If You Can Not Do That, You Should Learn

Did you know that in an emergency, pilots fly like they train? Would you pull in this severe over bank? Without prior training, almost all pilots would pull; it is instinctive, and that reaction would probably kill you. If you have not trained to recover unusual attitudes, you really should.
Did you know that in an emergency, pilots fly like they train? Would you pull in this severe over bank? Without prior training, almost all pilots would pull; it is instinctive, and that reaction would probably kill you. If you have not trained to recover unusual attitudes, you really should.
Flying an airplane safely requires some degree of skill and managing risk. Teaching safety is a major theme of all flight instruction, and I think sometimes too much emphasis is placed on the role of the CFI and the flight school syllabus. A school’s role is to teach, but equally important is the student’s role to learn. I frequently see pilots with weak pilot skill sets. Those skills where presented to the pilot in pilot school (see FAA test standards). Some might argue those skills where not taught. I am robust in that argument as it pertains to “stick and rudder” skills; however, an equally strong case can be made that the pilot did not make sufficient effort to learn the skills. I think that is heart breaking, because every year pilots needlessly kill themselves in accidents while maneuvering at low altitude and flying VFR into IFR.

“……. He was a good pilot.”  How many times have you heard that after a pilot has just killed himself in a traffic pattern accident? The skidding and deadly base to final turn, and the classic turn and go back following the loss of engine, are two examples. Pundits of aviation safety and the FAA opine the cause and complexity of those incidents, when sadly the cause is obvious and solution is so very simple. Too many pilots do not know how to turn an airplane and they need to learn how to do that!

Vern Kingsford, is the owner of Alaska Float Ratings. The following quote is from his web site.  “….. My personal physician killed himself in a Super Cub accident. He didn’t fly enough to keep current. He did not practice 180-degree turns. I asked him to call me for his BFR, but he had found someone else who was “easier.” His death made it five close personal friends whom I really cared for and who I’ve lost to aircraft accidents — all due to pilot error and improper decision-making.”

In the Sept 2009 issue of Flight Training Magazine, A new pilot wrote Rod Machado about a cross wind landing incident. Rod’s reply in his column Since You Asked made these profound comments.

  • “It seems to me that you weren’t flying your airplane as much as you were being flown by it.
  • The pilot makes the airplane do what he or she wants it to do
  • If you don’t know how to do that, then you need to learn”.

Procedures are an important element of risk management and the pilot skill set. Learning to fly an airplane involves learning proper procedures, and learning the skill set to fly those procedures. I think that in many cases it is like the chicken and the egg. Does a pilot not know a procedure, or does a pilot not follow a procedure because he does not have the applicable skill.  In this month’s featured video, I talk about procedures.  I have noticed that radio protocols at uncontrolled airports are great examples of the worst radio phraseology, and also exemplify a general lack of knowledge about proper procedures. Click Here to see video.

Don’t stall, control yaw and keep the blue on top. If you do not know how to do that, you need to learn. – Jim