‘Tis the Season for Carbon Monoxide in Flying

While this winter has been warm to start, it will get colder. And winter flying increases the likelihood that pilots will experience carbon monoxide while flying.

The FAR/AIM details some information in section 8-1-4 (Click here to see more – https://www.airresearch.com/Pilots/AIM-08/Chap8/aim0801.html), defining it as “a colorless, odorless, and tastelass gas contained in exhaust fumes.” This gas “can significantly reduce the ability of the blood to carry oxygen,” which adversely affect pilot health with major symptoms being headache, drowsiness, or dizziness which can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.

Most light aircraft that we fly have heaters that operate by air flowing over the manifold or fuel fired heaters that, if cracks are present, can potentially allow exhaust fumes into the cabin of the aircraft.

As we all go into flying in the winter season, an added awareness of the potential symptoms is encouraged. Continue reading

Super Pilot Chad and Examiner X – How a Checkride Should NOT Go…

We did this video a couple years ago to use with a presentation at the AOPA Summit in Palm Springs, but I thought I would share it in a public forum now.

This wasn’t a real checkride, obviously, but it certainly includes allusions to many things that have been seen by examiners on real checkrides. Though, and hopefully, never all of them at once.


Check Those NOTAMS – Know Before You Go if Your Intended Approaches are Active

Over the past month, I have on at least 3 occasions noted prior to flights that the approaches I would normally have intended to use for my destination airport were Out of Service when I checked NOTAMs. This was able to be managed when known ahead of time, but in two of the cases it did require some re-planning to make accommodations.

Know before you go, don’t forget to check those NOTAMs for your destination and alternate airports to make sure what you are planning on flying for approaches is going to be available and won’t leave you scrambling at the last minute to try to come up with a Plan B.

NOTAMs that affect approaches can be obtained through a weather briefing both digitally and on the phone, and in most modern flight planning applications on devices such as iPad’s they are easily retrievable.

notamexampleBe sure to check the details. It won’t always be the case that an approach is NOTAM’d completely out of service, but particular parts of it may be made unavailable, and depending on the type of equipment in your aircraft, it may or may not make the approach unusable by you for your flight.

Many times, we find that VORs are out of service that define step-down fixes, NDBs that define outer markers may be out of service, or a glide-slope may be out of service. Each of these factors may not entirely make an approach unusable, but may change the minimums, may require that an aircraft with an IFR GPS use GPS data to supplement identification of a step-down or crossing fix, or may require use of an alternate missed approach procedure if the primary one is not able to be used.

This is much easier to think through and figure out if you are doing so prior to departure than it is if you are “in the soup” 10 miles from what you thought was going to be your final approach fix when you get the note from ATC that the approach is unavailable. Continue reading

Perspective on Airline Reliability


I was talking with an acquaintance not long ago who was complaining about a commercial flight that had arrived 20 minutes late and how much of a problem it was and it got me thinking. Twenty minutes is actually pretty darn close to on time. Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t strive for perfection, and if that delay had meant a missed connection to another flight, it certainly would have been inconvenient, but it really wouldn’t be all that earth shattering in the grand scheme of things. In fact, if we think about the perspective of aviation history, it is actually pretty amazing we are as on time and accurate as we are today. The history of aviation wasn’t always quite so perfect.

I am reminded of two stories from friends that really illustrate the perspective.

gcmapbermudaThis past summer we were visiting friends in Bermuda and got talking about how their family came to Bermuda originally. While Martin came to Bermuda after meeting his dear wife Jo, she was born on the island and it was her grandparents that had been the first generation of her family to emigrate to Bermuda.

While her grandparents airplane arrived successfully from England, the flights scheduled before and after theirs departed, but never arrived. Now, we aren’t talking about 1910 here, we are talking about a time period shortly after WWII. Continue reading