Monday, September 21, 2009

Calculated risks

The amazing thing about flying is that we usually survive! Sure, aviation is safe but there are always risks. Pilots know this and still fly. Why? Is it that we are just risk takers? Do we want to prove to ourselves that we are better then other pilots who have failed? Do we assume we are invincible(a Hazardous Attitude)?

I don't think that is what it is. Most pilots know of these risks, accept the risk, and manage the risks when they occur. Every flight has risks, there are times when the risk is higher though. Those include takeoff, landing, instrument flight, acrobatic flight, and many others.

The amazing thing to me is that some people take these risk without being properly prepared to handle them or just not caring about the risks. Lets look at two examples

UsAirways flight 1549: The aircraft took off into a clear blue sky. Piloted by a well trained crew(both pilots and flight attendants). After taking off and climbing up to only 3,000 some feet of altitude the aircraft flew through a flock of birds. The engines ingested the birds and both flamed out with no restart possible.

The crew immediately went with their training, one pilot flying(capt) and the other performing the checklists(first officer). Even without being able to restart the engines and knowing that they were going to have to ditch a 75 ton aircraft into a river the crew kept their calm. They successfully ditched the aircraft in a RIVER and all passengers survived. Appropriately termed the Miracle on the Hudson.

Pinnacle Airlines flight 3701

This one you might not have heard about. A crew was repositioning an empty CRJ-200. The CRJ has a service ceiling of 41,000'. The crew asked and attempted to get the aircraft up to the service ceiling. On the way up the aircraft was unable to continue climbing the way the crew had it set up and both engines flamed out.

The engines spooled down and because of the severe cold the fans actually expanded and froze stuck. There was no possible way to restart the engines, even after descending into warmer air.

The aircraft eventually crashed killing both pilots.

Risks are part of flying. Know the risks. Be prepared for something to happen, it most likely will! Know how to execute the proper procedures when they do. I'm not saying take risks, because a safe pilot won't take unnecessary risks. Be a smart, prudent pilot, this will keep you and your passengers alive!

Right Seat Pilot.

Here is a link to a general aviation crew managing an emergency. On the way to sun n fun in Florida they had an engine fail at a low altitude. Following the checklists they got the engine restarted and then had it fail again. They made a safe landing on an available road, and managed to pull off into a parking lot!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

USA Today article on GA aviation

So this article has recently caused quite an uproar in the aviation community about being a one sided story and not showing all the facts. When I read this article I immediately felt horror! So many non-aviation travelers are going to read this and think "Why the HELL am I paying for these guys to fly there toys around!"

Because of my education from the University of North Dakota I recently had a class on airport management in which we discussed the AIP funding program. I knew instantly that not all the facts were being shown and in all honesty it really pissed me off. I immediately wrote a response to the article on the website and also a letter to the editor explaining my disgust.

Many other groups have mentioned many of the same stuff that I did. I did my research in about 15 minutes(while in class) and found more information then USA today. Here is my response to them.

Please understand, whether you are involved with aviation or not, that General Aviation is a key factor in our national system. Without it we would lose a lot of business, vital airports for the postal service, patient and transplant services, fire fighting, policing, news, and many more.

"I also did research on the AIP funds for this year from the FAA website, not hard to find just go to and search AIP funds. Your author failed to mention that the majority of the money from these funds already goes to Primary commercial service airports.

I looked at the state of Florida because of it's large amount of airports. In Florida there are 20 primary commercial airports and 58 general aviation airports. Of this the 20 primary commercial airports are already slated to receive $44,000,000 this year. On the other hand the 58 general aviation airports are only going to receive around $15,000,000. Commercial service airports are receiving almost 75% of the AIP funds for this year. This works out to just over $250,000 per general aviation airport and almost $2,200,000 for each commercial service airport.

This would have been very easy for your writer to do research, as I did it in class in about 15 minutes. I'm an active reader of and still will be but was shocked at the one sided story that was put up this morning. If you have questions contact me and either I will have the correct answers for you or know someone who will."

Here is the link to the article.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Medical Situation

Well, I've encountered my first medical restriction in my flight career. I would venture to say that all pilots are more conscious of their health than the majority of people. Especially pilots who want to operate on a commercial certificate or higher.

The reason for this is because you are required to have an aviation medical certificate to fly. There are different kinds of medicals, first class, second class, and third class. With first being the most restrictive and working its way down from there.

There are many things that go into these medical exams, eyesight, hearing, are two that come to mind right away. There are many other things that could prevent you from getting a medical.

One of those is medications and surgeries that you've had. Just this past weekend I had to have surgery on my kidney. Because of this I'm now taking prescription pain pills.

Even though I have a second class medical at the moment the pills I'm taking prevent me from flying.

This is a scary thing for any pilot and you almost always think about the money that you put into your training.

I'm writing this to inform all the readers that there will probably be a short break in my stories. As I'm not flying during the next few weeks, possibly longer, I will be taking a break from most things aviation.

Thanks for following the blog and I promise when I come back I will be writing with a fever and passion that I had when I first started writing. See you soon!