Lessons gleaned from the big birds can teach us how to become safer pilots
A Boeing 727 is different from the airplanes that most of us fly. Nevertheless, there are some things that we can learn from the NTSB’s recently completed report on an accident involving a FedEx cargo 727, which was flown into trees and terrain during the pre-dawn hours of July 26, 2002.
Roy LoPresti’s vision of a fast, fun airplane is close to completion
Every once in a while, I’m privileged to fly an airplane that stands out from the pack. While most general-aviation designs are safe, comfortable machines, few are exciting airplanes intended to do more than transport their pilots from Miami to New Orleans, or Chicago to Dallas.
Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is a spiritual experience
We were in the pattern and just in the process of turning downwind from crosswind when the tower said, “Eight-papa-bravo, you’re number two to a Liberator that will be crossing over the airport to join downwind in front of you. He’ll be doing a low pass.”
The NTSB’s latest safety recommendation targets the dangers of carbon monoxide leaks caused by defective exhaust systems
Against the background of an aging fleet of general-aviation, piston-powered airplanes, the NTSB suggested that it’s time for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take a closer look at engine mufflers and do more to eliminate potential hazards posed by mufflers that have deteriorated.
Experience and new technology don’t protect a pilot from basic blunders
No question about it—the exponential expansion of aviation technology in the last dozen years has been nothing short of amazing. If anyone had suggested at the beginning of the 1990s that avionics manufacturers would be offering dual GPS and multi-function displays in practically every new airplane by 2004, most of us would have laughed and said, “Yeah, right.”
Just because you don’t do it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done
Useless aviation. Now, there’s a term you seldom hear. It popped up in an e-mail that was addressed to me last week. The writer, a longtime pilot himself, was explaining that because I’ve chronicled various battles with off-airport individuals, he thought it was important that I understand that as you get older and can no longer fly, you lose patience with those involved in “useless” aviation—those who make noise and aren’t accomplishing anything.
Understanding the signs of hypoxia may just get you out of trouble
One of the subjects that is frequently emphasized in the materials that are published by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aeromedical Education Division is hypoxia, which is more commonly referred to as “oxygen starvation.” The FAA points out that hypoxia is insidious in its onset. It sneaks up on you, and you lose the ability to sense that something is going wrong.
Early last summer, I had to leave a 421 with a mechanical problem in the middle of the Pacific and wrote about it on these pages. Maintenance dragged on for another six months before the airplane finally was ready to fly, delaying delivery from Subic Bay, Philippines, to the U.S. mainland beyond any reasonable expectation.
A leading aviation expert’s collection of informal, but educational, articles
I’ve been privileged to call Rod Machado a friend for the last 20 years. We first worked together during the launch of ABC TV’s Wide World of Flying TV series back in the mid ’80s. Together with host and ABC senior VP Phil Boyer (now president of AOPA), director Dave Jackson (now president of King Schools), TWA captain Barry Schiff (now retired) and later, warbird enthusiast Jeff Ethell (sadly, no longer with us), Rod and I enjoyed seven happy years of playing to the TV cameras.
Does self-induced pressure to continue a flight supercede everything else?
The difference between a safe pilot and one with an enhanced chance of becoming an accident statistic often is found in the ability to detach oneself from the emotional and social aspects of flying. Have you properly planned for the flight or will you be playing catch-up once you get off the ground? Are your qualifications and experience sufficient for the expected flight conditions?
I’m about to lose a long-time friend and, in its own inane way, it’s kind of sad: My old denim flying jacket has gone past TBO, and I don’t think it can be saved. It’s been with me for over 2,000 hours, and it’s not going to feel right flying in anything else.
The NAA is leveling the playing field for pilots who would like to set national records
Speed! It’s the reason that many of us fly. For most pilots, faster is better. I raced stock cars as a kid, sports cars as an older kid, and the current, much older kid would be racing unlimited air racers but for a lack of money.
If you’re dreaming of learning to fly someday, stop stalling and start now
I get lots of e-mails asking me odd questions, and there is one I get at least once a month in one form or another. This time, it said: “I’m thinking about learning to fly. Should I wait until my daughter graduates from college?” This is a question without an answer. Well, that’s not exactly true because there are a dozen ways to answer it, but obviously, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
Using average weights for calculations may not keep the aircraft within safe limits
Barely a day goes by without a story in the news about obesity in America and how people are putting on more and more weight. Not you and me, of course! Nevertheless, it’s an important issue in aviation.
Wow! I just returned from the airport where I had to cancel a hop because the clouds were down around 700 feet and it was raining. This is spectacularly unusual for me. In fact, in 12 years of flying here in Arizona, it’s only the ninth time weather (usually it’s the wind) has stopped me from flying with a student.
Does it ever seem as if you must’ve been standing behind the door when God passed out tail winds? Sure seems that way to me most of the time. Logic and the laws of probability might suggest you should experience tail winds and head winds in about equal proportions, but it never seems to work that way in the real world.
One consequence of the nation’s economic downturn and the accompanying slump in general aviation was that some maintenance shops were forced to consolidate or close down, and many mechanics had to consider alternative careers. The result for airplane owners was the increased difficulty in obtaining high-quality maintenance services at a reasonable cost.
It’s both the pilot’s and mechanic’s responsibility to find faulty equipment
While the FAA makes the pilot responsible for determining whether or not an aircraft that he or she is about to fly is airworthy, the pilot must rely to a great extent on what others have determined about the airplane. It’s relatively easy for a pilot to check paperwork to determine whether or not an aircraft has undergone required inspections, to check that compliance with airworthiness directives is current and to ensure that required documents are on board.