Help me understand....

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by MuseChaser, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    While enjoying this morning's coffee, I've been perusing the Nov. issue of AOPA Pilot. On page 26, Richard McSpadden has an article entitled "Difficult Conversations," wherein he discusses when and how to initiate conversations with people whom he as observed making bad aeronautical decisions. I don't know if Richard participates here, but whether or not he does, I mean him no disrespect by asking the following questions and would welcome his, and your, insight into this.

    He described an incident at a backcountry grass strip. A 182 on final "dropped low, then accelerated in a high-speed, low-altitude fly-by northbound up the runway." He and a friend of his observed this action, mutually raised eyebrows, and debated whether or not to have a talk with the pilot after he landed after another circuit. They chose not to, but he states in the article that he regrets that decision. Later in the article, he states, "...the pilot of the 182 did nothing illegal, but the fly-by was misguided and out of place in that back-country setting."

    My initial read of the article had me scratching my head, trying to figure out what exactly the pilot had done to upset Mr. McSpadden so much. Go-rounds are common place, I've flown down runways many times with my CFI, practicing remaining aligned longitudinally while controlling drift from side to side to enhance crosswind skills, etc. A couple weeks ago, I did two low approaches but didn't land at a very small strip that just didn't feel comfortable enough to land on that day. That stuff is routine, and I didn't see how that differs from what the pilot did in the article. Then, I read more carefully and took greater notice of the "..then accelerated in a high-speed..." clause. OK.. depending upon how high the speed was, how close to the ground he was, etc., yes, flying close to the ground at high speeds would raise eyebrows. Still, if the act was not illegal or against regulations, is it really incumbent upon a pilot who disagreed with an action to approach and castigate another pilot?

    In fairness to Mr. McSpadden, it is a very thoughtful measured article. He does state that, when initiating these conversations, one must ".. know that your perspective isn't the only or 'right' perspective. Approach the situation with an expectation that you may very well be the one who is enlightened....," and he quotes Stephen R. Covey as saying, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood," so he's not coming off as a belligerent bully.

    Curious as to others' takes on this. I'm pretty non-confrontational unless confronted unreasonably, so I wouldn't bother and, as a relatively low-time pilot, I usually assume I'm wrong anyway.
     
  2. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    A low pass before landing at a bush strip sounds like prudent aviating to me. You get a chance to inspect the runway, look for and/or chase off wildlife, etc.
     
  3. Bellanca_Pilot

    Bellanca_Pilot Pre-Flight

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    Don’t assume anything. Since we do not know the pilots intentions we can only assume. If he did go around, there is nothing wrong with that. Especially if he was not comfortable. I have also been reamed out by a high time CFI at an airport when he thought I did something I didn’t! But I didn’t back down. His boldest comment “another low time pilot”! I guess he forget he was one once too!


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  4. Boone

    Boone Ejection Handle Pulled

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    We’ve turned into a culture of busybody, self-important Karen’s who think it’s our personal responsibility to see to it that everyone obeys all the rules, and more.
     
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  5. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    One mindset of a safety-minded individual is to “be your brother’s keeper”. If you have this mindset, the odds of having a fruitful result out of a difficult conversation are better.

    The words “disagree” and “upset” tend to make it sound like the observer is selfish. On the contrary, it’s for the sake of someone else’s safety.
     
  6. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pattern Altitude

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    In fairness to Mr. McSpadden, the words "disagree" and "upset" where my characterizations of his reactions in the article. He did not use those words. His description was, "We looked at each other with raised eyebrows. The act was so clearly out of place -- and potentially dangerous -- in that peaceful backcountry place." I characterized that statement as disagreeing with and upset by the actions of the 182 pilot.
     
  7. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    The reference to "potentially dangerous" suggests concern about the other pilot's well being. Don't know what would have been so dangerous in this scenario, and don't know if Mr. McSpadden elaborated on that in the article, but understanding the basis for that would seem an important part of the context to judge this by.
     
  8. av8orDave

    av8orDave Filing Flight Plan

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    Based on the context, I interpreted Mr McSpadden's take on the "backcountry incident" as a brief, undetailed description of a pilot hot-dogging, potentially in a dangerous way, for spectators. I don't think he was trying to convince the reader that what the pilot had done was wrong, only that it was an action that was deserving of some thought on his part as to whether or not it was worth a conversation with the pilot.

    In my short time flying, I've heard multiple "disputes" over the radio at non-towered airports that I frequent, but never witnessed one on the ground. I think the article was a pretty balanced approach to asking readers to be thoughtful about what the culture of GA ought to be... whether it is a no-nonsense, get in each other's face world of pro-actively telling other pilots how you think they should behave, a live-and-let-live world where we mind each other's own business, or something in between.

    His point, as stated was "We own the GA culture. The actions of each pilot reflect on all of us." I don't think he's just saying in how we fly, but also in how often we choose to get in each other's face.
     
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  9. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    A lot of pilot’s are quick to judge without taking a look in the mirror.
     
  10. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    I highly endorse doing a fly-by at any airstrip where you have never landed, if the traffic allows and it's done safely. (keep your Top Gun passes confined to your MS Flight Simulator)
    Especially a grass strip or a paved strip described as "in poor condition".
     
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  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    If the gentleman can’t back his safety claims with actual accident numbers associated with a particular behavior, he’s what’s known colloquially as a blow-hard.

    I see no numbers in any of his own organization’s or any others that indicate low level high speed passes at backcountry strips are adding to accident rates in any significant way.

    Meanwhile as others elsewhere have been pointing out, loss of directional control on dry, perfectly normal runways continued to climb as well as takeoff stall-spin accidents (usually fatal) and AOPA has been silent on that trend for a number of years now.

    Frankly their editorialists seem to be completely out of touch with their own safety institute’s data, while pulling down some hefty salaries for all their “expertise”.

    Been this way for a while. ASF continues to do quality work, the magazine writing staff, awful.
     
  12. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I didn’t see anything to indicate that the pass in question was “high speed”, either.
     
  13. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Low approaches are good practice. Over a runway, nobody cares. One of the exercises one my instructors loved was flying a foot over the runway with a crosswind. The goal was to maintain centerline aligned and not let the airplane land near stall by using power. Good stuff.

    I agree with the OP, when I read the article I wondered if it was a go around. In this example we need to give the pilot the benefit of the doubt. The last thing I want to worry about if I need to do a go around is whether some doofus is going to give me a hard time about it.

    That said, that example wasn't the only one McFadden used in the article and the overall premise of the article I agree with.
     
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  14. av8orDave

    av8orDave Filing Flight Plan

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    "then accelerated in a high-speed, low-altitude fly-by"... from the article. :)
     
  15. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I recall a formation low approach by two POA members at a POA event in years past.
     
  16. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well you inspired me to read the article and now the author's concerns make a little more sense. Johnson Creek is an excellent, popular and well traveled strip. The SOP is to land to the south and takeoff to the north, so IMO the pilot was being as safe as he could be performing his fly by. As someone who has landed over a heard of elk I can appreciate dragging the field to make sure it's clear, but in this case I would imagine it was unnecessary as the pilot likely recently took off (since his family was waiting for him after he landed) and there were likely numerous other aircraft operating. So I do understand the author's raised eyebrows.

    As to discussing it with the pilot? I'm sure he knew what he was doing and doubt any discussion would change his mind. Based on numerous comments I have seen here on POA it's pretty clear these type of individuals don't take any constructive feedback, so why bother?
     
  17. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    It was a C182, they must have been using a liberal definition of "high speed". :)
     
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  18. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    There are "different" levels of experience everywhere, and I've found hashing things out will correct most. Last weekend the students were performing 747 patterns at my field. I radioed to the CFI if he'd mind me doing a power off 180 straight to the numbers ahead of him and get off before he turned final ... he was fine and I was WAY off the runway before they made their turn to final.

    We low pass here for coyotes quite often. I have east coast buddies question me opening the hangar door with my body nearly 45* and feet well away from the tracks ... explained the rattlesnakes love to lay in the tracks and strike your feet when opening (I've been struck once out of 6 times with snakes).
     
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  19. ETres

    ETres Line Up and Wait

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    I read that article this morning and had similar thoughts as the OP.

    IMO, if the pattern was busy, then the C182 shouldn't have buzzed the runway. If not busy, then buzzing the runway was perfectly OK, as long as it was done safely and no rules were broken. GA is supposed to fun, right?
     
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  20. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    I worked for a company where we flew from a private grass strip that was surrounded by trees. Depending on the time of day, we would routinely drop down to about 15ft and fly the runway full throttle (max noise) to scare the deer off before we came around and landed.
     
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  21. av8orDave

    av8orDave Filing Flight Plan

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    I guess I was giving the author the benefit of the doubt in his analysis of "high speed, low altitude fly-by"... he was commander and flight leader of the Thunderbirds, so I guess he'd have a good take on both speed and altitude?
     
  22. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think this is what he’s referring to. A low pass if not intended for landing could be interpreted by the FAA as an altitude violation. Depending on the acceleration and pull up, could be interpreted as being aerobatic as well.

    I think it’s odd that Mcspadden supported the type of flying that the Icon pilots were / are being taught but yet had a problem with what this particular C182 pilot did. Also ironic that Mcspadden having led the Thunderbirds for 2 years has a problem with a low pass in a C182.


    https://airfactsjournal.com/2019/04/low-and-fast-a-bad-combination/

    https://pilot-protection-services.aopa.org/news/2016/january/15/congested-area
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2020
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  23. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    "Do what I say, not what I do."