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Take a step back

Flying an aircraft is a disciplined endeavor that requires care and caution. It requires us to focus and then to let our eyes gaze over the whole aircraft. It is like admiring the intricacies of a Rembrandt painting from near and the magic from afar. The majesty and beauty and craft and perfection seen from two different perspectives.

As flight instructors we must continue to innovate

I tried the “Leans” on a pilot whom I was teaching and suggested that if he saw me lean left or right, he was to take the cue that he had to turn. And if he felt pressure on the rudder pedals, it was me getting his attention for him not using the rudder. And if I was leaning forward towards the yoke, well, that gets obvious in a hurry.

Safe landings are no accident

“No two landings are alike!” They keep saying that, and after thousands of landings I am reluctantly beginning to agree. Many factors are editorialized in that saying. There is the power, configuration, attitude, and then there is the biggest bugaboo: weather, as in wind and its fickle direction. Ah, I exclaim, how about in calm winds, what then?

Weight and performance—there is a tradeoff

Interestingly, upon reaching the cruising altitude of 10,000 feet, the cruise speed was 12 knots less than that calculated prior to flight. I tried various settings of manifold pressure, RPM, and fuel flow. Flying lean of peak, which the big bore Continentals are adept at, the speeds were consistently lower than advertised.

Friday Photo: cloud-to-ground rainbow

Parvez Dara was flying a G36 Bonanza from Wichita back to New Jersey when he caught this beautiful sight. A vivid rainbow, reaching all the way to the ground, is highlighted by some late afternoon sun rays. It looks even better from the left seat than on the ground.

Rollicking in the clouds

We were barely in the clouds for a minute and the aircraft was in a 20-degree bank. I pointed it out and he corrected it, only to lose the altitude and then moments later executed the opposite. That “heavy left hand” was going to exact its commission. The aircraft was back in a left 30-degree bank before you could say, “Hey, watch it!” and the tortured climb rate became a free-wheeling descent rate. The altimeter was having quite the day.

Harmony and distractions

I was planning the 45-degree entry for a downwind pattern to runway 24, when I heard the call that a Cherokee was on a practice ILS approach to runway 06. I looked for the aircraft below and to my left and could not see the aircraft. Nope, nothing there! And lo and behold, his localizer must have been pegged to the right because he blew right past me.

Base turn over the trees

I turned right on base and pulled gently on the throttle to reduce the airspeed and put down the next notch of flaps to slow down further. The aircraft was over the trees and descending and I noticed that the aircraft was buffeting slightly. I had noted a similar feel while practicing stalls with the instructor. But this was not a practice stall.

The magenta line children and buttonology

The aircraft that I fly is tricked out with a high-tech minimalism of the G1000 NXi. And lo and behold, the other day it decided to bite my hand. The very hand that paid for it, no less! On a very short trip of about 70nm to Caldwell, NJ (CDW), my human frailty showed its colors.

The joy in flying

When you push the throttle in and initiate that gentle shudder of anticipation, and motion blurs in a receding landscape, there is potential, there is anticipation, there is the raw feel of something magical in that moment. You look at the landscape speed past and then with a gentle tug on the yoke, the moment of pure joy is realized.

Why it quits—and what to do about it

If you are into the sort of thing that warrants full tanks of fuel for every flight, then you are already in the realm of those who live to read these tales. Otherwise, this one is for you. You see, flying with a half tank of gas when the trip requires more is asking for a prayer at some time before you reach your destination.

Assumptions can be dangerous in the air

In flight, assumptions are the Achilles heel in safety. One cannot press on with the assumption that all is well, when a crushing burden of mounting evidence is screaming against further pursuit. The fallacy of not knowing the unknowns ahead leads one to despair.

Dealing with distractions

The desire to fix what had been broken ceased upon my nerves and now my multiple thousand hours melted away and I felt I was back in training. A certain drift of scent that emanates from failure hit me square in my nostrils and I realized that the glide path indicator had drifted down to the lower end, in accordance with a required missed approach. Damn!

The promise of proficiency

Proficiency is a story of safety through constant practice, of acquiring experiences and then putting these experiences to hatch their possibilities. These experiences however must be taught to the “habit monster” within us to have the element of precision baked into them. All other non-precise experiences are side shows.

Flying is no joke

As he taxied to “line up and wait,” something was amiss. Yet he and I both persevered in our thoughts of better flight to come. Shattered easily by the slipping nose wheel as the throttle was advanced, I pushed the right rudder a bit and felt the resistance from his feet, locked in a state of motionless silence. He must have felt it, for he looked over at me with a quizzical look.