The FAA’s New “Not-So-Slow” Slow Flight Procedure

Thank-you to well known CFI and author/educator Rod Machado for allowing us to republish his blog on the need for “Slower Slow Flight” to teach critical piloting skills!

As most flight instructors know the FAA recently changed the requirements for slow flight in the private pilot ACS. Slow flight must now be accomplished at a speed higher than MCA or Minimum Controllable Airspeed (a speed at which the stall horn is continuously activated). Why? The FAA feels that when pilots hear a stall horn, they should take immediate stall-recovery action. If slow flight is practiced at MCA, then the stall horn will be heard continuously without the pilot going through the motions of recovering from a stall. The FAA feels that this will desensitize pilots to the stall warning, thus making them less likely to recover from an actual stall should one occur in flight. The FAA, however (and with all due respect), is a little confused about the purpose of a stall warning horn.

The activation of a stall warning horn or light is not an indication of a stall. It’s an indication that the airplane’s wings are approaching their critical angle of attack—the angle of attack that, when reached, results in a stall. In fact, the airplane’s speed at the moment the stall warning activates is at least 5 knots above stall speed, if not more.

FAR Part 23 requires a stall horn/light to activate at a minimum of 5 knots above the airplane’s actual stall speed. In many instances, the warning can activate at a slightly higher speed above the airplane’s actual stall speed (it all depends on the manufacturer of the stall warning unit to say nothing about how normal wear affects the device). When the stall warning activates, the airplane is still flying. Yes, it’s flying on the back side of the power curve, but it’s still flying. You can still turn right, left, descend and even climb in most small airplanes. The controls are mushy, but they still work. Stall warning activation doesn’t imply that your airplane has stalled. Nevertheless, the FAA conflates and confuses the stall warning with an actual stall.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. If a pilot heard the stall horn and wasn’t expecting to hear it, then he’s clearly closer to the critical angle of attack than he thinks he is. In this instance, he should apply standard stall recovery procedures: reduce angle of attack and add power. This is why the stall horn/light is called a stall warning device and not a stall detection device. It warns a pilot of an impending stall should he or she continue to increase the angle of attack (a stall detection device would activate only when the critical angle of attack is reached, and what good would that be to a pilot?).

What if the pilot intends to fly at the airplane’s minimum controllable airspeed? In this instance, the pilot would expect to hear the stall warning. After all, he knows he will be operating very close to the critical angle of attack. Hearing the stall horn when he expects to hear it doesn’t in any way diminish the value of hearing a stall horn when he doesn’t expect to hear it. Expecting something and not expecting it are two distinct psychological states in which a stall warning device serves the pilot. After all, when my kitchen’s smoke alarm goes off when I’m cooking (as I often expect it to) that doesn’t mean I’m less likely to respond appropriately to a smoke alarm when I’m not cooking. Context is very important here. Hearing a stall warning when flying at MCA doesn’t diminish its value in alerting a pilot to an unexpected stall, should one be imminent. (If you want to know the primary reason a pilot might disregard the stall horn/light, then read my License to Learn column in the November 2016 issue of AOPA Pilot titled, When Pilots Stall and Don’t Recover.)

The meaning offered by the stall warning device depends on how a pilot is flying his or her airplane at any given time. To say that a pilot should always apply stall recovery procedures when the stall horn activates is to limit his ability to properly fly his machine. After all, it’s possible that you might hear a stall horn activate in a Cessna 172 (stalls at 50 knots IAS) when descending at minimum sink speed (57 knots IAS). You’ll also hear a stall horn if you want to make a turn (at MCA) in the shortest radius to extricate yourself from a boxed environment. The stall horn will also wail continuously when practicing falling leaf stalls—an essential maneuver for teaching the proper use of rudder in stall recovery. And if you want to learn how an airplane handles during the landing flare—and what student doesn’t?—you’ll need to practice flying slow at MCA.

So how will the FAA’s new slow flight policy affect the development of private pilots? Unfortunately, newly certified private pilots will have little or no experience operating the airplane on the back side of its power curve. Oh wait, you say. Flight instructors can still teach flight at MCA. Maybe so, but wouldn’t that directly contradict the FAA’s original rationale for increasing the speed at which slow flight is performed? Do you actually think that FAA inspectors giving CFI candidates their checkrides are going to look favorably on CFI applicants who slow-fly with the stall horn activated? I don’t think so. The fact is that slow flight at MCA will disappear from aviation’s cultural knowledge base in the same way that the knowledge to perform steep spirals disappeared from the aviation community many years ago when the FAA removed steep spirals from the PTS. The FAA put steep spirals back in the PTS 10 years (+/-) later. When they did, very few instructors knew how to perform, much less teach this maneuver.

This, however, isn’t the really big concern I have with the new slow flight change. The first of two serious issues with this new policy involves the speed at which the FAA recommends that students fly slow. In its recent Slow Flight SAFO, the FAA’s method of determining the allowable speed at which to slow fly will permit the maneuver to be performed at speeds up to 1.34 Vs. Yes, you read that correctly: 34% above stall speed. That’s higher than the approach speed recommended for today’s modern trainer (which is 1.3 Vs). The second serious issue with the new slow flight requirement is how it detracts from learning basic attitude flying skills. The new slow flight requirement forces students to focus on their airspeed indicator to prevent activating the stall horn. When slow flight was practiced at MCA, students primarily focused on managing their angle of attack and flying coordinated by looking outside the airplane. There was no reason to look at the airspeed indicator because the student’s ears were free to assess the proximity to the critical angle of attack. With the FAA’s new slow flight requirement, students are now compelled to spend more time with their eyes directed inside the cockpit focused on their airspeed indicator. Basic attitude flying skills will diminish as a result.

Keep in mind that the FAA and NTSB have pushed hard for the past several years to reduce loss of control accidents (LOC). These types of accidents imply that there was a deficiency in a pilot’s ability to control the airplane. These pilots didn’t suffer from a loss of “decision making ability” or loss of “risk managing ability.” They suffered from a loss of “control,” which involves the flight controls of an airplane. Every bit of evidence available today suggests that pilots primarily lose control of their airplanes because they fail to fly them properly, not because they fail to make a decision properly or manage a risk properly (yes, judgment and risk management play a part, no doubt. But the evidence suggests that these are not majority players in aviation accidents (read the HFACS 2005 studies for evidence of this assertion). So, how does a dumbing-down of basic airmanship skills as a result of the new slow flight requirement help reduce LOC accidents? It doesn’t. And that’s the sad part about the direction the FAA has taken with its new flight training philosophy.

Over the past 15 years, beginning with FITS (FAA Industry Training Standards), the FAA has moved toward an airline-type training philosophy for general aviation pilots. The process continues with the ACS’s new slow flight requirement. As the FAA sees it, if airline pilots are trained to apply stall recovery procedures upon activation of an airliner’s stick shaker, why shouldn’t general aviation pilots do the same the moment the stall horn is heard in the cockpit? If airline pilots don’t make power off approaches, why should general aviation pilots make them? (Power off approaches have almost disappeared from our current training milieu.) If airline pilots do line oriented flight training (LOFT), why shouldn’t private pilots do the same? LOFT is the reason the FAA now recommends that ab initio student pilots learn the basics of flying an airplane during short cross country trips, thus avoiding the practice area. No, I’m not making any of this up. It’s all documented (read my other blogs). What the FAA fails to consider is that general aviation pilots are not airline pilots. Big surprise, right? In fact, there’s nothing about flying bigger airplanes that pertain to flying smaller ones; but everything about flying smaller airplanes pertains to flying bigger ones. Ultimately, the FAA is either unwilling or unable to understand this concept. Once again, I am not anti FAA; I’m anti bad ideas.


 

4.1.1

Rod Machado is a professional aviation speaker who delights his listeners with upbeat and lively presentations. His unusual talent for simplifying the difficult and adding humor to make the lessons stick has made him a popular lecturer both in and out of aviation. Rod speaks on both aviation and non-aviation topics, including risk assessment, IFR charts, aviation weather, in-flight emergencies, and safety awareness. He has over 10,000 hours of flight experience earned the hard way—one CFI hour at a time.  He also holds degrees in aviation science and psychology. His blog has a special section with free tools created specifically for CFIs.


Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles. Write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We are always seeking more input on aviation improvements and flight safety. There are many highly qualified aviation educators out there! If you are not yet a SAFE member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun. Lastly, use our FREE SAFE Toolkit App to put pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smart phone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Working together we make safer pilots!

CFI Professional: Mastering Technology!

Technology and digital tools have completely transformed aviation, especially at the level of busy IFR flying.  The current “digital magic” available in the panel or on a tablet is both continually amazing and increasingly challenging for the pilot (and CFI) to master. On a recent charter flight I was cleared “GPS direct” all the way from South Carolina to Texas on the magenta line! We could “see” the weather ahead on Nexrad and access all the ground station weather (and airborne traffic) on ADS-B; what an amazing privilege. As pilots flying in a busy IFR world, we have a mandate to master these technological tools so we can fly (and teach) with increased efficiency and safety. (See the recent NTSB alert on utilizing traffic avoidance technology)

My personal opinion is that mastering technology is especially critical for flight instructors and examiners. Unless a CFI is fully comfortable in the operation of the newest technology, they cannot efficiently teach and evaluate the use of these new aviation tools. Watching the younger pilots teach their CFIs how to survive with an iPad is unacceptable and unprofessional in modern aviation education. (I go back a ways but I remember an older CFI that had not yet mastered the “new fangled VOR receiver”) It is easy to get “out of date” in modern aviation. I would encourage all pilots and especially CFIs to become fully literate in the use of modern aviation technology. But of course the question is how can you achieve this level of comfort and mastery without an expensive flight school intervention?

pilotworkshopslogoThe courses through Pilot Workshops provide an excellent training on modern technology and provide exposure to the busy piloting environment. The recent IFR Focus series is fantastic and has excellent video on flying with modern technology. SAFE members can join Pilot Workshops FREE (waive the $199 member fee), just log into the member portal. There are courses from “stick and rudder” right up through complex GPS/IFR approaches.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-42-38-pmThough there are  many excellent iPad platforms, ForeFlight is the most popular app for integrated flight planning and navigation on the iPad. ForeFlight was early into the aviation game and continues to improve with each new release; now System 8. (SAFE members receive a 33% discount on the member portal). But though ForeFlight is a very intuitive platform, it is comprehensive and I still see far too many pilots, and especially older CFIs, fumbling through the operation of this app. For safety and efficiency, I would highly recommend a new course from The Modern Pilot we are now happy to provide at an incredible discount to SAFE members.

themodernpilotlogoThe Modern Pilot has developed an all-new online video training course “ForeFlight Power User” available at a discount to SAFE members. After years at ForeFlight answering questions and providing support, this veteran employee (and SAFE member) has established an independent business and created a very thorough ForeFlight video training course. It helps that he is an experienced CFII and CSIP and experienced educator. This course grew out of years of experience answering questions and writing support e-mails and is driven by real user needs. For only $67 SAFE members get the full 27 videos and a full year membership to the forums. This offer also includes a 33% reduction on all future courses. Compared to anything in aviation, this is a bargain.  SAFE members just log into the member side of our website and access this valuable new benefit. To be a professional pilot (and CFI) it is essential to not merely *survive* with technology. It is essential to be fully “pilot in command” of these technological tools. Use this opportunity to become a confident “ForeFlight Power User”.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles. Write us a comment if you see a problem or want to contribute an article. We are always seeking more input on aviation improvements and flight safety. There are many highly qualified aviation educators out there! If you are not yet a SAFE member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun. Lastly, use our FREE SAFE Toolkit App to put pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smart phone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Working together we make safer pilots!

SAFE CFI Toolkit App (FREE!)

The *FREE* CFI Toolkit App provides all required experience and endorsements for the flight training professional (on your phone). Mobile weather and tracking also on board.

A pilot applicant at the private pilot level is almost entirely dependent upon their professional CFI for their correct preparation and success on a checkride. These applicants are still very new to our aviation game and do not know the rules of engagement or what they do *not* know. The professional CFI is their primary guide. Unfortunately, as a pilot examiner, I more than occasionally see applicants who had potential but not enough guidance. As aviation professionals in the flight training business, CFIs and DPEs work as a team; we all want more good pilots. When an applicant fails, we *all* as a team have failed this person. When a failure occurs on a flight test, our process is not working in their education and test preparation. That is why I wrote the SAFE CFI Toolkit. (and yes I was a NAFI Master CFI before joining SAFE as a charter member…)

I personally want every applicant for a checkride to pass and attain their aviation dreams. For years I offered seminars at Oshkosh and Sun ‘N Fun on “How to Prepare and Pass Your Checkride” directed at the applicants (now I recommend for every pilot applicant a video by Russ Sill at Gold Seal with the same excellent advice) It is our duty as DPE “gatekeepers” to make sure each person meets the FAA standard established for a rating or certificate so they fly safely as aviators. Every examiner will tell you the hardest part of our job is delivering the disappointing news to an applicant who is unsuccessful. Let’s work together to prepare pilot applicants more thoroughly and achieve greater initial success on checkrides; these people will also be safer pilots throughout their lives.

When you download this free application onto your phone (available on Apple OS and Android) you have *all* the experience requirements for every certificate and rating *and* all the AC 61.65F endorsements. (I cannot count how many flight tests we could not even begin because the correct endorsements were not present) I also added links to FAA mobile site and great mobile weather sites. There are links to great article from AOPA and this blog too. (Let me know what you want to see here)

SAFEToolkitApppdfshotAgain all this is FREE. With this app installed on your phone you have a complete arsenal of digital tools to do your job more effectively and efficiently. The last tab is a text direct to *my* phone if you see something inaccurate or lacking…I will fix it in a day or two. Please download this app and let’s work as a team to make sure we do the best, most professional job for our aspiring aviators! (and watch for a new SAFE initiative on CFI professional development soon)

Shoot this QR with your smart phone for a working test drive emulator.
Shoot this QR with your smart phone for a working test drive emulator.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or want to contribute an article). We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun.

Metacognition: What Am I Doing Here?

Ever find yourself in a challenging flight and realize it’s starting to sound like an NTSB report? You might think “what am I doing here”? This awareness is “metacognition” and time to take action to break the accident chain.

There are many ways to analyze accidents. One of those is to try to mentally put yourself in the place of the pilot at different stages of the flight, from flight planning through the end of the accident sequence. Part of that is to imagine the pilot’s state of mind as the situation deteriorates so that you can try to formulate actions that might have saved the day.

I can imagine that in many, if not most cases, at least for a fleeting moment, the pilot asks the rhetorical question, “What am I doing here?” Obviously, that is not a strategy to avoid the accident at that point, but it is helpful for us to study the accident and ask, “How did the pilot get into that situation.”

We know about the error chain and that usually a series of errors, rather than a single mistake, leads up to a crash. We also know that if the error chain had been broken somewhere along the way, the accident might have been avoided. So let’s look at some risk factors, commonly found as links in error chains, that we might be able to mitigate. Usually more than one of these risk factors work together or in sequence to answer our question, “How did the pilot get into that situation.” These are not presented in a particular order because they can all range from a minor, contributing factor to a major causal factor.

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Proficiency  Pilots need to be proficient for any operations they might reasonably have to perform. The lower the pilot’s capability curve the lower the margin of safety. Of course capability must be measured against the task load for the particular operation. The pilot who always operates a Cessna 172 from a 6,000 foot paved runway with no obstacles at either end, has little need to practice short or soft field operations from a 1,500 foot turf runway with trees at each end. That might be true except when something does not go as planned. Unexpected adverse weather, or a mechanical problem might necessitate an unplanned landing at, guess what, the 1,500 foot turf runway with trees at each end.

But there are areas in which a pilot might not need to maintain proficiency providing there is no chance that the particular skill will be needed. An example might be the professional pilot who is multiengine rated but is retired and only flies single engine airplanes. There is no need to be proficient in multiengine, engine-out operations providing the pilot has the resolve to stay with just single engine airplanes. A common problem befalls the non-current, non-proficient instrument rated pilot. Needing to get home to go to work with IFR conditions and access to an IFR equipped airplane often provides too much temptation to think, “It will be OK just this once.”

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Aircraft Maintenance The first link in the error chain often is put in place long before the flight occurs and sometimes that involves aircraft maintenance. An inflight mechanical problem, can range from catastrophic such as a control failure to a minor one such as the loss of an alternator during day VFR flight. But even a minor mechanical problem, increases the pilot’s task load and thereby decreases the safety margin. A well-maintained aircraft does not eliminate the possibility of a mechanical problem inflight, but it reduces the probability.

Fatigue Just about every high-stakes or mission-critical industry has come to recognize the risk posed by a fatigued operator. Of course that includes pilots. Fatigue is common in our society and of course varies in severity. The FAA has determined that being awake for 17 hours has the same effect on performance as having a blood alcohol level in the 0.05 to 0.10 range. The only way to reduce fatigue is to sleep. So the pilot who is otherwise very proficient and fit to fly, but who has been up most of the night, perhaps with an ill child, works a long day, then embarks on a long, cross country flight is adding a link to the error chain. That pilot will have decreased capability and therefore the a reduced margin of safety.

Impairment  Most pilots are well aware of risk of flying after consuming alcohol and refrain from doing so. Most pilots do not use illicit drugs and those who do mostly do not fly while they are under the influence. Unfortunately, we are seeing more cases of impairing, illicit drugs in toxicology reports of fatal accident pilots.  But many pilots are actively flying while being unknowingly impaired. That impairment comes from a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Space here does not permit a detailed discussion, but a general rule that works most of the time is to read the label and ask a pharmacist. If the label says not to drive or operate machinery, that should be a big red flag. Interactions are also a factor, and that is where advice from a pharmacist comes into play. Any degree of impairment reduces capability and therefore the safety margin. Impaired flying presents a big link in the error chain.

time-is-moneyExternal Factors In the human factors world we call this pressure. It is simply something that causes us to press the envelope and go into a situation which is ill-advised. External factors often add the deciding link to the error chain. Common sources of this pressure are a need to conduct a flight to get back to work the next day, provide a promised flight to another person, attend an important meeting, get a child back to college for exams, and many more. Our cognitive biases work on our unconscious mind to make us believe that the risks are lower than they really are.

Of course there are more of these factors and more possible scenarios for each. Below are links to a couple of accidents in the Accident Analysis section. Read through them and see if you can apply some of the factors above to determine how the error chain developed. Try to answer the question, “How did the pilot get into that situation.”

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or want to contribute an article). We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun.

CFI Professionalism: The Little Things!

Veteran aviation safety professional (and SAFE member) Gene Benson shares “lessons learned” from when he was a new CFI. Remember the importance of monitoring *details* and exercising discipline! (Occasionally an ugly word in “aviation fun”)

Much attention is given to the prominent accidental causal factors such as thunderstorms, structural icing, midair collision, pilot impairment, and the like. But often a seemingly minor item can begin an error chain that ends poorly.

We have all heard the axiom regarding new pilots. It states that a pilot begins with a full bucket of luck and an empty bucket of experience. The challenge is to sufficiently fill the bucket of experience before the bucket of luck is emptied. I have written before about how that most certainly applied to me when I was a new flight instructor many, many years ago. One of those transactions of trading luck for experience taught me a lesson regarding one of those “little things.”

It was a clear, dark, cold winter night and I was taking a primary student out for his third and final night lesson before sending him for his private pilot checkride. We ordered fuel for the Cessna 172 and waited inside for the line person to complete the fueling process. I then sent my student out to perform the preflight inspection while I enjoyed the CFI’s prerogative of waiting in the comfy and warm FBO. The student signaled that he was ready so I went out, strapped myself in, and we were off for our flight. The student performed all of his procedures very well and we lifted off into the moonless, but star-filled night sky. I had instructed the student to perform a short field takeoff which he did quite well. Passing about 70 feet AGL he lowered the nose slightly to accelerate from Vx to Vy. A few seconds later we were beyond the airport boundary, over sparsely populated agricultural land, and to quote one of my favorite expressions, it was darker than the inside of a cow.  We were climbing nicely in the frigid, dense air when suddenly the cabin was filled with loud, unfamiliar noise. It sounded like we were taking .50 caliber gunfire. My brain quickly dismissed that as an unlikely scenario as I scanned for possibilities. To the student’s credit, he continued to fly the airplane and simply asked, “What’s that?” I scanned the flight and engine instruments and all indications were normal and the airplane was apparently flying without difficulty. The racket continued however so I told the student to fly a normal pattern and return for a landing. As we entered the downwind leg I realized that the noise was coming from above us and the only items up there were an antenna and two fuel caps. We landed normally and soon confirmed that a fuel cap had come loose and was flapping against the fuselage directly above our head, safely tethered by its retaining chain.

Other than a few dings in the paint, the airplane was undamaged. Very little, if any fuel had siphoned out of the open fuel filler hole. No harm – no foul. I replaced the offending fuel cap and checked the security of the other cap and we departed again. The lesson was completed without further incident.

NTSB Accident WPR12LA048 Piper Lance - Technology Distraction
NTSB Accident WPR12LA048 Piper Lance – Technology Distraction

My bucket of experience got a bit more full having learned the valuable lesson that critical preflight inspection items must not be entrusted to anyone else. Two individuals who I believed to be competent, the line person and my student, had both handled the fuel cap. whether one or both was at fault in not properly securing the fuel cap is immaterial. It was my responsibility to make sure the airplane was prepared for flight.

It wasn’t until several years later that I realized the potential hazard presented by that loose fuel cap. At first, I did not consider the incident to have presented much danger. Even if fuel had been siphoning out of the tank, there was little fire risk since it would have streamed harmlessly past the tail. Even if the entire tank had been emptied, we still would have had a full tank remaining for our local flight, providing I selected the unaffected fuel tank to prevent cross-feed. So fuel exhaustion was not likely. The hazard presented was the increased risk of loss-of-control due to the distraction. Recall that it was a dark, moonless night. What I did not mention was that nobody onboard held an instrument rating. Back in the early 1970s, holding an instrument rating was not a requirement for a commercial pilot certificate or a flight instructor certificate. I had followed the normal progression for the time in obtaining my commercial pilot certificate and then my flight instructor certificate first, then using my instructing revenue for my instrument rating and my CFII. So there I was providing flight instruction to a primary student on a dark moonless night with no horizon and no instrument rating and now facing a formidable distraction. I suspect my luck bucket suffered some serious depletion that night.

genebensonopendoor
NTSB Accident GAA16CA060 Beech Baron – Open cabin door distraction, lack of compliance with service bulletin

So how can we mitigate the effects of such a diverse group of accident causal factors that have little in common? There is no single, simple answer to that but there are some things we can do to be more proactive. First and foremost, we must know the aircraft systems and maintain a high level of proficiency in the aircraft. The best way to do that is to be actively engaged in a formal recurrent training program.  We don’t necessarily have to enroll with one of the “big box” training providers. Any competent CFI who is familiar with our specific aircraft should be able to create a program. And let’s not forget that the FAA Wings program will create a custom program for us automatically.

Also, we often know what we need to do but we fall short in the execution. We need to strengthen our resolve to have and use a checklist for each phase of flight, including the preflight inspection. We must resolve to keep our aircraft maintained to a very high standard, including compliance with service bulletins. We must also resolve to establish and enforce sterile cockpit procedures during critical phases of flight, including taxi.

Of course there are many other little things that can and do begin or continue an error chain. A cabin door popping open, an ill-timed question or statement by a passenger, an indication of a landing gear problem, an alternator going offline, unfamiliarity with technology, and many more “little things” can cause a distraction. A simple item missed on a preflight inspection or on a checklist can cause big problems in flight. And then there is the mistaken belief that just a little frost on the airplane is OK.

NTSB Accident WPR13FA041 American Aviation AA-1 attempted takeoff with frost on aircraft
NTSB Accident WPR13FA041 American Aviation AA-1 attempted takeoff with frost on aircraft

So, in summary we need to pay attention to the “big ticket” accident causal factors that get most of the attention. But we also need to be on top of our game, apply discipline and follow established procedures to help prevent the little things from becoming huge monsters.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or want to contribute an article). We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun.

SAFE Member Brenda #1 CFI in AOPA Poll!

Reprinted from AOPA on-line News: We are so proud of Brenda!

National Election Day may still be a week away, but in Frederick, Maryland, the voters have spoken—and the winner is Brenda Tibbs, named Best Flight Instructor in the 2016 Flight Training Poll.

Brenda Tibbs, an experienced instructor who launched a new venture, Bravo Flight Training, in Frederick, Maryland, won Best Flight Instructor in AOPA’s 2016 Flight Training Excellence Awards Oct. 25. Photo by David Tulis.

Brenda Tibbs, an experienced instructor who launched a new venture, Bravo Flight Training, in Frederick, Maryland, won Best Flight Instructor in AOPA’s 2016 Flight Training Excellence Awards Oct. 25. Photo by David Tulis.

The good news doesn’t stop there for the 2,000-hour CFI who just two months ago stepped out on her own to found Bravo Flight Training after six years as an instructor for an established FBO. On the day she learned about her electoral success, Tibbs also received final municipal approval to run her flight school at the airport, ratifying a process in the works since summer.

Like her counterpart in Orlando, Tibbs will soon add an aircraft to her fleet that now consists of a Cessna 150 and a Cessna 172. The new arrival, a Piper Arrow, will give her students access to an aircraft with retractable landing gear and a constant-speed prop for advanced training.

Tibbs said instructing for her last employer, and during previous tenure working at AOPA—where she served members in the Pilot Information Center and later as a flying club specialist—has been an “awesome” experience.

But she felt something was missing from pilot training—something she could zero in on in her new venture: a sense of community.

“Everyone was coming, taking lessons and leaving, and not connecting,” she said.

Tibbs knew from working on member service programs at AOPA that retaining pilots as active members of the general aviation community is a high priority, because a sense of community is one reason people love to fly.

brendatibbsaopatrophymod

So in addition to her flight schedule and working out details of getting the new flight school up and running, Tibbs organizes regular activities that benefit her airport’s community such as monthly gatherings that spotlight educational topics in a social atmosphere.

A recent get-together featured two designated pilot examiners who discussed their roles and gave attendees a chance to ask questions. An upcoming session will bring pilots and air traffic controllers together.

Carving out a niche is a way to give any business an edge, and Tibbs has found an important role as an instructor of the pilots of the future. It’s a great fit for the mother of a teen and a fitting follow-on to her work with Frederick Aviation Explorers, a local youth development program.

It also has this advantage: “That’s what I love to do,” she said.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or want to contribute an article). We always need more input on aviation excellence or flight safety. There are many highly qualified SAFE members out there! If you are not yet a member, please Join SAFE and support our mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile and fun.

More like Bob Hoover!

“We lost the greatest friend and mentor a person could ever have. He lived 10 lifetimes in one. I honor him with how I live my life. Live with Passion, love with Passion and fly with Joy!” – Sean D. Tucker

As pilots and caring humans we should all aspire to be more like Bob Hoover. What an incredible person and pilot he was and what an example of a life well lived. (Safe journeys West Bob.) From the young WWII P-51 fighter ace/patriot to early jet test pilot and then amazing airshow genius, he did it all and in an elegant and gracious manner.

“Bob Hoover was so much more than a great pilot. He was a great man and a model for what our community can and should be.”  AOPA’s Mark Baker

To live constantly on the edge of disaster for so many years and die peacefully at 94 bears clear testimony to Bob’s piloting skills and also his risk management acumen. He performed every show with a joy, passion and precision that was unmatched in the industry. He was quoted as saying “Someday I might die in one of these shows. But you know what? It’ll take the mortician a week to get the smile off my face!” Because he pursued excellence in everything he did (but especially flying) Bob survived some incredibly challenging situations; his skill, courage and ingenuity brought him through every crisis.

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And though aviation can unfortunately be a business of big egos and “me first” personalities, Bob Hoover was always a gracious and sharing mentor throughout his career. His kindred spirit Sean D. Tucker clearly credits Bob Hoover with saving his life as a result of his early fatherly advice! As a younger air show pilot, aggressively pushing the edge, Sean relates how Bob Hoover approached him at an airshow and clearly explained how Sean’s days were limited if he did not build a little more margin into his flying routine. Though not apparent to us mere mortals, Tucker admits this sage (and initially unwelcome) advice saved his life more than once when mechanical issues cropped up unexpectedly. “I would not have made it without him.”

pattywagstaffbobhooverAerobatic performer Patty Wagstaff also cites Bob Hoover as an important mentor and coach throughout her career: “If I wasn’t sure how to handle a situation, I would always think, ‘How would Bob handle that?’ ” Fortunately, aviation at our level involves a lot less risk. But Bob’s example can work for everyone in our flying and our interaction with other pilots.

I would encourage all pilots to aspire to be “more like Bob” both in pursuing excellence and professionalism in every flight AND in promoting safety and keeping watch over our fellow aviators. Please take a page from Bob’s playbook and both build a safety margin into your flying (pursue excellence) and also put a friendly hand on the shoulder of any pilot you see on the road to disaster; “friends don’t let friends fly unsafe!” (How many times have we mumbled the words “accident waiting to happen” but done nothing?) Your better piloting self and mentorship will truly be the best tribute to our amazing friend Bob Hoover!

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