Top Letters And Comments, April 21, 2023


When Training Isn’t Worth the Risk

Another great article, Paul.

As I look back at some of my own various instances of close ones, I realize my perspective about them has changed. Soon after the event, I would count myself very lucky, believing that I had just enough skill to apply and a large amount of luck available to head off an unfortunate outcome. Now these look different. Looking close with the advantage of years of practicing better judgement, I get a real sense that I had “gotten away” with something. “Getting away” with survival is a very flimsy hook upon which to hang one’s a$$, and I have immense gratitude that I am still here and able to take that backward glance.

KckC K.

I managed to get into an over bank going into Santa Maria in the Azores one night. Clear and a million, looked over my shoulder to keep the island in sight when the other pilot said “watch the bank angle”.

With just the lights on the island surrounded by by black sea it was incredibly easy to do. Since then when doing a visual at night, especially when circling, I keep the autopilot on. Circles are especially easy with the Falcon EZ cockpit. Center the landing runway on the MFD with a circle representing the protected airspace and use the track mode to maneuver on AP until lined up on final.

Not quite so easy in my Cessna but heading still insures you’re right side up while keeping the airport/runway in sight. Even though my old Cessna 300A autopilot doesn’t have any pitch it only leaves altitude to monitor.


For over 20 years, I provided flight instruction from the Jacqueline Cochran airport (KTRM) in SoCal, a WWII airport surrounded by mountains located 20 nm south of Palm Springs, CA. Night departures from runway 17 towards the Salton Sea can present interesting ‘black hole conditions’ and associated vertigo, especially during moonless nights.

To prepare my primary students, I would explain what to expect and how to react during these situations. During a night qualification flight, while climbing out, a student experienced vertigo and requested that we turn back and end the flight. After landing, I asked the student to explain what had happened, and he humorously responded, “Okay, do not eat Mexican food before a night flight.”

Reflecting on the situation, I discovered that it is possible that the Mexican food consumed before the flight caused gastrointestinal distress, contributing to the vertigo. After researching this, I found that certain foods, such as spicy or greasy foods, can irritate the stomach and lead to nausea, which can further exacerbate the feeling of dizziness or spinning. In any case, it was a valuable lesson learned. Bananas are better!

Raf S.

Flight Plans

Thanks for the info on the ‘under the covers’ mechanisms for flight plans. Always (as in, I won’t sign your logbook for your student XC until I hear you file the flight plan with FSS even in this day of being able to do it from your i-whatever) had my students file, even for the short ones. I still do, even VFR, for XC flights that I don’t go IFR. Just Makes Sense. It’s there, why not use it?

Guess it’s just luck, or 30-something years of filing IFR plans out of the SW quadrant of the NY class bravo, but the last clearance I picked up from TRACON was ‘cleared as filed’. I queried the controller on the phone with a chuckle in my voice…his tongue-in-cheek response was “I can amend that if you want…”. My passenger (a fellow CFII) had a look of shock hearing it in the headphones. I declined, of course, the amendment…lol. First time (albeit 30 some years in the making) for everything.

NY TRACON: the best, zero nonsense, but still human professionals on the other end of the line.

Bryan B.

VFR: Canadian regs require VFR flight plans for flights beyond 25 nm of origination. This doesn’t affect US only flights, but it does affect Canadian overflights taking off from US airports, overflying Canada non-stop to another US Destination. This has always been the case. I was on the board of a flying club in SE Michigan with a club plane overlying Canada years ago that had an off airport landing in Canada. Among the many pilot transgressions was the lack of the VFR flight plan in Canadian airspace. Today, US post 9/11 rules require in addition to a filed VFR flight plan for border crossings (including overflights without stop) and ATC comm and a discrete code. This included all border crossings, including outbound, inbound and just passing through foreign airspace (ie Canada). Do I think it’s necessary? Only because I don’t want to face the wrath of the FAA/DHS or its Canadian equivalents.

IFR: file and fly as usual.

Art W.

Staying In Control: Training For The Worst

What ever IFR flying I do these days is follow roads, rivers and railroads. The rest of my flying is in single seat aerobatic airplanes which are incompatible with dual during an bi-annual check ride. When I inquired with my FISDO if an instructor could watch from the ground an aerobatic routine they said no, it had to be dual given in a spam can. The last time, I flew the bi-annual in an old Bellanca. To make use of the time, I told the instructor lets put on a hood and do an approach. The instruments where all over the place, typical for an old plane, but my mail flying days came in handy since some of the Commanders had instruments spaced in an equally random fashion.

For years I’ve been a proponent of getting aerobatic training in a taildragger before training for the instrument or commercial ticket. Once you’ve explored the margins and nibbles, and seen the world from a different perspective, your stick and rudder skills will have improved exponentially. It’s like the difference between snorkeling and SCUBA to 120 ft.

Hans M.

I took upset and aerobatic training right after receiving my PPL. It gave me more confidence if nothing else. Recurrent training in between BFR’s is an excellent idea and while not required, is an excellent safeguard against finding yourself in a situation that your not familiar with.

Brad S.

A thorough understand of flight control input is a must, not just put full aileron into the wind on takeoff and roll out. Find a CFI who can teach you precision spins and has experienced an actual upset in wake turbulence.

Cockpit P.

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