Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Be A Great Pilot!
Top tips for all aspects of flight
With the extraordinary proliferation of GPS, pilots often consider flight planning to be little more than jumping into the airplane, pressing the “Go To” or “Direct” button, entering the destination’s identifier and committing aviation. While it’s true the shortest distance between two points is a great circle (unless you happen to own an earth-boring machine), intelligent planning may demand other considerations. If the terrain below is especially intimidating and you’re flying a piston single, you might consider routing above a major interstate highway, if one is available. If you’re flying over mountains, should you plan to cross the low passes rather than fly direct?
Similarly, pilots tempted to use GPS as the ultimate shortcut should consider restricted airspace. While the GPS probably will warn you of possible incursions, it’s smarter to plan around them in the first place. MOAs also are a factor in flight planning, especially when flying on a weekday. You can fly through them, but you’d be wise to route around them if possible, or at least plan to check on their use before entering.
Too often, it seems pilots consider that only the airplane needs a preflight inspection. All aviators have had preflight procedures drilled into them since their student pilot days, but how many appreciate that the pilot and passengers also need a certain amount of attention?
Pilots should be especially aware of their own physical state, particularly regarding anything that affects the sinuses. A partially blocked sinus can cause a major distraction during descents, and the demands of piloting an airplane should include a minimum of distractions. Hypoglycemia (i.e., low blood sugar) is another major concern for some pilots. I once flew in a new airplane with a check pilot who complained that he really needed to eat something, then proceeded to pass out halfway through the flight. Fortunately, he came around before we landed, I fed him lunch and he was fine. Passengers deserve the same attention. A nervous passenger might best be seated in the copilot’s seat where he or she can watch what the pilot is doing (in turn, the pilot can more easily observe the passenger’s reaction).
Page 1 of 4
Labels: Advanced Ratings, FAA Regulations, Flight Training, Getting Your License, Learn To Fly, Learning Center, People and Places, Safety, Proficiency