Hot, Heavy and High

August 28th, 2010

HOT HIGH and HEAVY: In the Words of the Pilot who Lived to Tell the Tale.

“It was a Cherokee140….or a Pa28 in those days….nobody told me it wasn’t supposed to carry 4 people…I mean come on…it had 4 seats didn’t it…?

This particular 140 had a Pink Panther on the tail and it was a little faster and just slightly better than a regular 140 … of those “slick” models.

Anyway there I was with 3 friends at an airfield which I won`t name with an elevation of around 5300ft amsl. We had places to go on this warmish summer day and I was not about to be deterred by anything….I mean the friends are all waiting to be impressed and flown to various destinations after all.

So…pre flight done…..only half tanks because the rest had been used to get to this airfield…..lets all get aboard this fly machine shall we. Me first cause there is only one door and then the two friends in the back who were the smaller two…I knew that much at least….and the other big guy up front with me in last……quick weight calculation…what..? nah never mind we`ve only got half tanks…we`ll be okay…right?

Taxi out…do the run ups…do the radio…its an unmanned airfield so just a broadcast…listen out and we’re good to go.

The first indication things were not as they should be was the sluggish acceleration….Oh boy… a slight uphill strip, followed by a bit of a ridge about 1km after the end of the rwy which is about 200` higher than the rwy, and then a valley with power lines….my favourite….not !!!

so there we were….trundling down the rwy…airspeed creeping and I mean creeping up…and eventually we`re airborne….but only just…the slightest back movement of the stick sets the stall warning off…and a 140 does not have an audio stall warning, thank goodness….it has a red light right in front of you….Well this light was going off at me like an ambulance ..flash ..flashflash…..flash….flashflash…flaaaashh….flashflash…you get the picture?…And we are 20` off the deck just maintaining the slope of the ground airspeed going nowhere….oh boy…those power lines are sure getting big mighty quick….At last over the ridge we go and down…yes down we go into the slight valley….and under…the power lines, and then I notice we have a decent airspeed and the lunatic flashing has stopped….so clear of the power lines I gently coax some altitude out of the Pink Panther and after 40 minutes we`re at 3000` above ground and approaching destination. The friends are happy, impressed and none the wiser of their brush with near disaster. I kept it high until short final …sure of making the runway in case of engine failure and greased it on to the rwy.

I should NOT have done the flight with the weight I had onboard…..but in those early days wise decisions eluded me…”

Many faults exist in the GA training sectors, and one of them, sadly, is a lack of emphasis on performance planning. Pilot’s often train at an airfield that is long enough for their aircraft, cross countries are conducted into similar large airfields. Instructors neglect to instil any reverence for confirming performance calculations during ground training, leaving pilots ambivalent to the threats of a short rough pr high altitude course.

An aircraft at sea level on the coast, in cool temperatures close to ISA, and an aircraft in the interior highlands at ISA +30 provide very different lift characteristics. A graded, highly compact, well used runway will likewise, have very different acceleration to a rough, over-grown, poorly prepared farm strip. It’s not forbidden but nor are there any figures for a rough gravel strip. It is forbidden and the are NO figures for an overweight aircraft. Most light four seat aircraft cannot fly with four normal sized people and full tanks.

The Pilot Who Wasn’t so Lucky

In another similar situation, at Windhoek 5500ft AMSL with an ambient temperature approximately 35 degrees Celsius, giving a density altitude just over 9000ft, a commercial pilot, normally flying on the coast, with a similar mindset, made a fatal decision.

Windshear reported on the main runway prompted ATC to offer the pilot the secondary runway. The runway was 1000m long, and more than adequate for a fully loaded C210 at sea level. The pilot knew the airfield, and hadn’t felt the need to carry airport charts, so asked ATC how long the secondary runway was. ATC provided an incorrect figure of 1500m, which he later corrected to 1000m, however the pilot had already entered the runway and to backtrack to the threshold, and a change of runway now may have appeared to him a loss of face in front of passengers. Considering the risks and benefits, thinking the length of the runway should be adequate, since it was not much shorter than the airfield he normally operated out of at sea level, this may have been a deciding factor.

This pilot wasn’t so lucky.

Shortly after takeoff the aircraft failed to gain altitude and when the pilot attempted to turn to avoid climbing terrain, he stalled, the aircraft impact with terrain and fire killing everyone on board.

Link to Article Containing Fairly Accurate Details of the Accident Report
Link to Forum Discussion on the Accident detailing some History and Photos

The Lessons?
What I want to ask here, is when are we going to start learning these lessons in ground school, and not in near misses and accidents.

When are we going to learn that the cost and time invested in training is far less than that of our passengers lives?

Both of these scenarios would never have happened if the pilots had had proper training to really get to know the performance and handling of aircraft they were operating and had taken the time to consider the proper, mandatory pre-flight planning.

Cessna Training Manuals

The Curious Saga of the Cessna and the Lawnmower

August 26th, 2010

Take one brand-new Cessna 182, with only 80 hours on it.

Put a lawn mower (with gas in it) in the back seat. Add a power inverter with a laptop plugged into it.

Slosh out a little gas during and after landing. And just as the pilot smells the vapors and starts feeling around for the leak, add a spark.

Don’t add a cabin fire extinguisher—the pilot had removed it because it got in his way.

Add fire trucks, about 15 minutes later.

Spend a few minutes thinking about what this would have been like airborne.


Don’t be in a Rush

August 26th, 2010

A photographer for a national magazine was assigned to take pictures of a great forest fire. He was advised that a small plane would be waiting to fly him over the fire.

The photographer arrived at the airstrip just an hour before sundown. Sure enough, a small Cessna airplane was waiting. He jumped in with his equipment and shouted, “Let’s go!” The tense man sitting in the pilot’s seat swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air, though flying erratically.

“Fly over the north side of the fire,” said the photographer, “and make several low-level passes.” “Why?” asked the nervous pilot. “Because I’m going to take pictures!” yelled the photographer. “I’m a photographer, and photographers take pictures.”

The pilot replied, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”

Pilots and Kids: Short Funnies

August 20th, 2010

I write some childrens books, along with the aviation books, and my professional career as a pilot, (apart from the teddybears recently posted on Facebook), I’ve always wondered about the link, here’s a joke that starts to put the pieces of the puzzle in place.

A boy says to his father “Dad, can I be a pilot when I grow up?”,
The father replies “Son, I’m sorry but you can’t do both.”

Famous Flying Sayings

August 7th, 2010

Our apologies if some of these have been included elsewhere on the blog, however here follows a collection of some of the famous flying sayings – some all too true, some just humourous…

No matter what else happens, fly the airplane.
Forget all that stuff about thrust and drag, lift and gravity;
an airplane flies because of money.

It’s better to be down here wishing you were up there,
than up there wishing you were down here.

If you’re ever faced with a forced landing at night,
turn on the landing lights to see the landing area.
If you don’t like what you see, turn’ em back off.

A check ride ought to be like a skirt, short enough to be interesting
but still be long enough to cover everything.

Speed is life, altitude is life insurance.
No one has ever collided with the sky.

Always remember you fly an airplane with your head, not your hands.

Never let an airplane take you somewhere
your brain didn’t get to five minutes earlier.

Don’t drop the aircraft in order to fly the microphone.
An airplane flies because of a principle discovered by
Bernoulli, not Marconi.

“Unskilled” pilots are always found in the wreckage
with their hand around the microphone.

If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger;
if you pull the stick back they get smaller.
(Unless you keep pulling the stick back-then they get bigger again.)

Hovering is for pilots who love to fly but have no place to go.

The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.

Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first!

Everyone already knows the definition of a ‘good’ landing
is one from which you can walk away.
But very few know the definition of a ‘great landing.
It’s one after which you can use the airplane another time.

The probability of survival is equal to the angle of arrival.

IFR: I Follow Roads.

You know you’ve landed with the wheels up
when it takes full power to taxi.

Those who hoot with the owls by night,
should not fly with the eagles by day.

A helicopter is a collection of rotating parts going round and round
and reciprocating parts going up and down -
all of them trying to become random in motion.

Helicopters can’t really fly -
they’re just so ugly that the earth immediately repels them.

Pilots believe in clean living.
They never drink whiskey from a dirty glass.

Things which do you no good in aviation:
Altitude above you.
Runways behind you.
Fuel in the truck.
Half a second ago.
Approach plates in the car.
The airspeed you don’t have.

If God meant man to fly, He’d have given him more money.

What’s the difference between God and fighter pilots?
God doesn’t think he’s a fighter pilot.

Flying is not dangerous; crashing is dangerous.

A good simulator check ride is like successful surgery on a cadaver.

Asking what a pilot thinks about the FAA
is like asking a fireplug what it thinks about dogs.

Trust your captain but keep your seat belt securely fastened.

An airplane may disappoint a good pilot, but it won’t surprise him.

Any pilot who relies on a terminal forecast
can be sold the Brooklyn Bridge.
If he relies on winds-aloft reports he can be sold Niagara Falls.

The friendliest flight attendants are those on the trip home.

Good judgment comes from experience
and experience comes from bad judgment.

Being an airline pilot would be great
if you didn’t have to go on all those trips.

Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.

The nicer an airplane looks, the better it flies.

There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing.
Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

It’s a good landing if you can still get the doors open.

Passengers prefer old captains and young flight attendants.

The only thing worse than a captain who never flew as copilot
is a copilot who once was a captain.

It’s best to keep the pointed end going forward as much as possible.

If an earthquake suddenly opened a fissure in a runway
that caused an accident,
the NTSB would find a way to blame it on pilot error.

Any attempt to stretch fuel is guaranteed to increase headwind.

A thunderstorm is never as bad on the inside as it appears on the outside. It’s worse.

It’s easy to make a small fortune in aviation.
You start with a large fortune.

A male pilot is a confused soul who talks about women when he’s flying,
and about flying when he’s with a woman.

A fool and his money are soon flying more airplane than he can handle.

The last thing every pilot does before leaving the aircraft
after making a gear up landing
is to put the gear selection lever in the ‘down’ position.

Try to keep the number of your landings equal
to the number of your takeoffs.

Takeoff’s are optional. Landings are mandatory.

You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.

A Really Cute and Helpful Radio Techniques Guide

August 7th, 2010

I found this guide online at Austin Collins’ webpage.

Here’s an exert, so you’ll understand why I find it cute, helpful, and humourous, all the GoNumbers’ mantras.

Hold the Mayonnaise

Let’s consider a transmission. Then let’s replace all the unnecessary words with the word “mayonnaise.” Then we’ll hold the mayonnaise and see how much it cleans up the call.

“And, SoCal Approach, this is, uh, Cessna eight zero one three eight with you.”

If we replace the unnecessary words with the word “mayonnaise” we get:

“Mayonnaise, SoCal Approach, mayonnaise, mayonnaise, Cessna eight zero one three eight mayonnaise.”

All the pilot really needed to say was:

“SoCal Approach, Cessna eight zero one three eight.”

Now let’s try it again.

“And, Orlando Executive Ground, this is Flight Express Trainer Three, we are a Cessna 210 and we are at the Flight Express Ramp with information Tango. We’re ready to taxi to the active runway and we’ll be a VFR departure to the northwest today.”
Again, if we replace the unnecessary words with the word “mayonnaise” we get:

“Mayonnaise, Orlando Executive Ground, mayonnaise Flight Express Trainer Three, mayonnaise Cessna 210 mayonnaise Flight Express Ramp with information Tango. Mayonnaise mayonnaise mayonnaise mayonnaise VFR mayonnaise northwest mayonnaise.”

All the pilot really needed to say was:

“Orlando Executive Ground, Flight Express Trainer Three, Cessna 210, Flight Express Ramp, Tango, VFR northwest.”

Why say it in 44 words when you can say it in just 15 words?

Next time, before you speak, remember to “Hold the Mayonnaise”.

Check out the rest of the file at www.redskyventures free stuff:
Flight Express operates some Cessna 210s on mainly on IFR freight operations, if you want to learn more about the C210, Austin Collins also has a Cessna 210 guide, a short internet search should find it, and you can also check out our Cessna 210 text book at Cessna 210 Book.

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