Top Letters And Comments, March 26, 2021


Slips: Forward Or Side, What’s The Difference And Why Care?

As usual, great article…and for once a clear explanation that a slip is a slip…forward or side. I demonstrated a turning slip to a mission aviator trainee one day in our straight tail 172 with full Horton kit. Once established on base, I did a turning slip to touchdown. He had never seen that, asking for an example of why one would do such a thing. I relied, I would do this if my windshield became obstructed for a variety of reasons, or if I was dealing with an engine fire. This is another way to lose altitude quickly, with no speed increase, keeping runway in sight when dealing with high trees on the extended runway centerline common in many unimproved strips. Many times there are no or less obstructions on an angle to the runway center line. He just nodded and said he wanted some instructional practice which I gladly provided.

About five years later, he emailed me a thank you for saving his life. He had an oil line to the prop governor rupture on an Arrow he and a friend were flying during a very cold winter flight. His windshield became a frozen goo at about 7,000 ft over somewhere in Tennessee. His flying buddy that day was an instructor who did not know what to do when he lost all forward visibility. Our mission aviator took the controls and did a long circling, slipping, dead stick approach to an airport below to an uneventful, quiet landing. He said it worked great using an open storm window in the side window to keep the runway in sight.

While unporting of fuel can be a problem on some airplanes, including the Bonanza we own, usually the unporting happens in a prolonged slip lasting 30 seconds or more. Short slips can be done safely even in a Bo. As others have shared, once the proper pitch angle is established with proper speed going into the slip, turning or otherwise, if maintained throughout the slip, the speed will be the same when the slip is ended.

Nice to see where a slip is a slip can very useful. Thanks for a wonderfully well written and useful article!

Jim Holdeman

I just tested my slip technique this afternoon in my CallAir Cadet. Slips are slips, pretty much as you say, Paul. The difference is terminology and purpose; in my not particularly humble but honest opinion, the orientation of the longitudinal axis of the airplane relative to the runway. If the longitudinal axis is displaced from the runway alignment, it’s a forward slip, used to increase descent rate/angle. If the longitudinal axis is lined up with the runway, the relative wind is from the low-wing side and is therefore a side slip, used to keep my taildragger wheels rolling in the right direction, hopefully without drift. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them, they’re just something I do.

Alex Nelon

Part 91 And Paying Passengers Just Don’t Mix

Many thanks, Paul, for yet another thoughtful essay. Your comments spark three points in response:

– Follow the science. We do not have accurate counts of the number of operations taking place annually in the few niche areas of Part 91 that legally can be paid. Without that data to form the denominator of a fraction the numerator of which is an accident or incident count, we cannot say that there’s a problem at all, much less how big a problem (if there is one) it might be. NTSB’s hearing on March focused on one or two exceptionally tragic accidents per niche, implying that these rare outliers are representative of the safety level of that whole class of operations. That is not analysis; it is propaganda.

– Informed consent: If we had reasonably accurate counts of annual operations in the few niches of Part 91 that legally can be paid, it would be a simple matter to compile an average annual accident rate for each niche, and an almost equally simple matter to require niche Part 91 operators to provide prospective passengers with the latest rates for that niche, perhaps with those for U.S. airlines and over-the-road passenger vehicles as well, for context and comparison. A decision to undertake the activity in the face of that information would constitute informed consent, in my opinion. Gathering the necessary annual counts of operations per niche would be an excellent use of aviation association resources and a significant contribution to both industry and the flying public.

– Words have consequences, moreso even than elections, a truth the most literate rock band ever noted 50 years ago this June. In light of this essay’s generally reasoned tone and even-handed treatment of its subject matter, the headline makes an unjustified and inflammatory claim and the term “wild west” is wildly inappropriate. Part 91 is not the “wild west” of civil aviation, unless someone’s concept of “wild” includes required government processes and government approval for every vehicle design, crucial part, production plan, and individual vehicle; government prescribed and mandated training for each driver or maintainer; constant government surveillance of vehicle location in busy areas and government control of each vehicle’s movements in busy areas…. I could go on for a long time in this vein. Part 91 is to the Wild West as a swim class at the Y is to throwing a 3-year-old into the ocean to teach them how to swim. The Y may not be as spiffy as the country club pool, but it sure ain’t the coast of Maine.

Joe C.

In Canada the equivalent to Part 135 is Canadian Aviation Regulation Part 703. However there is a also CAR Part 702 called “Aerial Work”.
It captures all the specialty flying like ag, survey, photo, firebombing, and skydiving.

All skydiving operators in Canada have airplanes maintained to a commercial standard by a Approved Maintenance Organization, ( equivalent to a FAA repair station j, an approved operations manual with required annual training and annual competency checks, and are inspected by Transport Canada as part of the national surveillance plan.

Skydiving seems to be doing just fine in Canada and has a significantly better safety record than US operations. Self regulation doesn’t work as the “standard” will be set by the worst operator.

The warbird operators are a bit of a different story. The reality is there is almost no knowledge of warbird operations in the regulators. It is really up to the heritage organization to step up.

This reminds me of civilian formation flying 20 years ago. After a spate of accidents the FAA told the warbird and type clubs to sort it out or the FAA would do it for them. The result was the Formation and Safety Team (FAST). It is a coalition of about a dozen groups. There are now Formation SOP’s , training and checking and a FAST card is recognized by the FAA and Transport Canada. The formation accident rate has been dramatically reduced.

I would suggest that the groups selling warbird experience flights have to step up. Continue killing passengers in preventable accidents and they will get regulated out of existence, and they will have nobody to blame but themselves…

David Gagliardi

Poll: Do You Think There’s a Covid Risk in Flying on Airlines?

  • A very small risk, comparable to shopping at the supermarket. There are plenty of more compelling reasons to avoid riding in the cattle-cars, not the least of which is the intolerable (for many) experience that subjecting oneself to the tender mercies of what the airlines have become.
  • Risk arises from unvaccinated passengers and those not wearing masks. I will fly commercially on the airlines that require proof of vaccination for all passengers. Mask wearing cannot be practically enforced, especially on long hauls, so vaccination of all passengers is necessary to reduce risk.
  • Yes. But when vaccinated I will consider trips that make sense.
  • The COVID risk is standing in line at the TSA Security Check with 300 other people.
  • Slight. There’s a risk to everything. The air is surgical-room clean. Worry about the person next to you.
  • As much as I miss my SCUBA trips, Covid gave me the perfect excuse not to fly the commercial scareways to reach my diving destinations.
  • No, but I will avoid airlining as much as possible until the mask mandate goes away.
  • Yes. There is a risk, but I’m still going to fly.
  • Small…made 4 trips during pandemic including Alaska & Hawaii.
  • Maybe, but the bigger issue is that there’s still nowhere to go until we have herd immunity.
  • Absolutely. But I stopped flying commercially when they started treating their customers like cattle; around 2005.
  • When I’m vaccinated and there is a health passport for everyone on the plane showing they are also vaccinated, then I will go. I wonder if I will still find used tissues in the seat pockets?
  • Probably, but I’ll have nowhere to go for a while even after vaccination.
  • Slight risk, but the overreaction and BS requirements make me avoid traveling.
  • The risk is in the airport, not when in the aircraft.
  • I’m required to travel some for work, otherwise I avoid it for the moment; post vaccination, I’ll go again for personal travel.
  • Yes, there is some risk, esp. due to a) spread of aggressive viral variants, and b) maskless drunken a-hole denier passengers.
  • Of course there is a risk of catching COVID while bunched together in an aluminum tube, but that should not stop one from flying.
  • Airline travel sucks, Covid or not. No thanks.
  • This question should be asked of epidemiologists, not the general public.
  • Yes, but I was trying to avoid them before COVID.
  • I’m vaccinated and I’ll fly airline when I HAVE to. Currently don’t have to.
  • Don’t care, I’ll never ride on the airlines again. I’ll fly my plane or drive.
  • Slight risk, but I still travel.
  • If you’re worried about getting sick, don’t fly in an airliner.
  • Of course. Many people in one place is always a risk.
  • Yes, risk on mainland but not much risk when I fly to Hawaii.
  • I’ll stick to flying GA for now.
  • It’s ironic that passengers are expected to socially-distance in the terminal but the airlines are allowed to pack as many people as they can into a plane for several hours of close contact.
  • Perhaps, on par with the risk of a hull loss in the B737 Max in the initial years of service.
  • About the same as going to the grocery store. Let’s knock off the hysteria and get on with life!
  • I have avoided airline travel for decades unless absolutely necessary.
  • Slight risk but I would rather drive if it is within 10 hours rather than deal with the hassles.
  • Yes, put your mask/gaiter on.
  • I’m vaccinated but I’ll put off air travel as long as I can because I feel there’s no reason to tempt fate.
  • After 5M but- in-the-seat miles, I’m done with the airlines.

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