Dick’s blog

The three keys to flying safely

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In this important new article, Richard Collins sums up over 50 years of aviation safety writing with three key concepts – “the things that a pilot really needs to know to stay alive.” It turns out safe flying has a lot more to do with mindset than fancy maneuvers.

What it takes to be one sharp pilot, part two: intelligence

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When contemplating a smoking hole made by an airplane, “That was a dumb mistake” is a frequent pronouncement. I think that is misleading because I am not aware of any smart mistakes, especially in airplanes. It just takes a relatively high level of native (as opposed to educated on things other than flying) intelligence to perform well as a pilot.

Phenom jet v. house – everyone loses in terrible tragedy

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A Phenom 100 light jet, flown single-pilot by its owner, a physician and businessman, crashed into three houses when on final approach to runway 14 at Montgomery County Airpark. That this is a PR disaster for general aviation and for that airport is an understatement. It would be hard to think of anything more tragic.

Wind shear: a danger vanquished, or, one waiting in the wings?

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Wind can and does affect the airspeed of an airplane in flight, drastically in some situations. Many pilots didn’t, and some still don’t, think that wind can be a big factor in this regard. A steady wind can’t, but wind that changes in direction or velocity over altitude or distance can have a profound effect on airspeed.

Father’s Flying Day

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Flying with my father meant that airplanes were part of my life from the very beginning. I have seen the highs and the lows as well as all in between and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Someone asked me if I grew up around airplanes. I said, no, I grew up with airplanes.

A double tragedy: Colgan Air Flight 3407

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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?

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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.

The risky moments: when decisions go bad

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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?

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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?

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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

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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?

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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?

Crash course: lessons to be learned

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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.