Are you a safe pilot?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by woodchucker, Jun 7, 2022.

  1. woodchucker

    woodchucker Pattern Altitude

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    I like to think I am. But after reading so many botched pilot stuff on this forum it’s hard to quantify. My latest was a horrible landing attempt in a 172 with a CFI aboard. Go around was an easy decision. Done several of those in my time. If it’s not looking good you can always go around! Provided all systems are normal.

    Did a go around in a 182 with my wife on board recently. The second attempt was butter. But the first was trash and wasn’t worth fixing. First time ever I felt I needed to abandon a landing with her on board. We were just feet off the runway but the plane just wouldn’t settle. I explained to her as we flew the pattern what happened and why it was better to just try again. And the second attempt didn’t even feel the mains hit the pavement. That’s rare for me.

    Had several takeoffs that were questionable in my short time. One was aborted due to a bug in the pitot tube killing the airspeed on a short-ish runway with my daughter on board. The other two were low performance high altitude departures where the plane didn’t want to climb. Thankfully I had prepared for that and it was a non-scenario. A third in Colorado with a CFI on a specific mountain flying lesson we did not run-up the engine to find best mixture after landing and prior to departing a short field high altitude airport. That blame goes to both of us. There was an altitude difference between our departure airport and landing airport. It deserved a separate runup. You low altitude pilots please make sure you know your leaning procedures when visiting the mountains.

    Had a vmc flight turn into potential imc in a hurry. I knew we had an airport that we passed just on our six so descended in a 180 return and made a safe landing. Was stuck there for about five hours while the storm cleared.

    Had one downdraft and one updraft event. Neither one had any control on when I could retain level altitude. Ever been a passenger in a 160 Hp 172 up to 15k+ in an uncontrolled ascent? Yeah not fun.

    What makes us a safe pilots? I like to think I’m a safe pilot. But that could change in a minute when something goes sideways. Flying is unforgivable when things go wrong. And we all make mistakes. I like this forum because we can always learn from each other. And most of you are like-minded and kind. Stay safe out there.
     
  2. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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  3. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    I would fly with you. To me, just understanding that things can go bad and that you need to always be in control of the situation to make things go good. That attitude, IMHO, goes a long ways towards being a good pilot.
     
  4. Tools

    Tools Line Up and Wait

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    Interesting topic that will generate lots of good food for thought.

    I have screwed up just about everything imaginable on a check ride and never failed one.

    I recently had a student fail a check ride, and the DPE admitted how good the monkey skills were... yet failed that person, for a minor point, and wouldn’t refly.

    Safety is mostly an attitude I think. Indeed the unsafest things I have ever done were ALL well within my skill level...

    By extension, the safest things I’ve ever done were NOT ATTEMPTING things I KNOW I could have pulled off, just had enough gumption (hehe, in those cases) to realize that it wasn’t a good idea...

    Caveat. Is thinking you’re a safe pilot contrary (can a narcissist ever know they are one)? Another consideration is that you’re only as safe as your LAST good decision. It’s a work in progress!
     
  5. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think what makes us safe is recognizing unsafe stuff very early and fixing it quickly.

    Decisions to go around are always good. But man, some of the stuff you describe just never should have happened. ADM is important.
     
  6. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In the specific instances you mentioned, I don’t think it’s so much about what happened as what you learned from it…
    What was it that was under your control that caused the landing not to be viable, and how are you adjusting that moving forward (not just on the subsequent landing, but all landings)?
    Do you have pitch/power combinations that would allow you to fly a pattern without an airspeed indicator?
    Do you know how to predict the climb performance at high altitude so that you don’t make a takeoff when you can’t climb?
    Have you added weather conditions to your “this isn’t even worth an attempt” bucket?
    Is your instrument proficiency up to the task?
    Do you know what caused the updraft and downdraft, and how to avoid and/or exit should those conditions exist in the future?

    I’m not looking for you to answer these questions here, but just give you some food for thought. Merely surviving events like this really has no bearing on whether you’re a good or bad pilot. It’s what you learn, and how you change your behavior that makes the difference.
     
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  7. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    There are no pilots who free from harm or risk (safe). There are a large number of factors that effect risk.
     
  8. Racerx

    Racerx Pattern Altitude

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    Brings up another question...are DPE's getting tougher? Or more ticky tack? You hear about check ride fails for the minutiae. Read one where a check ride was failed because a student selected 10 degrees of flaps in a 172 for short field. But apparently in the pre 1970's 172 operator manual calls for "0 degrees of flaps for max takeoff performance". But the checkmate checklist for the 172 F, G, and H models shows 10 degrees for 'short w/o obstacle' (0 degrees for short with obstacle')
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2022
  9. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Do I feel like I'm a safe pilot? Hell no! But I seem to be good enough to have remained on the right side of the grass for two decades. Maybe I'll luck out and stay above ground for another two.
     
  10. Racerx

    Racerx Pattern Altitude

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    Every landing is a balked one...until it isn't. It's a useful skill knowing when to call it off
     
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  11. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Definitely. Definitely a safe pilot. Definitely. Walmart sucks.
     
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  12. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    So far…
     
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  13. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If I didn't feel I was a safe pilot I would not take the controls of an airplane, so yes, I'm a safe pilot. Am I a perfect pilot, absolutely not.
     
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  14. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    My passengers and I have walked away from every plane that I've crashed, so I'd say absolutely.
     
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  15. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I used to fly in Alaska including off airport work. Many folks that had flown with me thought I had amazing aircraft control and would fly anywhere with me.

    Then again there are many folks that have never flown with me but have heard of my exploits say they would never get in a plane with me.
     
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  16. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff

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    yeah, this is an interesting physiological rat hole to fall down....
    Probably safe to say we've all done stupid things...and a lot of us were a lot closer to that edge than we even might know.
    Also probably safe to say that there were things that we've done that either did freak out an instructor or other pilot (or would have if they were had been there), but were in reality not that close to the edge at all.

    I can think of a couple times that make me cringe a bit when I think back on them. (points to self doubt and lack of confidence)
    And a Couple other times that might very well make many pilots cringe but I don't cringe about at all when thinking back. (points either to stupidity....or to every person having a different ability or capacity)

    One example comes to mind, about how lightning fast things can fall apart... a recent youtube video that I did not intend to watch but now can not un-see....the recent stall/spin on short final at a STOL landing competition. A little Cessna I think.
    I'm sure we've all at some point or another gotten slow in the pattern as an example and freaked out the instructor.... Was the instructor freaking out unnecessarily early, or were we really that close to the edge?
     
  17. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    What you describe is a perfect example of a proper failure. The manual for F,G and H models specify zero flaps in both the operating checklist and the takeoff performance chart. The applicant was not using an appropriate checklist, wasn’t using the procedure in the performance chart and he didn’t have sufficient knowledge of the aircraft.
     
  18. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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  19. Pugs

    Pugs Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    It showed a lack of knowledge, or a confusion anyway, about operation of the airplane. Does it rise to the level of tanking the ride and costing another $500? That's the real question. Perfection is not demanded on the PPL checkride and if you were perfect in all aspects you were a hell of a lot better than me.
     
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  20. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    I haven’t died yet
     
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  21. Walboy

    Walboy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In theory you demonstrate you're safe at least once every two years since that's the criteria for a flight review.

    "...demonstrate the SAFE exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate"

    Do you fly the same without a CFI present as you do with one?
     
  22. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    A pilot who self-recognizes the mistakes they made on a flight is generally going to be a safe pilot, assuming they don't accept those mistakes as "ok". For the vast majority of us, there probably has rarely or never been a "perfect flight".
     
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  23. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I have never flown in IMC on a flight review, so I do fly differently without the CFI present. ;)
     
  24. Maxnr

    Maxnr Line Up and Wait

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  25. Whitney

    Whitney Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Being a safe pilot begins long before engine start.

    How is your mental health?
    Physical health?
    Are you on time so not rushing?
    Checked the weather along your route, and destination?
    Done a thorough walk around? Not just checked the oil, pulled off the pitot cover, and removed the control lock. Have you checked the fuel quantity yourself, color, tested for water, looked well into the cowl for a bird nest, checked tire pressure, I mean really really done a thorough inspection.
    If you don't every time, I would consider you to be unsafe.

    Don't be a moron like the pilots of the Gimli glider, who are very very unsafe.
     
  26. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    A friend of mine that is also an instructor has one of these, he is a gentleman named Wally Moran.
     
  27. chemgeek

    chemgeek En-Route

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    Being a safe pilot encompasses a lot of practices, some which do not involve piloting: Good maintenance practices, physical fitness, regular training and evaluation, staying current with avionics and the mental part of flight procedures, and a healthy aversion to cutting corners or shaving margins. Even with all of this is is still possible to get into trouble, but hopefully you will leave yourself with safety margins to maneuver in. I'll keep flying as long as I don't scare myself or my instructors. I do know pilots who are past their sell-by date for safe operation, and it's often more about maintenance practices and the mental rather than physical skills. I flew shotgun with one such pilot many years ago and the combination of poor maintenance awareness and procedures nearly created a serious accident. Never again.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2022
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  28. IK04

    IK04 En-Route PoA Supporter

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  29. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    According to flight safety I am safe until August, then I have to get safe again.
     
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  30. WDD

    WDD En-Route

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    Safe to me is the acceptable probability that I'll not hurt people or bend metal or get to make a phone call (in that order).
    1. Am I safe now? Yes.
    2. Perfect? No
    3. Still learning a lot? Yes
    4. Will I probably do something off or incorrect in the future? Yes, but if I am aware of 1,2, and 3, I'll keep getting better / safer and the severity of number 4 will be on the level that warrants a snarky reply from ATC vs the main feature of "Smithsonian's Air Disasters".
     
  31. Rich Holt

    Rich Holt Line Up and Wait

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    Well, I am a graduate of Aviation Safety School and did teach CRM for a while. So, no. Probably not.
     
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  32. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don’t know that I’d agree with that. They made some significant mistakes, but they were led to believe that the system was properly deferred even though a mechanic had undone the proper procedure and done something else.

    They were also led down the path of the kg versus lbs mistake by someone else.

    yes, ultimately they were responsible. But in the scheme of stupid mistakes, theirs weren’t really that stupid. They just had spectacular consequences.
     
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  33. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    But you’ll still be a Pro through October. ;)
     
  34. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Line Up and Wait

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    Except for a 5-year break around 2000 I have been flying since the late 70's. I have not failed any written, oral, flight test, recurrent, or any test flight related. No FAA enforcements. Only damaged one airplane and it was a bird strike at night, we never knew we hit it until after landing. In 10,000 hours, I have not had an engine failure but have had a few engine problems, shut down two, one piston, one jet. Partially lost cabin pressure one night in a Citation at FL390, could hold 10K at FL180. Those are the three times I have declared emergencies. 15% of my TT has been SIC and all of my emergencies happened during that time. Alot of it has been luck but add my attention to maintenance, watching weather and planning helped. I just turned 60 and passed my Citation SPE test, also fly a C340.
     
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  35. Whitney

    Whitney Ejection Handle Pulled

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    PIC is ultimately the one who has to flight plan a trip. Ensuring that there is enough fuel to land with legal reserves at the destination, be it taking off with enough, or fuel stop(s).
    When you crash half way to the destination, because of fuel starvation, the PIC is mainly at fault, but in this case he wasn't alone in the cockpit, so they share a tiny bit of the blame to.
    If any doubt about fuel, I would check it 20 times if need be.
    Considering that the flight by law had to land with enough to make an alternate and still have fuel left, it was not even close. It wasn't like it landed low on jet fuel, and only had 30 minutes left in the tanks. They screwed up huge.
    Heck I could do the calculations for fuel required.
    If still in doubt, just fill the tanks, better to have more than enough, than not enough. My last flight was 5 days ago, I calculated needing 60% fuel, so I filled right up. That nice warm fuzzy feeling I got knowing that I was not going to run low on fuel was great. I could have hit a head wind and still been fine. Filled up again before heading home. Next week I am going on a longer trip, one i have done many times. On average I use 3/4 fuel to get there, but I moniter My usage constantly, and if I am going to use more than usual, I will land somewhere else and top off, then continue my trip. My personal minimum I set for myself is landing with over an hours fuel remaining, but really prefer 1.5 hours left.
     
  36. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You stated several things in there that the Gimli crew didn’t have the ability or option to do.
     
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  37. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    To answer the question I have to honestly say ... I don't know but I pray it is so. On my last flight review the instructor told me I was a good & safe pilot. The only comment at the end of the review was that my last landing was a bit left of the centerline. :)

    I've had my moments when I learned from myself, like the time I was attempting to take-off with the flaps down (I caught it on the roll out and aborted the landing), or the time I landed with just enough fuel to be legal for VFR minimums.

    I have tried to learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. Been flying since '01 and have owned a few airplanes, the last two I built or helped build. I'm a bit fanatical about maintenance and I don't like to play with the weather. As I get older I try to examine myself more as to my physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. So far so good. :D
     
  38. Jackk

    Jackk Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Being a safe pilot is admitting, embracing, and working through your infallibilities

    The pilot who acts like they never made a mistake, that’s the guy I won’t let borrow my lawnmower.

    I’ve made my fair share, thankfully never bent anything or got a nasty Graham from the feds, but I’ve made mistakes, we all have.


    It is like what they say about crazy people, they never worry that they might be crazy.

    The fact that you asked the question is a very good sign.

    Nothing in what you said stands out, you can’t control the flight path of a bug, VMC to MMMVFR happens given enough flight hours, bad landings get better with time, but still happen, going around is almost always a good call when in doubt.

    The reason the better jobs have the higher mins is because they want the hours, what are the hours but experience, what you posted is experience.
     
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  39. WDD

    WDD En-Route

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    The pilot who acts like they never made a mistake, that’s the guy I won’t let borrow my lawnmower.


    Acts or instantly spouts a liturgy of FAR AIMs
     
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  40. Whitney

    Whitney Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Not only could they have, they were required to check for enough fuel to make their destination, fly a missed, make their alternate, and land with reserves.