Top Letters And Comments, September 27, 2019


Huckleberry Pancakes And Grassroots Aviation Success

That was such a lovely piece to read. I was once, decades ago, a young earth bound person who lived, breathed for Aviation and Aviators. My bedroom walls were overflowing with really bad hand drawn pictures of Airplanes, cut out pictures from Flying Magazine and the best…a Marine Corps recruiting poster, featuring a Marine Pilot and Marine Rio, dressed appropriately, holding their flight helmets facing forward, against their left sides of course (Marines always have a ready right hand for Saluting, Shooting, Holding Umbrellas for others), their stern expressions as it was the 60s or very early 70s and the height of Vietnam. Behind them was the black pointed cone that was the radome of an F-4. How cool was that. My favorite jacket was a Cessna Flight School jacket, red, and of course I carried my pens on the left pocket thingy. As one reads how awful young men and women are, how there is a global Pilot shortage and small Airports are turned into strip malls, well it’s easy to feel sadness about this strange passion we have. I could smell the bacon, hear the oohs and aaahs, and saw the young faces lecturing parents about leading edges. Thank you for making this curmudgeon, using both of his brain cells SMILE.

Mike P.

Well done, Rick. The social aspect and camaraderie were integral promoters of my initial aviation involvement many moons ago, leading to a 30-year career. Nothing has changed, we still all seek community and people who fly have the edge on interesting. Cheers.

Raymond J.

Pilot Training and the Boeing 737 MAX

In 1978, at Allegheny Airlines in Pittsburgh Penn, I received my first introduction to jet airline flying/training. I was 20 years old. That training involved detailed reviews of each system and how it worked. Classes were taught by senior engineers who had come up in the maintenance department and we were required to know in great detail just about everything on the aircraft. What powered every light and switch and temperatures and pressures that caused lights to illuminate and things to happen were mandatory. The classes were 8-10 hours per day with study required in the evening and took, as I recall, about 3 weeks. Then, followed 7 days of ‘fixed base sim’ to learn the systems followed by the ‘real simulator’. Simulator involved multiple and compound failures that required a pilot to think and often, amend the way the checklists were used to account for said failures.

This type of training method was still applied in the 80s when I was trained on the B727 with Eastern. By this time, simulators were almost as realistic as they are today and compound failures were still required and quite realistic. Since then, I have been trained on and flown the B737 200 300 400 800 and MAX. I am current on the MAX.

To say the training has been ‘dumbed down’ would be an understatement. Gone are the days spent in classrooms with instructors who knew the systems and could explain them. And gone are pilots who understand them. It’s all CBT and ‘need to know’. As a 20-year-old first officer on the BAC 1-11 in 1978, I had much greater knowledge and understanding of its less sophisticated systems than at least 99.5% of the captains of any B737 flying today have of their aircraft. Yes, the systems, when working correctly and when properly used make things easier. And as a result, in the interest of saving costs, the training has been ‘dumbed down’ and the computer-based training we now receive is shameful compared to the earlier training I was fortunate to have been afforded.

And perhaps, for some reason, not the least of which is that they are more difficult to manage and will result in greater numbers of pilots failing an initial upgrade or recurrent check, gone are the multiple failures. Check rides that were difficult and that were full of surprises are a thing of the past. Pilots were required to demonstrate hand flying skills. Now, the emphasis is on managing the autopilot. We know just about what to expect on any check ride. Should it be a surprise then that pilots with minimal hand flying skills, who have minimal knowledge of the tube they fly, who have had few if any compound/multiple failures and few surprises react poorly when they have to deal with a compound failure which to them is a surprise.

While some are more adept than others, there are no born pilots. If we want to have pilots who can react rationally, calmly and correctly to surprising situations, then they must understand their aluminum missile and their training and checks must include surprises that cause the use of grey matter and system knowledge. Pilots in general react in a manner reflective of training. When trained poorly, they react poorly. And this would explain the two recent MAX accidents.

Kel T.

Poll: Would You Consider Using a Smartphone App as a Backup Gyro?

  • After losing my backup vacuum pump during engine replacement, I plan to use something with AHRS to drive a 796. I’m comfortable with that, but not with a smartphone app.
  • Only if I had already made enough mistakes that the safety of the flight was seriously in doubt and I had no other option.
  • I’ve had apps for that for at least 5 years. Since the alternative is a wet compass and vertical speed, the apps are a no brainer.
  • Yes, having a backup would be nice. How capable they actually are remains to be seen.
  • In extremis it would be silly not to use all available aids.
  • To simulate an angry bird?
  • Stratus ESG iPad = back up gyro.
  • Yes, probably more reliable than the one in my Bonanza.
  • Using Foreflight is a good backup.
  • If all else failed! Yes.
  • When they improve, possibly.
  • Yes, depending on how well the app works.
  • As a backup to the backup, sure.
  • IFR in aircraft with redundancy or VFR only. This is not a question for serious aviators.

Poll: Will You Meet the January 2020 ADS-B Deadline?

  • “Should” receive a uAvionix’s tailBeacon in October.
  • As a Canadian I have no idea what to do. I will I buy some device for the U.S. and later have to buy something for Canada?
  • Have it to install.
  • Airplane won’t be ready to fly till 2022…
  • Haven’t decided yet.
  • Will do own install.
  • In progress.
  • Sitting on the north side of the Canadian fence on this one.
  • I’m working on it.
  • tailBeacon should be in my hands next week and will be installed in my Ercoupe shortly thereafter.
  • Still building… always building. Bang goes the rivet.
  • uAvionix tailBeacon on order for Nov. 1 ship.
  • Will self-install, after I get a refund reservation.

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