This article originally appeared in Aviation Safety, Oct. 2005.Having the talent and skill to fly an airplane pretty much when and where we want doesn't mean we should. Any number of factors may, from time to time, argue against making a trip or completing one. Weather, terrain, mechanical shortcomings, time of day and/or some combination of these factors all figure prominently in the go/no-go decision ... and in the decision to keep going. Even though our magic carpets offer us freedom, flexibility and the ability to cover more territory in less time than the option of buying an airline ticket, we still must exercise some discretion and thoughtful planning in how we use them. Many of us have learned to read and understand weather reports and forecasts -- the exploits of those who haven't are often found in these pages -- but we frequently lack the ability to assess our own readiness for a flight, especially a long one or one involving a series of stops over a single, long day. It's one thing to spend a Sunday afternoon running around town making multiple stops and completing several errands, but it's quite another to spend that same Sunday bouncing around the eastern seaboard in an airplane flown single-pilot. Sometimes, we have to consider that we might be a little fatigued for that last leg, park the airplane and find a good meal and a warm bed. That option would have been the best one for the pilot of a PA-30 Twin Comanche who died on Oct. 26, 2003, during an ILS approach to the Spartanburg (S.C.) Downtown Memorial Airport.
Listen to this and you'll understand why hypoxia makes you stupid. More
Jack Fleetwood of Round Rock, TX leads the flight line in our latest edition of reader-submitted photos. Click through for more reader photography.