There is a lot of talk about flying clubs these days. Over 50 years ago, Dick Collins helped run the Fort Rucker Flying Club, and he offers some thoughts on what made this club successful. Can it be repeated?
Articles By: Richard Collins
The FAA has rediscovered the fact that the general aviation safety record is not good many times. Each time, they come up with things that need to be done to shape us up. In the latest utterance the FAA proposes seat belt air bags, angle of attack instrumentation and two-axis autopilots.
The video of the 747 crashing after takeoff from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is hard to watch. As pilots will do, after watching the video I came up with an idea on what I thought might have happened.
It might also be true in other areas, but it has always seemed to me that general aviation is littered with more broken dreams than any other field. As an observer for about 60 years, the length of the list of failed projects amazed me when I wrote down the ones that I remember.
I took Ann for her first ever airplane ride on May 30, 1956, in my Piper Pacer. I had been flying for five years then. A couple of years later we got married and she had really signed on. I took her for her final airplane ride on August 19, 2007.
Names for various airplanes have always been interesting to me. After WWII, Beech came up with the hands-down best name ever for an airplane: Bonanza. It flies on 67 years later and is, and has always been, a survivor. That is probably because the airplane is as good as the name. My second choice in the name game is Gulfstream.
When we let the electronic systems fly the airplane, we are still flying, if by proxy. That means that a big part of the pilot’s job is to fully understand the computers we use to tell the autopilot what to do. That puts the operation of the flight control system squarely in the “airmanship” category.
The sight picture of the approach end of the runway was perfect. The speed was perfect. It was a great day right up to the point where the innocence of the moment was lost. There was a flash of something, followed by quite a bit of noise, followed by the feeling that our Cub was injured and being jerked around.
To say that Jim Bede was controversial is an understatement. Some called him a visionary, others had descriptions that were not so kind. The undisputed fact, though, is that Jim Bede excited and then disappointed a lot of pilots in the 1970s. He was a hard guy not to like and he exuded infectious enthusiasm even if he didn’t always deliver.
A couple of years ago when we were hatching the idea for an online magazine called Air Facts, I made it clear that, because of my age, I certainly couldn’t be the future of any such publication. Now we are adding a masthead.
Dick Collins has been reading accident reports for over 50 years. In this new feature, he reviews all the general aviation accidents from February 2010. What can we learn from these sad events?
I have done more research on the accident records than anyone and learned long ago that there are few absolutes. The safety potential of any flight is affected by countless variables, none of which relate to whether a flight is for business or pleasure.
Most of us remember notable things about our flying, check rides for example. When I was starting out and collecting certificates and ratings, it seemed like I was constantly either preparing for, or taking check rides. Some were more fun than others and I can honestly say that none made me nervous.
Some years ago I got interested in the role of pilot incapacitation in serious general aviation accidents. There are some who think sugar-coating helps on things like this. I don’t. What I found was revealing and it is worth a review.
Weather expert Richard Collins shares his perspective on Sandy, the super storm that hammered the northeast US this week. Learn why the storm turned back to the west, and how Collins rode out the storm.