"The Scary Skies," or "A Tale of Two Idiots"

DrBenny

New Member
\"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

I really felt I had to post this. Hearing this story almost made me want to quit (or get a high-end TCAS). Recently I had the opportunity to hear an experience a friend of mine had with a couple of Instrument pilots. I was heartened and dismayed at the same time.

Apparently these two pilots both had around 500 hours, and had gotten their IRs a couple of years back at a well-known local flight school which generally had a very good reputation.

Now, recently I have been feeling a bit down because I am seeing my hours rise above the 100 mark, and I still don't have the Private. Yes, yes, I know--I'm a late bloomer with scheduling problems. And I am coming along quite nicely. But sometimes these reassurances just sound like "blah, blah, blah." This story made me feel a lot better about my progress, but also scared all sorts of fluids out of me.

Let's talk about safety. These guys didn't use checklists for ANY phase of the flight--not for preflight, not for the startup, not for prelanding--NOTHING. "We don't need them--they're memorized." Right. At 500 hours, they were still missing critical items such as forgetting to turn on the transponder.

Now let's talk about radio procedures. I train at a Class B, so I am reasonably professional with this aspect (and it probably cost me 10 hours right there!). Now remember that these guys are instrument rated, so they should at least be able to communicate. Coming into BWI, apparently their callups were hesitant and lacking in really important information. The controller had to keep asking them questions until he got what he needed. This is BWI, folks--Class B and surrounded by the ADIZ. Didja always wonder what those spiffy Air-Force jets look like in flight?

Now let's talk about judgement. First bad call, in my opinion, was the decision to launch into a snow squall . It took some convincing from my friend (who also has his IR) to get them to wait it out. Thank goodness BWI made them wait for a release. Even after the wait, there was a turbulent ride over to BWI.

Second bad call was the decision to fly at Vy all the way to cruise. Now I realize that it may be advisable to do so at times, but let me tell you there were two big fat reasons not to do so in this case: 1) There was very little in the way of a forward view, unless you like to examine the bug splats on your cowling in the climb, and 2) the engine temps were climbing to critically high levels.

It seemed, thank goodness, that the pilots were at least competent in handling the landings.

Let's see, now: no procedures, bad judgement, poor communications skills? How did these guys get the IRs? I lost a lot of respect I had for this flight school. Hopefully, these were just a couple of guys who squeezed through the cracks, and not representative of the general pilot population. For my friend it was a "never again." For me it was, "tell me their names so I can avoid flying with them."
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

Dr. Benny,
Much like the school kids who always cheat and somehow end up with better grades than you, sometimes it's best to just be satsified in the knowledge that YOU always follow the correct procedures. Not that it makes it ok, and not to sound too pessimestic, but what else can ya do? Getting discouraged won't help you; however proactively holding yourself to a higher standard and using the story as one of what NOT to do will help.

Also, some of the things you heard must be taken with a grain of salt. You said it was a flight school's plane(s)? Perhaps they have a lot of time in them, and are used to climbing at Vy with no problems. 'Close' to criticial engine temperatures is not the same as cirtical engine temperatures. I'm not sure why forward visibility is an issue if they took off into IMC, and if they did it's always a good idea to get away from terrain as fast as possible (i.e. climb at Vy unless there's a great reason not to). An error like forgetting to turn on the transponder is not good but it's nothing major. The fact is that we are human and can't remember everything all the time. Checklists can definately help prevent this but sometimes menomics are the better choice (taxi into position and hold; or cleared for immediate takeoff is not the best time to be heads down running through the written checklist).

Anyways to wrap this up, it's awesome that you hold yourself to a higher standard than these people, but I'd be reluctant to pass judgement before at least meeting them. However the simple fact is that regardless of these individuals, it's always a good idea to fly defensively and maintain flight safety at all times!
 

DrBenny

New Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

[ QUOTE ]
but I'd be reluctant to pass judgement before at least meeting them

[/ QUOTE ]
Good point.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

So how did everyone find out about this? Was your friend riding in the backseat? Maybe I'm missing something about your story, but who "tattled" on these guys?

Second, what kind of callups were they messing up on with approach? Other than reading back your assigned headings, altitudes, clearnces and changing frequencies there really isn't that anything that complex about instrument radio communications vs. vfr radio, unless they were trying to file an IFR flight plane after they took off or something.

Third, what type of aircraft were they in? I almost always climb at full throttle Vy in the 172. In something with more muscle under the cowling, the procedures call for power reductions and gentler angles of course. I do believe in periodically lowering the nose and/or making shallow turns during the climbout to scan for traffic (assuming VMC).

As an aside, I also believe not using checklists AT ALL is very risky. Even though I'm pretty sure I could do the 172 preflight blindfolded in the dark I still carry that checklist with me when I walk around the plane, making absolutely certain that I check each item. Same goes for most other stages of flight. I sometimes hear pilots being ridiculed for using certain checklists such as the 172's "after landing checklist", which only consists of Retracting the Flaps, Turning off the Transponder, Leaning the Mixture, Turning off the Landing Light, and changing to ground freq. As someone who uses checklists as often as possible, I am somewhat annoyed by the negative attitudes that even some CFI's display towards them. That said, in certain situations there just isn't time for pulling out the checklist, flipping to the right page, and spending a second or two on each step. I don't think I've ever actually tried to look at, much less complete the "takeoff checklist" during the takeoff roll.
 

DrBenny

New Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

[ QUOTE ]
This wouldnt have been on Monday would it??

[/ QUOTE ]

YES!!!
 

DrBenny

New Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

Good questions.
[ QUOTE ]
So how did everyone find out about this?

[/ QUOTE ]
My friend told me about an hour after the flight, at the airport.
[ QUOTE ]
Was your friend riding in the backseat?

[/ QUOTE ]
Yes.
[ QUOTE ]
Second, what kind of callups were they messing up on with approach? Other than reading back your assigned headings, altitudes, clearnces and changing frequencies there really isn't that anything that complex about instrument radio communications vs. vfr radio, unless they were trying to file an IFR flight plane after they took off or something.



[/ QUOTE ]
You are correct. I shouldn't have used the word "callup." All I know is that they were sloppy with their radio procedures. But it is true I wasn't there. I do, however, trust my friend's judgement.

[ QUOTE ]
Third, what type of aircraft were they in? I almost always climb at full throttle Vy in the 172. In something with more muscle under the cowling, the procedures call for power reductions and gentler angles of course. I do believe in periodically lowering the nose and/or making shallow turns during the climbout to scan for traffic (assuming VMC).


[/ QUOTE ]
They were in either a Seminole or Seneca. Vy is much more reasonable for a 172. And I do climb at full throttle to cruise (but I switch to cruise climb at full throttle at 1,000). But it is true that Vy in a 172 is not so dramatic (deck angle).
[ QUOTE ]
As an aside, I also believe not using checklists AT ALL is very risky. Even though I'm pretty sure I could do the 172 preflight blindfolded in the dark I still carry that checklist with me when I walk around the plane, making absolutely certain that I check each item. Same goes for most other stages of flight. I sometimes hear pilots being ridiculed for using certain checklists such as the 172's "after landing checklist", which only consists of Retracting the Flaps, Turning off the Transponder, Leaning the Mixture, Turning off the Landing Light, and changing to ground freq. As someone who uses checklists as often as possible, I am somewhat annoyed by the negative attitudes that even some CFI's display towards them. That said, in certain situations there just isn't time for pulling out the checklist, flipping to the right page, and spending a second or two on each step. I don't think I've ever actually tried to look at, much less complete the "takeoff checklist" during the takeoff roll.

[/ QUOTE ]

I agree.
 

drumminpilot

Well-Known Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

Wow. Well, all I can say, is don't let this get you down Dr Benny. I have stories accumulated though my minute 300 hours that would make most people not ever want to see an airplane again. From a 200 TT Private multi-instrument rated pilot flying single pilot IFR in a C-441 that he didn't know how to use the autopilot in (eventually killing himself and his wife in it), to an ATP flying a Bonanza from an uncontrolled field, that NEVER, I mean never, did a preflight, never sumped the tanks, etc, took off from the taxiways, turned on course at 50-100 AGL, when he landed, he'd taxi across the grass back to his hangar, etc, etc, etc.... I know a million other stories like that, most of them I actually know/knew the person. I'm sure nearly everybody out there has similar stories, and probably more of them as the TT column gets filled up. As sad as it is, I'm pretty sure everybody knows a dumb and dumber like the guys you referred to. Blunt as it may sound, it will catch up to them. In the mean time, like I said, don't let it get you down. There's always going to be stupid people in every aspect of life.

As for:
[ QUOTE ]
I have been feeling a bit down because I am seeing my hours rise above the 100 mark, and I still don't have the Private

[/ QUOTE ]

Don't worry about that. My former roommate has been working on his private for 13 months FULL TIME, just passed 200 hours TT last week, took his written 3 times, and has failed his checkride 3 times (that I know of), and only has a DUI on his record to show for his time in flight school. If anybody ever needs a reassurance about flying, just ask me how flight training is coming along for my old roommate. It sure helps me when I'm in a rut.
 

zombie5225

New Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

DrBenny. The two that your talking about wouldnt have been from a flight school at Martin State?? I might know the guys your talking about, Im hoping it wasnt them though.
 

DrBenny

New Member
Re: \"The Scary Skies,\" or \"A Tale of Two Idiots\"

[ QUOTE ]
DrBenny. The two that your talking about wouldnt have been from a flight school at Martin State?? I might know the guys your talking about, Im hoping it wasnt them though.


[/ QUOTE ]
Well, I don't want to reveal too much because I don't want to slander them. But I will say that they're not from Martin State.
 
Top