Posts about pilot skills, knowledge, and judgment
Last Saturday morning, as my wife Janet and I puttered around the kitchen preparing breakfast, she asked out of the blue, "What do you think can be done about air show safety?"
A beautiful, vintage T-33, with its distinctive straight wings and bulbous tip tanks roared past show center in a knife-edge pass. My wife Janet and I were watching the airshow at this year's Aviation Roundup in Minden, Nevada, and chatting with air-taxi pilot and flight instructor Dave, who was there with his sleek Piper Meridian promoting his air taxi service, Gary Air. As we jabbered about airplanes, flying, and my recent flight training, Dave showed us a little book he'd just picked up at the show entitled Flight Emergency, a collection of fictional but realistic emergency scenarios that explores the possible outcomes of various decisions.
"Wow—only two tenths of one percent of the US population has a pilot's license, and AOPA says up to 80 percent of people who start training quit before they earn one! What are my chances of success?"
"Argh! Frustrating!" I growled as I watched the altimeter dip almost 200 feet below my target altitude.
"You just need to use more trim," said my instructor Bill.
"Well, I know, but how much?" I asked, almost rhetorically, as I fumbled with the trim wheel between the seats. We were practicing slow flight in the Piper Arrow II that I've been using for my Commercial and CFI training, and the difference in the amount of pitch trim required compared to my club's Cessna 172 and A36 Bonanza was giving me fits.
"No!" I thought to myself as I stared at the computer screen in disbelief. I'd just taken the Certified Flight Instructor—Airplane knowledge test, but despite extensive preparation, I'd missed several questions! I passed handily, but my score still came as a shock. I'd never missed more than one question on any previous knowledge test, so this was outside my experience.