the pattern regardless of the runway direction the no wind directions always have the same sum of the digits total.
Sum of the Digits on Heading Indicator
---The 90/270 course reversal, as an alternate and approved way of making a procedure turn, has a tremendous advantage when making turns and remembering where to turn.
---The system is called the 'sum of the digits'
---Take any number of the heading indicator and add all three of its digits and keep adding until you get a single digit.
Example #1 030 = 3
Example #2 290 = 11 = 2
---The sum of the digits every 90-degrees all the way around the dial will equal 3 or 2 in both cases. It works for every number on both the 90-degree numbers and 45-degree numbers.
030 = 3; 120 = 3; 210= 3; 300 = 3
290 = 11 = 2; 020= 2; 110 = 2; 200= 2
Works all the time every time.
Re: Sum of the Digits
Certainly interesting in an academic sense, but I don't see how it is very helpful in the real world. So if you already know the correct number, the digits will sum the same, but how do you use this to derive the correct number in the first place?
A much simpler, faster, and easier to remember rule is, for 90 degree right (left) turns: add (subtract) 100, then subtract (add) 10. For 180 degrees, use 200 and 20; for 270 degrees, 300 and 30.
I do something similar..
180 degree turn from 135 add 2 to the first digit (1) and subtract 2 from the second digit (3) for 215 degrees
180 degree turn from 335 subtract 2 from the first digit and add 2 to the second digit for 155 degrees
For a 90 degree turn from 135 degrees (to the right) add 1 to the first digit and subtract 1 from the second digit for 225 degrees.
I mainly use the 2 - 2 method for quickly calculating reciprocal headings.
I also use the two-two system but it is a bit more difficult on numbers either side of 180. Another thing I do is use the bug-less heading indicator to set myself up on 45-degree entries to downwind either left or right patterns by noting that on a right-45 entry the runway number is at the lower right 45-pip of heading indicator. When on a left-45 entry the runway number is on the left 45-pip of the heading indicator.
For those of us fortunate enough to have a heading bug on their heading indicator. many procedures related to taxiing, airport patterns, course reversals VOR radial tracking and most IFR procedures are much easier and well worth the extra money.
As part of your post-start checklist you should set the heading by to the wind direction. This is an eye catcher when it comes to holding the yoke correctly for the wind.
On making arrivals at controlled airports you can set the heading bug to the
active runway and make the 45-entry. Aim for the runway numbers in right traffic
and the heading bug will be at your lower right 45-degree marker on your
heading indicator. Left traffic and it will be to your lower left
45-degree heading marker.
Downwind it will be to your rear in no-wind. The heading bug is an in-house GPS when used properly.
It takes new pilots considerable experiences at unfamiliar airports before they
are able to combine all the factors for a good 45-entry to a runway. At
uncontrolled airports it may involve circling the windsock to get the wind
direction and preferred runway. Then setting the heading bug to the runway
heading. My recommendation is that you initiate
your turns to the right since the standard direction is left traffic. Once
you have selected your runway you can widen your circle to include an over-flight at right angle to the touchdown numbers of the runway.
The heading bug will be to your right. This place
is where you can most easily make the 45-degree outbound leg above
.pattern altitude. You can use the heading bug here but you should need to
but by setting it to the inbound number it can be very useful in the course
reversal to follow the end of the outbound 45. This outbound leg is where you plan your descent to
pattern altitude and the course reversal for the inbound leg. All 45s must
be adjusted for wind direction and velocity. The runway numbers are also your
aiming point for the inbound leg. Once established on the inbound leg it is
time to set the bug to the runway heading.
Once fully utilized the heading bug it becomes as indispensable as does the GPS.
you can learn to fly without it but you would rather not.
Sectional Chart Folding
The purpose of this process is to reduce the two-handed in the cockpit difficulty pilots have in using sectionals. It is not practical in every flight but very helpful when it works for you.
---Open out the sectional to full size
---Draw a line full length on the chart for the intended flight.
---Fold the chart horizontally so as much of t first part of line shows as possible.
---Accordion fold the chart end to end.
---Open part of fold where flight begins.
---You can keep your flight in a single open fold about a foot square
Getting Information in Uncommon Ways
--How do you get your local ATC radar frequency? You could try a frequency of the same facility that you know. If you are in range it may or may not work. On the other hand you could contact the nearest tower. They will know. Be sure to give your location in your call-up.
--I have heard pilots broadcast on the incorrect UNICOM frequency and get several responses giving the correct frequency for the airport mentioned.
--Once I was beyond FSS range due to distance and altitude and wanted to
close a flight plan. I searched several frequencies and finally heard
someone. I got on radio and asked if he would call the FSS and close my
flight plan if I gave him all the information. He agreed. I gave him
the frequency to use, aircraft ID, my departure and destination and that I had
my destination in sight. A couple minutes later he told me that the plan
had been closed.
--Once I heard a pilot out in the middle of nowhere make repeated calls to Flight Watch on 122.0 The frequency I often monitor on cross-countries. I told him to standby and I would see what I could do. I made contact with Flight Watch and they gave me the airline high altitude frequency for him to use. I passed the frequency along and listened while he got what he wanted.
--When I am arriving at an airport and need ground transportation, I never hesitate in making contact with UNICOM and ask them to call a taxi. I do this so that it will be there when I arrive. Alternatively, I ask UNICOM if loaner cars are available. The more isolated the airport the more friendly people seem to be.
--I have found that ATC will be most helpful when you are in a situation where you need them to make a phone call. It never hurts to try. Explain the problem and hope.
Common and Uncommon Frequencies
122.5 The only time I have heard this frequency used by other than an ELT is once when a student in the practice area was given a simulated emergency and proceeded to key the radio with all the correct words for an actual emergency.
I advised the tower that I would go out to see what I could see but shortly afterwards he called in for landing clearance.
You know that you can call Flight Watch from most any place in the U.S. from altitudes above 5000 with a request regarding weather information.. In most cases 122.0 works well but when it doesn't is there something else you can do? Airlines have discrete Flight Watch frequencies that work when 122.0 won't. For the Oakland Flight Watch area the frequency is 135.7. You will be talking to the same place and to the same person as you would on 122.0. As always, your call up on the frequency requires that you give your location as the name of your closest VOR. When weather is deteriorating 122.0 is a good frequency to listen to so you can hear what other pilots are doing and seeing.
122.75 is the common aircraft to aircraft frequency. 122.85 is also an aircraft to aircraft frequency but use is restricted to those aircraft engaged in search and rescue operations.
The uncontrolled airport without a published frequency should be flown just like any other uncontrolled airport using 122.9
122.1 is a unique frequency in that it is used by aircraft only to talk to an FSS using a VOR and its land line to the FSS. The FSS cannot talk back to you on that frequency. Instead, the pilot must have the VOR frequency in his Nav radio with the volume up in order to hear the FSS specialist reply.
Several critical aspects of this communication are required of the
pilot. The sectional box of the VOR must have a 122.2R above the box and
below the box the name of the FSS. Secondly, you must have both 122.1 and
the proper VOR frequency on your radios. A VOR frequency with a line under
it will not work.
Last, you must have the volume of the VOR receiver up in order to hear the FSS.
122.2 If you want to make contact with a Flight Service Station and do not know what frequency is preferred for you situation, try 122.2. For years 122.2 has been the universal frequency for contacting the FSS. Be sure to tell every FSS what frequency you are listening on in your initial call-up.
Radio Use, Distinctions
I assume that by "The ADF is showing O degrees straight ahead," you mean
that the card is fixed in position with 000 relative at the top. Note that
this is a mechanical thing, not an electronic thing...the card is fixed in
position and does not move. The card will always have 000 at the top no
matter what you do with the airplane. In those cases, the needle (which is
responding to an electronic signal) indicates the relative bearing to the
station...you are right in your example, the station is 90 degrees to your
right. But that information alone isn't doing much for you...you need to
know the magnetic HEADING to the station in order to fly to it. So look at
your heading indicator...now look 90 degrees to the right of "straight
ahead" and see what the needle is pointing to. That is the instantaneous
magnetic heading to the station, and is the answer to the RB(90) + MH
(whatever you see) = MH or MB to the station. I say instantaneous, because
the needle is going to move as you fly, and your radius of turn will come
Now, how about the movable card? In this case (in the test booklet, not in
the airplane unless you rotate the card yourself), the number at the top of
the ADF card is the same as the airplane's heading and the needle indicates
the instantaneous magnetic heading/bearing to the station without any
intervening calculations. With an RMI, which does not figure in the private
pilot test, the ADF card is slaved to and repeats the movements of the
heading indicator...great time and effort saver.
Talking beyond ATC
Every time you give your aircraft altitude, position, and intentions to ATC you should realize that what you say is available to everyone and every aircraft on the frequency. Yes, with radar ATC can use their radar transponder readout to check the accuracy of your blind transponder encoder but other than that your altitude matters to ATC only if you are in their airspace.
It is always to give your altitude along with additional information related to whether you are level, climbing or descending. This gives additional heads-up warnings to other aircraft. Other pilots can use a correctly called position to know where to look and whether where you are going means that your flight planning will conflict with theirs. For this reason you are well advised to utilize the same kinds of information from other aircraft on the frequency.
When you arrive at a busy airport your situational awareness must extend beyond knowing where you are and telling everyone. You must be able to interpret the altitudes and flight intentions of others for your own safety. When in doubt ask ATC to verify the information you need to know about another aircraft.
But, if I'm not near anything, is there something I should be listening too?
Regarding what to do on the radio when kissed off by ATC. I would always recommend using a radar facility for advisories. Next choice would be to monitor 122.0 known as Flight Watch when on long flights. Keeps you informed of how other pilots are thinking about weather. I would monitor all the local AWOS frequencies on my route as well as the CTAF frequency. You can leave any ATC radar facility for a minute or so to do these things and then report back on frequency when through. You can also use the FSS to phone a far away AWOS and give you the pertinent information about your uncontrolled airport information.
--Most flying numbers are magnetic since they are based on the runway direction
--Wind numbers given at airports are also magnetic
--Wind numbers given by Flight Service Stations are based upon True North and must be adjusted for isogonic variation to obtain magnetic directions.
--First off the way you say directions best said always using three digits
--003 is three-degrees to the right of 360 or N and said as zero, zero, three
--030 is thirty-degrees to the right of north and is said as zero, three, zero
--130 is nearly southeast and is said as one, three, zero
--230 is nearly southwest and is said as two, three, zero
--330 is said as three, three, zero
--Altitudes can be defined as AGL (Above Ground Level) or MSL (Mean Sea Level) which is a hypothetical average of tide height. Aircraft and charts use MSL so that all aircraft can be expected to fly into a given area with the same altimeter setting or very nearly so.
--Above ground altitudes (AGL) have very specific influence on aircraft directions and visibility requirements. Within 3000 feet of the ground the east/west hemispheric altitude/directions do not apply. Flight visibility within either 1200 (blue) or 700 (magenta) feet AGL of airspace not controlled to the ground is one-mile minimum and clear of clouds.
--The word 'feet' is not said at the end of words giving numbers for altitudes.
--Standard ATC radar procedures requires the specialists to confirm your blind-encoder altimeter part of the transponder signal be verified orally to ATC. The allowable variance is plus/minus 300 feet..
--Rounding off altitude numbers to the nearer hundred of feet is standard in aviation.
--Adding the appropriate word such as level, climbing or descending helps clarify meaning.
--Above 18,000 feet altitudes are called flight levels 20,000 feet is called flight-level 20.
--16,500 feet is called one-six thousand five hundred.
--9,600 is said as niner-thousand six hundred. This avoids 'nine' meaning 'no' in German
--Revolutions per minute are measured as the number of times propeller turns in a minute.
--An odometer type device called a Hobbes meter is usually activated by an oil-pressure switch to track the total time the engine is in opereration.
--The rpm is counted in hundreds of turns per minute. Slowest ground speed is is about 5-600 rpm.
--Idle is from 700 to 1000 rpm. with low cruise about 2200 said as twenty-two hundred.
--Most aircraft cruise at close to 2400 rpm, said as twenty-four hundred.
--Maintenance scheduling for most aircraft is based upon tachometer numbers.
--Rental time is based upon hobbes time by comparing the numbers before and after the flight the difference is expressed in hours and tenths of hours such as 2.3..
Finding airports will never be easy. You can help yourself by associating the airport and its location with other visual points easy to identify such as bridges, rivers, towns and lakes. You will be better off if you maintain an altitude two or three thousand feet above the airport elevation.
Do not look where your passengers look. Do not look where your instructor looks. Locate an identifiable place and get on the radio. Do not use a golf course near Palm Springs nor a oil tank farm in Oklahoma. Look for airplanes that may be departing or arriving. A little used facility is the FSS. They can take you through a process of using the VORs to find where you are and steer you as necessary. Any radar facility can give you a vector but they may not tell you when to descend. that's something you should do for yourself. Knowing how to get help is a major part of flying.
Surviving Loss of ALL
Gyros and Compass
Use the Course/track Numbers of the GPS to keep your wings level. Select a destination direction on the GPS that will take you to VFR. Always fly with three-inch post-its so that you can cover all instruments that are inoperative. Nothing, but nothing is more disorienting and attracting as an inoperative instrument. Been there, done that.
Advection fog forms at sea and spreads inland like a blanket. It moves in and out over the land from ground level to about two thousand feet. During the day it rises
and thins but can remain for several days before retreating once again to sea. Those familiar learn to read advection fog cycles and to plan their flying accordingly.
Below the fog, visibility is often unlimited. By getting below the fog
you can go
most anywhere and even land at airports where IFR traffic is unable to descend due to minimum altitude restrictions. Once visibility is above one mile at an airport you can cleared out of or into the airport airspace one aircraft at a time (conditional). The required visibility is one mile and clear of clouds. You can go as close as you want to the clouds, just not into them. The minimum altitude restrictions are offset by the 'intention to land' aspect of an arrival.
It is important that the pilot realize a SVFR clearance restriction related
to altitude is based upon the altitude where radar control is possible.
This altitude and SVFR
clearance applies only to the airport surface area. Once outside that area you are required to have three mile visibility and 1000'.500' and 2000' cloud clearances or to otherwise stay within 700 or 1200 feet AGL and one-mile visibility. At airport clearance and restrictions do not apply outside their airspace..
Radiation Fog Escape Plan
The nature of radiation fog is to be very low to the ground. This is because the sun burns through the initial layer and finds water to make more fog. It is not unusual to have radiation fog only a couple of hundred feet thick all day. It is not the thickness or height of radiation fog that makes flying difficult. It is the slant range visibility that is the problem.
In radiation fog conditions I have found it possible to both takeoff and land in SVFR conditions dependent on the ability of the tower to claim the one mile visibility required for SVFR. You are given a clearance that requires you to report over the airport in VFR conditions at or above a specific altitude. Once the control zone was clear or traffic or the traffic was observed and acknowledged a SVFR clearance would be given to descend in pattern for landing.. A departure in pattern is also used.
Radar Surveillance Approach
The radar surveillance approach is not the precision approach possible with the Ground Controlled Approach radar and it is not so labor intensive. The FAA has reduced the number of qualified controllers for the RSA approach but if a qualified controller is available it is a viable alternative if the pilot is capable of maintaining aircraft control in IFR conditions.
Since radar guidance is a near emergency situation it is important for the pilot to realize that the FAA regulations prevent ATC from giving you the location of an escape airport for which they do not have current weather. Preventable deaths have occurred because of this restriction.
It is important that you become aware of airports that may provide you an escape route.
One of the safety techniques I have used has been not to use those checkpoints and arrivals that because of their over use become as hazardous as does a VOR.
I do this by calling in at less familiar and used points. I take two additional steps to increase my margins of safety. I use altitudes that are not ending in even thousands or five-hundreds. Secondly, I am always to one side of the checkpoint by a mile or so. My call-up would include the words, "..two west of blank intersection at 2700...".
Because of the required 'head in the cockpit' of IFR departures and arrivals it behooves VFR pilots to know and avoid IFR corridors as much as possible. The more you know about IFR procedures the better you can protect yourself by selecting and flying other places and altitudes to fly. You can use ass the little bits of safety you can get or make for yourself.
Uncontrolled Airport Arrivals and
Opinions used as suggestions
The standard arrivals and departures from uncontrolled airports in the AIM provide maximum separation of aircraft. It is as good a system as we can get under present FARs. The problem is that the requirements are so flexible that they are not always
known or followed.
One of the most common arrival errors I have found is where the pilot does not know how to aim the aircraft at the touchdown numbers. Instead he aims at the midfield point and uses it as a guide for his downwind turn. When this pilot flies this misunderstanding of the process and when a departing pilot turns as soon as he is passing the end of the runway the separation margins are greatly reduced. At a short runway the margins are even further reduced.
Using 4' as a pretty standard length runway for an small airport and 5000'
for the long and 3000 for the short I will suggest some safety options. In
every instance aim your 45-entry at the touchdown numbers. For the 5000'
turn downwind at midfield. For the two shorter runways turn downwind when
abeam the departure end of the runway. Doing this gives you a degree of
consistency in size of your pattern spacing in either right or left traffic and
will allow you to see the runway even in right traffic.
Departing traffic should climb to an altitude that reduces noise problems before turning on his departure 45 and should climb above pattern altitude before turning to intercept his course line to the destination.
After you have drawn your line straight from to departure to destination for your cross-country your next step is to select your checkpoints. Ideally, a checkpoint should be to your left, easily seen and crosschecked by two other seen elements.
The bridge you plan to use should have a city in the correct place and a bend in the road leading to it or some such. When you cannot get three things to help assure you of a checkpoint you should get a VOR radial through the checkpoint mark on your course line that cuts no less the at a 60 degree angle and better near 90-degrees.
A checkpoint right on your course line is going to be difficult to see and get a time check on. A checkpoint to your right needs to be far enough away that you can see it without ducking a wing. In low visibility you should keep your checkpoints closer together. When you are uncertain as to what your flight visibility will be you are better off to select more closely spaced points that could be amended by skipping every other one when good conditions permit. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Reliance on GPS will ultimately deteriorate checkpoint finding, selecting and seeing checkpoints. In my opinion, use of the GPS should be minimized in training for as long as practical. GPS makes navigation too accurate and too easy. Reliance on GPS grows and its failure can be devastating to the dependent pilot.
Controlled Airport Arrivals and
Local authorities control the noise abatement procedures. They set pattern altitudes, directions and certain flight restrictions regarding takeoff turn heights.. They set operational hours for certain activities.. These are standards that can only be varied by ATC for safety reasons.
With ATC approval, you can do things that you cannot do at an uncontrolled airport. ATC can authorize a buzz-job. ATC can offer you about any kind of arrival or landing that you can make and even more departures. However, they are somewhat limited by local regulations.
As a pilot you are just as likely to be violated by local authorities as you
are by the FAA. To keep out of trouble you must know not only the FARs but
the local rules as well. Beyond this you can fly.
The single runway offers several arrival options:
One of the more difficult landings is the straight in. More difficult because you need to mentally unwind the normal landing pattern into a straight line so you can space out your landing procedures. You get two of these usually one from each end. However, some runways for reasons such as terrain will allow arrivals from only one end. Sometimes there is a day and night end as well.
There are two base entries one from each side. Some towers allow modified base entries and some terrain can require modified base entries. The modified base lets you arrive at the turn to final at an angle other than at 90-degrees.
The standard arrival is the downwind arrival in which you aim for the landing
numbers at a 45-degree angle as you fly to intercept the downwind entry.
At a controlled airport it may be possible to get either a left or right
Modifications of many of these approaches may be made by notifying the tower such as short-approach, long landing, low-approach, stop and go, full stop taxi back on runway. All these and several more are available by asking and getting approval.
Single runway departures
By request you can ask for any departure you want. Local regulations determine not only the the pattern altitude and direction but at what point or altitude the first turn can be made.
The unasked for is usually the standard left-45. You must ask for the right-45, a straight out, left/right crosswind, left/right downwind, left/right 270, or any on course departure..
When to Turn Downwind
The beginning of a good landing most often begins on the downwind. The downwind is the place where you usually do your pre-landing checklist. It is where you adjust for crosswinds to get the length of base leg you need to judge your high/low angle of the base. It is where you use the wind velocity or lack of it to make your base turn. It is where you set your power for the normal approach, short approach, short-short approach and no flap landing. The downwind is the mother of all landing difficulties to follow.
When to turn downwind very much depends upon aircraft performance. Faster and larger aircraft need to be on a wider pattern. The standard arrival for G.A. aircraft is most efficient at cruise speed. I have spent many flights trying to teach pilots with high-performance aircraft not to slow to C-172 speeds as they get near an airport. The faster the aircraft and the smaller the airport the further out should be the downwind. At a 2500' runway you turn downwind abeam the departure end, at 5000' runways you turn down midfield. In every 45 arrival you aim at the landing numbers of the runway. Adjust your arrival for winds that will change your 45' angle and turn early with an angle away from the runway on downwind if there is a crosswind combing behind you. Don't let the wind blow you into the airport.
A common fault I find is on a right downwind where the pilot has
difficulty seeing the runway out the side window to the right. He lowers
the wing to see the runway better and every time he does this he gets slightly
closer to the runway. By the time he gets ready to turn base he has hardly
any base leg left. Far better to fly extra wide any time the wind is
blowing you into the runway and on right downwind patterns.
I have written extensively about the advantages and usefulness of the 270 departure. Directly over the airport is one of the least traveled regions of airspace.
However there are some cautions. The 270 is not a good choice for departure at an airport used for parachute jumping. It is not a good way to leave if your aircraft is not capable of getting you at least 500' above the pattern altitude as you cross the downwind pattern route.
One of the aspects of talking beyond ATC is in your pre=departure request to the tower or what you say prior to taking the runway at an uncontrolled airport. To indicate that you are departing 'on course' to a destination tells all aircraft that you will leave a runway at the airport and go toward a particular destination initially climbing.
The element of safety in this type of notice to the tower and all aircraft on the frequency is that it is far more specific that straight-out, crosswind or downwind departure. Any one of these 'standards' can vary more than 90 degrees. Listening aircraft really have no idea just where an aircraft departing on a crosswind is really heading.
One of the most precise departures that you can make is the request for a "270 on course...' Then listening aircraft can mentally draw a direct line from one airport to another to tell where to expect you with a far greater degree of accuracy. The more you use it the more others will try it and the safer I will be.
Clearing the Approach and Bases
At uncontrolled airports the common departure practice is to make a pre-takeoff 360 as protective insurance against unknown traffic. This clearing procedure is not practical at controlled airports but, depending on the physical location of the run-up area to runway and ATC practices you can insure yourself.
One thing you can do is tell ground that you wish to reposition prior to
contacting tower while holding short of the runway. In other situations
the procedure is to do your run-up taxi so as to clear the possible approaches
and then contact tower.
Some times a request to reposition has ground telling you to contact tower then.
You just learn to go with the flow but always, ALWAYS, clearing both bases and final before turning your back to final.
Another clearing turn that I use is relatively uncommon but is still a kind
of insurance. When I land on one parallel runway, very often I will
receive ATC instructions to hold short of the other parallel and to contact
ground.. I read back the instructions but when I taxi close to the hold
bars I get to one edge of the taxiway and turn so as to see the approach and
bases of the yet to be crossed runway. I teach this to my students and
other pilots when the occasion allows.
Too bad it is not a standard practice.
Saving Your Life Once Is Enough
One of the run-up areas at my home field of Concord, CA is so located that many aircraft are told to face in a particular direction for the run-up. Additionally, there is a drainage dip between the run-up area and the runway. The shortest way to the runway is across the dip and far too many aircraft complete their run-up, get a clearance to depart and proceed a bit faster than they should across the dip, on to the runway and depart.
The proportion of aircraft that turn so as to clear the final approach course
is perhaps less than 15%. What this means that every high wing aircraft is
taking the clearance and taking the runway without ever clearing the final
approach courses and the left base. It is possible to see the right base
but only momentarily. Low-wing aircraft can roll and clear the right base
and the final course.
What bothers me about the situation is how easy I have found it to teach my students and check-out pilots to advise ground that they wish to reposition prior to contacting tower and will hold short of the runway. What this means is that they plan to taxi around the dip along and clear of the hold -short bars. They will make a 180 so that they can see all of the possible approach arrivals before going to tower and getting their clearance.
On two occasions, both at dusk, I have been cleared for a takeoff when my
clearing turns prior to taking the runway have revealed an aircraft on a
relatively low approach on short final. Once was enough. Twice
enough to make me think 'they' are trying to kill me.
Over the years I have flown into South Lake Tahoe an average of once a year. Often at the request of a student or pilot. Every time I have learned a bit more about the importance of gaining altitude prior to crossing Echo Summit. Nothing like density altitude to take the zip out of a high performance aircraft.
East or North bound the climb is possible but southwest bound you need to plan a climb to 8-9 thousand before heading over the mountains. There are several options for gaining this altitude. For those familiar with ridge lift as it exists near mountain ridges, you might want to fly to the airport golf course and make switch-back turns into the ridge to improve your climb performance. Otherwise a climb in the left hand pattern is a viable alternative. Flying close to mountains can benefit your climb rate. I do not recommend climbing out over the lake due to dearth of landing options.
I attended a meeting at Tahoe this April and heard/saw an FAA presentation on
density altitude. What surprised and disappointed me was that humidity as
a factor was never mentioned. Fact is, humidity can made as much as a 3000
foot difference in the density altitude at Tahoe. Visualize a 90-degree
runway temperature and a recent thundershower. The humidity would be close
to 90-percent. The April 2004 issue of the FAA Aviation news gives the
method of finding the effect of humidity on density altitude I have ever found.
It is available on the FAA web site..
It is not common knowledge that the original airport was located near where all the casinos are now. Also at Homewood on the lake was the longest runway in the United States and perhaps the world for many years. 25,000 feet long. (water)
Aircraft Annual Checklist
On my web site at # 2.25 and 6.31 you will find much of the information you should have as an aircraft owner. as the owner of an aircraft it is your responsibility to have every item on the aircraft brought up to FAA specifications ever year.
Airspace and Altitudes (simplified?)
The FAA design of airspace and altitudes are primary for their own convenience. Within the FAR restrictions the pilot is expected to proceed as best he can without running into another airplane or obstacle that would violate an FAR or give rise to another one.
The airspace regulations and altitude requirements are best understood and taught in actual conditions. I like to begin from the ground up. The rules close to the ground are pretty basic.
--You must be able to get on the ground without injury to persons or property.
-- You must have one mile flight visibility. Class B exception.
--You must remain clear of clouds
--Altitudes are either zero, 700' or 1200'.
--Under a SVFR clearance in D and C there is no lower altitude limit.
--The upper SVFR restriction does not apply beyond the boundary of Classes C or D.
--Ceiling of 1000' AGL with broken or overcast cloud cover.
--No hemispheric direction rule below 3000AGL
Once above the basic 700/1200 altitudes
--Three mile visibility.
--Cloud limits 500' below, 1000' above or 2000 laterally to 10,000'
--Hemispheric direction rule applies above 3000 AGL
Ten-Thousand to 18,000
--Cloud limits 1000/1000/1-mile
18,000 to 60,000
--Seat belts are a neglected element of flight preparation.
--Shoulder harness add measurably to the safety of the cockpit.
--Safety factors of restraints are design, materials and use.
--Measures of belt safety; Belt safe at 15g’s for two-thousandths of a second + Harness at 25 g’s for two-seconds
--Belts and harness better if as tight as possible.
--Inertial reel harnesses are better than fixed.
--Four point harness + inertial reel are best of all.
--Seat belt that slants is better than when vertical.
--Adding restraints cost $1000 per seat but more expensive air bags are coming.
--Failure of seat or seat attachments is hazard area.
–A seatbelt briefing is required before takeoff and landing
Density Altitude and Humidity
When you use your computer to figure density altitude you leave out one part that has a surprising potential on your final figure. To compensate for this omission tables and graphs put in a fudge factor. Here are some of the missing figures.
--High humidity will increase the negative effect of high pressure altitude and high temperature by 10-percent.
–Humidity effects are exponential like G-forces in a bank.
–Humidity ranges from 0 = dry, to 100-percent = wet
–Relative humidity is defined as water vapor present compared to that which could be present.
–Relative humidity is given as a percentage of 100-perecent.
–Rule of Thumb effects:
0 to 50-percent humidity with low temperature and low humidity ADD 200 feet
0 to 50-percent humidity with high temperature and low humidity ADD 1000 feet
50 to 100-percemt humidity with low temperature and high humidity ADD 400 feet
50 to 100-percent humidity with high temperature and high humidity ADD 2000 feet.
--90-degrees F at 100-percent humidity add nearly 1500’ to density altitude.
--100-degrees F at 100-percent humidity add nearly 2000’ to density altitude.
--Multiply the two above numbers by the measured relative humidity percentage for the actual correction.
--Combinations of temperature, density altitude density altitude can be increased over fifty-percent by humidity.
--Safer to use humidity correction added to pressure altitude before entering into performance charts.
--An increase of density altitude over 3000-feet is possible due to high humidity
Unknowns about Your Medical
For a fee you can receive a copy of everything in your FAA file. Send a signed, written request, stating your name, date of birth, social security number, and/or certificate number, along with a check or money order for $10 to the FAA Airmen Certification Branch, AFS-760, Post Office Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK 73125-0082. Or if you prefer, you can download the FAA's online request form
( http://registry.faa.gov/docs/COMPRQST.pdf ) and mail it to the above
Publications of all FAA Texts (Free)
Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Instrument Flying Handbook
Toll free AWOS and ATIS
Dial: (887)ANY-AWOS and put in the 3-digit airport identifier
Distant FSS Phone Numbers
(800) WX-BRIEF automatically connects you with the closest Flight Service Station to the area code from which you’re calling. If you’re using your cell phone, you’ll get connected to your home FSS no matter where you are in the country. Since it’s better to talk to local weather briefers, use the numbers listed below for specific facilities.
All numbers use the (866) toll free area code.
Albuquerque 499-5390; Altoona 708-9987; Anderson 225-2172; Anniston 609-8684; Bangor 295-3835; Boise 258-9068; Bridgeport 293-5149; Buffalo 678-2759; Burlington 847-1846;
Casper 277-7498; Cedar City 667-3858; Cleveland 780-8261; Columbia 223-4352; Columbus 288-3448; Conroe 689-5992; Dayton 505-6163; Denver 751-7021; Deridder 401-5659;
Elkins 656-2661; Fairbanks 248-6516; Fort Dodge 300-2858; Ft Worth 272-7915; Gainesville 523-7229; Grand Forks 306-6931; Great Falls 527-7601; Green Bay 845-4888; Greenwood 245-6109; Hawthorne 879-8252; Honolulu 766-0820; Huron 732-1331; Jackson 840-1051;
Jonesboro 520-8890; Juneau 297-2236; Kankakee 450-6593; Kenai 864-1737; Islip 365-5019;
Lansing 879-4066; Leesburg 225-7410; Louisville 412-7968; Macon 276-0243; McAlester 269-0189; McMinnville 833-7631; Miami 347-0316; Millville 225-7620; Nashville 890-1348;
Oakland 469-7828; Prescott 226-3763; Princeton 841-6469; Raleigh 663-3354; Rancho Murrieta 272-7525; Reno 281-2737; Riverside 838-2250; San Angelo 300-3867; San Diego 682-2175;
San Juan 822-8537; Seattle 384-7323; St Louis 671-6176; St Petersburg 295-3983; Terre Haute 224-9906; Wichita 672-5145; Williamsport 655-6434
You never know unless you try and ask for what you feel is needed. In my career I have had the following situations where FAA facilities have given me help.
---I needed weather information at an airport with AWOS but out of my range.
I contacted the closest FSS and they phoned the AWOS and got the weather for me.
---I had forgotten to close my flight plan. I called a tower and asked that they close it for me. Done!
---I had unexpectedly got a low fuel situation that could become serious. I asked
a radar facility to phone and make sure that fuel would be available after hours at a nearby uncontrolled airport. Done!
---My FBO was about to close with my car keys in their office. I requested ATC to give me a direct route through Class Bravo so that I could get there before they closed. Done!
---I asked ground control to allow me to use their instructions to taxi all over the airport with a student who was having difficulty learning where all the taxiways and runways were relative to each other. We did this for an hour.
---I used to take a student through the Flight Service Station and did so until 9/11 regulations considered it unsafe.
---I took every student I ever taught into the tower to meet the controllers and see how a tower operated. I did, that is, until 9/11
---I would visit the tower on every first solo of my students. On several occasions I was able to advise of what procedures the student was capable of performing. 9/11 makes this safety procedure no longer available.
Had a student a few years ago who turned me on to the advantages of having a preflight fanny pack. Very convenient for keeping rubber gloves, rags, small tools and other things that may be required for preflight but other wise can be put away for the rest of the flight.
Levels of Assertiveness
The levels have to do with that way you speak over the radio when dealing with ATC, your wife or even children..
The lowest level is called passive. In this instance you make a statement of your name and situation and little more
The second level is informational or suggestive. In addition to giving your identification and location your advise as what you want to do and how you want to do it. ATC says "Approved as requested."
The third level is that of offering alternatives This may be done by ATC instead of saying "Approved as requested." or by you in response to their alternative.
The fourth level is that of being critical You say your
way is better than his way.
The fifth level is expressed opposition. You don't want to do it ATC's way
The highest level of assertiveness is open conflict. You won't do it ATC's way. Declare an emergency (Or expect an FAA checkride)
Being able to perform the Dutch roll without conscious effort much as you roller skate without thinking of what to do with your feet, is the basic flight skill required in performing crosswind landings. It takes a beginner about five separate 2-3 minute sessions. The unfamiliar pilot can do it in two sessions.
The process is one of slowly but constantly rocking the wings of the aircraft
the same amount to each side of level. The problem is to apply rudder as
needed to keep the nose form moving. Since banking turns an aircraft and the
nose you must
anticipate your rudder application to keep the nose straight. The sequence and degree of rudder pressure will vary left to right. You must anticipate and measure the amount of rudder to use in keeping the nose from moving straight ahead.
For a full explanation of the Dutch roll go to other parts of the web site.
I never cease to be amazed (again) by the number of new and old pilots that I talk and fly with who are unfamiliar with the course reversal. For a short period of time it was a part of the private pilot PTS but then it was dropped. I have been usable to find out how early it entered aviation but have reason to believe it has existed in naval history for years. Have to go over to California Maritime Academy in Vallejo and do some library research.
Unlike the one-eighty the course reversal does more than just change direction, it puts you down the same track. I have learned and taught the 90/270. The FAA has published one that varies some 10-degrees for reasons I can only surmise. Not as easy to do or remember obviously.
The sum of the digits sequence where all 90-degrees from
any of the 360 degrees of a circle add to the same number makes the 90/270
relatively easy to remember.
120, 030, 210, and 300 are the only ones that add to 3. Begin at any number on the compass and the same will be true except for a different sum.
The key aspect for making a course reversal is first to note your
heading. Second, note the reciprocal number below. That is the
number you will be turning to when
you first turn 90 degrees and then turn the 270.
The over-the-ground precision of the course reversal is dependent upon the wind direction and the use of a constant bank. I would recommend the course reversal be taught and practiced as a ground reference maneuver when changing directions about a point or rectangle. Fly into the wind until clear of the immediate area. Note your heading and it's reciprocal. Make your bank of 30-degrees a constant throughout the maneuver while making a 90 followed immediately by a 270. You should be on the same track line as you started.
Any errors of the course reversal should be due to non-constant angle of bank
or not being directly into the wind when initiated. In IFR practice the
course reversal bank should always be at standard rate. A good placed to
practice is using VOR radials over a VOR beginning into the wind and then with a
crosswind. Good for
VFR or hood work.
Beyond practice the course reversal can be very useful in arrivals at uncontrolled airports where over-flying to get the active runway is concerned. Determine the active runway. Determine if traffic is left or right. Fly across the touchdown end of the runway as using the initial factors to decide if you want the runway to your right or left when crossing. Circle and cross in right turns if it is left traffic. Circle and cross in left turns it is right traffic.
Turn left or right toward the runway depending on where you want your outbound 45-degree course. Make a course reversal and fly toward the numbers until you are ready to turn downwind. Drawing or walking through the above procedure will help you understand the process better.
The FAA has finally accepted the course reversal as a means of reversing course where a procedure turn is required or as a much simpler means of changing direction in a holding pattern. You still must pass the flight test using the traditional three procedures but from then on the course reversal is allowed.
This is a small book that will give you an insight into the history of navigation and indirectly how the world became the mess that it is today. It also tells how close
we came to the computer age two hundred years ago. A good read. Pocket edition about $12. Video doesn't compare.
Oddly enough the most difficult phase of flying the winds is when taxiing. When the winds get strong above 20 knots the way you hold the yoke and use the brakes becomes critical. Only a moment of incorrect control use can be disastrous.
On takeoff you must hold the yoke over into the wind that is not down the runway until just before lift-off. At lift-off you must get the aircraft off while going to a level yoke and rudder to crab into the existing wind. Once flying you want to stay over the runway and in the case of parallel runways you should put about 10-degrees of safety angle away from the other runway. Do this as a regular practice and you shouldn't need to worry about traffic.
While there are two approaches to landing in crosswinds I teach only the wing low-nose straight method and leave the crab technique to taildraggers. I do this because you can always speed to the approach to get the rudder effectiveness needed to get the nose straight.
It is flying the pattern in strong winds requires thinking far ahead of the
the basic skill required is that of ground reference. If you have never flown ground reference in 20 knots winds you should because you never get a full appreciation of what it takes and what the wind can and will do until you are down low.
In the pattern it is your intent to fly the pattern so that the wind effects, regardless of direction or velocity are offset by the way you position the aircraft about the runway. A strong wind down the runway will require that your pre-landing be completed sooner and faster, you base turn must be earlier and angled in toward the runway. You have no need to be concerned about being high for any winds above 15 knots.
Strong crosswinds at above 60-degree angles mean no or partial flaps at
best. The wind is either blowing you toward or away from the runway.
You must double your distance from the runway on the downwind if being blow
away. Even then your turn to base will take longer and the turn to final
must occur sooner. This kind of flying should be done initially with an
instructor until you can handle it alone.
With an instructor you can test you limits. You can always go-around.
Why 30-Degree Banks
Early in my flight training when teaching the four basics, I teach the beauty of the 30-degree bank. The 30-degree bank is a design feature of every single engine aircraft I have flown.
When you enter and hold a 30-degree bank you will find that while you turn
the yoke to get to the 30-degree bank that on reaching that point you will hold
the bank by holding the yoke level with the cockpit as it was before entering
You will need to hold some back pressure due to the loss of lift while in the bank.
A 1/3 turn of trim will hold the altitude and bank. Let go and the plane will fly in 30-degree banked turns with only slight applications of rudder to maintain bank.
Once you master the 30-degree bank you have an opportunity to learn that on making any bank less than 30-degrees you must hold the yoke into the bank to keep it established. The aircraft wants to level its wings and you must hold the bank with the yoke. It is this banking skill that is so critical to IFR standard rate turns.
On the high side of the 30-degree bank you will find that the aircraft wants to increase the bank angle and if left alone will roll the aircraft over. To prevent this you must hold the yoke turns against the bank once beyond the 30-degree point to hold the bank.
Of interest I have found that many pilots have never fully realized that these are the things they have been doing for years. The 'doing what it takes' learning process has never made conscious these interesting relationships of the yoke and bank to either side of 30-degrees.
Due to the wide spread between normal operations and an emergency operation the FAA has come up with an intermediate term that will indicate that the pilot has a problem that may not be life threatening but still requires special consideration and handling by ATC. The trigger word is Immediate.
One of the ways a pilot may study and prepare for the use of the word is to find some situations where it is a non emergency but something must be done. I once was on an IFR flight to Bakersfield and a passenger need a bathroom badly. I was able to negotiate a landing nearby and a continuation of the flight shortly thereafter just by contacting ATC.
The same process could be a fuel situation, weather, loss of instruments, etc. Make your own list and see how the use of IMMEDIATE will get you what you want.
Why Steep Full Flap Approaches
Although you can maintain a level slow flight much slower with flaps than you can without flaps, that is not the reason flaps are on aircraft. Likewise, the approach to landing airspeed of many aircraft is the same with or without flaps. The primary purpose of flaps is to improve the pilots ability to aim the aircraft to a flare point on the runway.
Once you have learned to land with full flaps and then are expected to make a no flap landing it is easy to see and respect the benefit of a flap landing. The pilot landing without flaps is far more likely to be making a continuous adjustment of power to correct high/low perceptions on final. The visual ability to determine an angle even by the most skilled varies plus/minus three degrees. You can prove this best with a protractor and a series of hand-drawn angles. The pilot who finds a slip necessary with full flaps has been guilty of a gross misjudgment of the landing procedure.
All the above having been said, a simple line can be drawn as a
runway with another two lines drawn to the touchdown point. Draw one as
the no flap approach and the other as the full flap approach. Now draw a
line depicting the the same judgment error of 5 degrees high for each approach
down to the runway.
The length of runway difference between the two approaches clearly shows the aiming advantage given by the use of flaps.
There are occasions when a no-flap landing is the most desirable option. In high winds you do not want to be on the ground with flaps extended. In high wind conditions above 20 knots, I teach only no flap landings . Once on the ground it is taxiing that becomes more difficult.
Rehearse what you expect to say. Say it in one breath. Do not talk airplane using punctuation. It takes too much time. ATC expects and may require that you read back all instructions with special requirements involving the words 'hold short. Your experience in reading back will be an important skill when you get into IFR.
One of the greatest aspects of ATC radio talking is the standardization of what is said and when it is said. If you know where you are in the air and on the ground then what you say will be very nearly the same every time. If you practice and record what to say and when to say it you will have made a major leap forward in talking airplane.
A manor aspect of all your first time planning for a flight is that you plan
your radio procedures for frequency, what to say and what to expect ATC to
say. You must approach your flight training as an opportunity to challenge
every opportunity to talk, listen and reply. Evading or avoiding use of
the radio will only hinder your development.
Good and Dirty Words
ATC has an extremely structured radio terminology use and are trained listeners.
On the other hand, pilots come from all walks of life with speech patterns that
that vary as widely as their heritage. Flying works better if all pilots speak ATC
airplane on the radio. Off the radio anything goes. Below are some of the do's and don'ts.
This is Cessna 1234 ....
Cessna 1234 is over the VOR
In an airplane you are supposed to be over something.given as a position.
Cessna 1234 is three miles north of ( )
Any report of flight distance is understood to be in nautical miles.
Any report of visual distance is understood to be in statute miles.
Cessna 1234 is with you
If you are on the proper frequency these words are a complete waste.
Cessna 1234 at twenty-five hundred feet
At two thousand five hundred is the proper way to say an altitude.
Twenty-five hundred is the way you say rpm NOT altitude.
Common bad usage of these terms might be..
Concord tower, this is Cessna 1234, with you, ten miles north at twenty-five hundred feet. I will report over the VOR..
Concord tower Cessna 1234 ten north at three thousand two-hundred will report VOR
The ground emergency is most likely to occur during the start-up. If you don't know how to prop a plane for starting it is smarter not to learn how. Besides the inability to start is indicative of an unairworthy aircraft.. If you fail to SHOUT "clear" before turning the key you may get a pedestrian. Happens about monthly.
Improper or excessive prime cab cause fuel and fumes to ignite when a
backfire occurs. What to do? Hold the brakes, push the throttle in
full and pull the mixture.
The idea is to use all the fuel in the carburetor while using the propeller to blow out the fire. Now shut everything off, get out of the plane and get help.
An in-flight fire requires you get on the ground and out of the plane as quickly as you can. Merely diving for the ground won't work well because the increase in airspeed will cause you to float. In my opinion your best option is to pull the power while putting in all the flaps and entering a steep diving turn. The only thing of value in a burning plane is lives. Get on the ground and get out. Talk only it it won't affect your descent or exit. Pop the doors, secure the cockpit and use the radio only it does not delay getting down and out.
An engine failure other than a fuel problem is a one-percent
probability. Unlikely to happen but can happen. Always fly with
knowledge as to the location of the nearest airport. A tial failure occurs
more frequently than a total failure. Turn to where you expect the best
landing spot for your altitude and gliding range. Use your
checklist. If you have to look for your emergency checklist it is
Know where it is and how to get it.
Practice your emergency procedures in various parts of the airport
pattern. Fly your patterns so as to minimize the amount of time you will
be unable to make a
runway, taxiway access road. You will never be prepared for an emergency Always think through your options and take the one that is into the wind, closest, and reachable. Turning back to the airport after takeoff has a very poor survival
ATIS at End
If you haven't noticed yet, you will be well advised to make your radio call-ups to tower and ground so that you give the alphanumeric ATIS the very last thing. Give the ATIS name any other time and you are certain to be asked to confirm again that you have the ATIS. This is a part of the FAA tightening of radio procedures nation wide.
Writing Radar Frequencies
Had a situation where a rapid descent from altitude used to avoid inclement weather caused the air-bubble in the compass to expand and force out all the liquid. With the compass cocked I had no way to confirm my heading indicator
accuracy other than re-contacting my previous ATC radar facility. Since I make a practice of writing down all frequencies it was very simple to advise them of my compass loss and indicate that I would fly a fixed direction and set my HI according to their radar indication. Got me where I was going. Used brake fluid to refill compass..
Trim on Cessnas
I never fail to be amazed when flying with a pilot in a Cessna to find a pilot who is unaware of the beautiful engineering relationship that exists in older Cessnas. This relationship was changed dramatically in later models as Cessna reduced the flap extension as a sacrifice to a higher payload. The useful load of a general aviation aircraft is measured by its ability to climb as in a full gross go-around.
Cessnas with 40-degree flap extension had a near perfect one-to-one relationship between the full 'button' movement of the trim wheel and a three step extension of the flaps. A Cessna trimmed hands-off in level cruise could be flown to full flap landing in a very systematic manner. Just how would vary from the C-150, to the C-172 and the C-182 but the basics were much the same except for the sequence of airspeeds involved and the initial power reduction.
The power was reduced so that throughout the approach to final 1500 rpm was
the standard prior to flare and touchdown. Abeam the numbers, the aircraft
would be held on downwind heading and altitude as speed stabilized. During
this period the trim would be trimmed nose up by three full movements of the
trim wheel using the top-most fingertip reachable button on the trim
wheel Pinching the wheel will not give the proper full movement
required. The cruise speed of the aircraft from the numbers will set the
most desirable pattern size for that aircraft with allowances for no-wind or
Just prior to the base turn and descent you put in 10 degrees of flaps and take off one full turn of the previously applied trim. The speed will remain constant due to the one-to-one engineering involved. On base repeat the process with 10-degrees more of flaps and taking off another turn of trim. Turn final.
What you do on final depends on the type of Cessna. With the C-150 you put in full flaps and take off the third turn of trim. Airspeed remains constant and on the go-around the aircraft will be trimmed for level flight once the flaps are removed. In the C-172 put in the remaining flaps but do not remove the third turns of trim.
Your approach speed will decrease by ten-knots but on the go-around the aircraft will be trimmed for Vy climb once flaps are removed. The C-182 can be adapted to the procedure as desired by the pilot.
Efficiency in Preflight
Different aircraft types and models of the same type will all require different preflight procedures. Regardless of these differences an individual aircraft can be preflighted in an time and distance efficient manner. I have seen instances where a pilot preflighting has gone back to the cockpit several times to get items that should have been taken out from the beginning. An efficiency item in this instance might consist of a 'fanny pack' to carry rubber gloves, rags, paper towels or Leatherman.
The walk-around can, with careful pre planning and arrangement of towbar, ladder, sump cup and cleaners can be placed so that the conduction of the actual preflight is a one-time around the aircraft process.
Once you are familiar with an aircraft you should make your preflight an emphasis upon differences from the usual. You look, check, and move everything possible but look for abnormalities such as looseness, cracks, dents, sounds, drips and even smells. Always try to make the next preflight a bit more efficient than the previous.
A time and distance preflight is no less thorough than one that takes 45 minutes. t conserves motion to reduce time.
Removing any covering can also be done carefully and efficiently and does require some extra time and motion beyond the actual preflight. It can still be done in a timely manner winds permitting.
Economy of Operations
One of the major emphasis points of all my training of pilots has been to do things with a maximum of efficiency, accuracy and safety. I have had students who make an extended chore of the preflight. The preflight is a security measure that prevents accidents. Far too many accidents occur because of inadequate preflight. It teach doing everything that has to be done and do it efficiently.
Do not waste time in the cockpit getting started. Use the checklist and keep using it until you can say, "Checklist complete". Come to the airport with everything possible prepared for the flight you are taking. Being prepared means more than just a course line. You have figured in the weather, wind, clearances, radio frequencies and what to say, departures, arrivals and deviations all must be a part of the planning before you get to the plane.
A good run-up can be done in about 30 seconds. Know what to do as
efficiently as you can. Common errord are adding power slowly and moving
Learn to do what you do with a minimum of effort and time..
One way to improve your economy of operation is to see how long it takes you
to do something you do all the time such as leveling off from a climb. First of
all check how long it takes you to level off to hands-off level flight at
cruise. Now try some of these things. Climb 100 feet high and dive
to your selected altitude. Keep climb power in until you reach cruise
speed and then reduce it to cruise power. Trim for level flight.
Keep practicing doing this in 1000 foot steps until you have memorized the climb
trim setting and the amount of change required for level cruise. In each
effort try to beat your previous time recorded. You can do this leveling off from descents as well. Always try to improve your flying efficiency.
Another of the many efficiency improvements that you can make is how you arrive at airports. Get the airport wind conditions as early as possible. Don't slow a fast airplane any sooner than necessary. If you have speed use it to get where you are going quickly and learn to economize your pattern time by making straight in, base, of direct to downwind entries with short approach long landings for dessert. The time you save through efficiency is time saved for the rest of your life.
Use of Digital Recorder
I have recently entered the digital recorder stage of my flight instruction. By making the change I have stopped buying tape recorders and 90-minute tapes and expecting my students to do likewise. Digitals cost the same as tape recorders without the added cost of tapes.
I can load the tapes directly into my computer and edit as required and make CDs that contain all the flights I have made with a student. For instructors this is a valuable insurance policy unless you record yourself saying or doing something stupid.
The making of a patch cord that plugs into the headset system makes it possible to record all that is said over the radio and intercom without engine noise. The digital recorder can record for hours and is no larger than a cell phone. I record all my ground and flight instruction. I would expect my flying students to do the same.
One of least understood aspects of Special Visual Flight Rules is the potential that a clearance is likely to be misinterpreted. The SVFR clearance applies only to the
footprint of the ATC facility giving the clearance..
A SVFR clearance cannot be give unless there is as least one mile ground
visibility. It sets direction limitations, altitude limitations, and
It is the altitude limitations that are most likely to cause a problem. The SVFR
altitude limitation applies only to the airport airspace boundaries. This altitude is usually based upon the altitude at which the tower will transfer authority to a radar facility. At some airports it will be 1500' and at other 2000'. This altitude limitation applies only to the airport airspace. There's the problem.
A pilot in SVFR taking off feels free to climb to the altitude limit. True, but only within the boundaries of the airport. Beyond that boundary will be standard VFR restrictions of visibility of three miles and the 500/1000/2000 required cloud clearance unless within the 700/1200 and one mile visibility of class G.
What this means is that a departing pilot must plan as part of his SVFR departure the likelihood that once beyond the airport airspace boundary he will be required to have either VFR or he must have one-mile visibility while flying within the 700/1200 (magenta/blue) altitudes below Class E airspace and its requirement of three-mile visibility.
If you do not fully understand the requirements and limitations of this
situation you should not fly SVFR.
Direct Line to Rescue
You have probably read about the rescue operations set in motion by the activation of the ELT (Emergency Location Transmitter) of your aircraft. You have heard horror stories about how long it takes an overdue Flight Plan to activate the rescue system. Even calling 911 doesn't get you help as fast as it should if they need to find out who to contact.
Put this phone number on your emergency checklist. It's a direct line
to the people
who will send help to you.
California’s Division by
In by gone days, before the growth of cities blended all the boundaries it was very easy to note that the cities all seemed to be equidistant one from the other. There's a reason for this. The spacing of places between places was pretty much determined by how far the horses could run pulling stagecoaches before getting a change of horses. Well you can put this knowledge to good use when planning your checkpoints. Figure either eleven or twenty-two miles between checkpoints and see how often is works pretty well especially up and down California.
Begin Finding Checkpoints From Your Destination
Be beginning at your destination and selecting checkpoints you will have a better chance of getting more checkpoints of the same distance and perhaps all of them except the first checkpoint. This checkpoint is all right as a variable because you shouldn't begin timing for ETA until you have timed between your first and second checkpoints. You are climbing for your first checkpoint unless you have fudged by making a 270 over the airport
Any time you are flying below 5500 en route the easy way to figure in the extra time required for climb and descent into your total time is just to add five minutes. It works just as well as any precise timing and is much easier and efficient. The 270 takes some of the stress out of getting on course and locating you first checkpoint
One thing to do before you get into the aircraft for a cross-country.
Look, point and decide the direction you are going to go regardless of the
If you can't do that, don't get into the aircraft.
Even Spacing of Checkpoints
Even spacing of your checkpoints should be a given in cross-country planning yet it never appears in texts. With GPS your ETA is always before you but a covered GPS is of no help. However, Knowing the time between any two checkpoints on your route tells you quickly what your ETA is. Getting the even spacing is not always easy but using the VORs as an assist I have always found it possible. Checkpoints are good ways to learn the areas. You soon learn what can be seen and what can't. You also learn to use the VORs as a cross reference.
The hemispheric rule and the numbering of airways does a bit in making it possible for aircraft to fly over the U.S. in relative safety. A mid-air crash is most likely to occur in the pattern or near an airport. Accidents are more likely to occur with a faster aircraft overtaking a slower aircraft from the rear. That said there are some
things you can do to avoid other aircraft beyond just following the rules.
My basic rule is to try as much as possible to fly where others don't fly. Most pilots fly at even thousands plus/minus 500-feet depending on the hemispheric rule when above 3000 feet of the earth's surface and even when not that far above the earth's surface. The rule does not apply if you are in a climb or descent, no matter how slight.
I like to find some one and two thousand foot California hills that are not on routes between airports Over these hills I can fly and maneuver all the way up to 5000 feet and do my maneuvers. I like it even better if I have the shield of a 6000 foot Class Bravo above me. When flying between airports I like altitudes like 2300 and 2700 above ground level IFR altitudes start about 4000 and you could get IFR planes coming in either directions on an airway.
Once you get familiar with an area you will find that there are peculiarities often historical that are ready to bite you for your lack of knowledge. For example, as your arrive toward Oakland from the North as many light aircraft do you are told to report over the Mormon Temple at or below 2500. The hills tend to cause everyone to fly at 2500. The Mormon Temple is just to the left of Grizzly Peak a dome-topped hill . This makes your arrival a 90-degree entry rather than the typical standard 45 at most runways. Leaving OAK north bound avoid 2500 but stay below 3000 until clear of the 3000-foot shelf. You must have the Area Chart in your possession to fly in this airspace.
Historically this is because the nearby Alameda NAS was to close to OAK that flight conflicts occurred between the two airports. The 90-degree entry has continued to exist for 25 years since Alameda closed. The people of Alameda like it that way. However, this means that common practice of flying to the right side of landmarks as a common flight practice is not in effect. One major accident and several near misses have occurred in the area because of this unfamiliar procedure.
Numbering System of
All pilots are familiar with the hemispheric rule of flight directions required of mostly west bound and east bound aircraft to be even or odd thousands for IFR and even and odd plus-five-hundred for VFR flight. What is not so well know is the numbering of the airways.
Airways going mostly east and west are numbered evenly and north and south are numbered odd. Victor airways are not shown on sectional charts because they are all at flight levels 18 and above.(More)
Flying with Rudder
I am constantly surprised by how few pilots I have occasion to fly with are capable and regularly practice rudder only flying. I introduce doing this to students who seem unable to let go of the yoke or hold and squeeze it tightly. We practice making shallow turns to headings both left and right and soon learn that the aircraft turns more easily to the left but recovers from a right turn more easily.
By learning to control the aircraft with the rudder it gives you the use of two hands that are needed occasionally to handle charts and papers. Flying with the rudder teaches how easy it is to raise a low wing just by rudder that increases the wing speed.
Years ago I use to see how far and well I could fly using rudder alone for directions and my arms forward and back for altitude. It did not take long to find that a well trimmed aircraft could fly itself better than I could. Try it, you'll like it.
There is a quick easy way to check to see how well you have trimmed the aircraft.
When you think it is properly trimmed, put your hands forward on top of the panel and see if the nose starts to go down. If it does, immediately put your arms back over your head and see if the nose starts up. If it does put your arms on the controls. You are trimmed.
The checklist in the POH is required by FAR. This does not restrict the inclusion of the numerous other aspects of aircraft operation that you use beyond the POH requirements. In my flying hooking in a recorder and activation is always on my list. Other add-ons would include sun shields, removal of engine covers, pitot coverts and locks outside or inside. Having a flip-flop radio requires a different checklist procedure that straight analog. The walk-around will be different according to its a Piper, Cessna, or other. Pilots tend to do checklists the way they were first taught. I do as well but I've added having a fanny-pack and Leatherman to my kit to minimize having to go back inside for something.
I have found that it takes five revisions before a checklist is worthy of being laminated. There is nothing about a preflight that should take 30 minutes unless you
neglected making sure you were fueled ahead of time. I try to break every aspect down into groups of five so that I can use a one-hand finger flow of touching and saying what I do before I look at my list or fingers to confirm 'checklist complete'..
I like my preflight list hanging from my neck with my emergency list on the back always available even in the air.
I use different colors of ink for ground, air, emergency operations. I have used folded 4 X 6 cards folded over twice with one quarter fold cut so that I can flip progressively from list to list and still tuck the list in my pocked. I very much try to make every device in my cockpit a one-handed device. I like velcro and banker's clips for their one-handed benefits.
I do not make checklists for students but I do critique for separation of the check and the how to do parts. I have benefited from this in that different lists work better for different people. The easier a list is to use the more likely it is to be used. Smaller is better than larger until it comes to print.
The manner in which yoou hold and control the throttle will make considerable difference in how you control your power in all conditions, especially in turbulence.
Most Piper aircraft have a elongated handle that fits nicely in your hand. use of this as designed unfortunately gives you nothing to control movement in turbulence or makes it easy to make precise small changes in power.
For the low-wing Pipers I teach my students to hold their palm facing forward with the fingers braced against the console and only the thumb on the throttle. This braces your arm independently from the throttle and allows pressure movements of the thumb to control the power without influence of turbulence.
The Cessna throttle also has a knob that can be cupped in the palm of the hand. You can hold the throttle firmly gripped by the ring and little finger with you fore finger extended down the throttle shaft. The fore finger can be useful in making rapid measured applications of power. For example the approximate length of your fingernail can be used as a gauge to get 1700 rpm in one push without taking the f-10 seconds easing in the throttle requires. Just retract your finger from the throttle lock the length of your finger nail; then push it in until it once again touches the lock. Takes one second. The time you save doing this in your flying life can be considerable. Use of your finger can also be adapted to make very small throttle movements.
About Trim on Cessnas
The trim engineering of older Cessnas was a work of art. There was a consistent ratio of power setting to trim movement to flap setting. Later model engineered 'improvements' destroyed the beauty of these ratios. The C-150 power can be reduced to 1500 and it will stay there. The somewhat faster C-152 will require a reduction to 1600 that falls to 1500 as the plane slows. Three full turns of nose-up trim will give an approach speed glide. C-172 reduce to 1700 to get 1500. Adding 10-degrees of flaps will cause a 10-knot loss in airspeed as will 20-degrees. One turn of nose down trim at the same time as adding flaps will keep the same approach speed. This does not work on the C-152. When putting in full flaps with the C-172 you do not change the trim. Airspeed drops 10-knots and on the removal of flaps after a go-around or landing you are trimmed for a Vy climb.
Full flaps on the C-150 and removal of the third turn of trim keeps the proper approach speed and a go-around removal of flaps results in an aircraft trimmed for level flight. One full turn of trim to raise the nose gives you Vy climb speed.
Cessna training centers now teach flying in the pattern just by use of flaps for airspeed changes no changes of trim required.
Flaps on Piper
The 'Johnson bar' flaps on the Piper got their name from the speed control bar used on old steam locomotives. It is critical that all Piper pilots be aware of several specific hazards related to Piper flaps. The first ten-degrees of flap setting can be dangerous to those getting into or out of the plane. At 10-degrees the lock on the flaps that permit them to support a person stepping on them is released. The flap and aileron may be aligned and deceptively appear to be all the way up. A person stepping of the flaps in this situation will cause the flaps to give way to full deflection. A person getting off the plane could seriously injure their back. A person stepping up on the wing could injure their leg.
Any use of Piper flaps on the ground should be preceded by "Clear flaps' a visual check to confirm no one is standing near the flaps. A person standing close to the flaps prior to extension could lose a knee cap or worse. The leverage power of the Johnson bar is that great. On the plus side, you can get an extra five-degrees of flap extension by holding back on the flap handle.
You should check the extension and retraction of Piper flaps by checking each setting to both sides down and back up. The do stick asymmetrically. One little known aspect of Cessna/Piper differences is that the nose spinner on a Piper is required for airworthiness. The Piper spinner is required for engine cooling.
'Approved' Game on the Radio
One of the more poorly taught aspects of radio procedure is teaching to the 'Suggestive' level for arrival call-up. The 'suggestive ' level of callup says everything required for an arrival ending with the alphanumeric of the ATIS. An example would be, "Concord tower Cessna734FR Bencia Bridge at 2300 request right base (19R) will report two-mile base with Tango". All ATC has to do is say "Approved" and the pilot has won the game. Any pilot can play the game and in anything but extremely busy situations be appreciated by ATC by remarks such as, "You said it all."
You and the Naval Air Stations (GCA
This item is dedicated to those who have never had the opportunity to make a Ground Controlled Approach. This is a labor intensive system that uses radar to guide an aircraft on approach both in azimuth and glide path. All the pilot has to do is to fly the aircraft according to the instructions given by the radar operator. The last time I did this was with a student at Lemoore NAS in the lower central valley.
It is my understanding that the Navy still has GCA and if they do all you need to do is ask for a practice GCA approach. Take the opportunity if you can find it..
Made a Low Approach Lately?
I had an occasion to land at Albany. OR a few years due to weather. I hitched a ride into town with a pilot who told me this story. He had a friend with him in a Yankee. She wanted to see what a low approach was. He informed the airport that he was going to make a low approach and proceeded to make a pass over the runway.
Apparently an FAA official had an occasion to be on the ground at Albany, OR.
He noted that at the time of the low pass over the runway another aircraft was on the taxiway next to the runway. For his deliberate flight within 500 feet of another aircraft my driver received a 90-day suspension of flying privileges.
Just because pilots are paranoid about FAA enforcement doesn't mean that they are not out there trying to get you.
Acknowledging an ATC 'Point-Out
When you are getting radar advisories several situations can occur. You may not find the traffic. You advise ATC that you do not see the traffic and they can give you a vector or say it is no longer a factor. You can also ask for a vector. If you see the traffic this has both good and bad aspects. You do not tell ATC that you see the traffic. ATC will continue to give you advisories as before. However, once you tell ATC that you see the traffic, the traffic is forevermore your responsibility until you advise them you can no longer see the traffic.
A brief war-story. I was flying across Travis AFB and I was advised of a KDC-10 on short final. I acknowledged having the traffic. My assumption was that it was landing. It wasn't. It was still my responsibility and I had stopped watching it under the assumption that it had landed.
Shortly thereafter it was filling my windshield. It was a good lesson. There are times and situations where you are better off not to 'see' traffic. This means you will continue to get warnings when you need them.
Mixture Lean at Run-Up
Some years ago Lycoming in response to the change to 100LL fuel indicated in their engine operating procedures that it was desirable to leave your mixture leaned
as for taxiing during the run-up. The argument for this was that you are not bringing the engine up to full power and so long as the engine performs smoothly there is not problem. However...
What is not stated is that if you have leaned beyond a certain point the engine will become heated to the point that there will not be a power drop when you pull the carburetor heat on. No harm done. You can verify this is the problem by enriching the mixture and checking the drop again.
Every engine, at some point in its limited life will begin to foul the plugs when taxied full rich. The failure to lean during taxi will require clearing the plugs. What has happened is that the additives in the fuel designed to keep it clean require the heat of the engine be maintained even while taxiing at a temperature sufficient to vaporize the fuel additives. Un-vaporized additives will collect on the points of the spark plugs and cause an electrical short between the points. This means that there will be no timed spark as required to explode the vaporized fuel in the cylinder. When you check the magnetos the lower plugs will not fire properly and the engine will run rough.
To burn off the deposits on the plugs you must heat the engine. This means you must increase the power and at the same time lean the mixture to the point that the engine has no excess fuel that is normal for cooling the engine. You should bring to power to at least 2000rpm and lean the mixture to maximize the heat. Do this for a minute and then go through the magneto check again with the mixture somewhat richer. If you can't clear the plug after three such procedures it indicates that the plugs need to be removed and cleaned before flight.
Most pilots initiate their clearing turns to the left. Some do this in the believe that it is safer to turn in the direction where they can see better. My take is that any following aircraft is required to pass to the right. Clearing turns are an important requirement for any flight activity involving repeated or abrupt maneuvers.
Failure to properly clear an engine start, a takeoff, a stall, turn or
crossing can be sufficient to fail a checkride. I require my students not
only to visually clear the area to to also state that they are clearing prior to
Some clearing turns are more clearing than others, at an uncontrolled airport prior to takeoff a full 360 is pretty standard. Even a controlled airport requires clearing finals and both base legs as well. Starting requires clearing to both sides front and as much rear as possible. The most stupid accident possible in aviation is one that is caused by failure to clear.
Life Once Is Enough
One of the more difficult taxiing procedures that I teach is turning the aircraft to clear both the final approaches and bases. This requires that you cross the taxi-line leading to the runway at 90-degrees, turn the aircraft nearly 180 degrees with the wing clear of the hold bars and have the nose wheel partially turning toward the runway without crossing the taxi-line leading to the runway.
Depending on the tower procedures this clearing procedure can be performed as a repositioning of the aircraft while holding short of the runway with a ground control approval conditioned as holding short of the runway; done prior to contacting tower without ground approval or done by contacting tower. What you do and how you do it very much depends on the size/location of the runup area and distance to the runway.
I have seen very many aircraft take the runway putting their entire faith in the ATC clearance without considering the possibility of an aircraft below the horizon. My practice of clearing the final and bases has prevented my moving onto a runway twice where I chose not to take a clearance without clearing first. Once was enough, the second was a bonus.
Nationwide Toll free AWOS and
Dial: (887)ANY-AWOS and put in the 3-digit airport identifier. The beauty of this AWOS is that you will also get the humidity. Any humidity value above 50% can add anywhere from 500 to 3000 feet to your density altitude. See FAA Aviation News of April 2004 on FAA web site for how to figure in humidity into your density altitude.
NORDO Procedures NORDO Practice
WWII was fought entirely with tube type radios and electronics. Before transistor only radios we went through almost twenty years of hybrid radios. The teaching of NORDO (No radio procedures) was initiated by the third or fourth training flight and continued throughout training. A total or partial radio failure was likely to occur in about one out of every five flights.
NORDO before headsets and radar was taught as follows. By prior
arrangement with the tower or in an actual failure you would overfly the airport
at twice pattern altitude and determine the active runway. You would then
proceed outbound on a 45 as though it were uncontrolled, make a course reversal
and proceed inbound while looking for a green light from the tower light-gun..
With the advent of widespread radar, transponder aircraft were required to squawk 7600 as the NORDO code to advise ATC of your NORDO status.
I had to do this years ago when a wire broke on the alternator and I lost all lights and radios. Additionally, I was unable to bring up my flaps. As I neared Oakland, I ran a radio check and briefly heard ATC tell another aircraft that a NORDO appeared inbound to Oakland. The transponder will work long after everything else fails.
Getting a green light to land can be deceptive. Once as we came in for a landing after getting a solid green light it suddenly changed to a flashing green light. We landed anyway. When I called the tower to ask about the flashing green we found that it had been solid all the time it was the vertical bars on the tower windows and the ladder that gave the impression of flashing.
Before radar at CCR I would have my student take off their headsets and I would advise (request) that we wanted to make a NORDO arrival during which I would monitor the tower for traffic while my student would make an arrival utilizing the light-gun signals. It worked but not as well as a real failure would.
Today, my tower has a BRITE radar screen served by an antenna thirty miles away. It works well enough for ATC to identify traffic but not well enough to give out transponder codes and accurate separation. So NORDO
a Survival Mode
Once you have run out of options other than to make an emergency landing you should be aware of two things about emergencies. First, you will never be fully prepared for an emergency and secondly, now the insurance company becomes owner of the aircraft and liable for any other damage.. Saving the aircraft is the least of your responsibilities beyond making sure that you minimize the damage to cabin occupants and people on the ground.
You will minimize human damage by maintaining control of the aircraft for as long as possible to the slowest speed possible. For this you have a checklist. More likely, you do not have a cabin security checklist. After completing the aircraft emergency checklist including any radio calls, you will have about a minute for every thousand feet to secure the cabin and passengers. Belts should be painfully tight. Anything that can protect the head from impact with the panel or other parts of the cabin should be placed in position. (MORE)
After my first five students had things happen on their first solos related to radio, I devised a lesson to train students many of the situations that can occur at an airport with dual parallel runways. Concord CA has such runways and in busier times often used two frequencies. I begin by selecting a low traffic time or weather that will allow us to use all the runways. It happens.
I call the tower on the phone and advise them that we want Gene Whitt's radio exercise. The older controllers know what I want and can tell the local controller what I want. ATC sees this lesson as a benefit to them in avoiding a future problem with an incompetent student.
By what ever means required we will use every runway while making full stop taxi backs, stop and go's, land long, short approach, land long with 180 on runway to depart in the other direction, changing runways by new downwind or sidestep, overfly airport and enter a new downwind, simulated ATC radio difficulty and using light signals, 360's, 270's and 180s to provide spacing on downwind or a base entry.
In every instance I will coach the student as the changes occur with emphasis upon the difference between a clearance and an instruction. A clearance requires immediate read back while an instruction is something you do first and acknowledge afterwards. The entire lesson takes about 45 minutes and leaves the student exhausted but confident he knows what to do in the pattern.
Just this week I heard ATC ask to speak to a student's instructor regarding a taxiing situation. Seems that the runways were changed while the student was taxiing out. He was unable to understand/comply with the instructions needed to get him to the new active runway.
Some students have great difficulty separating the required rudder movement from the associated brake and throttle application. Much of this problem is associated with the way they apply throttle. I teach Piper throttle with fingertips braced against the throttle console, palm up and thumb over the throttle. This resolves difficulties that occur in turbulence and gives good small applications and reductions of power. On Cessnas I teach gripping the knob between thumb and palm of the hand and using the index (fore) finger placed along the throttle shaft. The ability to apply and reduce small amounts of power as need in taxing is just an important factor in smooth taxiing. Common problem is using brakes while using power. This combination should only be used in strong wind conditions of 20 knots or more.
I spend at least an hour of taxiing only instruction with my new students. Staying on the taxi lines is a difficulty that I approach by having them do S-turns the full width of the taxiway with an occasional catching the center line. With Cessnas it is very unusual to find the springs loading the nose wheel are the same in both directions and every Cessna taxies differently. Major problem is to make a turn on to a line 90-degrees from your arrival direction and have the nosewheel straight as you stop. Initially the wheel is not straight for students and the stop is abrupt to say the least. Anticipation is the name of the taxiing game.
Once a student knows the basics of moving the aircraft, we go to an unused runup area and do left and right 360's stopping every 45 or 90 degrees positioning the yoke properly for the wind direction. We do this then as a continuous turn again both left and right while positioning the yoke for the wind. At least half of the yoke movements are counter-intuitive to what we do when driving.
The last part of taxiing instruction is teaching the student to follow instructions, especially, the importance of reading back ATC instructions and understanding what the instructions mean and require of the student. This part of the training involves using an airport diagram and understanding the meanings of signage and lineage on the airport.
An Invalid Taxiing
Instruction by ATC
5-13-04 Had an unusual event today. Student called for taxi clearance and ATC gave a clearance that was not possible from his location. ATC gave runway assignment and taxi route that is used nearly 90% of the time. But this time we were clear the other side of the airport from the assigned route.
I stopped student from replying and had him tell me what his clearance said.
He knew his route was via Echo and the Clearance was to go via Alpha. What he didn't know was how to tell ATC that they had given an invalid clearance.
Afterwards, I thanked the controller for giving me a completely new twist in giving taxiing instruction.
Six Ways to Vegas
--I have not flown to Las Vegas Direct because of the 16,000 foot IFR minimum en route altitude from the Bay Area..
--I have flown IFR which took us all the way around the Edwards AFB and is the longest way to get to Vegas. Even then our altitudes were as high as 13,000.
--I have flown by way of the Friant VOR down by Fresno, then North to Mamoth, then as nearly direct as avoiding the MOAs would allow. Absence of weather reports along this route could be major problem.
--I have flown to Vegas by way of Bakersfield and getting a Joshua Approach clearance through the Edwards AFB airspace. It cut more than an hour off the time required to fly around it..
--My first choice is to fly direct to Lake Isabella East of Bakersfield, head East toward China Lake NAS and then get a clearance through that area as required direct to Trona thence due east clear of the MOAs to Vegas. Lots of emergency airports in the MOAs.
--At one time the China Lake clearance was not always available and you had to
fly via the railroads around the facility to the right and then back up to Trona before heading East. to Vegas. Weather reports are a problem but GPS makes it easier than D.R.
IFR SF Bay Tour
IFR student wanted to see how the S.F. Bay Tour would work. On my recommendation we flew VFR to South County and then did a pop-up into San Jose, Tower en route to Palo Alto with departure to Hayward then the same into Oakland and Napa. Entire flight took no more time than would have been required for VFR. Great night flight.
I like to begin at South County since that makes a cross-country. We do a pop-up into San Jose and once in contact with the tower request a tower en route to Palo Alto. Easy flight straight out 30 and make left turn direct Palo Alto. (Never went into San Carlos so can't say procedure) When in contact with Palo Alto Tower request tower en route to Hayward. When cleared we get radar vectors into Hayward.
When in contact with tower request a low approach and tower en route to
Oakland. The clearance takes you to the left circling Hayward and intercepting
ILS into Oakland. When in contact with tower request published missed with hold
at Pieer then ask NorCal for tower en route to CCR or APC.
Should you land at Napa (APC) you will need to file with FSS. Personally I depart SVFR, contact Travis and get the LDA into Concord. Interesting element of flight is that it approximates the same amount of time taken VFR.
FAA is working on an ILS 36 approach into Napa.
Declare an Emergency
I have yet to hear of a situation where a pilot declared an emergency and then had a problem with the FAA because of the declaration. However, I have heard of numerous situations were pilots, including myself have been in an emergency situation that could have been more easily resolved by saying, "I am declaring an emergency situation exists and I am going to...
I have also over the years filled out the ASRS form and sent it to Moffett
Field, CA in the believe I may have inadvertently busted a regulation.
Also I have notified ASRS of some flight situations created by ATC that are
hazardous to pilots. The ASRS form is always a part of my flight kit but
can be used only once every five years as a protection against an FAA charged
violation. The most unknown aspect of this protection is that the FAA can
still require you to take a
proficiency checkride with them.
Making a Gene Whitt Radio Procedure Flip Pizza
Actually, I am not suggesting that you make a copy of the pizza I made for my home field at Concord. I am suggesting that with a bit of time and effort you can make a similar one for your airport. Not many airports have dual parallel runways
like Concord and the 32+ possible arrivals and double that number of departures.
However, centering your airport on a eleven-inch disk and marking
60-degree segments around both sides of the disk can be done for any
airport. Initially do the radio call side by hand and make many revisions
by computer. Consult with the tower as to what they want and expect from
an initial call-up and final arrival call.
Work with ATC on their reporting points on final and bases.
By using gatorboard and a moving brass wire fitted to the radius you can make your arrival direction easy to mark and read from both sides of the disk. Arrange the 60-degree segments so that they can be read just by flipping the disk over away from you. It may take several tries to get it right.
By collecting old sectionals and covering both sides with clear contact paper it is possible to make a more permanent and substantial disk. Concord, because of its location near the edge of the sectional requires two sectionals. Could be made for about fifty-cents and sold for several dollars. good project for flying clubs.
Here is a more available vertigo simulation that should be performed in space sufficient to fall down without hurting yourself. Required equipment: A yardstick or equivalent, someone to catch you before you fall down, space enough to fall down.
Stand with the yardstick facing in any direction. Bend your head as far back as you can and while looking up, place and hold the yardstick vertically on your nose. Focus your attention on the upper end of the
yardstick. Begin turning around in place at a steady pace until you have completed four complete 360 revolutions while keeping your eyes focused on the upper end of the yardstick.
Stop, smoothly bend over at the waist and place (do not drop) the yardstick at right angles to your toes. Stand up quickly. Be prepared to stagger .for a few moments or to fall down.
What you have done is to cause the fluids and hairs of you inner ear to move in an uncommon direction while your head is all the way back. Focus on the top of the yardstick takes your eyes out of the process.
When performed without delay the bending down and then standing upright gives conflicting sensations to the brain between those from the inner ear and your eyes.
Great party game for pilots. Will attract public attention when performed outside FBOs.
Return to whittsflying Home Page
Continued on Page 6.51 One Hundred Quickie Lessons