I read Tom Asacker's blog daily. I was skimming through this post yesterday and wasn't paying a lot of attention until I got to the last paragraph, which is a perfect summary for why I write this blog. If I get famous and make money from this somehow, fine, but really I'm doing it because it helps me learn and understand.
It was good to see U2 win a Grammy or five last night. My feeling is they're the band of our age.
Speaking of music, I can't stand Mariah Carey. Her music is good and she's very talented, no doubt. But she radiates phoniness to me. If you like her, fine, but I have to change the channel if she's on.
Interesting findings reported here on the Chicago Midway runway accident in December. I did not relize there was that little standardization in stopping distance calculation methods.
When you start learning to fly, it's usually in a really slow airplane. That stands to reason, of course -- gotta crawl before you can walk.
It was a little different for me. My father flew a Bonanza, a pretty fast single-engine, and I had left seat time in it before I started working with a CFI in a Cessna 152 (tiny, two-seat, slloowww airplane) and officially logging time. Nonetheless, after the initial work and my solo, I stayed in the 152 to build cross-country time and prep for my check ride. I got used to the airspeed.
Then one day, I was with Dad and we were flying into St. Louis. I was still used to the 152 and made a mistake a lot of people do when they move up -- I didn't "stay ahead" of the airplane. This is critical to flying safely -- you need to think ahead of the plane and plan for what's ahead. The faster the plane, the further ahead you need to think. In a Bonanza, it's about two hours ahead -- it can fly you into some bad weather, for example, pretty fast.
Anyway, I was behind the airplane and the next thing I know we're on top of the St. Louis airport. It's busy, we're still at altitude and still too fast. I was ready to ask the controller to let us out of the approach, fly around the airport and come back, but instead, Dad took the airplane, cut the power, "slipped" it (a maneuver that loses altitude fast without increasing airspeed), got us on a good approach speed and on the right glide path, and we landed as assigned without disrupting the traffic flow. He flew the airplane.
That looks like a stupid phrase, doesn't it? Of course he flew the airplane. What else would you do?
Well, you'd be surprised. Anytime I'm with someone who has never flown, and they want to try it, I give them the yoke. Nearly every time, they tentatively put their hand on the yoke and then react to what the airplane does. It climbs a little, they try to make it descend. It banks a little left, they try to level it out. I tell them to cut it out -- stop letting the airplane fly you. You fly it.
Here's the analogy: I was with a friend last week. He's trying to manage a complex project. There's a guy involved that's not particularly helpful. A city government is involved -- that's even worse. He's got a deadline looming. He's discouraged.
I tell him the St. Louis story and persuade him that life will be much easier if he can fly the airplane himself. He's getting jerked all over the map and it feels crappy.
Later, I recount the same story to another friend who is having problems with marketing. He laments that a competitor is talking trash about his company. He lost a couple of employees. He's got a good product but he's about two months behind on a product release. He's worried about losing customers. He feels out of control.
I tell him to fly the airplane. Work from strength. Get in touch with your customers and tell them, "Here's what's going on. We have a product release coming. The quality will be there, as it is today with the core product. You're hearing things about us? Ask me about them. We're not afraid to tell you what's up." Communicate with the media -- find out what they're hearing even if you don't have a story to spin. Open up a blog. Hire someone to do some "opposition research." Get set for the trade shows. Never let up with the customer discussions. He sounds like he feels better already.
Fly the airplane. Make decisions. Work from strength. Reap the benefits.
An unruly passenger was dumped on the remote Atlantic island of Porto Santo after becoming abusive to cabin crew and other passengers on Tuesday. The Monarch Airlines flight was flying from Manchester in the United Kingdom to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, but made an unscheduled stop at the Portuguese island to offload the rowdy drunk, according to The Times of London. Porto Santo is described by CNN as an isolated volcanic island just 10 miles long with a population of about 10,000. The man was stranded on the island for about 36 hours until he was able to find a seat on a German charter flight to his ultimate destination. A spokesman for Monarch addressed the situation with the following statement: "The action was taken in the interests of all the passengers. That sort of behavior is not acceptable. He was given the chance to calm down, and he declined it. He was given a form, a caution for his behavior, and he refused to sign it."
Too bad they took the time to land when they offloaded him.
I'm sure it would have been unnerving, to say the least. Sounds like the captain kept a cool head and flew the airplane first -- the requirement of all aviation situations, especially emergencies.
Like Jeremy, who reports the entire thing first-hand, I'm licensed (IFR), so I have a working idea about what happened. Still, understanding what's happening may give you a little comfort, but what you want is the situation to resolve faster, and your ticket doesn't do that for you.
Here's what I can't (actually, I unfortunately can) believe is how many assholes there are on his comment list and what they choose to debate and talk about.
One of my good friends acquired a Columbia a few months ago. Beautiful airplane.
I've seen Lancairs on the ramp, but never really examined one seriously. Well, last night was the night.
Marc flew in for a meeting and I met up with him at HIO. We preflighted, strapped in, and took off VFR to the south. After getting to altitude, he gave me the airplane and I flew it for the next half hour.
Beautiful aircraft -- the stick comes up ergonomically from the armrest, so you feel relaxed while you're flying. In level flight, you don't need rudder action to stay coordinated -- the plane does the work for you. You can tell it's really slick (it's a fixed-gear plane that can keep up with, if not outrace, most single engine retractables, and probably a lot of twins, too), but it feels solid. Not quite as heavy as a Bonanza.
I'm impressed with how much you can slow it down on approach in a nose-down attitude. Like high-performance singles, though, you don't want to get too slow when you're that low.
It's an all glass cockpit with gauge redundancy. It took me a while to get oriented to a scan, but after a while it was clear the integrated display takes part of the workload off the pilot -- particularly in instrument weather. The amount of information available in instrumentation and its presentation to the pilot is remarkable. A huge leap forward from when I got my IFR ticket in 1991.
I'm a long way removed from left seat time, but nights like that make me itchy again.
I was reading the paper this morning and saw a front-page story about the Tuskegee Airmen, the distinguished group of black fighter pilots from World War II. (It was also in the Washington Post this morning, see it here because the Oregonian for whatever reason does a crappy job with archiving online content.)
So, the quick book on this group of men is this:
992 total pilots (fewer than 200 are still with us today)
More than 15,000 missions ("sorties") flown
111 German aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground
950 railcars, trucks and other vehicles destroyed, including one destroyer at sea
66 pilots killed in action or in accidents; 32 pilots downed and captured
Of all escort missions flown, no bombers lost
Awarded over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses
744 Air Medals, 8 Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars
They flew the Mustang, a ferocious single-engine fighter in the European theater. Just handling that airplane took serious capability, never mind flying it in combat.
It turns out there are so few of these pilots left, they're no longer able to gather for their annual meeting. So they're merging their efforts with another group of black pilots (anyone know which?). This is sad. I have a special affinity for World War II veterans -- both my father and maternal grandfather served in the war. Some of their stories would curl your ears. We lost my Dad two years ago, and my grandfather is in very frail health, unable to share his memories. We're all losing a connection to some of the bravest and most selfless people that ever lived, at the rate of thousands per day.
My admiration for World War II aviators scales nearly all heights. I've read all I can find about Chuck Yeager -- I don't think they'll make anyone that skilled and tough again. (Story: When Lana and I were engaged, my brother, also my best man, asked for a guest list for bachelor party invitations. As a joke, I put Yeager's name and mailing address (which I had from shipping a book to him to be signed). Morry contacted his office and asked if the General could call us at dinner. Yeager said OK, if it fit his schedule, he'd do it -- his secretary called back to say he in fact would be traveling (in the high Sierras, typically) and thus not reachable. He sent a very nice letter and a signed photo instead, wishing Lana and me the best for our marriage. If I learn to fly a tenth as well as Yeager flies now, I'd be a great pilot.)
Name some others -- Anderson, Boyd, Ridley (the Bell X-1 engineer and a great pilot himself), Boyington, and another of my favorites, Bob Hoover -- they were all unbelievable.
I'm going to spend a little more time learning about the Tuskegee Airmen. I used to have, maybe still have, a gorgeous print of a squadron of Tuskegee pilots over England. I wonder if I can have it sent and signed? Time to find out.
I love this photo. I heard Fox call the landing on the radio this morning on the way to the Y but didn't get to see it. It would have been even better if they'd just shut up and let us listen to mission control. Good to have the return to space go so well.
This continues to kill me, but I'm now more than five years removed from any left seat time. I was just talking yesterday to my colleague Nelson, also a pilot, and we got in a good half hour of hangar flying -- not like having your hand on the yoke, but fun anyway.
The genesis of the talk was the AOPA Pilotarticle on the new Honda Jet. Honda's development has been slow and methodical, but not quite as secret as everyone wants to think (they've been putting out press releases). Honda, true to its history, isn't entering the market until it understands the market and can compete effectively, if not dominate (they studied the pickup truck market for 15 years before introducing a model). The "personal jet" market is evolving rapidly -- I think it will eventually make piston singles and twins relatively obsolete -- and Honda's jet has already-visible advantages over Cessna, Eclipse and Adam.
There also was an interesting column by a guy who was planning some instrument training in a 172 with "round gauges." He'd never flown in anything without a glass cockpit and didn't know how to make a picture in his mind about where the airplane is and where it needs to go -- known as situational awareness and a critical skill. It's not at all intuitive and is the hardest thing to learn en route to your IFR ticket.
This is another thing that's driving me insane. In the five years I've been effectively away from aviation, technology has leaped forward. It's not surprising, but it's sort of incongruous with aviation, because pilots relied pretty heavily on the same types of technology for a long time. GPS and glass instrumentation are way ahead of VOR navigation, which was introduced in the 1950s and was the dominant system for the rest of the century. Now we have pilots who don't know how to fly VORs, don't know situational awareness, and can't read gauges.
I'm sort of in the same boat. When I get back in the left seat, I'll not only have to re-learn some old skills but will have to master new ones too. I don't know how to fly with a GPS, much less a glass cockpit. I have not seen in-flight weather radar. It's going to be a challenge -- and hopefully a lot of fun, too.