AVmail: September 3, 2012
Letter of the Week: Pilot Currency
Regarding the "Question of the Week": I belong to the "I-get-an-IPC-every-six-months-whether-I-need-it-or-not" club. I always do ("need it," that is). I'm discovering that even with the every-six-month constraint, I find the need to really "exercise" a skill which is difficult to put into words — for lack of a better term, I'll call it "problem solving," — and it's virtually impossible to do this alone.
The rote procedure of establishing oneself on a final approach course, keeping things centered and landing is a skill which, admittedly, needs regular polishing. The "higher level" skill is the ability to deal with the curve ball, the distraction. I'm absolutely convinced that the bulk of morbidity out there, practiced by pilots who have the training to know better, is the result of misdirected attention to unseen traffic, GPS knob fiddling when a simple twist of the VOR OBS would do, or just generally missing the forest for the trees.
One of the rewards of IFR flight is the smooth handling of these challenges. It's one of the hardest skills to practice, too. I like to rotate through a couple of instructors at IPC time, just to make the experience a little less predictable. I think that helps shake the rust off the problem-solving machine.
Time to Fly
Regarding the "Question of the Week": I was one of the respondents who put "other" as my answer. I am not flying currently because I am building an airplane. All my spare time (and money) are going into that project. I hope to return to the air (in my homebuilt) next year!
I fly for a living (flight instructing), so at work I have plenty of time to fly. I also own an airplane which I fly outside of work. Ten years ago I averaged 100 hours plus/year in that airplane. Now I'm down to 50 hours or less. Time, cost and family members who are less interested in flying on family trips have all been factors in reduced personal flying.
Factors liming my flying hours are fuel cost, fuel cost and fuel cost — in that order.
MIT should be embarrassed about the study that found cost was a factor in the decline of general aviation. This is what they spend their time on for a higher education? I could have told them that without leaving my house. Wonder if they will send me a Masters Degree now.
I have plenty of time, not enough money. What's more important — one hour on a Hobbs meter vs. two or three nice, nice, but not extravagant, evenings out with my wife?
Sorry, but the issue of available time affecting propensity to get into flying is not new. AOPA research (later donated to the new Be a Pilot program) found the two prime deterrents were cost and time. That's why BAP themes focused on concepts like "It costs less than you think and takes less time than you think."
I'm retired, so time is not an issue. Fuel cost is a bigger issue for me, but hasn't stopped me from flying regularly. Mogas prices are still reasonable, which helps me keep flying.
Armstrong Did Say It
Computer analysis shows that Neil Armstrong did say, "That's one small step for a man." The utterance was so short (35 milliseconds) that we don't hear it.
See this page or one of any other web pages when the story on the speech analysis occurred — back around 2006.
Staff Reply Goes Here.