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First Lieutenant Ron Harlan
Are you as good as you think you are?
question Rod Macado of AOPA magazine asks of us in his most recent article. Rod relates how themission commander of Apollo 11 tells the lunarlanding crew members that they should not proceedwith landing if they have any doubts and, if theyabort, they will still be accorded the highest priorityto try it again. The commander did not want thecrew to feel unwarranted pressure to try toaccomplish a mission that would have a lowexpectation of success just because they had comethat far in the flight plan. Rod gives the example of a pilot who was trying to land in a strong crosswindand, on his third try, made it onto the ground only toperform a ground loop and substantially damage hisaircraft. Do pilots, in general, overrate their actual
abilities? Rod’s answer is..YES, th
ey do and themore competent the pilot, the more likely they areto feel that they are good to go for situations that
they shouldn’t be entering into.
Do you have any shortcomings as a pilot? I know Ido. For example, I have a tendency to land too longwhen performing a no-
flaps landing. It doesn’t hurtme at PLR where we have a 5,000’ runway but, atWetumpka, with only 3,000’ and trees close to the
end of runway 27, my skills may be lacking. Howabout your skills on steep turns and slow flight?Can you meet the rigorous expectations of the PTSon all of the flight maneuvers? There is one goodway to find out and to improve on your skills if needed. That is to enlist one of our very well
qualified CFI’s on your next flight. Yes, you may
have to pay for the
aircraft costs but our CFI’s (and
we are blessed with several) will fly with you and
charge you…NOTHING! Try to find a deal like that
anywhere else in general aviation!OK, it seems like winter is not leaving us as soon asexpected so a reminder of cold weather operationsmay be a good thing. On our recent educationalsortie to Maxwell, where several of our squadronmembers participated in a weekend seminar oninstrument flying, one of the instructors, our ownChris Iddins, mentioned that putting a trouble lightunder the cowling and an army blanket on topadded over 30 degrees to the initial oil temperatureof our aircraft. In cold weather, that can be a life-saving 30 degrees. Please continue this practice aslong as the nighttime temperatures continue to fallinto the freezing levels! An elevated alert on IFRicing hazards is in order also. One of our flightcrews (yours truly, included) experienced this firsthand so be alert for all the weather signs and planaccordingly.It may seem weird to mention icing, cold weather,and thunderstorms all in the same article but this isAlabama, as you know. Before our March editionhits the streets, we will probably experience someweather involving thunderstorms. When the weathershifts, it can do so rapidly and with greatconsequences, so be fully aware of all theramifications.
Stay Safe! Ronald Harlan,Safety Officer/Squadron 118