Avoiding Other Traffic by the Lake

36-lake-michigan-shorelineAs the weather gets better in the spring and summer months, many of us fly more for pleasure than during the winter months. A fantastic pleasure flight that many of us do near the Great Lakes is to fly the shoreline, admiring the beautiful waterfront that our Midwestern states enjoy!

But this can be an area of increased chances of mid-air, shall we say, encounters.

The FAA’s Airman’s Information Manual even highlights times when increased chances of these risks occur. Including flat light conditions, white outs, low ceilings, and low light conditions in addition to flying around a lake.

“Flying the lakeshore” for a summer tour is a common and very enjoyable thing to do, but you probably aren’t the only person with that great idea on a nice summer evening!

Be advised to put a little extra effort as the pilot, and ask passengers to help, in scanning for traffic that may be travelling the same or opposite direction as your aircraft along the lakeshore.

The chances of traffic incursions become even more enhanced when lower ceilings exist that drive traffic to the same altitudes. If, for example, a 4000 ceiling exists, VFR traffic still has plenty of room to fly, but will mostly be driven below the clouds. This limits the altitudes that aircraft can choose and decreases the options for traffic avoidance.

Along with increased traffic scanning attentiveness, it is a great idea to utilize VFR flight following by radar facilities even if not within the specific lateral limits of their airspace. This can increase the chances that they will help the pilot identify any traffic conflicts, both those that they are talking with and any that are not talking with a controller and may just be flying squawking VFR on their own.

We all are looking forward to a fantastic spring and summer season of flying after a dreary winter. Consider this one extra risk area and how you can limit the potential dangers as you enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Great Lakes shorelines!

Airman Certification Standards (ACS) Becoming Effective June 15, 2016

Get Ready for the ACS – Airman Certification Standards! These represent exciting improvements are on the horizon for airman testing and training.

Effective June 15, applicants for the private pilot certificate (airplane category) and the instrument rating (airplane category) will use the corresponding airman certification standards (ACS) in lieu of the practical test standards (PTS).

Developed by an FAA collaboration with a diverse group of aviation industry experts, the ACS is an enhanced version of the PTS. The ACS integrates and clearly defines the aeronautical knowledge and risk management elements that support each PTS skill task. It also incorporates today’s PTS “special emphasis” items into the appropriate ACS task. The ACS thus offers clear guidance on what an applicant must know (SKILL), consider (RISK MANAGEMENT), and do (SKILL) to qualify for certificate or rating.

For detailed information on the ACS, please visit the Airman Testing web page (http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/) and watch this space for updates as the ACS effective date approaches.

The Unique Consideration of Personal Minimums in Public Benefit Flying

When we fly as pilots in volunteer organizations such as those that fly patients for medical treatment, veterans for memorial services, wounded warriors, or even animals to places of new homes, we do so with the trust of those people that we are capable and that we will safely get them to their destinations.

They are not pilots, they do not necessarily know us or our aircraft, and they probably have no idea of how to evaluate whether we are proficient to complete the flights we are undertaking. It is up to us to be responsible in our decisions on whether we, our aircraft, or they, are safe to complete any particular flight.

Choosing appropriate minimums is a significant part of this process. And we have to do it with added pressure not present on our pleasure flights, the pressure to complete the flight based on external pressures. Continue reading