Stall Spin on Final; Are CFIs (Partly) to Blame?

Sorry, but yes we are. Read on to see why and how we can fix this.

We all know that stall/spin “upset” incidents on final (some of which become accidents) – close to the ground – are a major hazard and a killer of pilots and, unfortunately, also passengers. We know that the onset of this situation seems to be a complex one with many implications for aircraft control, but really it is a simple one. The pilot yawed and stalled the airplane. Also, when this type of upset occurs, even the very best pilot will initially have a period of “startle” while trying to understand what is happening and what is needed to correct it, this despite the fact that they created the situation. So, there would seem to be a disconnect between what the pilot wanted the airplane to do and what they “told” it to do by their control inputs. The problem is, of course, that this often occurs close enough to the ground that the time needed for that analysis and reaction takes more time than is available – or should we say more altitude than is available. While we train in power off turning stalls (formerly called approach to landing stalls) at altitude, that is a planned exercise and the student/pilot is prepared for them. On short final, or turning to final – not so much! It is also surprising how many pilots have never done a turning stall – only the wings level variety!

A key question needs to be asked here. Why do pilots find themselves in this position in the first place? There are numerous answers – the pilot got slow, the pilot got slow and cross controlled, the pilot overbanked, and the list goes on. While these are all valid points, and there are many others, it still doesn’t get to one of the real “causal” factors that got them there. HOW did the pilot get low, slow, cross controlled, and overbanked in the first place?

I know that there are probably many potential primary causal factors that could be listed, but I would like to suggest that there is one fairly prominent one – and we instructors are partially to blame for its occurrence. I know that sounds like a strong statement, but I hope to provide, in the information that follows, two things – a rationale for that statement and a potential solution for it as well.

Again, there are many ways that a student/pilot can get into the situation, but if we instructors think about the times that we have seen the potential, many of those are the result of a common incident – flying through the final approach course during the turn to final. Distractions undoubtedly played a role in a number of those. I have seen it many times with students, and also with pilots on flight reviews and proficiency flights, and after we got on the ground I asked a question. “Why did you do that steep, pulling bank on your final turn?” And, almost universally they will say, “Because my instructor told me I (had to/needed to) roll out on final lined up with the runway.” And when they didn’t? Their instructor further stressed the importance of doing so.

We must remember that while lining up with the runway is the “end game”, we also do a disservice to students/pilots when we imply that lining up means “NEVER” going beyond the extended centerline. There is not a wall there (though there are issues if there are parallel runways). Overshooting the centerline may, in some cases, have some worth, such as initiating an s-turn process to bleed off excess altitude rather than skidding or slipping (cross control).

Put yourself in the place of the pilot or student that slightly misjudges the wind or the turn (or is distracted) and winds up going slightly through the runway centerline as they are turning – or even more than slightly, which increases the problem. More often than not, what is their response? Steepen the bank and pull, which increases the g-loading and angle of attack, to try and “get back over to the centerline”. And, here comes the stall/spin on final.

Sometimes I don’t think that we instructors, myself included in the past, have realized the impact of some of the things we say, like – “You really should roll out lined up with the runway.” Granted that IS the desired result, and our training should be to teach them how to do that – judging the wind effect, etc. so that they can safely compensate and roll out on final lined up. But, I am reminded of some cartoons I have seen, notably Charles Schultz in Peanuts, where an owner is talking to their pet to try and train them and what they hear is – “/// ////// Line up with the runway /// ///// /////”. You get the drift (pun intended). They hear only part of the message and it is strongly heard and remembered. The Law of Primacy applies here, and it will stick with them, with the strong emphasis, as we know from our study of the Fundamentals of Instruction!

I certainly agree that what we should teach is the analysis that gets the student to see in advance what the air mass movement is doing to them so that they can anticipate what is needed in the turn to final. But, I also know that even the best “air gods” will occasionally misjudge the flow and either undershoot or overshoot the centerline. Undershoot is NOT a problem and much easier to resolve – but overshoot IS a problem as our stall/spin statistics will tell us – and they don’t really go down. It is a problem because of the way we instructors treat it – as a big deal, instead of a teachable moment.

While it will not eliminate the stall/spin situation on final, I would suggest that we need to spend quite a bit more time teaching how to recover/fly out of the overshoot with our students to significantly reduce the problem. They need to understand that it is not an “offense” to fly through, and that the solution is to either continue the normally banked turn to fly back to the centerline or, if they are way off, to go around and do it again. In most cases, the former is the ideal solution – just continue the NORMAL turn to a heading that is a good re-intercept angle to the final course, then make a normal turn back to the final approach course at the intercept. At that point, make a decision as to whether a normal approach to landing is possible. If so, continue, and if not, go around.

WE, as instructors, must understand the import given to what we say to our students and the weight that it carries, whether intentional or not. The next time you are with a student or pilot, listen to what you say and consider modifying it to start teaching this way to resolve it. It is a lot harder to “unteach” something than it is to teach it right in the first place. We need to work on the initial teaching part with students, and spend a LOT of time working on the unteach/reteach part with our fellow pilots.

Will this eliminate the stall/spin on final? No, but it can go a long way to preventing some future ones that might otherwise occur! In fact, it might even be a good idea to practice some intentional overshoots with the corrections so that the students/pilots understand and get comfortable with them.

(with grateful acknowledgement to Rich Stowell for review and input! This article is part of the extensive SAFE on-line Resource Center one of the benefits of SAFE membership)


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!

I Wish All Emergencies Ended This Well!

This is the ninth anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson”.  And though this was an amazing demonstration of cool decision-making and piloting skill, the pilots, Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles were completely overwhelmed by the national media attention and their sudden fame. They repeatedly emphasized they were just “pilots doing our job” (humble always trumps hubris). And while it is true every professional pilot is trained continuously in Crew Resource Management and also generating successful outcomes in emergencies, we all can continually draw golden lessons from this amazing historic flight; here are a few thoughts.

What happens over time is we tend to forget how badly this situation could have ended. Remember the ugly Colgin crash that followed soon after Sully or the Air France 447? This highlights the amazing constellation of luck and skill that made the “Miracle on the Hudson” all work out. Here are three very important pitfalls to avoid in every emergency and some techniques to “prepare” for surprise occurrences.

The major obstacle to effective action in every emergency is the startle/surprise incapacitation. This is when our mental circuit breaker trips off line and the human psychology says “why me?” or “this can’t be happening.” Even the most prepared and experienced pilot is going to have a moment of inaction, but we have to reboot and get functioning ASAP.  Step one in every emergency has to be “fly the plane; then analyze, engage and work the problem.”  Using a checklist and standard operating procedures is essential to get your mind functioning and back to work. This requires resilience, grit or emotional fortitude and as pilots, we work hard to develop and maintain these qualities. The best antidote to surprise/startle incapacitation is maintaining constant mental alertness in flight (especially at critical phases of flight). If we can maintain alert awareness and try continuously to “expect the unexpected” (Marines call “code yellow”) it is less likely that surprise will overwhelm us in these situations. (Watch for our upcoming LiveStream with Rod Machado on “The Improbable Turn”)

A second common problem in emergencies is being rendered ineffective by trying to achieve a “perfect” outcome. In business decision this is called “overfitting.” The unique and endlessly variety of possible emergencies almost precludes a “textbook solution.” This is a time for a TLAR (that looks about right) solution; a time for inginuity and getting the “best of the worst.” Once we accept and engage the emergency situation, it is essential to remain flexible, and use as many resources as possible to share the cognitive load (so we are not “swimming in glue”) and creatively visualize the outcome we need to survive; optimize. This technique is called “satisficing” and it means getting as much as you can of the required parameters while accepting the outcome that will not be perfect. (Check out the amazing Nobel Laureate Herb Simon and heuristic decisions; when time, resources and processing power are limited)

A last major failing in emergencies almost follows directly from the previous advice of soliciting resources. We can get so much help and so many good ideas that this confuses the situation and dissipates effective, decisive action. Think of all the runways Sully was offered in those 208 seconds of glide. There are either too many contrary solutions or just plain bad advice. In an emergency you have to aggressively assert command authority at some point and decide on a course of action and commit to the plan “we’re going in the Hudson” If you waffle on KLGA and KTEB as options, you ruin your glide and miss the river. “I really would prefer a runway” (the perfect solution) but a large flat area without combustible materials will have to do ( “satisficing” )  As pilots we can all rejoice at this wonderful example of piloting skill and decision-making. Hopefully we all can model some good lessons for future challenges; watch out for geese!


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!

“Broadband Speed” For Your Brain!

When you witness an amazingly skillful performance, whether it is an Olympic gymnast, a violin concerto or world-class aerobatic flying, the real process at work is the human brain functioning at its peak. The secret to acquiring and sustaining this level of technical perfection is revealed in a fascinating book; The Talent Code. Author Daniel Coyle is a very engaging writer and repeatedly demonstrates the essence of masterful instruction and performance across a spectrum of diverse pursuits–from Brazilian soccer to world-class musicians. (As a treat for pilots, Coyle also pays homage to the value of the original Link Aviation Flight Simulator).

In one ramshackle little gymnasium outside Moscow, The Spartak Tennis Club, talented coaches have created more world-class tennis stars in the last 20 years than in the whole USA. In a similar spartan Adirondack music camp, master instructors taught Yo-Yo Ma,  Pinchas Zuckerman and a host of other world-class musicians. Using these examples and many others, Coyle distills the essence of how amazing education really works, and how to turbocharge your learning. It’s also great news for every aspiring aviator that “talent” is more “how you learn” than genetic destiny. I highly recommend this short and exciting book to every flight educator.

In summary, as mentioned in a previous blog article about “Peak” , Anders Ericsson’s study of master performers, high motivation and a special deep practice are always necessary (no magic bullet here). But most interesting, it is the kind of practice necessary to create faster and better performance. To learn (or teach) rapid skill acquisition at a master level, it is essential to practice outside your comfort zone. Practicing in this “struggle zone” and working relentlessly toward a well defined goal builds skills six times faster than usual techniques. Simple repetition of what you already know is wasted time. Many other techniques Coyle reveals, like chunking and reframing, are also involved also in this fast-track skill development.

A key point of the Talent Code is that specialized practice techniques, in a wide variety of fields, lead to the formation in the brain of an insulating neurological substance called myelin. Much like insulation on an electrical wire, myelin wraps the carefully created skill pathways and creates “mental broadband.”  Master performances using these amazing myelinated pathways that are 3,000 times faster than the usual brain circuits. Deliberate, correct practice, outside your comfort zone creates greater technical mastery in a shorter time with better retention–the true secret to exceptional learning and performance.

Struggle is not optional—it’s neurologically required: in order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must by definition fire the circuit suboptimally; you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes; you must slowly teach your circuit. You must also keep firing that circuit—i.e., practicing—in order to [build and] keep myelin functioning properly

As far as the educators inspiring to provide this “turbo learning,” Coyle calls them “talent whisperers.” Usually  quiet and offering minimal and very precise direction, there are many useful tips in Coyle’s book for educators about creating technical mastery.

Please join us this Thursday. SAFE will be presenting a follow up “Drill Down on LOC-I” with Patty Wagstaff and Rich Stowell on-line to further define skills and techniques to combat Loss of Control. The previous seminar is available as a YouTube (complete the Quiz also if you want FAA Master Wings Credit). Please sign up on-line at FAAsafety.gov and see you Thursday, Dec 14th at 8 EDT.


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!

Prevent LOC-I; Please Train Turning Stalls!

We had great attendance for our national LiveStream with Patty Wagstaff and Rich Stowell; thank-you all for watching. You can watch (and share) it [here] Once again, however, I am amazed at the number of pilots (and CFIs) who have limited understanding of the aerodynamics of turns. Pilots on some deep level seem misunderstand and fear banking. We need to elevate our game to avoid LOC-I accidents. Training turning stalls (at a safe altitude please) is an effective way to build confidence and understanding.

In a stable, coordinated turn (level, climbing or descending), the lift on the wings is equal! Obviously, there was unequal lift while rolling the plane into the turn, but when it is established and coordinated, lift on the wings is equal. If you reduce power and decellerate to a stall, it’s no big deal, the nose falls away from the lift vector. For the CFI this is a very powerful and useful demonstration (and an effective teachable moment). I guarantee your student (who should already be comfortable with level stalls to be ready for this) will grab the seat and expect a spin (even though you already explained it all). This is a misunderstanding due to the flight attitude. The usual airplane reaction to this stall is a mushing motion away from the lift vector. Most pilots are surprised at the lack of a sharp stall break and fail to even identify the stalled condition! These “teachable moments” are critical in the flight training process to create safe pilots.

Remember; the turning stall maneuver is also available to be tested on both the Private and Commercial flight tests. I also have had flight test applicants refuse to slip to land because it’s “dangerous” (and yes…that’s also on the FAA test) so I wrote this article to clear up this misunderstanding.


Here is some more stall information from SAFE member Robert Reser; “How To Fly A Plane”

—INADVERTENT STALL

Stalling an aircraft requires pitching the nose to the critical angle-of-attack. Remember, exceeding the critical angle-of-attack is when stall occurs. The aircraft being pitched to an attitude that reaches the critical angle-of-attack causes the stall! There are only two possible ways to cause the nose to reach the critical angle-of-attack in a positive stable aircraft.

  1. Pulling and holding the elevator aft…the pilot causes stall.
  2. In descent trimming nose up to a very slow indicated-airspeed at reduced power, then increasing power causing thrust component-lift which could add back enough pitch trim effect to reach the critical angle-of-attack…the pilot causes stall.

There are only two ways an aircraft can pitch to the critical angle-of-attack. One is for the pilot to pull and hold the elevator aft. The second is for the pilot to input a large nose up elevator trim when at a low thrust setting then add lots of thrust…again pilot induced.

It might be easier to understand if the pilot realizes the only thing the elevator ever does is allow change of indicated air-speed with angle-of-attack change. Also when operating at reduced thrust of descent, any increase of thrust increases angle-of-attack until in level or climbing flight.

It is difficult to see that in minimum indicated-airspeed descending flight, adding power can cause stall. The fact remains it can happen. In descent, there is a substantial reduction of thrust component-lift normally contributing to angle-of-attack. To compensate, and for maintaining the slowed constant indicated-airspeed, added aft-elevator control and/or nose-up elevator trim maintains the desired angle-of-attack.

If a slowed, hands-off level flight is operating at 12-degrees angle-of-attack, the corresponding thrust component-lift is contributing as much as 6-degrees to that angle.

Reducing to idle thrust removes 4-5 degrees of that angle-of-attack contributed by thrust component-lift, so allows acceleration. It requires adding aft-elevator or additional nose-up elevator trim to maintain the original constant indicated-airspeed in this descent.

Now the stabilizer is contributing 10-11 degrees of the angle-of-attack. Adding back the thrust toward a level sustaining setting is adding nose-up pitch to the trim as much as 8-10 degrees, so without forward elevator input can cause immediate stall.

—LOW INDICATED-AIRSPEED AND APPROACH STALL

All low indicated-airspeed maneuvering flight is subject to inadvertent stall. A turn when in a slow indicated-airspeed situation if requiring added power, while already holding the control wheel aft for altitude control, can potentially cause immediate stall.

When in a descending steep turn at reduced thrust with the elevator trimmed for very slow indicated-airspeed flight, the aircraft can be at a 12 to 14-degree angle-of-attack. Added thrust for reducing descent rate or leveling will cause considerable thrust component-lift, adding as much as a 6 to 10-degrees angle-of-attack…immediate stall…it requires coordinated forward elevator control to avoid attaining critical angle-of-attack.

A common condition where this occurs is the base to final VFR approach when overshooting the extended centerline. A pilot already in the trimmed, low-powered, landing configured slow-flight tends to increase the bank attitude and simultaneously pull the elevator attempting to correct back toward the extended centerline.

The increased bank reduces vertical lift and any added aft elevator causes more slowing from the added angle-of-attack plus increased “g” force. At this point, a power increase adding those 4-5 degrees to the angle-of-attack may cause immediate low altitude stall with no altitude for recovery.

Low altitude, slow indicated-airspeed flight maneuvering must be with minimum or no manual aft elevator input. There must be anticipation of applying forward elevator prior to or while adding thrust in this condition.

A pilot must understand how thrust component-lift affects flight. All flight instruction of normal level turns should be without elevator input but with coordination of added thrust for its thrust component-lift.

Descending turns use gravity component-thrust so for constant indicated-airspeed must increase descent rate during the turn. It is impossible visually ascertaining a steep nose-up attitude when descending but anytime using aft elevator, the increased angle-of-attack reduces indicated-airspeed.

In slow indicated-airspeed maneuvering, always expect stall indication and if occurring, immediate forward elevator toward zero “g” with coordinated rudder and aileron leveling the wings for maximum vertical lifting.

In all flight, always trim to a hands-off condition with aircraft controls. “You will be surprised how the airplane just wants to do its thing without all the fussing with the control wheel”.

—TAKEOFF AND GO-AROUND STALL

Takeoff and go-arounds are situations where slow indicated-airspeeds are transitioning into both increasing indicated-airspeed and altitude. Without using hands-off techniques for flight, a pilot will be manually holding aft elevator control for angle-of-attack. Inadvertent increased aft elevator input can easily lead to stall.

With the go-arounds, there is transition from trimmed slow indicated-airspeed descent to leveling for acceleration and then climb. In this case the added thrust alone adds back nose up pitch increasing the aircraft angle-of-attack trim to level flight and then any excess thrust continues pitching to a climb angle with increased altitude. Any added manual aft elevator initially added to stop descent can lead to stall.

These situations require specific training in awareness of what is happening and again knowing hands-off flight control techniques. A go-around should allow acceleration while leveling and then climb. The aircraft is already flying; it seldom requires immediately jamming lots of thrust.

In all cases, a trimmed hands-off aircraft cannot stall. The elevator sets angle-of-attack and only if at a descending power setting will that change and then with thrust change. Just don’t pull the control wheel!

For a free .pdf version of Bob’s book, “How to Fly Airplanes” e-book send an e-mail to Bob with “e-book” as subject!


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!

To Err is Human! “NASA Form”

by Parvez Dara, ATP, MCFII, MEI (and our SAFE Treasurer)

Did you make a mistake today? If you said no. I would beg to differ. We make tiny errors in our daily lives that go unnoticed all the time because they are mostly isolated and of little consequence. The adage is “To err is human.” And to err is universal and seemingly inevitable also.  But here is the hard question, “Are mistakes always a bad thing?”

To answer that question, we may have to ride the train backwards in time. During WWII planes were falling from the sky. More lives were lost from mistakes than from enemy aircraft shoot-downs.

We obviously learned from those mistakes. The total fatal aircraft accident rate in the United States declined dramatically over time from 1959 when the fatal accident rate was 1 in 100,000. As 2016 became history the fatal commercial aircraft accident rate declined to an astonishingly low rate of 1 per 10 million flights. Imagine the log reduction in loss of life! A proof worth hanging your hat on. Education about Loss of Control, Fuel Management, Decision Making and Judgement were the important improvements to bring the number down. Yet if we were to look at airline safety data from 2009 (without jinxing anything) there has been a zero-accident rate in the seven-year period. That is incredible!

The General Aviation Accident Rate per year however is a different story. It is presented below and is based on the NTSB data available to date. The higher rate of fatal accidents in the general Aviation Community is partly because of lack of professionalism, single pilot operations and the “bold pilot” mode of thinking.

YEARS GA Accident Rate/100,000 GA Fatal Accidents GA Fatalities
FY10 1.1 272 471
FY11 1.12 278 469
FY12 1.09 267 442
FY13 1.11 259 449
FY14 1.09 252 435
FY15 0.99 238 384
FY16 0.91 219 413

So, let me get back to the issue of is “To Err” a bad thing?

The answer is a qualified NO. However, with a caveat, to repeat an error made by others, which has been used as a learning event, is definitely a bad thing. It is important to know that the NTSB data was created out of bent metal and loss of life. Errors made by expanding the envelope of flight teach us what not to do. Though it’s never easy to admit these mistakes, “fessing up” is a crucial step in learning, growing, and improving.  The FAA rules are created based on the NTSB information for pilot’s personal and his or her passenger’s safety and based mostly on the erroneous adventures of others.

The FAA has in place a NASA form just for this purpose. If you make a mistake or believe you might have, it is important to fill out the form and send it along for record keeping. The form is evaluated based on ATC tracking data and if no intentional errors were made, the pilot receives a response in kind. If however, there was an error committed, the pilot has protection by self-reporting of the error. This is the whole basis for a Safety Management System. A pilot is forgiven for any errors committed over a three-year period. A continuous flow of errors however point to the pilot’s competency and decision making that might require a rehabilitation and remediation strategy. Read the monthly intake here.

Electronic submission here, ASRS Form available below

https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/general.pdf

Assuming you are in a hurry and wish to fly for a $100 hamburger with impatient passengers tapping their toes. Allowing them to influence your preflight decisions to not drain the fuel or check the oil content, hazards will loom in that flight. These risks may remain only as risks and not bite you or your passengers, but the “kick the tire and light the fire” does have adverse consequences if repeated. And one day, when all the gremlins go for their “Labor Day vacation” watchout! Latest “Callback” Newsletter

Based on the FAA Fact Sheet

The Top 10 Leading Causes of Fatal General Aviation Accidents 2001-2013: 

  1. Loss of Control Inflight (see recent SAFE Livestream!)
    2. Controlled Flight into Terrain
    3. System Component Failure – Powerplant
    4. Fuel Related – contamination, starvation or exhaustion
    5. Unknown or Undetermined
    6. System Component Failure – Non-Powerplant
    7. Unintended Flight in IMC
    8. Midair Collisions Low
    9. Altitude Operations
    10. Other

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!

 

Aviation Safety; We Can Do Better!

My condolences to the family of Roy Halladay, by all accounts a talented and generous person with so much potential. Not only has the world lost this amazing person, but aviation has suffered another very public black eye with the repeating question “How can this happen?” From what has become available so far, there seems to be some avoidable risks in the recent Icon A5 crash that could have been mitigated.

Identifying and mitigating risks is the essence of aviation safety and this includes the psychological discipline of saying NO to “having too much fun”. Exercising “executive function” and knowing where and when *not* to fly is critical to safety. (See Dr. Bill Rhodes “Pilots Who Should Scare Us”) Maintaining adequate altitude in the cruise phase of flight is one of our critical margins of safety as pilots. Low level maneuvering flight (below 1000 feet) usually comprises only 15% of our exposure as pilots but is where over 70% of fatalities occur. Loss of control accidents are disproportionately represented in this phase of flight. If you add intentional radical maneuvers this only asks for trouble. This type of demonstration flying, though exciting, requires a highly trained professional pilot and a aerodynamically robust high-G machine. This precise and demanding flying should be left to airshow pros! There is no way a new pilot should be flying an LSA in this manner.

And as Steve Pope of Flying Magazine has pointed out, marketing this kind of low level “yank and bank” flying as an obtainable and safe activity is scary to many veteran pilots.

Pope said “the plane itself is great,” but he had concerns about Halladay, a new pilot with little flying time, taking the craft out over water at low altitude, though the plane was marketed as a craft that could do that.

“They still think that that’s the way the airplane should be flown, and there are people in aviation who completely disagree with that,” Pope said. “They think you should not have a low-time pilot flying low over water. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

This kind of behavior in the hands of new pilots will certainly lead to more accidents. We will be talking about the aerodynamics and psychology of loss of control (LOC-I) this Thursday the 16th at 8PM EST with aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff and upset training specialist Rich Stowell. This livestream is presented by the FAA and qualifies participants for FAA Master Wings. As an additional incentive, our generous sponsors at Lightspeed Aviation are providing a Zulu 3 headset to be offered to a random winner at the end of the show; please join us.

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!

Channeling Patty Wagstaff; Focus and Discipline!

It is too easy to focus on the negative viewpoint when considering the overwhelming number of Loss of Control accidents.  The more positive flip side is just that every pilot should approach flying with a high degree of focus and discipline. Mastery of the airplane and environment should be a self-motivating goal for every good pilot. And hopefully, every pilot has in their heart the drive to continuously improve and be the top of their game.

Unfortunately, emphasis on only “fun and the easiest, cheapest pathway” can lead to a very dangerous aviation experience. Aviation requires we do our homework, practice and learn our skills, and only then engage in this amazing activity. This can be a wonderful motivation for improvement. Join us in our live Loss of Control discussion Nov 16th featuring Patty Wagstaff and Rich Stowell.

In this YouTube Patty very clearly explains her personal motivation for her obvious aviation mastery; she is charged up *because* what she does is difficult (and even more challenging for a female). She clearly emphasizes the need for complete focus on the mission at hand and a thorough knowledge of the airplane and its systems. Fortunately, we are not pursuing aeronautical control at the level of Patty Wagstaff, but channeling that same attitude of professionalism and mastery can make us all better pilots.

“I think that one of the major reasons I like to fly is the mastery of this machine in a three-dimensional airspace; when you’re really comfortable with an airplane and you’ve really mastered it, you really can control it. To be a good and safe [aerobatic] pilot you have to have 100% concentrated focus on the activity at hand. The reason that I love flying and love aviation is because it’s always a challenge, it could never be boring because it’s never the same.”


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!