Truckee aviators - is FIKI a must?

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by pilotmax, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. pilotmax

    pilotmax Pre-Flight

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    Hello, I’m new here.


    A bit of background - I’m a 200+ hour PPSEL and most of my time is in tailwheel Citabrias and and RV4 that we used to own. Just bought a Super Decathlon for stick & rudder fun. My wife is a similarly-experienced pilot, and her flying proclivity is aerobatics, hence the Super D.

    The other mission we want to accomplish is flying our family of four (our kids are 10 and 5) from the Bay Area to Truckee (KRHV - KTRK) on a regular basis. In the winter we would like to make this trip weekly, weather permitting, as our kids are in the ski team. For this we will be acquiring a traveling airplane, one that is IFR capable, turbocharged for density altitude in summer, and reasonably fast.

    The question I have is about FIKI - how important is it? The planes we are considering can be had with inadvertent TKS or with FIKI, but he price delta is about $200K+* extra to get FIKI. I understand that a turbo+FIKI doesn’t make for an all-weather plane. Obviously there will be bad weather days that we will drive and not fly. OTOH, there will be days where we will able to make the trip VFR. Then, I presume there will be some days when we may pick up inadvertent ice and TKS will help with it. And finally there will be some days that will be 'known icing' and FIKI will allow to make the trip legally and more safely.

    Other considerations
    - Both of us will be getting our IFR rating once we get this plane
    - We will be *VERY CAUTIOUS* IFR pilots until we gain substantial experience (we’re carrying our children after all) - no approaches to minimums, not flight into icing, etc. We’d rather drive or sit out a storm and fly the next day.
    - We will be flying dual-pilot, switching off PIC and SIC so that both of us are proficient and current.
    - Our thinking is that if we get a non-FIKI plane we will grow out of it in about 2-3 years as our experience increases and we will be more comfortable taking on higher risks. Then will need to upgrade. Hence might as well go all the way. But, given the cost increase, we will need to wait longer to get it.

    What other questions should I be asking? How else should I be thinking about this?

    * 2007 SR-22 G3 Turbo Normalized with Avidyne ~ $250k vs. 2010 SR22T FIKI Garmin Perspective ~ $450k
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
  2. deonb

    deonb Pattern Altitude

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    If you’re a member of COPA (If you’re interested in buying a Cirrus you should join), read the write-up and responses on the thread that David Kidd posted yesterday called: “Why we do all that training”.
     
  3. Rockymountain

    Rockymountain Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I know a fellow that flies an inadvertent TKS plane into Truckee regularly, but does have a flexible schedule. Trying to do it regularly on a schedule with kids in school during the week, and skiing on the weekend, a non-FIKI aircraft would be pretty frustrating. The weather on the way in or the way out is often going to be more than you would want to handle safely or legally. The inadvertent TKS Cirrus, is not comparable to the FIKI even legalities aside, it is a much more robust and redundant system, but it still is on the low end of capability for regular mountain flying in weather. I have 500 hours in a FIKI cirrus, flying mostly in the mountains. My preference if you are talking modern planes would be in order of taking some combination of capability and cost while carrying 4, FIKI Cirrus, Mirage/M350, Meridian/M500, M600, TBM, Eclipse, Mustang .... or such. If you can afford a turbine, I would think about going there for that mission.

    Sounds like you know this, and have the right attitude, but just to make sure, mountain flying in ice in IMC is not for the faint of heart. It is real deal, one of the hardest and least forgiving things you can do in aviation. Not weekend warrior type stuff. Go slow and slowly expand your mission. The mountains are littered with plenty of plastic and aluminum from pilots that though they were up to the task.
     
  4. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Welcome to POA. If you haven't done so already get some mountain training and experience in the Super-D. Sure a FIKI Cirrus would be wonderful for getting though a layer in the Bay area. Maybe it'd be okay for getting through a layer in the hills. Cruising through a layer over the mountains? That's not for me fer sure. Everything I've learned about IMC, single engine piston, and mountain flying say they don't mix. I've pushed that a bit with flying in snowstorms in the mountains. Never have gone in the clouds in the mountains and I really don't ever plan to do so. All that preaching said I know a couple folks with FIKI single engine pistons who do it. Obviously they are more risk tolerant than me.

    Long story made short, I'd look at Bay area conditions with respect to icing and equipment to deal with it. I'd consider icing over the mountains that couldn't be avoided to be a no-go regardless of equipment. Other folks have different levels of risk tolerance.
     
  5. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    If you want to make the trip consistently in the wintertime, FIKI is a must IMO.

    I'd also recommend spending time with an experienced instructor/pilot in icing with the airplane so you can have an experienced set of eyes helping you understand the different types and rates of icing that may or may not be a problem.

    Keep in mind also that icing in the mountains can be a VERY different animal than it is in flat country. I've seen 4 inches of ice on the unprotected surfaces of an airplane inside of two minutes (a change of altitude to try finding a smoother ride followed by an immediate "we need to go back down"). The type of lifting action to get that is fairly common in the mountains, but in flat country you almost have to fly into a thunderstorm to see it.

    One other thing I've noticed with TKS prop-driven airplanes (Barons) is that everything behind the props was clean, almost regardless of the severity of icing conditions. That's great, except that it means you can be in icing that is far more severe than you realize, and finding that out because of a failure of some portion of your ice protection system would make for a very bad day.
     
  6. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    I avoid throwing out the "get a twin" idea on almost every post as many times it's not the best choice for the OP. In your case, given the budget and mission (IMC/Icing/Mountains) I suggest you look at a twin cessna for your mission. I would personally get a Cessna 340 for your mission although a FIKI T310R will also work. You can find a very nice FIKI 340 that will continue to serve your family well as the kids continue growing. I think the Sr22 will be very limited with 4 as your kids continue growing and carry baggage/ski's if needed. The 340 will also give you pressurization (imagine trying to keep the O2 on your kids while you battle ice in the mountains). If you have no intention of ever getting a twin rating and doing what's required to fly them safely then disregard.

    To give my $0.02 about FIKI vs de-ice: I have full de-ice on my bird (wing and tail boots, hot props and alcohol windshield). It is just a family fun travel machine and will help me get out of ice encounters more safely. If I traveled where I need a high winter dispatch rate then I would get FIKI simply to avoid the off chance the Fed's come after me for flying in known ice (this has happened to at least one person on the twin cessna owners group). For example, if you are getting vectored to your destination and the controller gives you a pirep of light mixed ice on the final between 3&5. You know you will be fine in your de-ice'ed plane but technically it is now known ice and if you continue there is a chance (all be it small) that you get ramp checked after landing and you'd need to prove FIKI or claim somehow you missed the report. Food for thought.

    Welcome to the board.
     
  7. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer Pattern Altitude

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  8. TCABM

    TCABM Line Up and Wait

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    I think something to consider here is this particular mission (kids to sporting event) may lead to a certain level of get-there-itis, especially if Mom and/or Dad are avid supporters of that activity.

    So, Mom/Dad, can you reliably separate your emotions from the Go/No Go decision to justify the aircraft?

    No public answer needed, just a point to ponder.
     
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  9. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So you're going to buy a FIKI plane, get your IFR but not fly into known ice? This makes no sense

    Also what do your children matter?
    The fact that you have your offspring with you doesn't matter, having some kid in the back or not does not change how dangerous a particular flight may or may not be.

    What's going to get you killed isn't a lack of expensive systems, it's going to be your decision making skills.

    I'd stick to fair weather flying and basic aircraft for a few more hundred hours.


    Read this

    [​IMG]
    http://www.kathrynsreport.com/2012/06/pilatus-pc-1247-n960ka-6-killed-in.html?m=1
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
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  10. JCranford

    JCranford Pattern Altitude

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    That was a painful read
     
  11. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    No. Fly in excellent weather only!

    Mountain flying is unforgiving.
     
  12. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    FIKI in IMC in the winter to Truckee would make a King Air pilot cringe and think twice. Thats a lot of risk. Pretty much always have ice up there in IMC in the winter. MIght be a no go.
     
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  13. Badger

    Badger Pattern Altitude

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    Will you be transporting the skis?
    Consider storage length options. If they aren't already, they will soon use 2+ pair skis per kid per weekend.
    (Dad of two Junior Olympic skiers)
     
  14. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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    I live in Reno and grew up at Lake Tahoe. I would very seriously consider the high risk of winter operations at Truckee. Every year someone adds more aluminum to the mountains... almost always someone from the Bay Area who underestimated the mountains, altitude and weather. There is almost no flyable IMC there for light aircraft.

    You don't even have an instrument rating yet and in my honest opinion are many years from doing this safely, even if you can afford a machine that is technically capable.

    This is serious stuff.
     
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  15. Qotile

    Qotile Pre-Flight

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    Take the $200K price difference and put it towards a 4wd vehicle parked at KMCC or KAUN then drive the rest of the way? During the winter months there are usually stiff winds over the sierra peaks in addition to icing.
     
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  16. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    +1
    Especially this part:

    Before purchasing the airplane about 5 weeks earlier, the pilot had not logged any time as pilot-in-command in a turbopropeller-equipped airplane and had not logged any actual instrument flight time in the previous 7 years 4 months. Additionally, his last logged simulated instrument before he purchased the airplane occurred 4 years 7 months earlier...Although the pilot likely met the minimum qualification standards to act as pilot-in-command by federal aviation regulations, his lack of experience in the make and model airplane was evidenced by the fact that he did not maintain control of the airplane after the autopilot disengaged. The airplane was operating in instrument conditions, but there was only light rime ice reported and no convective activity nearby; the pilot should have been able to control the airplane after the autopilot disengaged in such conditions. Further, his lack of experience was evident in his test of the autopilot system immediately following the airplane's departure from controlled flight rather than rolling the airplane to a wings-level position, regaining altitude; only after establishing coordinated flight should he have attempted to test the autopilot system.
     
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  17. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    To the OP: I think your expectations of light GA airplane capabilities are overly ambitious.
    I live in the Rockies and fly a twin with boots, hot props, windshield plate and the other accoutrements to deal with ice. This airplane has a reputation for being very capable dealing with ice.

    Nevertheless, I only depend on it to punch through a thin freezing overcast to get on top, or to drop through stratus that is forecast freezing in the upper portions. If there is any significant widespread forecast freezing I'll wait to fly another day.
     
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  18. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude

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    this got me too..

    Recovered data and subsequent analysis indicate that the pilot allowed the bank angle to increase to a minimum of 75 degrees while descending; the maximum airspeed reached 338 knots. During the right descending turn, while about 15,511 feet and 338 knots (about 175 knots above maximum operating maneuvering speed), the pilot likely applied either abrupt or full aft elevator control input, resulting in overstress fracture of both wings in a positive direction. The separated section of right wing impacted and breached the fuselage, causing one passenger to be ejected from the airplane. Following the in-flight break-up, the airplane descended uncontrolled into an open field.

    To each his own, but I'd have a hard time putting my children/family in icing conditions. Especially for convenience sake.
     
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  19. pilotmax

    pilotmax Pre-Flight

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    This has been a very informative thread so far. Thank you!

    To answer a few questions and clarify what I originally meant:
    • Someone mentioned training - we're going to get A LOT of training. IFR, mountain flying, upset recovery / across (in our Super D), etc.
    • My main question right now is to decide whether I "need" a FIKI piston single (i.e. ~2010 SR22T) or get a simpler IFR airplane to learn, and not mess with hard IFR when on trips to Truckee, then upgrade later as we learn more. Sounds like the latter options.
    • On the COPA forums there is preponderance of thought that flying into KTRK should be primarily VFR, esp. for piston singles. That may be the way to go - and if not possible, then drive.
    • I have a home there and with a 4x4, so flying in and driving out or vice versa is realistic. Aside - I've often noticed airplanes departing KTRK flying over my house around 4-5 pm and wondered why so early. Now I think that they are just leaving VFR.
    • As I'm not getting the 2nd plane this winter. What I plan to do is get a weather briefing every Friday and Sunday evenings, and pretend make a go/no-go decision.
    • What I'd like to understand is how many flyable weekends would there be. I've been going to Truckee/Tahoe for 30+ years and last year was a crazy anomaly; here were two weekends we skipped *driving* there due to crazy weather. But in a typical year, between Dec and Mar, would half the weekends be flyable - half? A third? Two thirds? Any way to get this data retroactively?
    • Someone threw out a turbo-prop idea. I'm not ready for that yet. Too much of a plane for us. Maybe later.

    Yes! This is well said. I never really planned to fly through icing, more like be able to climb / descent through a layer. What you're describing is my distant goal, once I gain sufficient VFR mountain and light IR (non-mountain, no-ice) experience *AND* have the appropriate airplane.

    This is a good way to think about it.

    Yes, that was the thinking. Not fly into known ice until I would get enough experience (100s of hours?) to handle it. Now I'm thinking to avoid FIKI and the associated temptation, and plan to fly less and drive more.

    Not initially. We have a home in Truckee, kids are at Sugar Bowl Ski Team and all meets are local. Don't know how far they will go. My 10yo son is unlikely to go that far. 5yo daughter is more of a daredevil. Who knows...


    Yeah - I'm hearing this loud and clear. Don't fly in IMC in Truckee / Tahoe, esp. in a piston single.

    This is interesting... I haven't considered a twin much (other a newish DA-42 that's beyond my means) yet not against the concept. But looking at a Cessna 340 - these can be had for $200-250K +/-, and this is with FIKI, engines ~500 hours, pressurization, decent panel, 6 person... It appears to be much more than a 8yo SR22. What am I missing here? Is the maintenance going to eat me alive???


    Thoughts overall? Am I on the right track with my thinking?
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  20. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    Get the instrument rating, figure out the plane that fits the mission the best, get lots of training, take icing encounters very slow with a capable plane, take mountain IMC even slower....sounds like you're on the right track to me.

    Being able to mentally process dropping 200-250K on a plane without being scared means you can probably afford the maintenance. Yes, over the years a twin will without doubt cost more than a single. Two engines, two props, two alternators, ... you get the idea. Yes fuel burn is more but not double. They go a bit faster, they haul more and they have the redundancies that make night/ifr/mountains safer (my opinion). Most people I know don't have to spend much more on maintenance for pressurization although that possibility could exist but doubtful with a good pre-purchase.

    If you find yourself interested in Twin Cessna's, I would join TTCF www.twincessna.org . It is very cheap. Their message board has a ton of very knowledgeable owners that can explain every question you could have (useful loads, speeds, operating costs, best mechanics in your area, knowledge of specific planes, etc) and several of these guys live out that way and frequent the mountains regularly.

    Good luck on your quest.
     
  21. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Get a Twin Cessna, like @Radar Contact said. Your mission screams 340. Proper training will be a must, of course.
     
  22. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Line Up and Wait

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    I know a guy who bought a meridian to do exactly what you are trying to do... 4 people bay area-truckee. With 4 people it requires a scary little amount of fuel.
    For 200k, go find yourself an early 80's turbo TOGA and a nice comfortable Chevy Tahoe. Piston airplanes have 0 business flying over the sierras through visible moisture and below freezing temps. Anytime I hear of a single flying over the sierras IMC during the winter I think of this dude https://www.aopa.org/training-and-s.../trust-but-verify-unforecast-ice-downs-cirrus and he didn't have a 200k budget.
     
  23. pilotrick

    pilotrick Filing Flight Plan

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    OKay I fly from LA to TVL around 30 times a year. I have 3 different airplanes. For your stated mission you will need a king air and a professional crew. For a 200 hour pilot you should simply buy a turbo 182 or cirrus sr 22. You can fly when the weather is fine (VFR) and drive when it's not fine (probably about half the time). Keep in mind the 4 hour drive will take the same time as flying yourself. Keep in mind you cannot get insured for any "fiki" plane given your experience. After 1000 hours of this commute in mostly VFR conditions you might be able to upgrade to an "all weather" (Malibu, TBM, Eclipse etc) bird.
     
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  24. EminiTrader

    EminiTrader Cleared for Takeoff

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    Not true. I was insured on a FIKI SR22 with less than a 100 hours while doing my instrument rating in it.
     
  25. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    lets not sugar coat it, trying to fly a GA plane in know icing to truckee is just being a statistic waiting to happen. Its a stupid idea.
     
  26. TigerGene

    TigerGene Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I give credit to the OP for at least asking the question. Good advice has been offered.

    I have many 1000s of hours and I wouldn’t think about this particular mission in anything less than a King Air type of aircraft. Just too many risk factors: Low time, mountains, IMC, ice, winds, piston power, and single engine aircraft just to name a few. Any one of those factors is bad, but adding several together is really scary.

    Thank you for asking and avoiding placing yourself and your family in harms way.
     
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  27. TylerSC

    TylerSC Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This has been a great thread. I'm in the same hours range as the OP and am considering future planes and missions. My 2c is that he should get a nice piston turbo plane, and an instrument rating, but should only fly the family when the weather is nice. That's basically my plan, except here on the east coast I don’t need a turbo. At our level of experience just getting from A to B in good weather is accomplishment enough.
     
  28. mtnflyr

    mtnflyr Pre-Flight

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    This,...I fly out of truckee weekly. If it’s winter and there’s clouds, there’s likely ice. The weather is starting to change up here and it’s not a place to fly to because you have to for a ski competition. I know you said you would drive but we lost a mother and father last year that thought they could make it back to the Bay Area. Plus the winds can be tricky at truckee. If you have never flown to truckee come fly up here later this week..Wednesday or Thursday should be nice and see the area it’s in.

    Edit: I noticed you have a home up here so your some what familiar with the area. But I didn’t see any mention of flying to truckee yet..if you would like to see it from the air let me know
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  29. olasek

    olasek Pattern Altitude

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    If you have self-discipline and can simply drive (I live in the Bay Area and regularly drive to ski in Sierras - actually will be driving there tomorrow...new snow) then this whole discussion about ice becomes a moot point, unless you can easily afford FIKI equipped aircraft. This is barely 200 miles, driving isn't such a big deal. So it all boils down to your pocket book.
     
  30. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And skills and experience level.


    buy these
    [​IMG]

    Dont have the time on the court, or the skills that match the expensive thing you bought, end up here

    [​IMG]


    Buy this

    [​IMG]

    Dont have the time in the logbook, or the skills that match the expensive thing you bought, end up here

    [​IMG]



    More money than skills is OK in many areas, aviation has proven itself not to be one of them
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
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  31. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    For your and your wifes experience level this might be the best option for now.

    This would be good it would be more helpful if on a no go decision if you can drive the trip and see how the weather really is at both ends.

    I am feeling a lot better about this. The way I read your first post sent some chilling red flag warnings up and down my posterior.

    A friend of mine, his parents flew. He flew the plane while she navigated and communicated. It worked out great for them, even on IFR trips.

    When I first got instrument rated, for personal minimums I doubled the minimums for the approach. If the approach called for 200 feet and 1/2 mile, I made my personal minimum 400 ft ceiling and 1 mile visibility.
     
  32. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    By the time the OP gets the airplane, the rating, and enough time to satisfy the insurer the kids will have moved on to surfing.
     
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  33. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    For $200K+ price delta, you could pay for quite a few charters on more capable airplanes. Then again, a good question to ask a charter company is what their weather limits would be for taking a King Air to Truckee in the winter.
     
  34. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    What is a MUST, is the pilot MUST have the power to say "It's a NO GO" in spite of all the pressures to GO. That is the MUST.
     
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  35. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Filing Flight Plan

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    This ^^ is perhaps the very best idea.