What's the Dumbest Aviation Decision You Ever Made. Here is Mine.

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Pilot Steve, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. Pilot Steve

    Pilot Steve Pre-Flight

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    If you've been flying for years, as I have, you manage to learn some lessons the hard way. I thought I'd share this doozie to help a new piot not repeat the same mistake. I also added an identified lesson learned at the end to help others.

    I was doing an urgent dog rescue flight where I was meeting the puppy passengers from the kill shelter after a long ride by a volunteer to bring them to me. I had just had my Electro-Air ignition installed and my magneto was swapped out with a recently inspected unit. The plane had flown afterward for a couple of hours without an issue.

    The flight was to be about two hours and I had to meet another pilot who had already departed to the exchange airport.

    Passengers arrived, everyone was loaded and on run-up for this flight, there was something that felt off with the magneto. Nothing obvious but something got my attention and I told myself that if anything was off with the magneto that I could just switch if off in an emergency and finish the flight on the amazing electronic ignition. I still love my Electro-Air ignition.

    About halfway through the flight, the engine started running rough. Switching off the magneto solved the issue. My plan was to finish the rest of the flight on the electronic. Everything was running smoothly.

    Halfway over the Chesapeake Bay, for the very first time, I lost my alternator and started running down battery power which is kind of needed for the electronic ignition. Apparently the chances of having an electrical failure on this flight was 100%.

    I diverted to the nearest airport across the Bay and as I reduced RPM in the descent I switched back on the magneto, just in case. It ran rough but the battery was dropping fast. I landed and the pilot I was to meet made the jump to meet me at the new airport. He arrived with a rough running engine. There were only three planes on the ramp that day. A Citation jet, my 182, and the Mooney. All three of us were reaching for and sharing tools.

    The Mooney pilot opened his cowling and found a loose plug wire. He tightened it, took the puppies and left. The Citation pilot was stuck waiting for a part. I took the battery out and tried to have it charged at a local auto shop. It was so dead it would not take a quick charge.

    I had to leave the plane and fly home commercially. Turns out my rough magneto was because of a plug wire that had not been entirely tightened. The alternator and battery were replaced.

    Lesson Learned: A corporate pilot friend said when he has that nagging feeling before a flight he calls a pilot friend. He often found that just by talking it through with another pilot that the go-no-go decision kind of made itself clear. I agree. That would have been the smartest thing to do and if I had phoned a friend to talk it over with I probably never would have departed, to begin with.

    I never made that same kind of mistake again because even thinking of calling someone, stops me in my tracks. It's hard to say no when so many other moving parts are counting on you but I no longer have that problem.
     
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  2. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    I can't decide whether my worst decision was buying my plane, or selling my plane.
     
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  3. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Buying a Mooney.
     
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  4. AGLyme

    AGLyme Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A "friend" of mine, who is incredibly smart and handsome...; ) was on a takeoff roll and decided he was so good at it that he could multi-task and simultaneously adjust the radio to the next frequency. Next thing my "friend" knew he was headed for the runway lights. Thank God I... errr... my pal was light that day. Lesson learned, taking off deserves 120% concentration just like any landing does.
     
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  5. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC En-Route

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    Not paying more attention to that new little noise that's probably nothing.
     
  6. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    I am trying to understand your story. Are you saying your 182 and the other guy's Mooney both had rough running engines at the same time? What are the chances of that? What was wrong with the Citation? Also, it sounds like you had two independent problems at the same time - loose plug and alternator failure. What are the chances of that? It sounds like a twilight zone scenario!
     
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  7. imwithtuxedo

    imwithtuxedo Pre-Flight

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    Thinking the the storm was far enough away from my destination airport and associated report of windshear wouldn't affect me. I'm still here and plane is fine, but I learned a valuable lesson.
     
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  8. Fallsrider

    Fallsrider Line Up and Wait

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    Not making the sacrifices necessary to get my PPL in my late teens to mid 20s.
     
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  9. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Plenty, but I’m smart enough not to post about them here. :)
     
  10. Kitch

    Kitch Filing Flight Plan

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    This x 1000
     
  11. Dana

    Dana Cleared for Takeoff

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    Believing the wind would die down as forecast by the time I landed.
     
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  12. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Not flying at least twice as many hours every year since earning a PPL.
     
  13. Fallsrider

    Fallsrider Line Up and Wait

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    It would have been much easier then. Life and obligations got in the way after that.
     
  14. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Pattern Altitude

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    Nearly got caught trying to go VFR over the top of a cloud layer. Started out at 7,000 feet when a layer built in under me. I expected that, saw it reflected in the forecast. My destination was reporting clear so continued on. Slowly that lower layer starting creeping up, necessitating a climb. Soon I found myself at 10,000 feet in an underpowered, full loaded aircraft dodging small buildups from the undercast, and seeing a higher overcast starting to push down on me from above. I had clouds in close proximity now above, below, and on all sides. I was just about to confess and let down on instruments, I had many hours of instrument training at that point. I knew the base of the layer was several thousand feet, so there was room underneath. Suddenly a big hole appeared just off my wing with a full view of Midwest cornfields. Down we went and continued on our way, my passengers none the wiser.
     
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  15. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    The details are embarrassing enough that I won't share them here.
     
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  16. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Oof, def buying a certified airplane. But I'm about to outdo myself and make an even dumber one by buying two airplanes. LOL My screename ain't hindsight for nothing....
     
  17. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    My response is to the lesson learned paragraph. That is indeed the most important lesson in the post.

    My education is Electrical Engineering and the career I retired from almost four years ago was mostly controls and automation software. In about forty years of that work I confronted and solved many problems. I learned early on that when I had thought myself into a corner or was stumped, I would do one of two things: the first thing would be to walk away and change my train of thought. That might only take a walk to the coffee pot and maybe glance at a short newspaper article or maybe a couple of words about last nights ballgame with someone also getting coffee. Once something like that reset my thought patterns I usually could go back to the problem and solve it. The next method, and the one that applies to this lesson learned is to describe the problem to another developer. That person could be at an experience level more than or less than myself. It didn’t matter. What I had learned was that in most cases, organizing my thoughts well enough to pose the problem to someone else caused me to discover the solution.

    Great lesson from the OP and I hope that my thoughts are helpful to someone as well.
     
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  18. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The dumbest decision I made was not pressing my case with the NTSB to find out what really caused my engine to blow up. They wholesale allowed Continental to feed a line of bull to them and destroy the evidence.

    Just saw another IO-550 oil starvation accident in Plane Crash Monthly, and I have serious doubts about that one as well.
     
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  19. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  20. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I have no qualms with sharing embarrassing details. I just have so many really dumb things I’ve done that I can’t pick just one.o_O
     
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  21. ateamer

    ateamer Line Up and Wait

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    Getting IFR, Commercial and CFI (over several years) with no real plan as to getting a pilot job. Especially finishing CFI right after retirement when we were about to move to a new state, without knowing what the pilot training business in our new area was like.

    My mistake, I just assumed that everywhere was like our old home. Almost all Part 61, smaller operations with part-time CFIs but enough business to go around. Here, not so much. Almost everything is 141 (just a small amount of 61 alongside), full-time instructors, and none of the mom-and-pop operations. One flight school even said they only hire their own (almost entirely foreign) graduates.

    Looking back at things, I’d have stopped at Private - maybe at Instrument - and just taken all that extra money and effort and put it into just flying for me.
     
  22. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Flying from Tampa Bay, FL to Mobile, AL, IFR and choose a coastal route since I was in a C-210.

    Thunderstorm. Embedded thunderstorms. Started out as level 3 and 4. I had wx radar and it showed going south of the storms to be a better route.

    It wasn't. Everyone else diverted north of the storm area. ATC gave me a 4000 foot block of altitude and I had trouble staying within that. Then they gave me just do the best you can on altitude and heading, let us know when you can go direct.

    I was turned every way except inverted. I was up to 90 degree bank angles, but I was able to hold it from going inverted. The VSI pegged on both ends, sometimes within just a couple seconds of each other. I had secured my flight bag but had the zipper open so I could get to my drinks and snacks. I saw my lunch stuck to the ceiling several times. (before I ate it)

    I quit that job several times during this wild ride. I have had wild rides in race cars but this one topped them all.

    Flying cancelled checks was so glamorous and educating for young pilots.....
     
  23. ArnoldPalmer

    ArnoldPalmer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Mine is pretty close. Regret not buckling down and getting the Commercial and CFI in one go back in the early 2010s. Would have been on my way to a mainline carrier by now...... But the current job and path has worked out too.
     
  24. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Yeah,if I listed all the dumb things I’ve done here, the post would be ten pages long and take all afternoon to write.
     
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  25. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Not necessarily a dumb thing, as it's given me unmatched joy, but sometimes I wonder if it was smart to spend all the money I have on flying
     
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  26. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    Does joining PoA count?

    Tops, though, was going on my first GA flight with @FastEddieB in his LSA. He got me hooked and now I'm many AMUs poorer. Bastard should've been a cocaine dealer..... :D
     
  27. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route

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    At a short private strip in an underpowered C152.

    Took parallel taxiway to what I thought was “really close” to the end. Turns out, it was not that close.
    Cleared the trees... but will never make that mistake again!
     
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  28. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My dumbest aviation decision was waiting as long as I did to start flying lessons!
     
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  29. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    sell the F-24
     
  30. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:
     
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  31. pmanton

    pmanton Cleared for Takeoff

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    Accepting an intersection take off. As soon as I ran out of enough runway to land on, I lost a cylinder !
     
  32. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    Not getting my IFR immediately after my private. Instead i waited 25 years to get the IFR and think back at all the times that a few clouds scared me. Now they aren't a big deal. Just file and fly.
     
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  33. Profileclimb

    Profileclimb Filing Flight Plan

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    To give on my dream of flying, that was the dumbest thing ever.
     
  34. Pilot Steve

    Pilot Steve Pre-Flight

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    Funny, I was given one the other day and thought of your post and said no.
     
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  35. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Deciding (with a CFI on board) to make another trip around the pattern after being microbursted all the way to the ground and landing at full throttle just holding a pitch angle in a Skyhawk.

    Yeah it happened again.

    We both talk about how dumb it was to taxi back out and do it again to this day.
     
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  36. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    This isn't about best decisions. Or, are you complaining that you fly too much, too fast?

    This. It would have been much cheaper, my parents would have probably paid for it, and I could be a DPE as a side gig by now.

    I know how you can save money flying, but you never listen :p
     
  37. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    No, they're really not that efficient. Flying them is ok but uninspiring, working on them will cure you from ever liking one again.

    I'd rather own and work on a Malibu, and that's saying something if you've ever been around one in maintenance and seen the location and the complexity of the systems.
     
  38. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've heard Mooney's can be tough to work on, particularly if you have to get under the panel. They are that efficient though.
     
  39. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    They're really not any more efficient than other similar airplanes. For example, the DA40 cruises at the same speed as an M20C, both using the same engine. And Diamond doesn't have to raise the wheels to get the speed.
     
  40. Pilot Steve

    Pilot Steve Pre-Flight

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    Oh My Gosh - That made my day.
     
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