Searching… for a lost airliner and others

I don’t think that I believed I would ever see a search as long, expensive, and detailed as the one for the Malaysian 777. I did, though, in my time in the business, have some interesting experiences related to searching for lost airplanes.

A double tragedy: Colgan Air Flight 3407

The crash of a DHC-8-400 (Q400) on approach to Buffalo, N. Y. brought on the all-time most egregious case of smoke and flames rulemaking by the FAA. It was dictated by Congress, it makes no sense, and it will have a lasting deleterious effect on air service to smaller cities and on airline flying as a profession.

What’s wrong with Mooney pilots?

I have found that the safety record of an airplane relates more to who flies it and what they try to do with it than anything else. Maybe the pilot is 90 percent of the equation and the airplane ten. When thinking of it in this way, the Mooney 20 series is by far the most diverse airplane in the fleet.

Richard Bach and Air Facts: long time ago…

In the summer of 1960 a 24-year old Air Force jet fighter pilot, Richard Bach, submitted an unsolicited article to Air Facts. It was the beginning of an incredible writing career. Here, Dick Collins tells Bach’s story and we republish his very first Air Facts article.

The risky moments: when decisions go bad

Everyone who writes about aviation safety eventually comes around to the subject of risk management. The FAA wants CFIs to teach it using checklists, which is hardly realistic. The simple truth is that risk management can be done only through a deal the pilot makes with self.

What has the FAA done for (to) you?

I was challenged to write something like this a while back and spent time looking at blank screens before finally formulating an idea. The challenge was to write about the good, but I feel compelled to write about some of the good and the bad.

Ice: gotcha… Where is the ice?

Where? Simple. Ice is where you find it. As pilots we have to accept the fact that ice will be forecast when it is cold and there are clouds but if we are to get any utility out of our airplanes in the wintertime, we have to develop the weather wisdom to recognize the times when ice is likely and when it is not.

Ice: gotcha… in a heartbeat

Dick Collins spent decades flying through ice in piston airplanes, and says he had “only a few truly memorable ice encounters.” In this fascinating and educational article, he shares the lessons he learned–and some advice you won’t read in any textbook.

Are slow airplanes practical transportation?

In a posting about the future and the relationship between present and past costs, I referred to transportation airplanes as those cruising at 140 knots or more. At least one reader questioned this and noted the value of slower airplanes for transportation, at least over shorter distances. Was he right?

11 keys to safer instrument flights

Let’s look at some of the things we can do to minimize the chances of hurt while instrument flying. All along the way, remember that an important part of the operation is to continually ask yourself what comes next and what comes after that, and on and on.

Crash course: lessons to be learned

To show that things do happen in threes, there have been two more high-profile accidents on visual approaches since the Asiana crash. These accidents are equally thought-provoking and offer more lessons to learn.

President Paul – 1921 to 2013

Paul Poberezny, the legendary founder of EAA and the father of the Oshkosh airshow, died last week at 91. Here, Richard Collins–who knew Paul for over 45 years–reflects on his accomplishments in aviation and the legacy he leaves behind.

Nose or tail? Wheel that is

One thing about tailwheels that is not true is that you aren’t a “real” pilot until you have mastered a tailwheel. It’s not what you fly but the care and precision with which you fly that makes you a “real” pilot. It can even be done in an Ercoupe or a Tri-Pacer.

Wrecks and recession: is there a connection?

The question I have relates to serious accident activity in general aviation. We all know that the accident rate does not vary by much so the number of fatal accidents tells us a lot about flying activity. What has happened here during the economic collapse and rebound and the general aviation collapse without a rebound?

The Asiana crash: rampant speculation?

The fact of the matter is that the airplane crashed on a beautiful day, there was apparently no mechanical failure, and the public feels entitled to all the speculation that anyone cares to offer. That is just the way things work. From what is known, the crew just turned in a truly lousy job of flying.

A flight well flown: you be the judge

After every landing we’d all like to hear that it was a flight well flown, even if the pronouncement comes from self. In the past, I have written articles about self-grading of all flights and have always thought that a pilot can be a great judge of himself—if he is objective.