AND PEARLS OF WISDOM
ONE REASON WHY FLYING CAN BE MORE DANGEROUS TODAY THAN IT WAS 75 YEAR AGO... (020300)
Flying more dangerous now than it was 75 years ago? That's silly, you say? I can understand why you would feel that way. Your pilot's license is not signed by Orville Wright and don't fly an old antique bi-plane with an unreliable 90 some-odd horsepower engine that may quit at any moment. Your engine is highly maintained to the strict levels that common sense and safety require. It is a basic, relatively modern, long reliable design that has flown millions of safe hours in thousands of airplanes. Modern airplane engines rarely fail and in fact the vast majority of pilots today will never experience an actual engine failure in their entire flying career.
In his short story, "THE SNOWFLAKE AND THE DINOSAUR", from the book "GIFT OF WINGS", Richard Bach wrote... "When you fly old-time airplanes, you expect to have forced landings now and then. It's nothing special, it's part of the game, and no wise pilot flies an antique out of gliding distance of a place to land. In my few years flying, I'd had seventeen forced landings, not one of which I had ever thought unfair, for all of which I was more or less prepared. But this was different. The Luscombe I flew now was hardly an antique... and had one of the world's most reliable engines. Modern airplane pilots... don't want to be bothered with such things as aerobatic training and forced-landing practice. Chances are rare that they'll ever stop or that a minor little linkage will break in half. Because a forced landing... is honestly quite unfair, I began to realize that pilots get to thinking it can't possibly happen."
Today, most pilots, from the time they go to full throttle on takeoff until the moment they turn off the runway, are not mentally prepared to immediately deal with the challenge of what they would do and where they would land if an engine failed. Ironically, it is because of the reliability of modern aviation engines that the vast majority of pilots are lulled into being unprepared.
I've given more than 10,000 hours of dual instruction and have seldom seen pilots handle unexpected simulated engine failures properly during training or BFRs. Usually, the first few critical seconds after all goes quiet are spent inactive in shock trying to deal with the fact that the unthinkable has happened. The worst case scenario had come true. When the pilot has not kept his continuous plan for dealing with an engine failure in the back of his mind, surviving the ensuing forced landing is 90% luck. I've seen it. Time and time again.
AIRPLANES DO NOT PLUMMET STRAIGHT DOWN TO THE GROUND AFTER AN ENGINE FAILURE! A pilot who is not mentally prepared to manage a forced landing will most likely panic and try to make the airplane do something it is not capable of doing. In fact there is a group of internet Swifters out there who will recall as they read this update that they were standing right next to me a few years ago at Shelter Cove airport in Northern California when we were witnesses to a pilot reacting in just that way. He took his wife, 2 kids and least of all a very nice Stinson with him... Most forced landings that end in fatalities are the result of the pilot stalling the airplane close to the ground in some panic driven attempt to delay the inevitable. It must be understood that when forced landings are accomplished with the aircraft under positive control, even in impossible terrain, the pilot has the best chance of survival.
Am I telling you anything you didn't know? Of course not you say. Easy to say "of course not" when you sit safe and secure staring into your computer screen. But when you are, let's say, 500' in the air and the engine stops and you were not ready for something like this to happen how well do you think you are gonna handle it??? Like I said I've seen exceptions but probably you won't do very well. (Oh brother... I'm starting to sound like Richard Collins now...)
Sure, sometimes we fly our aircraft in situations and/or over terrain where if the engine stops it's gonna be hard if not impossible to find a reasonably safe place to set down. It is our right and our decision to accept that risk should we choose to do so. But not being prepared in your mind to correctly deal with the unexpected significantly increases that risk even over the most ideal types of forced landing terrain.
Most instructors are good about teaching and practicing forced landings with their students. The best ones even find a way to encourage those pilots that they can influence to practice these tasks with an instructor from time to time. But many overlook development of that ALL THE TIME mind-set in their students that keeps them thinking about how they would handle an engine failure at any given moment while in flight. THAT is the key to being properly prepared to have a reasonable chance to bring a forced landing to a successful conclusion.
I'll probably go flying within the next 24 hours after I write what you've just finished reading here. If I am true to what I've just discussed, I will, after I take the runway and just before I go to full throttle, turn on that switch in the back of my mind that arms me to react to an engine failure as best I can and that switch will not be turned off until I am back on the ground. Instructors can tell us to do that, but we gotta remember to do it.
So my reasoning when I claimed that flying can be more dangerous today than it was 75 years ago might just be sound if you consider that 75 years ago most every pilot was expecting and ready for an engine failure. Today, most pilots are not.
Until next time,
AVIAT VS LOPRESTI VS SWIFT MUSEUM FOUNDATION, ET ALL... (030100)
SWIFTS OLD AND NEW... (Did ya really think I was gonna keep my big mouth shut on this one???)
Legal declarations may influence our outward actions but in many cases thay cannot change our thoughts and perceptions. So I will always consider each aircraft involved in the LoPresti/Aviat/Swift Museum Foundation situation to be, in a manner of speaking, the same. In my mind they are all a "Swift". A "Fury" or "Millennium" moniker will not take away the inspiration and heritage of the aircraft.
Regardless of the name, both of the new aircraft types involved may be significantly changed but they will continue to possess the soul of the original Swifts. If the new "Swifts" are built, and if those of us who own and fly original Swifts have the chance to fly these newcomers, we will experience many of the wonderful sensations that we have grown accustomed to with our beloved classic originals. The package may be different, but many of the feelings will be oh so familiar. (Except in my case climbing at 1000+ feet per minute. THAT feeling is NOT a familiar feeling to the owner of a 145hp Swift...)
Let's be done with the lawyers. Let's preserve the classic Swifts and build new ones. (Regardless of what names we will be obliged to call them.) Let the flying public decide the success or failure of these endeavors. Not the courts.
Roy LoPresti expressed my thoughts quite nicely in his email that you read earlier in this update...
"Guys, let's let Mr. Horn focus on what he is doing and let's let the Swift Museum Foundation and Charlie Nelson, the guardians of the Swift, continue to do what they've done over the years and let's let Roy LoPresti get on with his all-new airplane... Amen."
Until next time,
SWIFTS VS RV SERIES DAMAGE CONTROL...
OWN AN RV-4? DON'T READ THIS
Wanting to keep the peace between the Swift and RV camps, but also because Ron felt it necessary to go beyond just his own opinion by saying "most Swift pilots", I responded with the following letter to the editor that was printed in the March 2000 issue of Pacific Flyer...
ADVICE FOR RV'ERS FROM A SWIFTER
Received the following email from Nor-Cal Swifter Miquel Nelson who read my letter in Pacific Flyer and has also lived both sides of the Swift/RV experience...
From: Miguel Nelson <email@example.com>
All in good fun, these kind of things. There are too many things more improtant in our lives to take these kind of opinions too seriously. Still, while good natured rivalries are fun, having every RV'er out there gunning for every Swift that comes along is something I'd rather do without. But I'd love to hear other opinions !!! In any event, let's hope this puts the brakes on any rivalries and to Ozzie, I'd love to see a formation shot of your Swift and your buddy's RV on the way to Sun N Fun together...
Until next time,
BUT ERIN... I WAS AT THE PETALUMA
FLY-IN, HONEST !!! (030500)
So... Jim & Carolyn Roberts, George Divanian, Jack & Lois Lindley, Frank Silveria, Bob McKay, Miguel Nelson, Dave & Karen Palmer, and Tom Numelin... Next time you see Erin, please, Please, PLEASE tell her that I really was at the fly-in.
(By the way, does anybody know a good way to get lipstick off a t-shirt???)
Until next time,
ARE YOUR TUMBLERS WORN??? (100100)
One day I discovered that the ignition switch on my truck had worn to the point that I could pull the key out even with the ignition on. It reminded me of a funny incident when I was still instructing down in the Los Angeles area. I was with a low time pre-solo student in a Cessna 152 and just as we rotated on takeoff the ignition key fell onto the floor. My student let out a blood curdling scream and dove for the keys with both hands. I took the controls, of course, because this event totally distracted the student from his number one priority... FLY THE AIRPLANE FIRST!!! (A good lesson for him...) Later, when we discussed the incident, my student told me he was sure that the engine would stop. Understandable considering his level of experience but before we flew again a review of the ignition system and ignition switch design cleared up any misconceptions. Needless to say, a new ignition switch was installed in the Cessna before the next flight.
As I look back now on the humorous aspects of that event, I recall another incident that was far from humorous caused by the same mag switch problem... An aircraft owner was trying to pull the propeller through by hand after an aborted start. (Don't know why...) Being the careful sort, he made doubly sure the mag keys were in his pocket. Suddenly the engine started, panicking the pilot's passenger who was in the right seat. The passenger began pushing controls, causing the engine to go to full power. The aircraft accelerated for a distance of about 50 yards stopping only upon striking a large rock and two parked automobiles.
What had occured is that when the ignition key was pulled out the mag switch was still in the right mag position. Worn tumblers allowed this to happen when, besides turning the key to what the pilot thought was the off position, he was also applying a pulling force on the key as he turned it.
When student pilots learn the reasons for the various items on aircraft checklists, checking the magneto switch in the off position before beginning the preflight will many times have the student questioning the necessity of this when the key is not actually in the switch. worn tumblers resulting in situations like the two you've just read about is one of the reasone.
DO YOU CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOUR IGNITION SWITCH IS ACTUALLY IN THE OFF POSITION WHEN YOU TAKE THE KEY OUT?
As Swifter Dick Collins says...
Until next time,