Chapter 790

Lake In The Hills Airport (3CK), Lake In The Hills IL.

Winds Aloft Blog

Aviation Can Be Very Stressful - There Is No Forgiveness For Errors

Posted by EAA 790 Webmaster on November 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

By Paul Sindberg

This is what we are all told, but the truth is different from the inside, isn’t it? It all depends on your viewpoint and how you make decisions. When I started to fly I did whatever it took to have the flight completed successfully. I rated the experience as to how well I accomplished the mission of getting to my destination. Now that I have a few thousand hours under my logbook belt as it were, I have a different yardstick. I rate my flight as to how safely I accomplished it. If I operated it safely, but did not arrive at my destination that is fine with me. I have read so many accident reports wondering just how differently I would have responded. I am here to say that many pilots who were much better than me, are no longer here; yet here I am still flying. I have vowed to try my best to avoid those chains of errors that caused the NTSB reports I read.

I have come up with a set of unshakeable rules that don’t cover everything, but encompass an attitude and a responsibility to myself and my passengers. There may be times when you are flight testing a plane or flying the last flight out of Saigon and you need to operate differently, but that is as rare as getting a good landing at 3CK with the winds out of the north. I have a story of a flight (or 2 or 3) where I learned my lesson for each of these rules.

Here is what I propose for the Safe Pilots rulebook:

- I will not operate in the grey area. Anything outside of known airplane capabilities is not to be performed. No extra weight, No flights into “just a little icing”, No “This runway should be long enough”.
- I will not push the envelope. I don’t wonder how this non-aerobatic plane will roll.
- I don’t just do what is reasonable, I do what is needed to be a safe pilot. Even if I just landed 10 minutes ago, I will still do a walkaround.
- I will not scud run. I will not use water towers to navigate by because the ceiling is too low to get higher.
- I will not be uncertain of where I am. I will pay attention to my flight and make sure I know what airspace I am operating in.
- I will not let my plane enter airspace that my mind has not already planned on.
- I will not hope that I have enough fuel to make it.
- I know that sometimes I will have to land at an alternate airport and that might result in an extended delay in my trip. An extra day is a cheap price to pay.
- I will always use my checklist. ALWAYS.
- I never think, “Everything will be OK once I land, let me just land.”
- I will not be surprised by weather because I did not learn what I could ahead of time.
- I will go around if I don’t see the runway at minimums.
- If I am the PIC , I will not allow my decisions to be dictated by others. I value their input but I will not be dictated to.
- I will not allow ATC to compromise my safety.

We are taught Spins during our training so that we don’t have to re-learn what countless pilots before us had to learn only during a spin. We have already decided what we are going to do if we find ourselves in that awkward position. I have already decided I won’t be pushing an approach below mins when I could have diverted an hour ago. Make the decision before you are confronted with it.

If you have any other rules I would love to hear them. Send them to me at [email protected]

Aviation doesn’t have to be stressful, if things are not fully up to par, DON’T GO.

Categories: Safety Corner

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Reply Ole Sindberg
11:53 PM on December 9, 2012 
Great set of rules to live by - emphasis on live.

Reply Jim Pratt
12:41 PM on December 4, 2012 
Paul, Ole has taught you well! A safe flight certainly comes before a successful flight. I especially like your statement, "Make decisions before you are confronted with it ". I would be honored to fly with you some day soon. ...Jim Pratt
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