Thursday, 26 May 2011

Trust for sale only US$7,945

... was doing another Flight review a couple of days ago and it got me thinking.
Did you know you can buy piece of mind and absolute trust for just US$ $7, 945, it is available to everyone regardless of race and nationality. Perhaps I should explain, but first have you ever wondered when it is cold and grey outside, why many birds prefer to point beak into wind and hunker down staying nice and ‘comfortable’ on terra firma?
Cold and grey means lots of cloud... tests show that a pilot untrained in instrument flying (flying in cloud), will on entering this ‘solid’ fluffy stuff, so they can no longer see the ground or sky, will loose control of their aircraft within approx 90 -120 seconds with alarming results!
To survive they must switch their attention from their senses - which will almost certainly be saying, ‘all is well’, as they watch greyness flashing past their windscreen, to the aircraft instrument called the artificial horizon. This piece of kit is found right in front of the pilot at the centre of the aircraft ‘dashboard’, it is exactly what the name says it is, as it shows you where the horizon would be if there was no cloud i.e which way is up.  The trained pilot is taught to trust what it says with his life. The information it provides you see, is honest and true, it tells you if the aircraft is flying straight and level and shows you what to do if it is not. So even when your body and mind tell you otherwise, follow its advice, as trust it you must.  
They are very reliable instruments yet... I had one go very sick whilst flying way up in Sudan just before Christmas but no problem for the trained (training training training) aviator.
I always think your trust is one of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone and one we need to learn to give freely but wisely, however when receiving someone else’s trust, boy do we need to treat it with care, as if we break it, spending another US$7, 945US  will not guarantee a replacement. 
For that I am afraid you are going to have to receive forgiveness and another consequence can be that which is broken in a minute, can take many years to repair.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Training ...Training ...Training

The powerful growl of the Cirrus's 310HP engine was a delight to the ears, as we climbed through 1500 feet out of Guernsey Airport, we were cleared just below the clouds to 3000ft, ...... "OK," I said, "I want you to imagine, wisps of white smoke in the cockpit, that seems to be coming from behind the radio stack, definitely an electrical fire, you can smell the burning plastic." What do you do? Easy perhaps sitting at your desk but hurtling through the sky doing 140kts, having to conform to Air Traffic Control and carry on climbing on track and answer the question ummmmm..........
Last week I had the chance of flying with an experienced private pilot and putting him though his paces for his American Flight Review, a flight which he has to do every 2 years with a Flight Instructor, to be successful Barry had to show/demonstrate to me competency at the level of his licence. The flights are usually good fun, well for me as the instructor but hot, hard and intense work for the pilot under check, as the pressure is on for him to show me what he knows and to demonstrate what he can do. I give him various scenarios, for example..... "now I want you to land at Cherbourg, there is an obstruction on the runway, so land in the minimum distance possible, imagine the airfield is now short and starts at the first runway markings or perhaps the air speed indicator failed on take-off ( I shall cover it up - helps the imagination part, so you cannot see it but I can), now fly the pattern safely? Guess the airspeed when I ask you and land the aircraft normally."  Demonstration of a skill successfully, especially under a tad of duress shows you have reached the required standard and it will mean they will get my signature in their log-book. What I love about flight reviews is the chance to add in personal experiences, look at ways perhaps a task could be could be done differently and/or better. To-gether we work at not only demonstrating to a standard - to tick a box but encouraging greater skills acquisition.  One of the saddest things I sometimes meet especially outside of the cockpit is folk who feel they know it all and/or are not prepared to listen and learn.  I remember being a new flying instructor, ink on the licence barely dry and the 'student assigned to me for teaching was the Chief Instructor - who trained military Flight Instructors, he flew the impressive Apache attack helicopters - of 101st airborne.  My job was to teach him how to fly a fixed wing aircraft to commercial standards. He was way above me in experience and flying hours but I knew how to fly a light aircraft to commercial standards and he did not but he wanted to learn how to do it. He listened and learnt and so did I. It was two way experience and it was fun.
So one of the things we need to do till the day we die is regularly go and take 'flight reviews' in all areas of our lives, demonstrate competency but also listen, learn & perhaps teach, as well as be taught.
I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks......

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Changes happen...

This is a bit of a test to see if I can convert my simple MAF blogg into something a little more creative...
Have you ever said to yourself 'I think it is it time for a change?' 
I was flying out of Entebbe a couple of weeks ago heading 160 miles west, to Bunia. This little Congolese town, in eastern DRC aka Congo, is dead easy to find, just keep the equator line on your left, that is the red dashed line - you cannot miss it and when you reach a Lake nip across it, then pop over the ridge and there it is.  Well I was in my Cessna Caravan and I do use 'my' somewhat loosely, a rather nice red and white 10 seater, powered by a single engine, a nice PT-6 turbine, the registration letters are 5X-BIL, so for obvious reasons the aircraft is affectionately known as Bill.
Bill & I were at 10,500ft and after some overnight rain the air was beautifully smooth and clear, such that one could almost see for ever. Dropping under some clouds of the white fluffy friendly variety, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps in the evening they might develop into a spot of rain.
Passengers and freight delivered, and new pax tightly strapped in and I head for home. It was only 90 minutes earlier that I had passed this way before but the sight to greet me was somewhat different, gone were soft friendly cumulus...  I was greeted by a black wall of ground to ceiling greyness, dark & sombre, heavy and dank, almost black in parts the ominous water laden clouds provided an impenatrable forest like barrier. Banked sharp right, for some 25 miles until further south the sky lightened and I could slip around the storms edge, yet it was still another 20 miles before I could head back on course.
Always amazed at the speed at which circumstances can change ... Baden Powell's motto 'Be prepared' are truly words of wisdom.