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-   -   About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots (http://www.aviationbanter.com/showthread.php?t=35564)

Dudley Henriques February 18th 06 07:37 AM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
I've been reading along with the thread about good pilots vs bad pilots and
how these two different scenarios fit into the accident environment.
It's an interesting thread.
If you will indulge me, I'd like to add some personal comment on the good vs
bad issue.
I think most of us as a group will agree that if each one of us were to sit
down and evaluate ourselves to ourselves as pilots, most of us would come up
with a fair analysis that pointed to our taking flying and flight safety
seriously. Oh, I'm sure there are a few of us who wouldn't pass the test,
but for the most part, based on what I've read from all of you for the years
I've been hanging around here, I'd say, the average pilot here is safety
conscious and tries his/her absolute best to make their flying as safe as
humanly possible for both themselves and the people who entrust their lives
to them with every flight.
Some of us are pleasure pilots, actually a great many here are pleasure
pilots. A few of us come from diversified professional aviation backgrounds
and have thousands of hours behind us. All of us share a common interest in
making flying as safe as we can make it, so in that respect, we're all equal
partners in the game.
My perspective on the good vs bad issue isn't any more profound than yours
really. It might however have a slightly different slant.
I spent a great deal of my time in aviation at both extreme ends of the
teaching spectrum. I specialized in teaching primary students and also
pilots who would be flying high performance airplanes. I spent many years
closely involved in the airshow community where life and death in an
airplane were a heartbeat away, and decision and indecision were much more
than mere words.
During my tenure in aviation, counting the pilots close to me on the
military jet aerobatic teams, I've lost no less than 32 close friends and
associates to airshow related accidents. I've written on the subject of
airshow flight safety internationally and have served on more than one
accident investigation committee.
What I'm getting at here is simply to give you the base from which I'm
making my comments on the good vs bad pilot issue. I'm sure many of you have
extensive experience in slightly different areas and would have intelligent
comment to add along with mine.
I'd like to try and pass on to you how many of us in the airshow community
approach the flight safety issue. Perhaps by sharing how we feel about it,
some mutual benefit can be obtained that will result in food for thought
among the group.This is my intent anyway.
We have a saying in the warbird community that basically postulates the
simple fact that flying an airplane is a physical and mental exercise in
avoiding an accident the airplane is trying to make happen. How good you can
make yourself at avoiding that accident and how long you can keep from
having that accident is the name of the game......nothing more...nothing
less.
If we took the time to figure out all the things that could go wrong with a
given flight or go wrong on a given airplane at any given time, we'd
probably never get in one of the damn things. Let's face it; anytime you
take a piece of heavy machinery, point it in a direction and make it go real
fast and real high off the ground, you have a potential for an accident to
say the least.
Avoiding having this accident is job one for us as pilots, and how we
approach dealing with this situation will go a long way in determining our
longevity as pilots.
You can play the statistic game and come up with all kinds of stats on hours
flown vs accident rates but that won't tell you much on the individual
basis; YOU being the individual. I can tell you that we in the display
flying community don't put a whole lot of faith in statistics. We believe
that from the time you first set foot on an airfield and sit your butt down
in the seat of an airplane with the intention of learning to fly, your
ATTITUDE about what you're doing will determine how good you become at
avoiding that accident waiting for you out there.
The key to avoiding accidents and being a good pilot lies in preparation and
training. Even considering this, the odds are up for grabs.
You can be a good pilot for twenty years and end up being a bad one for just
a few seconds and those few seconds can wipe out every moment of those
twenty years of good and safe flying.
Just last year at Mountain Home AFB, Chris Stricklin of the Thunderbirds, a
thoroughly trained and competent pilot who had demonstrated to the entire
Air Force that he was good enough to fly in the most demanding environment
you can possibly imagine, made one simple mistake and in the space of a few
seconds, lost his airplane, came within 1/8 second of losing his life and
effectively ended his career in the Air Force.
I could give you a hundred examples like this one, but what happened to
Stricklin makes my point perfectly. Even if we prepare through constant
training, we can be bitten and bitten hard, and it happens to the best of
us.
The truth is that at any given moment in time, a pilot can be either a good
pilot or a bad one. The trick is to constantly be leaning heavily on the
"good" side. The only way to do this is through constant training and
preparation so that when something goes wrong, and believe me, sooner or
later, something will go wrong, the training kicks in and what could have
been an accident is avoided. In this case, the pilot is a good pilot.
In the airshow community, we believe that being a good pilot is simply being
as prepared for what you are doing as is humanly possible. We cut the odds
this way. Taking catastrophic failure out of the equation, many of us have
survived long careers as pilots by adapting this attitude for being prepared
through proper training.
What I've commented on here holds true, especially true, for the primary
student learning to fly, and the everyday non professional pilot who flies
only for pleasure.
As a flight instructor, I've taught this simple philosophy to every student
who came my way.
"Spend every moment as a pilot preparing yourself for an accident that might
never happen, and have some fun while you're doing it.....THAT'S FLYING!!!!"
Dudley Henriques




Denny February 18th 06 02:36 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
Dudley, a few comments...

I doubt that the current discussion of 'good' versus 'bad' pilot is
really about an arena where a half a second controls life or death...
The vast majority of us GA pilots will never fly in that arena... I
don't know the chain of events for Mr. Stricklin... Military flying is
fast and dangerous... They are mostly flown at high angles of attack,
pulling significant G
loads... These machines have the glide ratio of a pregnant rock when
the arabic incense burner flames out... They have unstable flight
characteristics and complicated control
systems with computer interfaces, etc., that generally makes them
uncontrollable when anything goes wrong... They are often stuffed with
high explosives and rocket fuel... Their only purpose is to snuff the
life of an opposing pilot, tank commander, etc... So flying them in a
normal fashion for them is a dangerous maneuver under the best of
circumstances... Doing low level aerobatics for the thrills of the
unwashed masses multiplies the risk exponentially, as proven by the
follow the leaders controlled flight into the ground that wiped out a
team...

Next, the discussion of low level civilian aerobatics for crowd thrills
is a hot button for me... There simply is no reason for LOW LEVEL
aerobatics to exist in general aviation... Its' only purpose is to
draw a paying crowd of drooling, mouth breathers, who hope to see
carnage and death... In a rational world the inverted ribbon cut would
be flown directly over the heads of the crowd so that the risks taken
by the pilot are shared equally by Billy Bob on the ground... Darwins
law at it's finest...

And, in the original discussion of "no excuse", I specifically
exempted the mechanical failure that cannot be predicted or
prevented... Yes, there are true accidents - the magnetos crap out, a
fuel leak in flight, a control cable breaks, the crank breaks, a jug
fails, electrical fire behind the panel, etc... You are to be commended
for discussing with your students the necessity for preparing and
preplanning for these problems... I suspect that your students do very
well when taking their check rides and later on... but we need to get
back to basics here...
The vast majority of GA accidents happening today are not
'accidents'... They are chains of cause and effect that could have and
should have been prevented... They would not have happened for the
most part in military aviation... They would not have happened for
the most part in the aerobatic community... They would not have
happened for the most part in the airlines..

These are basic issues...
Do you have enough fuel for the flight? Are you cross checking your
fuel consumption versus time and distance left to go at regular
intervals during flight? There is simply no excuse for running out of
fuel - yet in GA it is almost a daily occurence... Military pilots
routinely go to bingo fuel, but it is not a cause of a significant
percentage of military crashes... Why not? Because it is carefully
planned for, every flight, every time..

Did you get a weather briefing and are you making good judgements -
versus the old, 'well, let's go take a look'... Continued VFR into IMC
followed by a crash is almost daily in GA... Weather is not as
controllable as fuel load, yet simply doing the basics would decrease
VFR into IMC accidents dramatically... It is an insignificant
percentage of the crashes in the airlines, military, and aerobatic
community... Therefore it is imminently preventable...

CFIT - flying a functioning airplane into the ground because you don't
know where you are in relation to the terrrain... What can I say about
this... jeez...

Running off the runway during takeoff or landing... A local at my
field just last week on takeoff, no less, ran his plane off the runway
at an angle, across the grass, across another runway, into the weeds
and put it on it's back... He said the sun blinded him... This is his
6th airplane crash that I know of, there are probably more... Does a
solution suggest itself here?

I could go on, but this should be enough to get foam at the mouth crowd
nicely lathered up...

denny


Jose February 18th 06 02:56 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
I doubt that the current discussion of 'good' versus 'bad' pilot is
really about an arena where a half a second controls life or death...
The vast majority of us GA pilots will never fly in that arena.


I think he's talking about an "attitude of safety", which applies in
every arena. But (for me) the discussion is not about how to be safe,
or how safe to be. It is about us "good pilots" sitting back in our
easy chair judging others as "bad pilots" (a term with predicitive
value) based on the outcome of one error. Of course =we= would never be
so dumb as to do =that=.

There simply is no reason for LOW LEVEL
aerobatics to exist in general aviation.


There is no reason for =any= risky activity to exist. What is special
about low level aerobatics? But people do take risks in exchange for
benefits. You may not appreciate the benefits of low level aerobatics
any more than my aunt appreciates the benefits of flying little
airplanes in the first place. But it is up to each of us to make our
own determination of risk and benefit, and to respect the choices others
make.

I specifically
exempted the mechanical failure that cannot be predicted or
prevented...


But most mechanical failures =can= be predicted or prevented (by good
maintanance, and the choice of shop or FBO) or at least mitigated (by
altitude, fuel reserve, backup devices, etc). Why not call somebody a
"bad pilot" because he chose to trust an FBO who was not worthy of such
trust, and did not bring a handheld navigation unit as backup, when the
battery catches fire on an instrument approach?

Did you get a weather briefing and are you making good judgements -
versus the old, 'well, let's go take a look'...


"Taking a look" is not in itself a bad thing. Given a weather briefing,
and weather that is not quite as forecast, sometimes it's worth taking a
look anyway, so long as you have sufficient outs should the look not be
so inviting. Although I think you meant flying without a briefing at
all, you cast aspersions on the entire concept of "taking a look".

There is no excuse for most pilot error. But there are reasons.

Jose
--
Money: what you need when you run out of brains.
for Email, make the obvious change in the address.

A Lieberman February 18th 06 04:37 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 13:56:11 GMT, Jose wrote:

There is no excuse for most pilot error. But there are reasons.


I'd have to disagree with the first sentence. Making a decision based on
facts known at the time of launch can substantially change after the wheels
go up.

An example of one of my errors was before I got my IFR ticket, I decided to
launch on a forecast of broken 4000 foot ceilings and tops at 6000.
Forecast was to improve by the time I got to my destination. I did flight
following at 8000 so I could be VFR over the top and be in the clear smooth
air. You can guess what happened. Forecast was a bust.

Did I make an error on launch. Hardly. VFR conditions predicted. By the
time I got to the destination, field was IFR with 800 foot ceilings. End
result, no biggie, 'fess up to center, went to another field that had VFR.

Does the above make me a bad pilot for getting caught VFR on top. I made a
launch decision based on the best information at hand. If you make a
judgment on the surface, one would think how could a pilot get stuck on
top. Things happen. To make a blanket statement there is no excuse for
most pilot errors is wrong.

I have made many errors in my short piloting days (536 hours).

The trick is to learn from those errors, not repeat them. We are human.
While the margin for error is narrower when flying the plane, there is some
room for error, albeit very little wiggle room, but there is. An example
of this is landing above the stall speed. Procedurally speaking, you want
the plane to stop flying when you land. Would you call it an error on the
pilot to land at 10 knots above stall speed? Not likely, as that is the
margin of error I am talking about.

I am my own worst critic on my flying. Oversight on preflight is
inexcusable, but any distraction can detract from the quality of a
preflight. One night flight, somebody came up to me and was talking to me,
I got distracted, and forgot the untie the tail tie down. I did check the
control surfaces. Found out real quick after startup needless to say. I
felt like kicking myself for such stupidity. Does this make me a bad pilot
for inadvertently forgetting to untie the plane? I do my preflight like
it's the first time I ever flew the plane, and I own my plane. Errors
happen and can be excusable since we are human.

I had an engine failure once, and declared an emergency. I forgot to open
the door on landing. Does this make me a bad pilot. Procedure says to use
the emergency checklist. Well, guess what, my first priority was to fly
the plane. I didn't have time to pull out a checklist. Does this make me
a bad pilot because I didn't use the checklist or I didn't open the cabin
door on landing?

Lets talk about fuel exhaustion. How can a pilot run out of gas? Yes,
it's inexcusable to launch on a four hour leg with 3 hours of fuel. But,
what's to say the pilot launches with 4 hours of fuel for three hour
flight. Gasket leaks, slowly depleting your fuel. Head winds were higher
then expected. Fan stops, and now the pilot makes an off airport landing.
Media comes out, oh my, pilot ran out of gas. First thought, and last
impression is pilot was stupid for running out of gas. Guarantee you, the
outcome of the gasket leak won't come out in the media one year later after
the NTSB comes out with the final ruling. All we will remember is that the
pilot ran out of gas.

I think the point I am trying to make is to err is human. First
impressions are last impressions

To err is excusable depending on circumstances.

Please note, I am talking about normal everyday errors that pilots make,
not stupid ones like reckless acts of operating an airplane.

Allen

Jose February 18th 06 05:04 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
An example of one of my errors was before I got my IFR ticket, I decided to
launch on a forecast of broken 4000 foot ceilings and tops at 6000.
Forecast was to improve by the time I got to my destination. I did flight
following at 8000 so I could be VFR over the top and be in the clear smooth
air. You can guess what happened. Forecast was a bust.


Where was the error? If you had outs the whole way and didn't get
yourself up a (figurative) box canyon, you were fine. You were not
"Caught VFR on top", since VFR fields were in range. Needing to divert
is not a sign of error.

You were more vulnerable, as the fan could have quit leaving you to
descend through cloud. But you have a similar vulnerability flying over
water. Flying is risky; we accept the risk for the benefit.

Does the above make me a bad pilot for...


In my book, being a bad (or good) pilot requires a consistant pattern of
bad (or good) decisions. A single instance does not have predicitive value.

To err is human, and we must accept that even good pilots err, and that
an occasional mistake does not make them bad pilots (a phrase with
predicitive value). "Excusable" means "it's ok". This is why I say
there is no excuse, but there are reasons.

Jose
--
Money: what you need when you run out of brains.
for Email, make the obvious change in the address.

Gene Seibel February 18th 06 05:13 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
Very good post. I'm one of those GA guys that's had my "bad pilot"
moments - a Tri-Pacer on its back twice and out of fuel once. I have
done my best of learn from my mistakes and avoid them in the future. As
I get older that has become both easier and harder. Sometimes I can
recognize a chain of bad events beginning to form and put a stop to it.
Other times something will pop up suddenly and I'll kick myself for
days about how I reacted. I've survived 29 years and 2700 hours, but
it'll take just as much work and attention to survive my next flight as
it did the first one.
--
Gene Seibel
Tales of Flight - http://pad39a.com/gene/tales.html
Because I fly, I envy no one.


Dudley Henriques February 18th 06 05:56 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 

"Denny" wrote in message
oups.com...
Dudley, a few comments...



I could go on, but this should be enough to get foam at the mouth crowd
nicely lathered up...

denny


I'm sorry you chose this path and I won't deal with it.

Dudley Henriques



Dudley Henriques February 18th 06 06:01 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 

"Jose" wrote in message
...

I think he's talking about an "attitude of safety", which applies in every
arena.


Exactly!



There is no excuse for most pilot error. But there are reasons.

Jose


...................and the whole issue of flight safety, be it in a Piper
Cub, an F16, straight and level, or in low altitude acro, is in developing
the attitude and habit patterns that result in keeping these "reasons" at an
absolute minimum.
Dudley Henriques



Dudley Henriques February 18th 06 06:43 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 

"A Lieberman" wrote in message
...
On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 13:56:11 GMT, Jose wrote:

There is no excuse for most pilot error. But there are reasons.


I'd have to disagree with the first sentence. Making a decision based on
facts known at the time of launch can substantially change after the
wheels
go up.


Pilot error is an extremely complicated issue. It's existence is clear in
some instances but in some accidents, it's vague and clouded with individual
interpretation.
On several accident investigation teams where I've been involved in some
way, I've been present at meetings where the issue of pilot error was being
resolved. Of course,the situation involved those making this call not having
been there at the moment of decision being decided upon.
It's an interesting process, and it usually boils down to the handling of
the changing dynamic you are addressing after wheels up.
There is the level of preparedness that has to be judged, and even that is
arbitrary. Then comes the action taken or not taken under the changing
dynamic during the flight and it's ramification to the accident.
In all too many decisions on probable cause, it comes down to someone who
wasn't there mentally imaging what THEY would have done in the same
circumstance.
This is why we have "probable cause" in our accidentreports...that and the
legal ramifications of a more positive statement. Positive statements in
accident reports immediately become subject to attack legally.
I hate to venture a guess as to how many dead pilots were simply victims of
overtask in a developing situation that exceeded their ability to cope, and
would have exceed as well the ability to cope for those who determined that
pilot error was the probable cause.
When you start thinking about things from this perspective, it becomes clear
that even the very best among us can be bitten. There is risk in flying.
All we can do is prepare to meet this risk through practice, training, and
attitude from day one.
We learn and adjust every day we are in aviation to cut down the odds in our
favor when those "moments of decision" arrive after the wheels hit the wells
or we don't. The plain fact is that there is no such thing as perfect flight
safety, only pilots who practice, prepare, train, and develop an attitude
about flight safety that bends the odds in their favor.
Dudley Henriques



Matt Whiting February 18th 06 07:25 PM

About Good Pilots and Bad Pilots
 
A Lieberman wrote:
On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 13:56:11 GMT, Jose wrote:


There is no excuse for most pilot error. But there are reasons.



I'd have to disagree with the first sentence. Making a decision based on
facts known at the time of launch can substantially change after the wheels
go up.

An example of one of my errors was before I got my IFR ticket, I decided to
launch on a forecast of broken 4000 foot ceilings and tops at 6000.
Forecast was to improve by the time I got to my destination. I did flight
following at 8000 so I could be VFR over the top and be in the clear smooth
air. You can guess what happened. Forecast was a bust.

Did I make an error on launch. Hardly. VFR conditions predicted. By the
time I got to the destination, field was IFR with 800 foot ceilings. End
result, no biggie, 'fess up to center, went to another field that had VFR.


You absolutely made an error. You launched based only one a weather
forecast (which we all know are inherently inaccurate) and with no good
plan B. What if there had been no VFR weather within your fuel range?
These are exactly the bad pilot decisions that we are talking about.


Does the above make me a bad pilot for getting caught VFR on top. I made a
launch decision based on the best information at hand. If you make a
judgment on the surface, one would think how could a pilot get stuck on
top. Things happen. To make a blanket statement there is no excuse for
most pilot errors is wrong.


Not having a plan B (and even a plan C if the conditions are marginal)
is a sign of a bad pilot.


Matt


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