Practice the Glide….

Gliding is for gliders, right? Well, it’s not just for them. Something I notice in many checkrides I give and I know is the case for many pilots is that they don’t really know how to “glide” the aircraft they are flying. Why on earth would you want to know how to glide when we have a powered aircraft you might ask? The obvious answer is in the event of an engine failure.

When an engine quits in an aircraft, we are effectively a large, heavy glider. Even in a twin-engine aircraft, our approach path is significantly affected. In most training, pilots are introduced to this possibility and then given a checklist to go through of potential solutions while they are expected to “pick a suitable landing area” and prepare for potentially an off-airport landing. Somewhere before reaching 500′ AGL, a recovery is typically executed. There is something missing in this practice scenario; what would happen if you couldn’t do the “go-around?”.

What I notice in many pilots demonstrating this is that they are often not able to judge the glide distance to their intended landing point very well. In some cases they are setting up a glide that will put them short of the landing area, and in other cases setting up a glide that carries too much speed and would overfly the intended landing field. In a few cases they get lucky and it works out. When setting up a glide, I would typically prefer a pilot be long than short (it is always better to end up running off the end of a field rolling slowly than ending up short of the field going fast), but what I am seeing is that they aren’t just a little long, but are completely overshooting their intended landing area. Continue reading

Out of the Air for Two Weeks, but Planning a South America Trip Again?

It has been a long time since I wasn’t in the air for more than two weeks. In fact, it may have been more than a decade since this happened. Wow. Wonder when the shivers of withdrawal will start? They have to be soon. I’m already starting to count down the time until I am back in the air in 7 days. I guess a vacation (working one) isn’t that bad though.

But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about flying. The trip has been a “working” on on which I have spent time updating “Plans of Action” for practical tests. A part of the job of every examiner is to keep their practical test plans changing and up-to-date so they don’t become too predictable or stale. So new plans, new questions, and I will be ready to put them to use on upcoming practical tests in September! Something to look forward to for upcoming applicants right!?

ParaguyRoute_Page_1 I have also begun and finished a few articles written in the time I have been out of the air will hopefully show up in a couple publications over the next few months.

ParaguyRoute_Page_2In the break, I have also have gotten word that the Cessna 337 ferry trip to South America may be back on. With a couple modifications.

The new destination is now Asuncion, Paraguay (previous was Buenos Aires, Argentina). Continue reading

Reflections and Tips from Recent Practical Tests

I would like to share a few reflections and tips from recent practical tests I have given. In most cases, the tests I have given are proof of fantastic candidates who are dedicated to learning and progressing as pilots, but there are also moments that just leave me wondering about some of the basic preparation things that an applicant could do to make their time with me so much easier. So here are a few things I would offer:

  • Yes you should bring an FAR/AIM with you (unless somehow you have memorized it all) and yes it should be a current one. Too many times applicants either don’t have a FAR/AIM with them or one that is current. I’m not certain which is worse to be honest. Not having one is bad, having an old one just shows an applicant doesn’t care to have current information.
  • It is a really good idea to have a copy (digital pdf on your ipad is fine) of the Practical Test Standards for the test your are taking (and yes it should be current also). This is the menu the examiner will use on the practical test. Know it and have one. You can find these at

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Ok, so the GPS Was Doing What it was “Supposed” to Do, Just Not What I “Would Want” it To Do

Well, the GPS was working properly after all on the flight from the previous post (Normally when a pilot had a depiction of 3.9 nautical DME miles from a Class D airport and hadn’t talked with the tower on a practical test, I would have failed them….but…). After some more digging, we found it was doing exactly what it was programmed to do. It just isn’t programmed to do quite what I might think I would like it to do in such a situation.

The GPS wasn’t actually telling us the distance to the station that we had put into the FMS, it wasn’t “distance to the desired waypoint” from the present position of the aircraft to that what was programmed into the FMS that was being shown, it was in fact “distance to current waypoint along a track.”  More precisely, it’s the remaining distance along the path assuming the aircraft were on the path. It doesn’t’ matter if you are on the actual track that was programmed, or parallel to it. On it, 5 miles to one side, or 1000 miles to one side, it is going to track the distance along the parallel track to the perpendicular point of the originally set FMS point.

Confused yet?

So was I. So we made the system do it again.

It’s not an error if it does the same thing each time do the same thing right?

Continue reading