AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 6

PRESIDENT'S POSITION

The thrill of it

BY MARK BAKER
President and CEO

Don't let spring bring unwanted excitement
HAVE YOU EVER PASSED A HIGHWAY accident and
felt compelled to look? Call it a primal instinct, but
many of us are intrigued by danger. Crashes, sirens,
and flashing lights attract us like moths to a flame.
We see this in many of our favorite sports and
activities-hockey fights rile up the crowd, NASCAR
wrecks add an element of excitement to the race, and
every year, around 1 million spectators flock to Spain
for Running of the Bulls, one of the most dangerous
events in modern (or any) time.
Researchers say that much of the stimulation we
feel toward these activities has to do with our own
fight-or-flight characteristics. Situations we see,
whether in person, in a movie, book, or on the news,
trigger our survival instincts and make us think about
how we would react and handle a potential disaster.
We often think, If that were me, what would I do?

With the onset of spring, many of us are
looking to dust off our wings, get back
into the sky, and meet our buddies for
$100 hamburgers.

AOPA President
MARK BAKER is a
commercial pilot
with single- and
multiengine land
and seaplane
ratings and a
rotorcraft rating.

6 | AOPA PILOT April 2021

Take AOPA's Air Safety Institute's long-running
and invaluable series Accident Case Studies-an indepth analysis that dissects fatal aircraft crashes and
the events leading up to them. The Accident Case
Studies videos are some of the most popular, albeit
sobering, content from ASI that teach us the lessons
learned from others' mistakes.
While flying, like virtually any other pursuit, has
its risks, the accidents featured in ASI's safety videos
represent the relatively few flights that went wrong.
And while the videos are tragic, they remind us that
we are not invincible. Things can quickly escalate in
the cockpit and we must be proactive in our decision
making as anything can go awry-from system failures to miscommunications, and especially weather
changes.
With the onset of spring, many of us are looking
to dust off our wings, get back into the sky, and meet

our buddies for $100 hamburgers. If you-or your aircraft-have been grounded during the winter months,
there are many obvious yet often forgotten things to
take into account.
According to the Weather Channel, meteorological spring-the period between March 1 to May 31-is
the most dynamic time for weather with major temperature swings, wind events, and variety of extreme
conditions. While emerging weather tools and new
technology continue to be introduced, pilots need to
have a general understanding of weather conditions,
and act as amateur meteorologists.
As temperatures begin to fluctuate, pilots should
always anticipate the possibility of fog. Inadvertent
flight into instrument conditions is one of the most
common aviation accident occurrences, accounting
for more than 25 percent of all fatalities in GA flying,
according to AOPA's most recent Nall Report.
While winter isn't conducive to flying for every
GA pilot, we should still strive to stay current, even if
that means brushing up on our skills on a simulator
or through ground school. As it turns out, even professional pilots have reported feeling rusty following
long leaves of absences during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, many have reported making minor
mistakes such as forgetting to turn on anti-ice systems, failing to obtain landing clearances, and even
incorrectly programing flight management systems.
The best thing we can do to stay sharp is to fly
often. However, that doesn't mean getting complacent. Just because we've made a flight a million
times doesn't mean it will always go smoothly.
We have to ensure we abide by our own personal
limitations.
As we've seen many times over, an aviation
disaster is often the result of a chain of bad decisions that begins with a simple mistake. With
spring approaching, there's no doubt many of us are
beginning to get back in the air, so let's not forget to
do our homework. Flight plan, anticipate weather
changes, and never be afraid to ask for help. We
all fly to feed a passion, but none of us wants to be
another statistic or featured in the next case study.
Let's keep proving to the world we can and have
made aviation safer.
AOPA
EMAIL mark@aopa.org



AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 7
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover4
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