Monday, February 27, 2006

Goal #3

Goal #3 this year was quite simple: Take an aerial tour of the San Francisco area with John, our resident freight dog. The endless sands of time being what they are, the IFR Pilot departs Cleveland on Wednesday for the Left Coast. Saturday morning requires a BART trip, and a graciously-offered ride from John, to get to KOAK.

Right now, the plan is pretty loose, depending largely on the weather. If it's good, I'm hoping for a jaunt to KMRY and KHAF, and perhaps some approaches. In fact, looking at the logbook shows that the IFR Pilot hasn't done a hold in almost 6 months, so it might be a good idea to throw a couple of those into our plan.

And if it's crummy, well, hopefully it won't be completely crummy, and we can just go shoot some approaches. Maybe the aerial tour becomes an instrument proficiency check. (Or even a BFR -- mine expires in July...)

No matter how you slice it, it's gonna be fun!

Will my fellow passengers on Continental think I'm totally whacked if my reading material consists of the SFO TAC, sectional, and nearby approach plates???

Friday, February 24, 2006

Accidents of the Week

This week, we review two separate gear-up accidents. In one, the pilot spent so much time troubleshooting that he appears to have run out of fuel, necessitating his making an emergency, gear-upl, off-airport landing. Note that he had trouble with the gear retracting on takeoff, diverted, landed without incident, had an A&P examine the gear, and then continued on after the A&P could not discern any mechanical issues. It will be interesting to see what NTSB determines as the probable cause of this accident.

The other gear-up occured after the pilot performed an ILS in actual IFR conditions and went missed, and circled the airport until making a wheels-up landing.

Fortunately, neither of the pilots were seriously injured.

NTSB Identification: LAX06LA114
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 13, 2006 in Rancho Murieta, CA
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-260, registration: N9212P
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On February 13, 2006, at 1901 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-24-260, N9212P, landed short of runway 22 at Rancho Murieta Airport (RIU), Rancho Murieta, California. The pilot/owner operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country personal flight, which originated from the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS), Colorado Springs, Colorado, at an undetermined time, and no flight plan had been filed. The pilot made an unplanned diversion to Blake Field Airport (1V9), Delta, Colorado. The flight then departed 1V9, and was destined for Rancho Murieta. A flight plan had not been filed for the cross-country flight.

According to the pilot, he left COS earlier in the day for the flight to Rancho Murieta. After takeoff, he was unable to retract the airplane's landing gear. He diverted to 1V9 to have the landing gear inspected. A mechanic at Blake airport placed the airplane on jacks, and inspected and functionally checked the landing gear. No mechanical anomalies were noted. The pilot refueled the airplane and continued his flight to Rancho Murieta. The airplane carried 5.5 hours of fuel. He stated that the flight took approximately 4 hours and that he encountered a headwind during the flight. When he arrived at Rancho Murieta it was still light outside; he lowered the landing gear handle and did not receive a down and locked indication inside the cockpit. He reported that another airplane in the airport environment, as well as rescue people on the ground, were aiding him with visual confirmation of the landing gear condition and suggestions on how to get the landing gear down. The pilot reported that he tried to manually lower the landing gear, but it did not fully extend.

The pilot flew around the airport for about 1.5 hours and knew the airplane was getting low on fuel. He stated that it was also dark at this time. The pilot believed that he would not make it to another local area airport (Mather), and decided to make a precautionary landing due to the low fuel state. The airplane landed short of the runway. The main landing gear collapsed, and the nose landing gear was sheared off the landing gear strut.

According to first responders, after it got dark they found the electrical box for the airport lighting. However, they were not able to turn the lights on prior to the accident.

NTSB Identification: DEN06LA041
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 17, 2006 in Greeley, CO
Aircraft: Piper PA-30, registration: N7743Y
Injuries: 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On February 17, 2006, approximately 1410 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-30, N7743Y, piloted by an airline transport pilot, sustained substantial damage during a wheels up landing at the Greeley-Weld County Airport (GXY), Greeley, Colorado. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal cross-country flight from Sioux City, Iowa, to GXY was operating on an instrument flight rules flight plan under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot, the sole person on board the airplane, sustained minor injuries.

The pilot was cleared for the ILS approach to runway 34 (10,000 feet by 100 feet, dy asphalt) and instructed to contact Greeley UNICOM. The pilot performed a missed approach, contacted Denver Approach Control and informed them that he went missed approach for a "no gear indication." The airplane subsequently circled over the airport in an attempt to get the landing gear to come down. Finally, the pilot performed a wheels up landing on runway 34. During the landing, the airplane's right wing struck a runway sign.

The pilot reported that the airplane made a strange sound during flight. After that, the gear would not extend.

The airplane sustained skin scrapes to the nose gear doors and the bottom fuselage. Both propellers' blades were curled and showed chordwise scratches. The right outboard wing bottom skin showed a triangular-shaped tear, located approximately 3 feet outboard of the right engine nacelle. The tear was approximately 1-foot long, chordwise, and 4-5 inches wide. It began just below the leading edge and ran aft. Several stringers were broken and bent aft in the area of the tear. Flight control continuity was confirmed.

A witness that recovered the airplane following the accident reported that the airframe was covered with ice that measured approximately 3/4 inch thick.

At 1355, the weather at GXY was reported as ceilings 400 broken, 5,500 broken, 7,500 overcast, 1-1/2 mile visibility, temperature 1 degree Fahrenheit (F), dew point -2 degrees F, winds 040 at 16 knots, and altimeter 30.32 inches.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Commercial Pilot Flight Experience Requirements

FAR 61.129 sets out the flight experience requirements for an applicant for a commercial pilot certificate, airplane, single-engine land (CP-ASEL). To make sure that the IFR Pilot doesn't miss anything, this will be an occasionally-updated posting in which milestones can be tracked and their completion noted. So, it's probably of not much interest to anyone but me. Since it's My Flying Blog, however, I can put whatever I want here, whether you like it or not.... If it's bold, it's done.

Current as of 5/28/2006:
  • At least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:
    • 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes
    • 100 hours as pilot in command flight time, which includes at least:
      • 50 hours in airplanes
      • 50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes

  • 20 hours of training in the areas of operation listed below, including at least:
    • 10 hours of instrument training of which at least 5 hours must be in a single-engine airplane
    • 10 hours of training in an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and controllable pitch propeller, or is turbine-powered
      • One cross-country flight of at least 2 hours in a single-engine airplane in day-VFR conditions, consisting of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 NM from the original point of departure
      • One cross-country flight of at least 2 hours in a single-engine airplane in night-VFR conditions, consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 100 NM from the original point of departure
      • 3 hours in a single-engine airplane in preparation for the practical test within the 60 days preceding the test

    • 10 hours of solo flight in a single-engine airplane training in the areas of operation required for a single-engine rating, which includes at least:
      • One cross-country flight of not less than 300 NM total distance, with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 NM from the original departure point
      • 5 hours in night-VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower
        • Current total night solo hours: 2.5 hours
          • 1/26/06 - .4 hours
          • 3/29/06 - .7 hours
          • 4/10/06 - 1.4 hours
        • Current total night solo takeoffs and landings at controlled airport: 9
          • 3/29/06 - 3 takeoffs and landings at CAK
          • 4/10/05 - 3 takeoffs and landings at MFD and 3 at CAK
    None of these requirements really bother me, except for the cross-country requirements. Having flown to Alaska and back last year, 60 some-hours, almost all of which was VFR, I think it's pretty apparent that I can navigate my way in an airplane. That trip was thousands of miles; what more am I going to learn by flying 100 NM with a CFI, or 300 NM by myself?

    But here's a question: To satisfy the 300NM solo trip, let's say on day 1 I fly solo from the home base to KWST. That's well more than the 250 NM. Then, on day 2, I fly solo from KWST to another airport to make a pit stop. After that, I head back to the home base. Does this qualify as landings at a minimum of three points? Or does the regulation mean three points, not including the point of origin?

    In any event, the IFR Pilot doesn't argue with the FAA (except when representing clients in FAA enforcement actions -- yes, that was in fact a cheap, shameless plug to try and get you to use your AOPA Legal Services Plan benefit with me). I'll just plan a couple of $100 hamburger runs when the weather turns more predictable here in Ohio.

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Note to Self...

    When you make an Angel Flight -- or any other flight, for that matter -- please remember to bring your wallet.

    Why, you ask?

    , if you get ramp checked, you'll actually have the required "government-issued photo identification." Sure, you've always got your Angel Flight badge, which you keep in the flight bag, but the FAA isn't likely to accept that.


    (Fortunately, you remembered about that unused Visa you keep stowed in the logbook for the dreaded "emergency repair" while you're out and about. Remember, it doesn't do you any good to make contingency plans IF YOU FORGET ABOUT THEM!!!!)

    40% of goal number four, accomplished. 4.3 hours in the logbook. Better than going to the office on President's Day....

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Accident of the Week

    This week, we encounter a genuine mystery. Read for yourself:
    NTSB Identification: ATL06FA045
    Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
    Accident occurred Wednesday, February 08, 2006 in Paris, TN
    Aircraft: Swearingen SA-226-TC, registration: N629EK
    Injuries: 1 Fatal.

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    On February 8, 2006, at 1210 central standard time, a Swearingen SA-226-TC, N629EK, registered to and operated by Tri-Coastal Airlines, Incorporated, as a Title 14 CFR Part 135 cargo flight, from Dayton, Ohio to Harlingen, Texas, collided with the ground in a nose down, near vertical attitude, near Paris, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The airline transport-rated pilot received fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The flight originated from Dayton, the same day at 1048.

    Recorded communications between air traffic controllers at the FAA, Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center, and the pilot of N629EK show that while in cruise flight at 16,000 feet, the pilot requested and was cleared to make a 360-degree turn to the left. Shortly after this, the pilot requested a 360-degree turn to the right. The pilot then requested radar vectors to the closest airport. Controllers gave the pilot a vector to the closest airport and asked if he had an emergency. The pilot reported he had an asymmetric fuel condition. The pilot then asked for a lower altitude. Controllers cleared the flight to 4,000 feet. About a minute later the pilot transmitted "Mayday" six times and shortly after this radar and radio contact with the flight was lost.

    According to witnesses, the airplane was heard and then seen descending at a high rate of speed in a near vertical attitude and then collided with the ground and explode. Witnesses stated that the airplane sounded like a racing motorcycle going at a high rate of speed. Witnesses stated that after the crash they telephoned local authorities to report the accident.

    Examination of the accident site found the airplane next to a pasture in a heavily wooded area. The airplane was observed in a crater approximately 15 feet deep, 40 feet long and 23 feet wide. The debris field extended about 375 feet forward of the crater, and about 100 feet in all other directions. Small pieces of airplane skin and a few propeller blades were observed in the debris field surrounding the crater.

    This plane seemed like a real beauty, and the crash seems so very sudden. Not knowing much about the aircraft or its systems, it's nevertheless quite hard to fathom how a fuel imbalance could result in a such a catastrophe -- what seems to have been a near-vertical dive from 16,000 feet. The results of the crash seem so violent, it's hard to imagine that NTSB will find any pieces large enough to run any kind of meaningful tests. A local sheriff's deputy was quoted as saying, "If you didn't know it was an airplane, you would be able to tell." Ouch.

    This article
    from the local paper where the plane took off reports that the accident was fourth fatal accident since 2002 involving TriCoastal Airline or its sister operation, Grand Aire. That's an impressively horrible accident rate. From that same article, here's a summary of the other three fatal accidents, plus another that, thankfully, didn't kill anyone (although ditching a plane in the Mississippi River sure seems like a recipie for more fatalities):
    • On July 18, 2002, a Piper PA-60 landing in heavy fog at 3:45 a.m. crashed in a grassy area near a runway at Columbus, Ind., killing the pilot. An NTSB investigation blamed the crash on pilot error and fatigue. (NTSB final report)

    • On April 8, 2003, three Grand Aire pilots, including the company's chief pilot, died when a plane on a training flight from Traverse City, Mich., crashed west of Toledo Express. The safety board ruled that a failure by the chief pilot to properly oversee the training flight caused the crash. (NTSB final report)

    • Also on April 8, 2003, the two men aboard a Grand Aire flight from Del Rio, Texas, to St. Louis were injured when their plane ran out of fuel and ditched in the Mississippi River. (NTSB final report)

    • On Nov. 30, 2004, Grand Aire President Tahir Cheema and a co-pilot were killed when a 35-year-old Hansa jet they were flying from Missouri to Toledo on a special "ferry" permit crashed shortly after takeoff from Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Mo. An NTSB investigation into the cause of that crash remains open. (NTSB incident report)

    It wouldn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to see TriCoastal/Grand Aire losing its Part 135 license.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Accidents of the Week

    This was not a good week to be flying a Cirrus. There were two reported accidents involving Cirri, both in SR-22s, and both involving IMC. In one case, the parachute was clearly not deployed; in the other, deployment is unknown as the wreckage and those onboard have not been located.
    NTSB Identification: MIA06LA050
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Saturday, February 04, 2006 in Stuart, FL
    Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR-22, registration: N667WP
    Injuries: 3 Fatal.

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    On February 04, 2006, about 1600 eastern standard time, a Cirrus SR-22, N667WP, registered to Aircraft Guaranty Management & Trust, LLC, Trustee and operated by a private individual, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed into the ocean near Stuart, Florida. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight from Stuart, Florida to St. Augustine, Florida. The private/instrument-rated pilot and two passengers have not been located and presumed to have received fatal injuries, and the airplane is presumed to be destroyed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident..

    Shortly after takeoff, the Witham Field Air Traffic Control Tower controller instructed the flight crew to contact the FAA Palm Beach Approach. Communication and radar contact was established by Palm Beach Approach. Moments later one of the persons on board the accident airplane informed the controller that they were having instrument problems and requested to return to Stuart. The controller cleared the flight to return to the airport; and an acknowledgement was not received. The last radar contact was at 16:00:23 when the flight was located at latitude 27 degrees, 12 minutes, and 16.15 seconds north, and longitude at 080 degrees, 8 minutes, and 00.32 seconds west, at 1,900 feet.
    NTSB Identification: CHI06LA078
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Monday, February 06, 2006 in Wagner, SD
    Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR22, registration: N751CD
    Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    On February 6, 2006, about 1324 central standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, N751SD, piloted by an instrument rated private pilot, sustained substantial damage on impact with terrain following an in-flight loss of control during climb in instrument meteorological conditions near Wagner, South Dakota. The personal flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the surface at the time of the accident. An instrument flight rules flight plan was on file and was activated. The pilot and passenger reported no injuries. The flight originated from the Wagner Municipal Airport, near Wagner, South Dakota, about 1315, and was en route to the Schaumburg Regional Airport, near Schaumburg, Illinois.

    Much has been written about Cirrus airplanes. They appear to be some of the nicest available. A number of aviation safety authors far more knowledgeable than the IFR Pilot have speculated that low-time, relatively inexperienced pilots who have significant disposable income are scooping up well-eqipped Cirri and flying them into conditions for which they are not prepared to cope, beleiving that the technical wizardry of the airplane, combined with the BRS parachute, will deliver them from all evils. I don't know if this hypothesis is valid, but at times it sure does seem to have some validity. Perhaps the probable cause findings from these accidents will provide some detail about the experience level of the pilots.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Home Safe

    JP reports that he was able to bring 78S home safely today before the winter weather returned. We had a 12 hour break...

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    One Plane, No Train, One Automobile*

    It all started with an innocuous e-mail from Angel Flight yesterday morning -- Could anyone fly a 9 year old boy with Microtia Atresia from YNG to N94. A quick check of the work calendar demonstrated that the IFR Pilot could play hooky from work and do a good deed. JP was quickly drafted to co-pilot since the boy, his mom, and their luggage was less than 250 pounds.

    After conferring with the linking pilot, who would be dropping the passengers at their final destination of TEB, we switched from N94 to CXY. N94 only has two instrument approaches, a NDB and a VOR, and neither of them are GPS overlays. Call me crazy, but at this time of year, I want lots of options. CXY, with MDT just on the other side of the river, provided the perfect alternate. No worry about the added fuel price, we'll just fill the aux tanks at the home base (at $2.76 a gallon for 100LL), and we're good for 6 hours or more of flying time.

    Hiccup number one of the day: The home base pilot shop was fresh out of approach plates for Pennsylvania. We had the CXY plates, printed out from AOPA, but that's not enough. OK, no problem, they're certain to have them at YNG. After all, it's hardly a stone's throw from the PA border.

    We launched around 9:15. Condition were good VFR for the first part of the trip. Soon, though, the clouds couldn't be dodged, and we picked up an IFR clearance the IFR Pilot had filed earlier that morning "just in case." ATC hardly batted an eye. Just gave us a new squawk and we kept on going.

    Handed off the YNG Approach, we were given a vector for an expected visual arrival. Hmmmmm. That would be great if we could get it, but there sure are a lot of clouds out here. Not two minutes later, Approach changes our vector and tells us to expect the ILS 32, as weather is worsening.

    Turned in pretty close to the marker to expedite the approach, the IFR Pilot got a bit behind when he didn't start turning or descending quickly enough. Quickly correcting and descending, we were out of the clag and JP spotted the airport just after we confirmed that the lights were on. A smooth landing ensued.

    We taxied to the FBO, only to find that they too were sans Pennsylvania approach plates. Having taken my instrument checkride at YNG a few years ago, I recall that there's a flight school there. A phone call determines that they are in possession of the treasured approach plates. While the IFR Pilot let the pretty blonde drive him over, JP briefed the passengers and loaded the baggage. (Hey, them's the perks of being the senior pilot!!!!!)

    After checking that bathroom needs have been satisfied, we loaded up and blasted off for the 1.5 hour flight. We started at 6000, but that had us smack dad in the clag. Not a good place to be with a Airmet Zulu for moderate rime icing. So up we went to 8000. Hmm, no help there either. How about 10,0000? Perfect. Bright blue sky and piercing sunlight. Fire up the XM Radio, it's an easy cruise now to CXY, which is reporting clear below 12,000. Love it when a plan comes together. See for yourself:

    We're maybe thirty minutes from CXY when the Mom peeps up and announces that she has to go the bathroom. From the tone of her voice, it sounds as if a request to "hold it" will be overruled. Checking the NRST function on the beloved Garmin 430, we're 15 miles from PSB, which has an ILS. That'll have to do. We advise NY Center that we have to divert for "environmental needs," my patented line so that the whole sector doesn't have to be told "Someone in 78S has to go potty!"

    Down we go back into the clag. It's a quick trip, though, and we're on top of PSB in a matter of minutes. JP looks for the windsock but has trouble finding it. We're lined up for 34, but way, way high. Whatever, the runway's long, let's just circle to 16 and land with a tailwind. No one else appears to be around.....

    On the ground, our assessment proves 100% spot-on. There's no one around, and I do mean no one. No line boy. No FBO staffers. No airport employees. In point of fact, the entire airport building is locked tight. Uh oh, methinks we diverted to the wrong airport. Momma can't hold it any more, and so makes the executive decision to attend to her environmental needs on the side of the airport building. Did I mention it was rather cold and windy?!?!?!?

    Next problem, the cell phone won't grab a signal. There's no RCO on the field. It's starting to snow pretty good and the ceiling doesn't look like it will permit a safe VFR departure. Now what?

    After a bit more exploring, we locate the telephone. An IFR flight plan gets filed, and then there's an interminable wait for a void clearance. Eventually we get it, do our run up, and blast off for the 30 minute jaunt to CXY. The descent and landing prove to be non-events, we hand the passengers off to the linking pilot, and we stuff our faces at Subway.

    Properly fortified, JP and the IFR Pilot switch places so that JP can continue amassing hours. We're in the clag through 8000. JP does a fine job in and out of time, but after about a half hour or so, we're starting to get some very, very light rime. The IFR Pilot makes the executive decision that flying in the tops is not such a swell idea, and we ask for and get 10,000.

    Wonderful, this is proving to be pretty uneventful. The IFR Pilot ponders taking a nap, but (1) that would be rude, (2) it's pretty cold in the non-so-airtight 1964 Cessna 172, and (3) I can only find one of my gloves. So I amuse myself by plotting our location on the sectional and getting some updated weather from Flight Watch.

    Which is when things start getting interesting. Flight Watch tells us that conditions in the area of home base are much, much worse than when we left. Visibilities between one and four miles. Scattered clouds at 1600, broken 2000, overcast 2400. Snow. OK, time to sit up and pay attention.

    JP and I formulate a plan of attack. Since the home base has no approaches, we'll go to the one two miles east that has a GPS. We'll try that one time, and one time only, after which it's off to the alternate and the ILS.

    More time passes. We cross the border into Ohio. The IFR Pilot starts checking all the various AWOS's in the area. Holy moly Batman. Phrases like "Runway visual range." "Heavy snow." "Freezing fog." Egads. Handed off the CAK Approach, we're told they are IMC.

    We decide to divert back to YNG, which is 20 miles north of us. It's broken below us so, we can see plenty of the ground, so we figure this is a good choice. Handed off to YNG Approach, we're told ceiling is 500 feet, visibility 1/4 mile, heavy snow.

    What the heck?!?!? I can see the ground below me. On the 430, JP spots a airport literally right below us. 38D, Salem Airpark. Hey, I've been there. Just remember not to confuse the airport with the dragstrip located right nearby! We advise YNG we're diverting and landing immediately at 38D. As we start descending, we get some gruff from them about being on an instrument clearance with an assigned altitude. I use my authoritative lawyer voice and advise we're canceling IFR and landing immediately due to the weather.

    JP makes a nice approach and we're on the ground a couple minutes later. It's actually pretty clear in the immediate vicinity of the airport, but jeez, to the north, south, east, and west are ominous clouds. Good choice, JP, to put us on the ground forthwith!

    We wait it out for a bit, chatting with the folks that run the airport. It's a family that just purchased it last June. They've got an ambitious plan to add more hangars, a restaurant, and an ice cream store. Guess what destination has just been added to our summer dining itinerary?

    It comes to pass that the weather isn't. There's talk of us staying the night, but JP and the IFR Pilot want to sleep in their own beds tonight. So one of the boys offers us his Jeep Cherokee to drive home. He tells us it's pretty cold and not the smoothest of rides, but we snap up the offer like there's no tomorrow. It's a fair trade -- our plane is definitely worth more than this car (though at least it has an XM radio, which makes the trip home a bit more tolerable).

    So, we wheel 78S into the lone available hangar, throw our belongings into the Cherokee, and set off for the hour drive home. Along the way, we pass through torrid snow squalls, some so bad that it's tough to see the tops of some cell phone towers. The snow looks wet and sticky, and visibility on the road isn't too swell. But, we make it home safe and sound.

    JP now gets to drive back tomorrow and exchange Cherokee for Skyhawk and bring 78S home to the home base.

    But, we extend our most profound thanks to Mike and Brenda Pidgeon and their kids, proprietors of Salem Airpark. They hope to have the restaurant open in September, and they're pretty reasonable on fuel. If your in the neighborhood, please throw some of your business their way. (The IFR Pilot bought a Salem Airpark tee-shirt; JP, being the big spender, scooped up a Salem Airpark baseball hat.) These are the kind of people that make aviation special. We all need to support them. I know they'll appreciate it. We certainly did.

    And, with that, 20% of Goal #4 has been achieved.

    (With apologies to Steve Martin and John Candy...)

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Training Podcasts

    A recent e-mail asked the IFR Pilot if he knew of any podcasts related to aviation training.

    The answer is no, I haven't seen any -- though I think it's a great idea.

    The closest that I have seen is an on-line ground school. You can check it out here:

    Y'all have a nice weekend!

    [Edit: I've seen a number of different aviation-related podcasts, just not anything that focuses specifically on training issues. But 's link to sure seems to hit the nail on the head! Thanks John -- only a month until we do that Bay Area flight...]

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Accident of the Week

    OK, so last week's Accident of the Week just got posted last night. Nevertheless, here's this week's report. It involves a Cirrus accident that occurred following an unusual training maneuver. See for yourself:

    NTSB Identification: LAX06FA087
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Monday, January 09, 2006 in Lancaster, CA
    Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR20, registration: N526CD
    Injuries: 2 Fatal.

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    On January 9, 2006, at 1343 Pacific standard time, a Cirrus SR20, N526CD, impacted terrain while attempting to return to the runway following a simulated engine failure at General William J. Fox Airfield (WJF), Lancaster, California. Gene Hudson Flight Training was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The certified flight instructor (CFI) pilot and the private pilot undergoing instruction (PUI) sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. The local instructional flight departed Van Nuys, California, about 1250. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The approximate global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the primary wreckage were 34 degrees 45.048 minutes north latitude and 118 degrees 11.738 minutes west longitude.

    The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) interviewed the air traffic controllers who were on duty at the time of the accident. The controllers reported that the Cirrus reported inbound to WJF from the south and requested to do multiple touch-and-go landings. The Cirrus was cleared into the pattern and advised to use runway 6. After the Cirrus had completed a number of touch-and-go landings, the pilot requested to make a low approach to runway 6, and on climb out, simulate an engine failure, execute a teardrop maneuver, and land using runway 24. The tower advised that the winds were 060 degrees and 9 knots gusting to 15. The pilot acknowledged the wind report, and was cleared for the requested maneuver.

    The controllers observed the Cirrus make the low approach to runway 6. At the departure end of the runway, the Cirrus made a slight right turn, followed by a sweeping left turn. The controllers said the Cirrus lost a significant amount of altitude before aborting the landing. The pilot then executed a go-around and the airplane flew north of the runway and parallel. The pilot requested to "try that again" and the tower controller advised the Cirrus that the winds were 060 degrees and 10 knots.

    The controller observed the Cirrus make the low approach to runway 6; on the upwind leg, the airplane made a slight right turn followed by a sweeping left turn. The controller did not see the airplane impact the ground as a pillar in the control tower momentarily blocked the controller's view of the airplane.

    Witnesses on the ground, just south of the accident site, observed the airplane make a left turn and then "spin into the ground."

    The closest official weather observation station was General William J. Fox Airfield (WJF), which was located 1.5 nautical miles (nm) southwest of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 2,348 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for WJF was issued at 1356. It stated: winds from 070 degrees at 12 knots; visibility 10 miles; skies clear; temperature 15 degrees Celsius; dew point -04 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.29 inHg.

    Investigators from the Safety Board, the FAA, Cirrus Design, Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM), and BRS Parachutes examined the wreckage at the accident scene.

    The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a ground scar. The ground scar was about 35 feet long and along a magnetic heading of 110 degrees. The red navigation lens was found intact adjacent to the FIPC. The debris path was along a magnetic heading of 100 degrees.

    The orientation of the engine was 020 degrees.

    All components of the airplane were found in the immediate area of the wreckage site. The airplane was recovered for further examination.
    It will be very interesting to see what the NTSB determines as the probable cause of this accident. The second time around there is no indication of how high or low the aircraft was, unlike the first time where there was an observation that the aircraft "lost a significant amount of altitude."

    Flight instructors: Do you ever instruct a maneuver such as the one going on here? Is it anything other than than simulating engine failure on takeoff followed by a return to the airport?

    Accident of the Week

    Once again, there hasn't been much in the way of recent accidents to write about. We consider that a good thing, here.

    This one, however, just appeared. For A&Ps, it's a reminder that jet engines are quite dangerous and must be respected. Piston drivers, remember that if you've got someone near your prop, be extra careful with what you are doing...

    NTSB Identification: DFW06FA056
    Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Continental Airlines (D.B.A. operation of Continental Airlines)
    Accident occurred Monday, January 16, 2006 in El Paso, TX
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-500, registration: N32626
    Injuries: 1 Fatal, 119 Uninjured.

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    On January 16, 2006 at 0905 mountain standard time, Continental Airlines flight 1515, a Boeing 737-524 airplane, N32626, was preparing for departure from El Paso International Airport (ELP), El Paso Texas when a mechanic was fatally injured while performing a maintenance trouble shooting procedure for a suspected engine oil leak on the number 2 engine. The aircraft was being operated as a scheduled domestic passenger flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121. The flight was scheduled to depart at 0910 with a destination of George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH), Houston, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time, and an instrument flight plan was on file for the flight. The 5 crew members and 114 passengers were not injured.

    During a walk around inspection conducted by the First Officer, a puddle of fluid was noticed on the tarmac under the number 2 engine. The First Officer met the Captain and brought it to his attention. Both the Captain and the First Officer went to the number 2 engine and agreed that it appeared to be an oil leak. The Captain notified El Paso operations from the cockpit to request authorization for contract maintenance to check for problems on the engine.

    At approximately 0845, El Paso operations contacted Continental maintenance control and was advised to have the contract maintenance personnel investigate the Captain's report. Three mechanics arrived and began to investigate the oil leak. Both sides of the engine fan cowl panels were opened to conduct the checks. The mechanics made a request to the Captain for an engine run to check for the leak source since they determined that the leak appeared not to be a static leak.

    One mechanic positioned himself on the inboard side of the number 2 engine and the other mechanic on the outboard side of the engine. The third mechanic was positioned clear of the engine and the inlet hazard area observing the procedure as part of his on the job training. The engine was started and stabilized at idle RPM for approximately 3 minutes while the initial leak check was performed. One mechanic then called the Captain on the ground intercom and requested a run to 70 percent power for additional checks.

    Approximately 1 and 1/2 minutes after reaching the requested RPM setting the Captain reported sensing a slight buffeting that rapidly increased in intensity followed by a compressor stall. At that time the Captain immediately retarded the throttle back to the idle position. The First Officer stated to the Captain that something went into the engine and immediately cut off the start lever ending the engine run. The mechanic on the outboard side of the engine had stood up and stepped in to the inlet hazard zone.