Plane & Pilot
Thursday, June 11, 2009

From The Editor: When You Least Expect It


editorYou never know when your skills might be put to the test. For Doug White, who recently had to land a King Air when his pilot suffered a sudden and fatal medical problem, it was a matter of life and death.
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Photo by Chad Slattery
You never know when your skills might be put to the test. For Doug White, who recently had to land a King Air when his pilot suffered a sudden and fatal medical problem, it was a matter of life and death. In this issue, contributor Marc Lee interviews the overnight hero about the importance of advanced training and how it can make a difference in a critical situation. Doug earned his private certificate back in the 1980s, but then stopped flying due to family commitments and time constraints. It wasn’t until January of this year that he started flying again and logged 150 hours in preparation for his instrument training with AFIT. When the incident happened, Doug had been in a King Air only once before, as a passenger. Nonetheless, he safely landed the airplane with guidance from controllers.

The experience cemented his goal of getting advanced training, and he recently passed his instrument-rating checkride. Doug intends to work on his multi and commercial ratings next. “Advanced training gives you so much more confidence as a pilot and gives you more flexibility,” he told Marc. “It makes a huge difference.” In his article, Marc relays more success stories of when advanced training saved the day, and tells us where to go for the best instruction, including simulator programs and upset recovery courses.

Ferry flights, which are often grueling, require advanced knowledge of not just your aircraft, but flight planning and weather as well. In this issue, Senior Editor Bill Cox flies a Bonanza A36 across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Singapore. He encounters rainy and rough weather, dodging malicious thunderstorms in the tropics. “Weather forecasting is a little more primitive in that part of the world,” Bill says, “and the weather flying up the Indonesian chain to Singapore was some of the most violent I’ve ever seen.” But thanks to Stormscope, after passing “the nasty stuff” in Bali, Bill (who has flown an impressive total of 201 international ferry flights) and the airplane owner were able to pick their way safely between the threatening cells.

This month, Bill’s review of the Moony Ovation 3 reminds him of the 1990s, when he delivered a dozen Mooneys from the United States to Australia. Most of the aircraft were at 20% to 25% above normal gross weight, but Bill reports that climb was remarkably unaffected: “Ovations and Bravos have always seemed among the least affected by operating over gross.” Once, he picked up a Bravo that was loaded with every option possible, including 30-gallon long-range tanks, TKS (60 pounds of fluid), air-conditioning and a very full panel. “It never occurred to me to check weight and balance when I departed Boston for the domestic hop to the West Coast, but when I later checked the envelope, I discovered that the airplane was 100 pounds over gross. The FAA requested an engineering study before approving ferry tanks that would put the airplane at a full 30% over gross for the flight to Sydney.”

Let us know what you think of these and other stories at our Facebook home, where you can interact with fellow pilots, readers and contributors. Click on “Facebook” in the Pilot Talk drop-down menu at www.planeandpilotmag.com. See you online!
—Jessica Ambats




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