was she signed off for solo XC too soon?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by WannFly, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. citizen5000

    citizen5000 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    My bad. Apologize. I called him and asked if he ever gave anything like a written test and he said "don't you remember the little open book test I gave you?' I only remembered him telling me to go take the FAA written before getting ready to solo. Still, I am wondering if this student who didn't know about clouds got tested at all?
     
  2. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    The person's CFI I think dropped the ball. The student should have been much more prepared for a solo flight.

    And I give a 30 question pre solo test covering all the areas. Some area's are covered more than others.

    I make sure my students know how to get into the class C airport nearby. For the sole reason that on two occasions in the past 5 years there have been planes that geared up, and managed to shut down both runways.
     
  3. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    easiest way to remember....Denver is the Mile High City. 5280 msl. All,the airports are higher because the official altitude of the city is downtown Denver. KAPA is about 15 miles SE of Denver.
     
  4. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Student ran into weather, knew how to ask for help, and landed. Good learning experience. . .dangerous? Sure, but so what? It's flying, not knitting. Her body of knowledge and practical experience are now deeper.

    She did pretty well, to my mind, if not perfect.

    If you never find yourself in a situation that is at (or near) you ability to cope, then, I think, you aren't stretching enough. Buy a rocking chair or model trains, or take up ballroom dancing.

    I don't mean be stupid reckless, but we aren't here to maximize our safety, we're here to live - not much reward without risk taking. And seeing some clouds, turning around, and landing doesn't count as stupid reckless. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.
     
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  5. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes and no.

    I don't think it was so much a problem of lack of knowledge or knowing how far you're sposed to be from a cloud, it was more a problem of having basic judgement skills and being able to make sound decisions, and that isn't something that can be taught.
     
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  6. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If one were to take an objective listen to the clip without the transcript, it is clear that the student is asking not if she is "supposed to fly into" the clouds but rather "supposed to fly under them." The student asks a very reasonable question: "Should I fly under this cloud layer?"

    Consider the fact that she probably did brief the weather with her instructor and this cloud layer may not have been in the forecast or was missed in the area forecast part of the briefing. Couple that with a little bit of stress, and you get students asking weird questions. Let's not act like this is the first time we've heard a student pilot say something strange to ATC.

    A better question for her to ask may have been "Do you have any information on the ceiling/cloud heights for my route ahead?" When you consider that Denver and Pueblo approach controls are both worked out of the same facility today, it would be perfectly reasonable to ask this of Denver Approach. All the controller would need to do to answer that question is solicit some PIREPs from other pilots and from the controller working Pueblo, who today sits in the same room. The controller did, in fact, solicit those PIREPs and was able to conclude that the best course of action was to get the student back to Centennial.

    It is illegal for a student pilot to fly over any layer of clouds, whether they are scattered, broken, or overcast. My hunch tells me the student probably knew this, and by asking "Should I fly under them?" was asking, in a student pilot sort of way, whether or not the conditions ahead would allow her to maintain VFR at a safe altitude. Am I projecting a greater level of knowledge on the student than she actually had? Maybe. But I'm also willing to give her a pass on asking whether or not ATC could see clouds on the radar display. This is not something I would necessarily expect a student pilot to know.

    While ATC is not to be relied on as a crutch, part of the reason so many CFIs encourage students to request radar flight following during cross country flights is to ensure the student has immediate access to people who are likely aware of the most recent conditions and can aid in ensuring their flight has a safe outcome when things don't go as planned.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
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  7. Caramon13

    Caramon13 Pattern Altitude

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    Really? Reference please.

    For my long cross country I flew from KSRQ to KBCT at 9500 feet over a couple scattered clouds, always making sure I had ground references. 61.89 does give the authorized instructor authority to add certain limitations, but I can't find anything that states it is "illegal" to fly above clouds as LONG as you can maintain visual reference to the ground.
     
  8. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    That. I have flown over scattered. Had ground reference on my right. Never heard it's illegal. Interested to know if there is a regulation around it

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
  9. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    It's hard to realistically argue about readiness or whether the CFI dropped the ball. We are talking about a part of the country in which clouds are rare and the student may not have previously encountered a cloud in flight.

    I used to get excited when there were clouds around when I taught there just so I could meaningfully quiz about required ceilings, cloud clearances, etc and not have it be just stuff in a book easily forgotten,
     
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  10. Salty

    Salty En-Route

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    When solo. But, my understand is as stated above that you can fly over a cloud, as long as you can see the ground.
     
  11. Caramon13

    Caramon13 Pattern Altitude

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    When solo what? Illegal when solo? There's nothing to support. You can fly as a student pilot over clouds as long as they aren't a "layer" as long as you can maintain reference to the ground.

    Doesn't matter if you are with a CFI or not.
     
  12. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    I can not site the exact regulation, but I was taught that a student pilot must remain in visual contact withe the ground at all times. This means they can fly above scattered clouds, but can not fly above a solid cloud layer. A licenced VFR pilot is allowed to shoot a hole and fly in VMC above a solid cloud layer, and have no ground reference. The problem becomes finding a new hole to get back fown.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
     
  13. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Damn, guys. Read the reg. Way too many errors. It actually says a student pilot may not act as pilot in command if the flight cannot be completed with visual reference to the surface. That means solo for a student, and it makes no direct reference to cloud layers or even clouds. You could also lose the surface with haze, dust, smoke, or volcanic ash.
     
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  14. TheTraveler

    TheTraveler Line Up and Wait

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  15. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    After finally getting a chance to listen to the recording, I think I caught the same thing Harold did a few posts ago.

    It sounded like, "can I fly under them" rather than "can I fly into them". Maybe that makes a difference, I dunno.
     
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  16. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    Where did you come up with that. You are right about being above an overcast and broken layer. But scattered??

    61.89. a
    (6) With a flight or surface visibility of less than 3 statute miles during daylight hours or 5 statute miles at night;

    (7) When the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface; or
     
  17. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    But that's not important, the problem is the student couldn't make what could have been a life or death decision with out consulting some voice on the radio, and even had to be carefully talked out of trying the same dumb thing again, regardless of FARs that's a deal breaker.

    You can bust FARs and still have a good chance to live to be a old man/woman

    You CANT be indecisive in the air and survive a lots of hours, hesitation is devastation.
     
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  18. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    That's why it's a student getting additional training rather than a Sport Pilot or higher training for a 709 ride.
     
  19. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I went up yesterday at the same airport, same conditions with virga all around, HOPING the rain showers would keep coming down a bit, so MAYBE I'd get a chance to fly the ILS, in the back of my mind... haha. Fat chance. But I did eights on pylons in light rain and washed the airplane instead. LOL. Rare day it wasn't convective and it wasn't freezing. :)

    Yup.

    Agreed. I think this is "plan fixation" mixed with saying "can you help me get to Pueblo?" The flight plan was probably 8500, going southeast around most of the COS Charlie and over/east of KFLY (a common route for that XC here) and on down to PUB -- and the student kept asking "How can I do that if there's clouds?"

    They remembered that controllers can "help" but didn't know how controllers can help exactly, especially not knowing that they can't see clouds on radar.

    The controller talked the student out of a bad idea. Started as a hint, "Are you returning to Centennial? Are you trapped by clouds?" got stronger with "Follow that east-west road" and finally "Don't you think returning to Centennial is best? Wait it out a bit? It's at eleven o'clock and five miles..."

    The student just wanted to push to PUB that day because that was "the plan".
     
  20. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Yesterday's weather. Looking south... see the lowering down there? This was reported as 9000 overcast.

    [​IMG]

    Looking east.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You guys get weather reports in MSL?

    I usually don't worry about 9000 overcast unless it comes with CB or WS. Even flying out of Lake Tahoe, where the peaks are at 10,000 MSL and the field elevation somewhat below 7000.
     
  22. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    No. I was rather skeptical of the "9000" being reported. Wouldn't you be looking at that photo? hehehe. Not kidding. I should have screenshot the ForeFlight METAR.

    That was reported as "9000 broken, virga all quadrants" for quite a while.
     
  23. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I understand the sentiment. I was surprised when I learned about it, too.

    This regulatory interpretation came from FAA Chief Counsel in the Murphy letter from 2008.

    Section 61.89(a)(7) states, in relevant part, that a student pilot may not act as PIC of an aircraft when the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface. This general prohibition against operating in marginal weather conditions is intended to alleviated the problem of student pilots becoming lost or disoriented in those marginal conditions. Operating above a scattered or broken cloud layer could be the sort of marginal conditions that could cause a student pilot to become lost or disoriented. For this reason, section 61.89(a)(7) prohibits a student pilot from acting as PIC above a scattered or broken cloud layer.
     
  24. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    See my above post.
     
  25. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Isn't all this "the rule book isn't ACTUALLY the rule book, you'll have to Google for letters from our lawyers" way of writing laws, just GREAT?

    So easy and simple and you just point the students to the book...

    Not.

    LOL. :)
     
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  26. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    An overcast layer must be okay :rolleyes:

    I conjecture that they meant "broken or overcast" and FAA lawyers aren't well versed in meteorology.

    There is stupidity in both the question and the response.
     
  27. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    The FAA written does not address the particular plane to be flown for the solo, nor the airport and procedures to be used. It cannot be substituted for the pre-solo written. Factors like those are why the exam is left to the local school or CFI.

    OTOH, it might not be a bad idea to have some standard questions that must be included on the pre-solo.
     
  28. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Well versed or not, they have an entire organization of freaking experts to draw from. I wouldn't let them off the hook quite that easily.

    I mean hell, if I'm teaching students to talk to FAA folk and not be scared of them and know there's some really good resources there... can we start a campaign to teach their own freaking lawyers to talk to those same nice folks they supposedly work with on the same damn team? LOL.

    Nope. Ineptitude like that doesn't get a pass. Seriously. Come on.
     
  29. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    I'm flabbergasted at why you think I'm trying to give them a pass.
     
  30. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Sorry. I read "all sorts of stupidity" as resignation, but I can see it can easily be the opposite also.

    I don't see any point in being upset with those who interpret it exactly as written on the pilot side, though.

    The inept technical writing capabilities on that letter seem quite limited to only one side and it's not the pilots, as you noted, when you pointed out that not all of the legal cloud types are covered in the "official" response.

    Hard to blame that on the people trying to read it. :)
     
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  31. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Yes, the letter comes from Legal, but when I read a letter like that one ( and there are quite a few), I see "policy" not "legal," and suspect more Flight Standards input by those nice folks you refer to than the legal staff's.
     
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  32. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I dunno, some of them read like a) someone didn't talk to anyone, or b) they don't know how to write. Haha.

    I could go with your theory though. Mostly because we have no idea. Haha.
     
  33. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    :D I've never found limited (or no) ability to say things clearly in writing to be the monopoly of any one group.
     
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  34. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    You're saying to mess things up anyone can do, but to totally screw it up royally, requires a committee? :)
     
  35. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Isn't that "a life form with six or more legs and no brain"?
     
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  36. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Every place I've ever worked we just wrote our own. The FAA written tests are not adequate for pre solo written.
     
  37. Tflhndn

    Tflhndn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It is legal for a student pilot to be VFR over the top/to fly without visual reference to the ground.

    It is NOT illegal for a student pilot to be above a scattered later.
     
  38. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No, it is not.
     
  39. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Who defends the policy before an administrative court? Answer: legal.

    The letter only addresses the question posed. The flight instructor who wrote it did not ask about the legality of a student flying over the top of an overcast layer.
     
  40. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It is if an instructor is on board.

    The prohibition isn't for flying above the clouds. It's for acting as PIC above the clouds. It's fine if someone else is PIC.