Wife Pinch Hits for Pilot

AVweb has a very interesting audio of a an event where a 70 year old pilot became incapacitated and his wife helps fly the plane to a lower altitude.

The audio is here.

There is a related story in the Denver Post:

“Federal aviation officials on Thursday released details of a May 17 incident in which the pilot of a small plane became incapacitated from lack of oxygen, and his wife, also in the cockpit, teamed with air-traffic controllers and nearby pilots to get the endangered aircraft lower so the pilot could recover and land safely.

The couple were flying a Cirrus SR22 from San Bernardino, Calif., to Colorado Springs at an altitude of 17,000 feet at midday when a controller in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Longmont control center noticed the pilot was slurring his speech.

Granite Rain

photo credit: Dave Chilenski

The abbreviation for hail in a METAR is GR. Many pilots remember that abbreviation by thinking “Granite Rain.”

The hail above landed in my yard in South St. Louis last week. I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve seen any bigger than this. I was a few miles away from the main thunderstorm cell that came through town. This is just another reminder to follow the FAA recommendation to stay at least 20 miles away from thunderstorms when flying.

Private Pilots Volunteer for FEMA Drill

ccimage courtesy of dvidshub on flickr

One of the benefits of being a Private Pilot is that you can use your skills in case of an emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently held a drill south of St. Louis in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Here’s where pilots helped out:

“Volunteer GA pilots identified 10 airports in the disaster area that could be used as “staging fields,” and then launched a series of round-robin missions to carry about 2,300 rescue workers into the crisis zones in addition to about 178,000 pounds of supplies each day. The aircraft also evacuated a large number of quake “victims.”

In the exercise, GA aircraft participated in coordination with other relief operations conducted by FEMA and local authorities. In previous disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, aircraft volunteered by companies and individuals flew rescue missions on their own because government agencies had not considered using general aviation for bringing critical supplies, medicine and food into a disaster area.”

Read the whole article from Flying Magazine here.

FAA NOTAM System Down Tomorrow

Pilots will have to use alternative procedures to check notices to airmen (notams) for several hours on May 28 when the FAA notam servers are taken off-line during a relocation of the system’s operations base.

The FAA will reposition the servers that run the notam system from Herndon, Va., to FAA facilities in Oklahoma City, Okla.

From 0600Z to 1030Z on May 28, pilots should contact flight service (800/WX-BRIEF). Briefers will have access to all notam information.

Practical Test Standards – Free Copy

Each step in earning your certificate offers new challenges for student pilots. Once you’ve soloed the airplane for the first time, you start to think about the practical test.

In order to get your private pilot certificate (FAA prefers the term “certificate” over “license”), you must complete the required number of flight hours with an instructor, pass your knowledge test and then pass the practical test with an FAA examiner.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association acknowledges that following the FAA’s practical test standards (PTS) for your checkride means more than precise stick-and-rudder skills. Here’s what they say:

“It also means demonstrating other pilot-in-command responsibilities, such as performing a proper preflight inspection and showing good decision-making skills.”

All of the items you could be tested on, along with many helpful tips for passing your checkride, are available in the Pilot’s Checkride Guide from the Air Safety Institute.

You could buy a hard copy of the PTS, but the link above is another way to keep those dollars where they belong – in your pocket!

Carb Ice and Auto Racing

1100 miles of Memorial Day Weekend Auto Racing is almost upon us. Tomorrow is Carburetion Day at Indianapolis, the last day of practice before the Indy 500. While all the Indy cars are now fuel injected, there is one major series in auto racing that still uses a carburetor: NASCAR. You can see them when you watch the Coca-Cola 600 – of course, if you’re not flying one of our club’s aircraft.

cc image courtesy of estoril on flickr

And like our club aircraft, carb ice can be a problem for cars. Most cars with a carburetor have a thermostat which pulls warm air off the exhaust manifold into the intake when it’s cold. Cars can and do get carb ice when this gadget is not working.

Carbureator. ccimage courtesy of Ryan Frost on flickr.

In an airplane we have to regulate carb ice manually. The FAA wants you to be aware and has issued this bulletin:

“There were 212 accidents attributed to carburetor icing between 1998 and 2007. Of these accidents, 13 resulted in fatalities.

Pilots should be aware that carburetor icing doesn’t just occur in freezing conditions, it can occur at temperatures well above freezing temperatures when there is visible moisture or high humidity.

To recognize carburetor icing, the warning signs are:
• A drop in rpm in fixed pitch propeller airplanes.
• A drop in manifold pressure in constant speed propeller airplanes.
• In both types, usually there will be a roughness in engine operation.

The pilot should respond to carburetor icing by applying full carburetor heat immediately. The engine may run rough initially for short time while ice melts.”

Taking on “The Impossible Turn”

Very early in flight training, student pilots learn to land straight ahead if the engine fails shortly after take-off. It has been preached by legions of Flight Instructors. Trying to make it back to the airport is simply considered, “The Impossible Turn.”

Longtime pilot and famed aviation author, Barry Schiff, has begun to challenge that assumption. From the AOPA article: “The key to Schiff’s approach is to find out how much altitude you need to turn around safely—not to try to turn the aircraft around in a pre-set amount of altitude.”

Read the entire article here.

The Sims

AVweb has a very interesting video about a Level One Flight Training Device – a fancy name for a simulator in which you can actually log time for a rating. This simulator is a Cirrus SR22.

However, you don’t need a high end training device to practice systems, procedures and emergencies. Sometimes $30 software and a joystick can help you brush up on your flying skills. While you can’t log the time, in this contributor’s opinion, it can help you stay proficient. There are even books with this solely as the focus.