Weather Geek: rules to fly by

Richard Collins has spent over 20,000 hours up close and personal with weather. In this article, he shares one guiding principle for dealing with weather–what you see and feel is what you get. Based on that, he offers 10 more rules for weather flying.

Touchdown: squeak squeak every time…

So if for the past 65 years we have been able to fly and land electronically, we should be able to teach a chimpanzee, or at least a pilot, how to do it with no trouble at all. That we can’t do this is illustrated by the fact that there are more accidents on landing than in any other phase of flight.

Dick’s blog: there are only good questions

Is it possible to know at all times what you’re doing when you’re flying? It is not only possible to know exactly what you are doing at all times, it is required. Put another way, right before every accident a pilot is flying without knowing everything that is going on in, with, around and about his airplane.

Dick’s blog: right seat upgrade?

The FAA is famous for writing proposals using illumination from burning airplane wreckage. The latest is a notice of proposed rulemaking that would increase the requirements for a pilot to serve as a first officer on U. S. passenger and cargo airlines. To say that this is probably the most sweeping change ever proposed is almost an understatement.

Recent letters

We welcome your letters at Air Facts. Whether you want to ask us a question, comment on a story or share an opinion, send us an email. Here are two of our most recent letters, both of which share some of the unique moments that only pilots experience.

The Great Debate: user fee questions

The greedy politicians stay on a never ending quest for more money to shovel into the abyss. Given this, and given that there has been a campaign to demonize corporate jets, the imposition of general aviation user fees is in the latest budget proposal.

13 questions for Richard Collins

Richard Collins admits that, “I have never been bashful about sharing my opinions and experiences.” In this frank and personal interview, he answers 13 questions about flying technique, safety, personal mistakes and more.

The Great Debate: too old to fly

We have had the debate on pilot age and it goes on. For this one we are talking about airplanes. Will our fleet of older airplanes fly on for five more years? Ten? Forever? Do you feel as comfortable about mechanical reliability in an older airplane as in a newer one?

The Great Debate: boy v. girl pilots

It is my opinion that we males have created a fraternal bond in flying that largely excludes females. If so, how do we change that so more females will feel welcome as general aviation, airline or military pilots? None of the past efforts have helped. What do you think would help? Or do you think we should work to keep this wonderful activity a boy’s club?

Technique Geek: tailwind landings

Both the FAA and NTSB tend to suddenly discover things that have long been a factor and make a big deal out of them. One or more accidents usually gets this ball in motion. The latest hot button, from the NTSB, is what they choose to call tailwind landings. In what could have been a deadly serious accident, but wasn’t, an American Airlines 737 went off the end of the runway at Kingston, Jamaica.

The Weather Geek: occlusions, a bad time to fly

Occlusions don’t happen too frequently. I guess I might have had to deal with a dozen or so in 57 years of flying. But when one does present itself, you can get a better ride if you know what is going on and make a plan to avoid the worst of it.

Going out on top

In this frank and personal article, Collins says he decided to “stop [flying PIC] with satisfaction” at age 74. His last flight was a good one, but “limiting flights to good weather took all the challenge and fun out of my flying. To me, dealing with inclement weather in light airplanes is one of the most interesting things that a pilot can do.”

50 years ago in Air Facts: Double Trouble?

In this groundbreaking article, first published in the July 1965 edition of Air Facts, Richard Collins raised the question–heretical at the time–of whether twin engine airplanes really were any safer than singles. His cogent, well-researched argument started a debate that rages to this day.

Technique Geek: crosswind landings

Crosswind landings are a real challenge and making a perfect one is every bit as satisfying as a flawless ILS to minimums or a graceful eight-point roll. As a student I had a hard time learning to do them and later, as an instructor, I had a hard time teaching them. You simply can’t talk as fast as you have to think when landing in a gusty crosswind.

The Weather Geek: hello low

Let’s get the geek business out of the way first. If a person who has an abiding interest in weather, especially as it relates to flight operations, is a geek, then I am a weather geek. Highs and lows are what make the weather engine go. Highs aren’t exciting, lows can be full of thrills. I was reminded of this when we had that October snowstorm in the northeast.

The Great Debate: can we “make” flying safer?

The question relates to whether or not you think we should throw the loose cannons under the bus, accept the current safety record, and fly on with our remaining freedoms intact? Or, should we make changes that might rein in the loose cannons but that would likely swap a lot of freedom for the chance of a better record?

Dick’s blog: a solo or a new beginning

I am writing this on October 25, 2011. On October 25, 1951 I, a rebellious 17-year old juvenile delinquent, walked into the flight school office at Harrell Field in Camden, Arkansas, to take a flying lesson. My instructor, Rudy Peace, a wonderful person and pilot and later a fine friend, awaited. Also waiting was Aeronca Champ (7AC) N1154E.

Dick’s blog: is any airplane “safe?”

When the Ercoupe came out in the 1940s, everybody thought it would set a new standard for both simple flying and safety. It was stall-resistant and spin-proof and the controls were interconnected. There were no rudder pedals, just a wheel and throttle to use in controlling the airplane. When the dust settled, the Ercoupe had a worse safety record than contemporary two-place airplanes.

Dick’s blog: teachin’ or learnin’

I have been a flight instructor since August 24, 1953. A lot of water has passed under the bridge in that time and the current emphasis on better instruction and training safer pilots has made me ponder many things. Let’s talk about some of them for a bit and then see what you think.