Flight Training - June 2021 - 46

ADVANCED PILOT ACCIDENT ANALYSIS

FINALLY!
A CARD
FOR PILOTS.

ANYWHERE BUT HERE
BUT ISN'T THAT WHERE THE AIRPLANE IS SUPPOSED TO GO?
BY DAVID JACK KENNY

POP QUIZ: WHAT DO YOU CALL A LONG,

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narrow structure that repels airplanes?
If you answered " a runway, " you're
uncomfortably close to the mark. While
the vast majority of airport operations
are completed without excitement,
landing accidents remain the single
largest category of fixed-wing misadventures that qualify for the NTSB database
(meaning " substantial " aircraft damage,
serious injuries, or both). More than half
are " excursions, " going off the side or far
end. Airplanes don't always lock onto
the centerline during takeoff attempts,
either, which could lead a reasonable
observer to wonder: Why do the most
basic skills we all supposedly grasped
before flying our first solos so often
prove deficient?
True, sometimes airplanes fail their
pilots rather than vice versa. Some excursions can be traced to brakes that failed or
locked; tires that blew out on touchdown;
or retractable gear downlocks that didn't.
But these are far more the exception than
the rule, typically accounting for less than
15 percent of all unplanned departures
from the pavement. Usually the problem is
that the airplane did exactly what the pilot
commanded, faithfully following control
inputs that were inadequate or incorrect.
Pilots like to blame crosswinds for
lateral deviations, whether or not any
crosswind's actually present. The fact
that most of us were required to show
mastery of at least a five-knot crosswind
component prior to first solo might make
this excuse seem less attractive, but
apparently some find it more embarrassing to admit to inattention than a lack of
basic stick-and-rudder skills. Attempts
to evade culpability have inspired
stories that strain credibility: A South
Texas student taking dual instruction
in a Jabiru light sport aircraft blamed
" a gust " for the airplane's veering left
across the intersecting runway and into
the weeds. Both his instructor and the
airport's weather records cited a steady
46  FLIGHT TRAINING JUNE 2021

USUALLY THE PROBLEM IS
THAT THE AIRPLANE DID
EXACTLY WHAT THE PILOT
COMMANDED, FAITHFULLY
FOLLOWING CONTROL
INPUTS THAT WERE
INADEQUATE OR INCORRECT.
five-knot breeze just 30 degrees off the
runway heading, a crosswind component
of 2.5 knots. In Wisconsin, the pilot of a
Cessna 172 " established a crab angle to
compensate for the wind " -which was
straight down the runway. He also ran
off the left side.
Of course, some piloting deficiencies
reside less in the feet than in the head.
The owner of a Piper Arrow who tried to
touch down in a direct crosswind gusting
to 30 knots-twice that airplane's demonstrated crosswind component-shouldn't
have been surprised at his subsequent
inability to keep it on the asphalt, or the
gear collapse that followed. Likewise,
fast, slippery airplanes tend to be very
sensitive to airspeed control on final.
Any excess knots translate into float
that quickly devours short runways. The
Lancair or Mooney pilot who wants to
put down on a 2,200-foot-long strip had
better have sound reason to be confident
of his or her technique.
Although of course that should be a
prerequisite for any attempt to commit
aviation. If you can't put the airplane
where you want it, it's liable to give the
illusion of having a mind of its own. FT
DAVID JACK KENNY is a freelance aviation writer
living in Frederick, Maryland.


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Flight Training - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - June 2021

Contents
Flight Training - June 2021 - Intro
Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover1
Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover2
Flight Training - June 2021 - Contents
Flight Training - June 2021 - 2
Flight Training - June 2021 - 3
Flight Training - June 2021 - 4
Flight Training - June 2021 - 5
Flight Training - June 2021 - 6
Flight Training - June 2021 - 7
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Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover3
Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover4
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