(Opinions expressed are those of the Author, Bob Reser)



Being in a hurry can hurt


Two common emergencies in small aircraft


A discussion of what, who, and how flight training can occur


An attempt to describe the problem


A short discussion of problems in aviation flight control


Continuing the discussion of flight control


A discussion of who is a good pilot


A particular problem of training…read the POH


Suggesting some ways to introduce flight control


Discussion of things that can cause risk taking


Who blogs and what do they have to say


Discussion of where are the Students


Emphasizing the need of knowing positive flight control


A review from Aero-News.com


A few consideration of the aviation industry


Issues that confront the flight training industry


The problem is the condition of the current system


A discussion with professionals on the subject of stalling


A look at those in flight training

AIRCRAFT FLIGHT (describing flight control on one page; double spaced)

A simplified version of how to control an aircraft


Let the airplane fly, you control


What is experience and what are experiences


     A  long list of flight and flight control problems.


      Discussion of Crew-Member place in flight conduct


                         How Manual Control Input is Affected Mentally


"It takes a certain amount of experience to know what we don't know.  When we don't have that experience we pretty much assume that we know everything we need to know. We are not sophisticated enough to see the gaps in our knowledge. We only realize it when it is over and things didn't work out. "-Peggy Noonan"

'Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. "-Douglas Adams"

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure." -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

People who are unsure of their position are more likely to dig in and deny a need for change.
-Susan M. Weinschenk



There is something in the ego of people to want to be at the head of the line, be first when choosing sides, or take the right of way. This behavior carries into aviation where there is often an assumption, often unconsciously, by a pilot that one must hurry, be first in line, or have to make schedule.

Most people are unaware of their behavior in this manner. Of course, it is frustrating to have to wait in a long line of airplanes for clearance to depart. Frustration over any situation takes attention away from the ongoing moving operation…mistakes are made.

Many pilots become frustrated at delays when they are ready to depart, yet in spite of these frustrations, the aircraft never leaves parking until everything is ready and traffic allows it. Most factors causing delay have nothing to do with the pilots and are not controllable in any way by them. It’s just the way things are today.

Mistakes are something you did, and of course, you didn’t intend to do so. You may just be human. The purpose of awareness training is to reduce the potential for mistakes. However, if you make a mistake, it is very important everyone know about it…that’s not a normal people thing. We really don’t like admitting a mistake, but aviation doesn’t allow letting a mistake go. It needs fixing, now!

It is not unusual to find two aircraft approaching an uncontrolled airport, maneuvering to be first into the traffic pattern. Often aircraft make inappropriate pattern entries to expedite their arrival and without careful avoidance can interfere with the expectations of others using standard procedures.

What is the rush? It’s fine to be efficient with flight and flight maneuvering. There are many instances where a more proficient pilot can and will cut into extended traffic and make their landing without causing interference to the other aircraft. However, it can be alarming to an inexperienced pilot to suddenly think he is being cut out…solution, communicate intentions. There is always a reason for another aircraft’s action that you do not know.

Activities occurring on or near the runway whether taxiing or approaching can distract thinking enough to cause deviation. When considering solutions, there needs to be awareness of the huge difference in experience levels there can be in two aircraft in proximity to each other. An assumption must be made that the machine causing a problem may just have its own problem. Don’t worry about it. Fly your own machine and be willing to deviate that little bit. Your actions or proximity are likely part of the problem anyway.

Being in a hurry is a problem existing in any flight and ground maneuvering, often leading to mistakes. Operations must always be considered and purposeful. Development of sterile cockpit procedures is an attempt to reduce distraction from moving operations. However, there has been little discussion of the effect on personalities when operations are interfered or disrupted by outside events.




We spend a lot of time in aviation training discussing what to do, and what not to do with an airplane.

Once making the final decision and starting down the runway for attaining flight, the pilot is committed. With becoming airborne, there being no way to stop in the sky, a flight always continues until landing…

We spend a lot of time training pilots to insure complete pre-flight planning prior to flight.  We talk about the different problems and conditions with which the pilot must make a decision about beginning, continuing, diverting, or aborting their flight.

In spite of all, there are still many in-flight incidents when, things just happen, or though the decision to continue may have become wrong, it was continued…we need to learn how to deal with the conditions encountered with continued flight no matter the reason.

This paper is about two different scenarios of flight continued through changed conditions and/or bad decisions. In the first scenario, the aircraft must land immediately as an emergency landing. The second scenario considers inadvertent flight into IMC with possible resulting loss of control, as spiral or spin to crash.


Loss of Power 

What happens if something goes wrong with the aircraft and you lose power? You look for a place to land. Maybe the flight can continue to an airport, but there are times when it is not possible to continue for a normal safe landing.

The aircraft may not be in a desirable location for landing. Engine failure can occur within seconds after lift-off, or enroute with lots of altitude with which to maneuver. Still, with the loss of power, it is going to land. If unable to fly to a safe landing area, the pilot must quickly plan an approach to a best possible area to make an emergency landing.

An unpowered aircraft continues to fly, gliding with gravity-component thrust. Without engine thrust-component lift, the elevator controls pitch with continual change of angle-of-attack. This means continued descent toward some landing point with whatever altitude there is with which to work while  visually controlling direction and control of descent with configuration change or forward slip.

Initially trim toward Vy and let the aircraft fly. Don’t pull the control wheel too much. There is never any reason to cause a stall. Properly trimmed to this indicated-airspeed allows normal safe flight control while attention may be diverted to the required decision making. The aircraft continues flying as long as there is any altitude at all. The incident requiring immediate landing has occurred but the reduced-power descending flight control continues to touchdown.

With normal control always available, fly a stabilized short or soft field visually directed-course approach to touchdown. Maneuver to place the chosen landing spot as a visual directed-course, centered low and unmoving in the windshield. It may be, you initially are only high enough for a roundout or flare, but the emergency landing does not happen until touchdown, so fly those few seconds with continued normal control toward the obvious area.

The landing approach must be controlled visually to assure touchdown will be near the beginning of the chosen site. At the same time, it is desirable to touchdown at minimum indicated-airspeed. Though initially Vy was flown, once the field can be made, maximum endurance indicated-airspeed (10-15 knots slower than Vy) can be used and short-field or soft-field landing procedures used.

Slower approach indicated-airspeed allows adjusting the approach as necessary to maintain the runway visually unmoving to assure the desired touchdown spot. Mentally it is hard to not want to be a little high and/or a little fast. Being slower allows descending back to Vy for extending the glide even into ground effect. If high, configuration and/or forward slip can be used to increase descent.

Aircraft stall is a condition of controlling the aircraft by deliberately holding aft elevator input causing the aircraft to exceed the wing critical angle of attack. Many approaches to emergency landings into rough terrain result in stalling just prior to touchdown. Pilots cause aircraft stall by holding the elevator control back! There is no other way to cause stall. The pilot stalls the aircraft!

It is difficult to want to continue flight into obvious hazardous conditions. Pilots who are not taught, or do not learn to trim the elevator for continuous hands-off normal flight, are prone to causing stall during any maneuvering. Excessive aft elevator control during the short-final emergency descent is common. The extreme nose-up attitude leading to stall in wings level flight is visually more obvious, but in turns, it is impossible to see the attitude as being extremely nose-high. Only through training and practice can a pilot always be aware of how elevator control affects angle of attack.

You are touching down in the rocks and trees! At some point, possibly right at touchdown, or likely very soon after in rugged terrain, you will recognize when control is lost. You made a landing and now at some point at or after touchdown no further control is possible…“You are a passenger”! Now you are in an emergency.

What do you need to do? There will likely be very rapid deceleration. You need to be conscious when the machine stops. Protect your head in any way possible. If there is no fire, you may be able to keep your eyes open. That allows you a certain amount of control to aid in keeping conscious. This is all you can do as a passenger. When it stops, get out!

No matter what initiated the need to land, that is all a pilot can do, maintain flight control to touchdown…no stall, continue with normal control as long as possible. Dismantle of your aircraft may occur, but no crash.


In-flight Loss of Control

Loss of control when airborne can happen when inadvertently entering IMC conditions or at night with hazy conditions causing loss of outside visual reference. There has been lots of discussion about not flying into these conditions, but it still happens. No matter the reason it occurs, a pilot should know what to do if encountering these conditions?

In the older Cessna 150 and 172 aircraft POH’s there is a simple emergency procedure for handling this situation. It is an easily taught procedure, which will work every time. This is a procedure Cessna used to publish…until litigated out of existence.

Upon entering conditions causing loss of visibility, or having any situation leading to loss of attitude control, immediately take your hands off the control wheel. "Turn it Loose!" Use the rudders for steering.

Don’t let a turn get started. Look at the “turn and bank indicator”, and if in a turn, push on the high wing rudder. Control with rudder input, until showing a standard rate turn as indicated on the turn and bank indicator and then hold that turn for one minute. A standard rate 180-degree turn results! If delaying until in a descending turn, it will take lots of rudder and a little time to get back to the standard turn.

Keep an eye on the turn and bank indicator, believe the gauge, not your senses. It is likely you will have vertigo. After one minute, reverse the rudder input to have the indicator show no turn, and fly out of the condition. You’ll have to check the magnetic compass in case you did some turning before getting control back, but you’re still flying!

The aircraft is flying at the elevator-trimmed angle of attack indicated-airspeed. Some descent occurred, as there is some loss of vertical component lift during any turning. If needed, a small power increase will reduce that descent and a little more will cause climb.

For a pilot initially taught to always fly trimmed hands-off, this is continued normal flight. The technique of flying hands-off with elevator trimming for constant indicated-airspeed and rudder steering for directional control also makes nice stabilized approaches with normal power. Use small power changes for altitude control in both, straight and level, and turning flight.

(Note: I have never met a Student, Instructor, or Examiner flying those Cessna’s that could tell me they knew that emergency procedure! That’s another story!)


This is all well and good but it’s not what I really want to discuss. I want to talk about the 95% of all pilots that have never attended any FAA sponsored safety meeting and the 98% of 20,000 Instructor Pilots not responding to my direct offer of a “free” e-book about flight control. What is one to think?

Who can come up with a way to inform all pilots that there may be ways to improve how they control flight? Don’t we talk about there being 500,000 pilots with 90,000 Instructors all of whom are required biennial reviews? What is discussed during those reviews and what knowledge of flight control is required to be demonstrated?

Private pilot certification does not require demonstration of engine out spot landings. How many are taught any of this?

Well anyway, we first need to define these problems before perpetuating some of the myths. I have written many papers and a book about what I think are basic flight control problems. When we finally define the problem, then we can fix it.

 Pilots don’t really fly; the airplane does that just fine. Pilots only control…they just need to know how!




I have many ideas about teaching flight. It all starts with accomplishing basic flight control in the first five to ten hours. From then on, it's what to do with the machine.

My book is really about those first few hours. A local flight instructor using this concept typically has students ready for PPL in 30 hours and instrument in another 20. That leaves lots of time to incorporate more advanced flight experiences and instructor training into the curriculum while attaining even a 190 hour CPL.

This is flying the little airplane. After that comes the study and experience necessary to be a pilot. That becomes another concept.

Gaining flight experience is expensive unless someone else is paying. That's where most new pilots stop and yet why those continuing are forced into instruction. Where do you get the job?

That puts us back to what is experience and how do you insure professionalism.

This is going to be a long story...

I spent eight of the last ten years involved in of hiring and indoctrinating instructors for a large flight school. In all, almost 200 instructors with hugely differing backgrounds. Their overall lack of basic flight knowledge is what led me to the book. They don't know aircraft control, their instructors didn't know and the examiners don't know. For the past 30-40 years, all teaching has been from the same texts.

So what does it take? Almost without exception, when I question pilots about how airplanes fly, after the first question, they want to change the subject. I'm talking about people with 10-20,000 hours.

First, you have to question yourself if you really know, and if not learn how aircraft are controlled. Next, you have to assure your curriculum allows your students to learn. Now you have a competent pilot with no experience.

It's not rocket science. It's a machine. Truck and bus drivers operate big machines and make good pilots. Crane operators operate big machines.

The past few decades, our increasingly educated pilot authors have written the books and the system has gradually become how to design airplanes and the physics of why they fly. A typical text will have five to ten pages about how to control, twenty to fifty about design and the rest of course is what to do with the machine.

These same few decades in this country, we have had a surplus of pilots. To reduce the resumes, companies began requiring a college degree in basket weaving for considering hiring. This has gone on so long the typical kid and his parents think it takes a college degree to fly an airplane!

When at the flight school we began a program informing the schools of the possibility of an eighteen year old having his license to instruct and enabling working, even while continuing school if desired.

A big part of learning to fly is a head game. If the student has learned flight control correctly, he has the confidence to fly right. So many of the instructors I worked with were just not confident in their own abilities, and rightly so. They really didn't know.

It is difficult to be a professional person if you don't feel competent. There is a personal discipline required that must be taught and emphasized within the training programs. So many pilots feel they should be spoon fed everything that is necessary. That is not how the thing works. Just as doctors and lawyers continually self-study throughout their careers, so must pilots.

So then, we need experienced pilots. What is experience? You may find some of my writing about that on my website, http://www.safe-pilots.net. Interestingly, the most competent new flight instructor I worked with was a high school graduate that had previously flown gliders...he knew how to use his head and feet to fly. His assumption was that everyone else knew what he knew and taught students in the same manner.

Therefore, for an instructor, it is what he thinks he knows. After all, they certified him. If taught in one way that must be the way things are. Proper management of an instructor program is the only way to make them professional. Then where do you get proper management? It has to start somewhere. Maybe with you?

So how is it going to work? Students with enough money to pay for their training. Reduced cost training. Simplest cheapest aircraft through PPL. Simplest cheapest aircraft with minimum instruments required for the rating…just learning and drilling control.

With the recent change in requirements for flying airlines, all kids will probably need to instruct a couple of years just to get the required time...oh there are those that have money enough to go the formal school route. There are a lot of kids that don't.




Everyone is talking about how bad the flight training is.   

There are Meetings, Symposiums, and Conferences held.  Websites with blogs and comments are numerous.  The FAA has ongoing safety presentations and required bi-annual reviews of all pilots to assure proficiency.  Publications of Books and Papers are written. 

The Airline industry is required to give annual proficiency checks to all of their pilots. There has been development of programs to study and disseminate information about Cockpit Leadership Resources (CLR), Crew Resource Management (CRM), Risk Management etc.

There is much concern about the failure to control flight by pilots flying all different kinds of aircraft.  There are incidents of improper basic control causing Airliner crashes while General Aviation mishaps continue unabated with “stall and crash”! 

Essentially, there has become a whole industry of organizations and people talking about all these problems…I just haven’t seen a definition of what the problem is.

Throughout all this, has anyone really defined that there is just a problem, or are there many different problems?

 Until there is definition, there will be no solution.  Let’s start a list of problems. 

 It’s all about Safety…!

First, there is the Student Pilot training problem.

Second, there is the Licensed Pilot problem.

Third, there is the Industry Pilot Resource problem.

Is it possible there would be mitigation of most incidents and accidents if pilots better understood and were more proficient in basic Flight Control?  All without any change in regulation, but just fixing the system already in place.

It’s not all that simple, it would take a book to describe all the necessary change, but I will argue the case with anyone willing to discuss it that safer flight will only come by first correcting basic flight control.

There is no way to make a rule or regulation of the “hours of flight experience” to make an experienced pilot.  No matter how much added training, it takes several years of actual flight for any pilot to attain the expanse of varied experiences of ordinary, normal, or emergency operational flight.  All pilots begin with their first flight in any given aircraft.  The ongoing proficiency and training periods must add the experiences of others.  It’s all accumulation of experience and experiences over time.  The sooner it starts, the quicker it happens.

The companies and pilot unions profess desiring safe operation.  Since the beginning of aviation unions, there has been a system of junior captains flying with junior co-pilots…that’s all about money.

The Federal Legislature has submitted a bill to dictate change of new pilot certification.  This is submitted by politicians with no knowledge of how airplanes fly or what it takes to conduct flight.  They typically react to media exposure of incidents that makes it seem it is necessary to do something, no matter what may be the ramifications.  Their response in this case no doubt has been influenced by many in the aviation industry…do those really know what the problem is?  I’ve seen no definition, just arbitrary increase of time spent “training”!

The system allows voicing opinions for or against specific change.  Time is running out to voice an opinion of this projected change to “New Pilot Certification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations”!  Opinions must be received by April 29, 2012.

If this proposed legislation becomes law, the commercial flight industry will be killed.  There will be no possible way to have the required number of pilots that will be needed in the next few years.  It is already an almost impossible problem with the current rules.  Just as in 2007, when it starts the majority of the flight instructors disappear.  Now there will still not be enough pilots for the industry and no flight instructors.

We want safe flight.  We want proficient pilots.  Let’s try training them properly in the beginning.  We certainly don’t want politicians flying airplanes so let’s not change things until we know what is needed.   The proposed change will increase the average cost to new pilots by tens of thousands of dollars with no change in how aircraft are flown or any assurance of improved safety.  We must define the problem to make things safer.

Please read some of my papers in which I discuss different aspects of flight that I feel are causing the major part of the problem when dealing with incidents leading to accidents in aircraft.



Aviation accidents are not always accidental.  All accidents are the result of a problem with either the pilot or the aircraft.  It is not the original incident requiring a landing that causes the accident. 

The usual “accident” is from the maneuvering to and landing following the problem. (The following copied from a recent notice of FAA FAASafety/Wings program meetings.)

The FAA is looking for a solution.  Be a part of the solution.

"Wanted: Alive!"
Topic: Reining in the Fatal Accident Rate

The general aviation accident rate is not dropping. Despite advancements in technology, pilots continue to find themselves in these same accident-causing scenarios plaguing us for years.

Be part of the safety conversation as the FAA Air Safety Institute digs a little deeper into the most common accident causes.  FAASafety.gov

The meeting is a canned program of accident pictures and discussion of the “risk factors”, decisions that often require an emergency landing.  There is no discussion of why the landings were “crashes”.

With our reliance on the FAA testing criteria as being complete and coupled with the expense of training, we tend to emphasize and train to pass the tested criteria.   That is just business.

An example is the private pilot certification.  There is no requirement for the private pilot to demonstrate proficiency in emergency landing approach to spot touchdowns, yet statistically, over 75% of off-field engine-out landings touchdown from the middle or beyond the selected field. 

There also is no required proficiency in using ground effect for extending glide in engine-out situations and for use to continue acceleration in high altitude/short-field/soft-field takeoffs.

The private pilot is the one especially needing to be proficient in these maneuvers.

With experience, Instructors find ways to improve upon and add to the minimum criteria.  This is an individual thing and most Instructors become quite proficient in training beyond the minimum requirements.  But this cannot find its way into the required training system without input from the FAA.
Testing the criteria is with the Examiners for new Licensees, periodic license reviewing, and CFI’s for bi-annual reviews.  These people only test as directed.

A big problem for the FAA is; we seldom let them know.  Talking to the representatives in the field is not the way.  A fix can only start at the top, with the regulators!  

Yes, I have written a book related to “flight control” in an attempt to teach how to avoid the causes of aviation landing “stall-crash” accidents, and also how to “survive” the landing touchdown to stop.

This will not eliminate accidents.  Perhaps it will allow at least one additional person to survive an incident.  It is hoped this information will confirm that with some changed flight curriculum it is possible to teach the initial pilot complete control techniques for safe flight and accomplish it within the pre-solo phase.
I am offering this as an e-book to the public through my website, http://safe-flight.net/.

There is going to be a reaction as I wander away from some of the accepted theory and try to get the pilot to “fly the airplane”.  Theory is nice to know.  The designer and manufacturer worry a lot about it.  In fact, they have the design perfected so the airplane flies by itself.  Once in the machine, all a pilot has to do is push and pull the throttle, elevator, and rudder controls in an attempt to point the thing in a desired direction. 

(Physical Principles of Winged Flight, ©2003,2008, Gale M. Craig http://regenpress.com/) Popular explanations of how things work are often erroneous and scientifically unsound. Well-meaning teachers and others may give wrong explanations, but false teaching may sometimes be just for convenience. Many years ago, a famous aerodynamicist, Dr. Theodore Von Karman, instructed his assistant: "When you are talking to technically illiterate people you must resort to the plausible falsehood instead of the difficult truth." (From Stories of a 20th Century Life, ISBN 0-915760-04-5, by W.R. Sears, former assistant to Von Karman).

We seem to have fifty years of plausible falsehood accepted as fact!  As an example, all texts teach, making level, constant indicated-airspeed turns by banking and pulling the control wheel.  This can be so wrong during slow indicated-airspeed flight!  

Every pilot asked the cause of stalls will reply exceeding the critical angle of attack…that is when stalls occur not the cause of attaining that condition, but what causes the aircraft to get there should be their first reply??  There is much more! 

I can find no text that teaches the effect and use for control of thrust-component lift. This is a very basic part of aircraft control.
Safe flying,
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________       04-13-2012


 As sophistication of automatic systems has led to greater and greater use there has become more and more reliance. The emphasis of basic flight control proficiency has become less and less. Unfortunately, over time, those writing, approving, and conducting training in these systems become reliant in the same manner.

Instead of combining basic flight control with the sophisticated automated control, we should teach and insure proficiency in each separately. This is much like retaining the system as it has always been.

In flight, there cannot be both. Either fly the aircraft or monitor an automated system doing it for you. If automation fails, you fly. CRM of flight control is that a pilot must always monitor, being ready to take over and manually fly. There cannot be two systems in control at the same time.

Use of automation has led to the present situation of many pilots not ever attaining or maintaining ongoing proficiency in manual aircraft control. Additionally, this reduces the likelihood of these pilots properly controlling in unusual or emergency situations.

The old rule of requiring occasional automated approach flight seems replaced with the rule of making only automated approach flight. So, where does maintaining manual flight proficiency come from?

Basic proficiency of flight control is not the only thing that makes an experienced pilot. There is no way to make a rule or regulation of the “hours of flight experience” to make an experienced pilot. No matter the training background, it takes several years of actual flight for any pilot to attain the expanse of varied experiences of ordinary, normal, or emergency operational flight. All pilots begin with their first flight in any given aircraft.

There is currently a beginning of more sophisticated training (with much more time and expense) being available to some trainees. This is helpful to some extent in initial preparation of flying larger aircraft. However, none of the methods of preparation for commercial flight is comparable to actual operational experience while concurrently minimizing time and expense.

CRM, decision-making, risk-taking, and judgment are all factors of basic culture, training, and experience. These are all difficult to attain or measure. Schooling by review of known situations and other’s experiences, while simultaneously acquiring experiences by one’s own flight, are the means of attaining these desirable traits. This is attained more efficiently if introduced and emphasized within ongoing proficiency training programs and regularly issued publications to the pilots.

A real problem is that there has been a long-term reduction in correct flight control training leading to the flight control deficiencies, not only of today’s new trainees, but the pilot community as a whole.

The idea of a pilots being a professional is lost when it becomes apparent few bother to assure their own proficiencies. Self-study and discussion of other’s experiences is still available. Flight manual study is always possible.  It is not up to the schools and operators to cause professionalism.

The aircraft are  now designed to be flown with two pilots. No longer is the Captain of a flight responsible to fly while assuring the co-pilot attains experience and experiences. The system has become responsible for all proficiencies.

Responsible and correct ab-initio flight control training is the only effective way to learn proficiency in basic flight control. That is the responsibility of those doing initial training and the regulators issuing certification. After that, the responsibility for attaining and assuring the continued proficiency and experiences of pilots are the aircraft operators and especially the pilots themselves!

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They Were Our Best Pilots!

At one time I flew with an organization at which there were around twenty pilots. 

One of these pilots was considered the “worst” pilot of the group. He had been flying almost twenty years and there were many stories of how badly he flew.

Two of the “better” pilots were flying one day when they flew their aircraft

into a mountain and died.

The first comment made by the group was, “they were  our two best pilots!”

I looked around the group and saw the “worst” pilot was still there.


Many of the best pilots are still out there flying every day. So what makes a good pilot or a bad pilot? Any list has a first and last, best or worst, alive or dead. I’m not sure I want to be best!

When I talk to experienced pilots about how airplanes are controlled, I often feel they don’t want to talk about it. If there is any question at all about specific control, I can quickly find some area of flight control of which they are not sure.

This is not something they want to hear.

When pondering that less than five percent of all pilots ever attend an FAA safety meeting, large aircraft pilots seldom are interested in little airplane incidents, or most pilots not wanting to discuss basic flight control, I can see how safety of flight may really be something for someone else. I’m ok. I can handle anything that comes up, besides it won’t happen to me.

There is a huge ego problem with most pilots. No, not you, but everyone else! It isn’t me, I discuss how flight is conducted every time I get a chance. I read all the accident and incident reports, aviation safety magazines, and attend all the aviation functions I am able. I try to analyze all the reports I see or hear to see if there is some way I would be able to avoid or survive…oh yes, I fly airplanes!


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Over the ten year period I dealt with a large flight school, the Instructors and Examiners, were always concerned about teaching initial Students recovery from inadvertent flight into IMC conditions.

Several older Cessna 150 and 172 aircraft were being flown at the school. In these aircraft, the POH has an emergency procedure for flying a one-eighty degree turn to exit inadvertent flight into these conditions.

From my position in the school of indoctrinating newly hired Instructors (almost 200), I questioned them about this specific emergency procedure. There were new Instructors with zero instruction experience through older Instructors with many thousands of hours in these specific aircraft.

At no time did any Instructor ever say they had any knowledge of this emergency procedure. None ever had any examiner question them or any of their Students about this…

There are different interpretations to be made about this finding.

The first is that Instructors are not learning their POH.

The second, Instructors are not learning their published Emergency procedures.

The third, Examiners are not insuring the above items are being fulfilled.

The fourth, The PPL Pilot hasn’t a clue so spins in.

I am the victim of many years flying for Airlines and Military organizations. These groups always insisted on “knowing” the POH. Testing is typically through oral examination. It is common for the examiners at those types of organizations to page through the complete manual to assure understanding of the total aircraft. They repeat this procedure at least annually for all pilots. There is much emphasis on the total emergency procedure sections of the POH.

I am amazed this simple item is not considered when training new pilots. There is no follow-up instruction to those performing flight reviews to do this…it continues to be the pilot instructed by the minimized instructor who in turn was instructed by a minimized instructor, all of whom are certified by the minimized examiner.

The “simple” aircraft are often approached as all being the same. An experienced pilot can fly any aircraft without knowing anything about a manual or POH. The poor Student and Private Pilot are not there yet…they keep dying!


And it’s no one’s fault. It is a system generated over many years. It will only change if we stop to define the problem.


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Let’s see if we can’t define our dilemma?

We feel Pilot’s are not being trained sufficiently.

It is likely the fault of the Instructor! The Instructor was trained by other Instructors who were trained by other Instructors…all to the minimum standards!!

The regulators tend to measure attainment of proficiency by flight hours.

We all know that is not necessarily true.

Where does proficiency begin?

Who or what determines a Pilot’s proficiency?

What is the basis of considering insufficient training?

What is the basis of the “poor judgment” related to fatalities resulting from incidents and accidents?

OK, start at the beginning.

An Instructor teaches a Student and fulfills the requirements for attaining a PPL. At that point the newly certified Pilot is considered safe for VMC flight. From that day, within two years, all this new Pilot has to do to maintain legal currency is make three takeoffs and landing within 90 days of any flight carrying passengers. Hopefully, this pilot will be responsible enough to continue maintaining and gaining experience.

An incident happens. The aircraft stalls and crashes. The incident is related to something that happened when airborne, whether takeoff, cruise, approach or landing and whether it is mechanical, or bad judgment. It could happen to anyone.

What does the stall and crash have to do with the incident requiring the emergency landing?


The stall and crash is the pilotage occurring during the approach to landing in a situation the pilot likely was not properly trained to handle. He has not learned to anticipate the conditions that will occur in an actual engine-out approach, landing, and rollout into the rocks and trees or houses and parking lots.

He stalls the aircraft, probably just a few feet off the ground. It doesn’t matter. Falling is not good. Controlled gliding works much better. Otherwise, the aircraft is likely to land one wing first. That is bad. The landing gear design is to absorb much of the energy of any impact.

Or maybe he stays high and fast, (I’m not going to be low and slow), so touches down midfield or beyond overrunning the chosen landing area.

What am I trying to say?

There are those incidents that come from plain old bad judgment, inexperience, and risk taking. But, there are a lot of them that have nothing to do with judgment or risk. They just happen to the machine.

When the aircraft becomes a glider, there is no longer any engine-lift. The only thrust is gravity-component thrust controlled through the elevator as indicated-airspeed change. Things still work the same. The elevator-pitch still controls the angle of attack for indicated-airspeed. All forward thrust is now from a thrust component of gravity. Control remains the same but the fuel tank (altitude) is very limited.

Let’s hope the Pilot in these kinds of situations has attained proficiency in idle-power approach and landing.

Not likely! It’s not required to be demonstrated for certification. It very likely has only been demonstrated. It’s not in the PPL PTS. Is it in your curriculum?

Enough about the engine failure situation. What else is the Instructor’s fault?

The major things missing are the knowledge of how aircraft are controlled. The texts are all wrong to some extent. Ground training has become more a system of teaching aircraft design. You can’t fly if you don’t understand aerodynamics. Really???

Why have the aero-dynamists, the physicists, the book writers not caught on to how aircraft are controlled. They expound on how wings develop lift like there is something a Pilot can do about it. They design the aircraft to cause it to develop lift. I never met a Pilot that doubted it would work, even if they knew nothing about wing design. The poor Student is drilled on why there is flight and there is little if anything about how to control the flight.

I cannot get a correct answer from any Pilot without prodding, no matter the experience level;

As a Pilot controlling an aircraft:

What causes the aircraft to climb? How?

What controls the indicated-airspeed? Why?

How does an aircraft accelerate?

What causes an aircraft to stall?

Why does an aircraft have reduced performance in low density air?

I just cannot believe this keeps going on, but I really feel if Pilots knew how and why control works, they would be infinitely more safe.

You can accomplish the whole thing in the first five hours of flight training.

So, why does it matter, everyone is flying around pretty safely anyway.

It works fine when things are going good. There obviously must be something missing when things go bad. Why the stall, crash, and die? Why not land, the aircraft become demolished, and then die?

By the way, during the landing roll, off field, in the rocks, what is the Pilot supposed to do. He is likely now a passenger. What is going on from touchdown and deceleration to stop? What can the occupants do to improve chance of survival?

Is there some reason all the above is not in a book somewhere.

OK then, let’s say we decide to teach everyone how to control an airplane. Where do we start since I have convinced you no one now really knows for sure.

The Pilot ego thing is as big or bigger than any other professional aspect of flying. Who wants to learn something new if they already know it all? How do you convince a pilot to want to learn? They already know how to fly.

It’s easy with Pilots. They all are required to have periodic proficiency reviews. We just have to set up a system that requires all of them to explain and demonstrate the different basic control functions and show proficiency in them. Simple? Maybe, but we first must teach them what that is. That means we have to teach the teachers of the teachers.

Guess who is going to have to initiate this. Obviously it would be quick and easy with the Fed’s.

While waiting for them, maybe we should just take it upon ourselves and do it anyway.

As an Instructor, you can quickly figure out how an aircraft should be controlled and gain proficiency while teaching the next Student.

What do you need to know? Do you really know how an aircraft is controlled?

This may be suggested as an introduction to flight. We advertise reduced priced introductory flights. Let’s think about what that does to a potential Student.

1. The initial flight for a Student is to be a hands-off demonstration of how the airplane wants to fly.

2. This initial flight will be the Student’s first impression of how aircraft are controlled. All altitude and heading control will be referenced to visual interpretation.

3. For this first flight, just crank the machine and let the Student taxi with power for motion and rudder steering for direction. He is not to touch the control wheel until returning from the flight for roundout and landing.

4. As the Instructor, you can use any control wheel input necessary to make things work. The Student will adjust power and steer with his feet throughout the flight.

5. Set the elevator trim to approximate the Vy position. This is the setting used for takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, and approach, the complete flight to roundout for landing.

6. Use visual references for control throughout. The Student will steer toward a point (unmoving) on the horizon for direction while keeping the horizon (unmoving) at some level across the windshield.

7. Point out changed position of visual references when making attitude changes. The visual reference of the horizon is kept a constant distance from the bottom of the windshield after reducing power for level flight, and during the different maneuvers.

8. This flight is for becoming aware of visual referencing outside the aircraft while emphasizing steering control with rudder input (using only the feet).

9. Each Instructor will adjust this flight to his own abilities as necessary.




This discussion is related to the low powered small aircraft commonly used for flight training and private pilot operations.

At some point throughout most flight training, there is discussion of the majority of common risks and hazards.

Awareness must continue to enable each individual to assign importance of these things in their own minds. It requires concerted effort by review and reflection from discussions, study, and experiences to ingrain the future anticipation of possible or probable flight conditions for enabling reduction of risk or hazardous encounter.

These kinds of discussions can only come from a mentoring source with a considerably expanded background. This means having access to a relatively highly experienced pilot or written information clearly outlining these kinds of incidents. (a book that needs to be written)

Experience and experiences differ. Second hand recounting is very valuable to a new pilot by allowing time to contemplate and discuss events.

No Pilot will ever experience all the different conditions and situations that could be encountered in flight. They can however, dramatically expand their perceived experiences by reading and discussion. With enough contemplation, a person can actually begin to believe they were there! You may want to question if my experience stories are actually valid.

The Flight Instructor must insure the Student understands the necessity of continued study of books and periodicals, looking for, reading, and contemplating problems others have encountered. Review of accident reports, as in the FAA and NTSB websites, is an excellent source of flight problems to assess.

Pilots begin flight training in many different locales and many different conditions. Each soon becomes aware of their local situation, and what may be a hazard for those from other areas, can become normal flight for them.

This learning becomes the standard of their behavior and expectation of aircraft performance.

As an instance, a pilot learning flight at a high altitude airport experiences those conditions from the first flight and considers them normal. A pilot learning flight at low altitude airports may fly for years without ever experiencing the reduced performance that occurs at the high altitude airport.

The majority of accident reports of pilots attempting takeoffs from high altitude airports are those that have little or no experience doing this. Those pilots have not properly learned flight, the probable risks of flight in different conditions.

The new Pilot in Alaska may learn landing on a river sandbar before ever landing at a large sophisticated airport.

Many risks and hazards are more common in one place than in another and anticipation or consideration of them becomes learned quickly if that is the locale one initially flies. Those same situations may never occur to another Pilot flying in a different part of the country.

The result is; the hazards or risks can vary dramatically for each Pilot. Learning to fly requires introduction of known problems that exist with unusual situations and the discussion of how to recognize them in a future possible encounter. A big part of piloting is anticipating different flight conditions. Planning is thinking ahead, considering possible scenarios prior to encounter in flight.

The Flight Instructor must insure that the kinds of risks that can exist are discussed during a Student’s flight training. With complete understanding of actual flight control and awareness of the kinds of hazards that can be encountered, it can be expected a more competent pilot will result.

A Flight Instructor must be aware that not all people will fly. There is an innate ability of people to unconsciously think of ongoing life and life events in terms of time. Some people naturally think ahead, some think only of the moment, some actually only discuss things that have happened, in the past.

There is no apparent way to measure this facet of human behavior. This does however, help understand why some Students fly only to solo and then disappear. That of course is not the only reason. Cost is probably the major item that causes ending of flight training.

The consideration of incidents where people make what seem to be dumb mistakes may possibly be understood from the perspective of their natural way of thinking in terms of time.

Some Pilots continue for their certifications when they possibly should never have done so. There being no way to measure this kind of thing, we see them eventually becoming statistics.

A Flight Instructor being aware of the possibility a problem Student could have this “time” difficulty will be more cognizant of why, and if it actually exists, can possibly direct him away from flight altogether.

The responsibilities a Pilot accepts when beginning flight are the same as those of operating any other machine. The range of situations that can be encountered may be greater and require more consideration.

Flight always continues. No matter the extent of preparation and study, the Pilot must still be able to fly the aircraft in the event encountering undesired conditions.

Avoidance or escape maneuvers from a potentially bad encounter will always be required and will always require basic flight control.

There can only be turning, climbing, descending, or landing. That is all there is. A drilled ability to enable proper control input without having to consider what those inputs are enables continued controlled flight while allowing ongoing consideration of the oncoming events.

What are these events that typically create hazardous conditions to flight which result in “stall-crash” and fatalities.

1. Flight in low density conditions.  Low powered flight.  Flight related to high altitude maneuvers because of reduced power capabilities of engines.

2. Emergency and off-field landings into unprepared conditions. Possible/probable stalling prior to touchdown.

a. Engine failure at takeoff

b. Engine failure on low approach

c. Engine failure airborne at higher altitudes

i. Mechanical malfunction

ii. Fuel starvation

1. Leaking

2. Poor planning

3. Changed conditions (winds)

iii. Oil

3. iv. Crosswind Landings

4. v. Inadvertent flight into IMC.

5. vi. Turbulence resulting in loss of control.

a. Wake turbulence upset.

b. Microburst encounter

6. vii. Others??

Consideration of continued flight resulting from these situations is flight control.

Assessment of risk prior to an event thereby avoiding the situation at all.

Accepting that there can always be situations completely out of control of any pilot no matter the prior planning.

The basis of control is to minimize the resulting encountering conditions when becoming forced to land.

Maintaining or regaining control from an unusual event when airborne or landing rollout.

Why did I take risks? I have done my share. I also have lucked out lots of times. I will take luck over skill and cunning anytime. An interesting reflection is, even in an emergency situation, somewhere along the way I learned to always be very aware of the risk of pulling the control wheel during low altitude maneuvering, whether an approach to landing or circling over a point on the ground.

I recall only one time in an aircraft checkout being cautioned about the necessity of careful steep bank control. Maybe I had a good Instructor in flight training. I just don’t remember. I do know somewhere it must have been ingrained. r.d.r.



You probably already know this thing, but blogs seem to be a source of what we are all trying to accomplish.

However, each blog seems to have mostly the same people making inputs. There are actually lots of blogs out there so maybe there is a way to combine them.

Lots of opinions, from opinionated people.

The accumulated input might actually be of value if studied a little. Attempting to put something together are the following organizations. They need all the help they can get from people like you.


I have had some interesting response from the recent issuing of my book, "How to Fly Airplanes". (http//:safe-flight.net) I find, like this blog, most responses are from senior and experienced pilots that have found their particular techniques and assigned their values and ideas to specific ways and kinds of training. But, all have at least some question about what is being taught out there.

What is noticeably missing is the younger and inexperienced. It seems they are busy working for a living, raising a family and aren't into fixing things like the older group. I don't really think it is lack of interest they are not participating. They just don't have time or a source of correct information because we haven't established what that is ourselves.

I had an interesting response from a young Instructor that I worked with a few years ago. He was adamant that he worked hard to assure competence in his Students. He specifically indicated how he does this the way the PTS states and what the examiners expect.

I now need a way to tell him the PTS is not nearly enough to assure a proficient or competent pilot. How could he know? That is exactly how he was trained, tested, and deemed competent. He has not yet had the leadership and experiences to alter his thinking. It just isn't in the books so where does he find it? His examiners must go by the minimum standard whether they know better or not.

I really think it all comes back to teaching basic control first, but then, who am I.

It seems in addition to teaching how airplanes really fly; we need to figure a way to get it out to the masses. I think the youngsters accept that they don't really know it all. It's us old pilots that run things which need to come to some sort of consensus of how airplanes fly and assure it is distributed (maybe by the regulators?).

Additionally, we old folks need to start writing down our experiences. We have all experienced all these things about which we warn the youngsters. Those of us that have obviously survived should take it upon ourselves to share these things in some centralized manner accessible by others.

There is just no way to live long enough to have all these experiences. It is possible to read or hear about other's experiences and thereby gain that as an experience, a knowledge, and perhaps an understanding of how to deal with an unusual or emergency event if it should happen.

Personally, I have survived some incidents in flight that were likely made possible because of something I had previously read or heard. One, a problem involving the bends in an unpressurized aircraft and a related article I had read three years previously. Another, surviving (with lots of luck), an engine failure on takeoff, landing/crashing without stall into a building, but being conscious in the ball of fire when stopped. I had discussed with another pilot how to react to this kind of situation over five years previously.

The regulators are busy trying to measure experience by flight hours. We need to figure out the difference between experience and experiences. It's an old story, which is most experienced, the 250 hour pilot with 1250 hours right seat in a regional jet or a 1500 hour light aircraft pilot just starting.

I once knew a 100-hour pilot/mechanic in right seat of an old C-82. In thirty days he experienced almost every emergency possible except crash, including two different engine failures on takeoff at max. gross. Two weeks after quitting, the aircraft did crash and burn. That kid had experiences...just no experience.

The blogs often get tied down to a specific part of flying.  This avweb blog about emergency landing is one. Lots of talk about considerations, technique, prior planning, and decision making. A comment about the importance of pushing down the nose...no discussion of why the nose needed pushing...it obviously must have been held up by the pilot, otherwise, loss of thrust would allow it to go down.

That is a very basic observation of aircraft control that should not need discussion. It should have been learned from the first flight, and be a consideration in all maneuvering. Maybe an explanation of the stall-crash scenario. This one consideration is involved in all stall/crash events.

See...we really don't know how to control aircraft correctly. Let's start with the basics.

Do you really know what stalls an aircraft? How does an aircraft stall? I don’t mean exceeding the angle of attack. That is what a stall is. How does it happen…in only one way.

Do you really know how to make a level, constant indicated-airspeed turn?

Do you really know how an aircraft accelerates?

Do you really know how an airplane pitches?

And more...

I find all the pieces and parts but have not found a complete explanation in any text.

A little control and some experience, not necessarily experiences, and we will all be safer pilots.

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What is pilot training?

Pilot training consists of different processes.

The initial flight training of five to ten hours is learning aircraft control. This process is introduction and practice manipulating the aircraft. It includes operating procedures, maneuvering, limitations, and emergencies using the machine.

Once the pilot understands how to control, he then spends additional time learning what to do with the aircraft. This process includes practice of operating procedures, navigation, and advanced maneuvering. There are associated regulation and weather procedures learned in ground schools.

Issuance of a private-pilot license follows completion of initial flight training. The professional pilot continues with an instrument rating, and the commercial license. The commercial license consists of continued experience accumulating flight hours to gain additional proficiency in maneuvering and navigation.

Is there a problem with pilot training?

We rely on the FAA testing criteria as being complete for the necessary subject matter and flight experience, so coupled with the expense of training, we tend to emphasize and train to pass that testing criteria.

A minimum trained pilot population?

This system relies on the commercial pilot continuing gaining experience through some one of the numerous types of flight.

The majority of the new commercial pilots become flight instructors. This perpetuates the current system of what many consider marginally trained instructors.

Is this the real problem? What does marginally trained mean.

It is the opinion of this author it is not the amount of time spent training nor the testing criteria called for by the regulators. The primary shortcoming in initial training is what is being taught.

The current texts and curriculum have many basic errors. For this reason, pilots are not always taught how to correctly control the aircraft. There must be a reappraisal of these basic requirements for properly controlling aircraft and rewritten curriculum to assure proficiency in basic aircraft control.

Experience is a many faceted thing. There is a lot of difference between experience and experiences. The nature of aviation does not allow experiencing most potential emergency procedures in flight. Ground training programs must incorporate ongoing awareness, presentation, and discussion of the control required to recover from the numerous situations that historically have been problems for pilots. This is a valuable kind of experience and can include a large variety of both, normal and emergency situations.

Technological sophistication:

Aircraft control is the same for all aircraft. No matter the technology added for control, it always requires engine thrust, thrust-component lift, and the three flight controls. These are a basic part of all aircraft. So, control of all aircraft is in the same manner. All operate in the same atmosphere under the same basic physical laws. This is the same all over the world! By convention, the same language is used internationally…the aircraft does not know language.

The cost of sophisticated aircraft limits their use for training. This is good in many respects. The majority of pilots then learn with unsophisticated aircraft. This allows them greater experience in basic flight control. It is not that the other aircraft cannot do the same. It requires elimination of sophistication to allow learning basic flight control.

This basic flight requires understanding the real effects of control and can be done much more economically with simpler machines…cost is the primary driver causing minimized training.

The simplest, cheapest machine will teach flight as well or better than any other. The teaching of sophisticated instrumentation and automatic flight is introduced after assured learning of basic flight control.

Complex and safety critical processes:

The complexity of systems in an aircraft requires additional training and experience. This is a process beyond learning flight control and in most cases requires considerable time gaining the experiences necessary to be proficient.

It is required that pilots be kept current in aircraft basic control especially regarding emergency recovery from unusual attitudes. This is basically knowing and understanding recovery from simple acrobatic maneuvering.

The time and expense of gaining and maintaining proficiency in use of flight control systems coupled with lack of basic control knowledge and proficiency is often a factor in accidents with or without complex systems.

Capital intensive and cost sensitive:

The aviation industry is very capital intensive and cost sensitive. No matter where in the world an aircraft is located, it comes from limited sources of manufacture and requires sophisticated operation, care, and repair. All operators, no matter their location, have essentially the same requirements of capital investment and because the investment is so great, operate largely on borrowed money or aircraft leases.

This makes the aviation industry very sensitive to economic conditions. The typical flight customer is traveling because he can. A large part of the business then is a luxury industry. When economic times are good, the companies often make huge profits and when economic times are bad, they often have huge losses. There are seldom any operators in the middle.

It is unlikely this will ever change.

Interdependent elements of aviation:

The owner of an aircraft makes a substantial investment in the machine.

Operation of the aircraft is dependent on operating costs, labor, fuel, and maintenance.

   Fuel prices vary slightly over the world.

   Parts replacement costs vary little other than shipping.

   Labor costs can vary considerably from country to country.

All pilot training is essentially the same. Slight differences in regulation exist. For international flight, all pilots are required to comply with the same basic regulations.

Pilot costs vary from country to country, however, pilot training in all cases is very similar.

The source of funding for training also varies dependent upon the economic status of the company and country. Airline companies in many countries pay the cost of training new pilots.

 Where are the pilots coming from?

There is a perceived shortage of pilots coming in the near future and the future is here.

Where are the new pilots coming from? It has been discussed many times that kids today are more interested in computers. Why?  Well, that’s what they hear and those jobs have been widely available.

When is the last time there was any mass media discussion of the excitement of flight. Likely not since Cessna and Piper were litigated to oblivion in the 1960-70’s. Prior to that time, they advertised to sell aircraft. Since that time, no one has told the kids airplanes are fun. The only mass media is sensationalism about “stall and crash”, or “crash and burn”.

The past twenty to forty years, there has been a surplus of pilots to the extent that to reduce the number of resumes, the airlines began requiring a college degree. This resulted in the typical person today thinking it requires a college degree to fly an aircraft.

A few years ago, the company for which I worked went to the local high schools to discuss this problem. They found the teachers and the parents all thought it would take a college education plus the cost of training, $150-$200,000 to become a pilot. 

What it means is, there are literally no families that know $30-$40,000 will start their kids out at a local job as instructor so they can work while going to school gaining the experience requirements of the airline by the time they are 21 years old.

Many years ago, the military found the median educated Student was most likely to succeed in flight training. That is the one or two years of college group. Today, an average high school Student has the same education of the first year college Student thirty years ago. It is likely plenty of these kids have the aptitude for successful flight training…they have no idea it is possible.

Now, we tend to think of just this country. The rest of the world, especially China and India have huge middle classes. These kids are out there getting their certification because their own countries have pilot shortages. However, they are also waiting for the shortage in the U.S. and the resulting change that will allow immigration. Believe me, they know about this and will come when allowed.

The domestic companies will lobby for the immigration change rather than undertake the cost of training themselves. In spite of all the talk, people all over the world are still trying to get here.



A review of pilot training texts shows most have basic flight control of 10 pages, followed with 15-20 pages of introductory aerodynamics, then what to do with the airplane, 200-600 pages.

I have decided to go green with how to fly on one page double-spaced.

One technique of writing about how to fly is to visualize yourself in the cockpit in actual flight. Are you worrying about how the lift, drag, and thrust are obtained or are you flying the aircraft by manipulating the power and flight controls to assure attaining and maintaining an attitude and indicated-airspeed and the rest of your worry is primarily getting to the desired destination. Let’s don’t get flight control confused with the design of the machine.

A Crash Course in Flight Control

The real point of teaching flight correctly is to reduce the probability of creating an emergency, and if there is one, handling the emergency so there is increased chance of survival during the touchdown, landing roll. This is directed to all pilots.

If the story seems full of "physics", then it probably turns off many. Maybe describing flight with different terminology so the reader doesn't know he is learning basic physics. Most folks don't know they use physics everyday in many ways. They just don't like the sound of the term.

An exposé of the current system, and how to fix it? I have actually considered that. I'm not sure it is the way to solve the problem. The public thinks only in terms of crashing. No matter how I write, they are only going to be interested in gore. I used to speak to groups about aviation. It quickly became apparent they only wanted to hear about crashes. True, a convincing title and cover sells more books. Will it actually cause pilots to learn and be safer?

By my definition, an uncontrolled landing is a crash. This is a landing which the pilot, for whatever reason, stalls the aircraft prior to touchdown. The aircraft then falls out of control.

An emergency off-field landing may involve dismantle of the aircraft and injury or death to the pilot and passengers, but the aircraft is controlled as long as possible toward a normal landing, even into the rocks and trees. The difference is control. I want all pilots to understand that. The general public won't know what it means, nor care.

The discourse about basic flight control is to correct the understanding by pilots what happens during flight. I actually have a paper "How to fly, One page, Double-spaced"!

There are so many ways to say the same thing. No matter the interpretation of all preferred training or the expertise attained, the flight control required to make an emergency landing on or off field is primary. The assumption that a proficient pilot is capable of the emergency landing procedure is not valid without considerable consideration of how the landing must be approached.

It is not just bad decision making or risk taking that always leads to an emergency landing. Engine failures happen to the best. Whatever the cause, the procedure is the same for all pilots. There must be maneuvering to the best possible site with continued appropriate flight control to assure a landing at the chosen spot.

This requires training all pilots to proficiency in idle-power spot landings. Additionally, added scenario based training with consideration and discussion of landing roll survival. How do you react during a landing roll into obstacles to assure being conscious when stopped?

So is something different? Not at all. All pilots should be taught how to make every landing to a designated spot. The B-777 or the Piper Colt are the same. If taught correctly from the first flight, the pilot will always think that is the way it should be done.

What is different from a powered approach to a particular spot on the runway or an emergency approach to a particular rock in a field of obstacles? Nothing. It is all the same procedure!

Enter “directed course” flight. All visual flight control is directing the aircraft toward a point to make that point unmoving relative to a sighting point on the windshield. This is flying by collision course.

Holding a heading toward a point on the horizon, maintaining the horizon in a constant position across the windshield, directing the aircraft to fly with the end of the runway unmoving pictured centered low on the windshield…it’s all directing a course…a collision course.




(with permission from Aero-News)

The Business Side Of A Successful Fly-In Palatka, FL, Event Shows How To Do Things Right

By Dave Juwel (For the WHOLE story, go to http://admin.aero-news.net/news/)

Having recently attended the 2012 LSA Expo where the new management is quickly turning it into a profit machine for the organizing body (at the expense of the vendors and general public), I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the Kay Larkin airport (28J) in Palatka, Florida executed their fly-in. I spoke with John Youell, the Airport Manager, and heard some refreshing things. As a dedicated professional in the field of aviation, John understands that something needs to be done to stop the attrition in General Aviation.

So he decided to develop a "Community Open House."

I understood what John was trying to say because in my experienced opinion, a typical fly-in is an event for pilots and their aircraft to come together and contemplate their flying navels, to which the general public is occasionally invited as a roped off spectator. This is one small part of why there is such a large vacant gap of aviators behind the baby boomers.

To revitalize General Aviation, John felt that we didn't need more emphasis on people already in aviation. We need more emphasis on people that are not currently aviators. And he is right. There are thousands of people that, at some point in their life, might have wished they could fly. We simply need to attract them to an event where we can either rekindle or initiate that desire.

That's why John decided to put on a "Community" event dedicated to the general public. To better benefit the growth of general aviation, John wishes that AOPA would change the title and emphasis of their fly-in's. I agree with John. We need to stop making fly-in's an introspective event and make them more of an ambiversion event
where camaraderie is developed between the pilots and the general public.

John set up the community event by getting corporate sponsors to either pay the expenses, volunteer their manpower, or provide free or discounted products. Every kind of aviator and aircraft, who were based within a reasonable range, were invited to the show. He combined it with an antique auto show. When the aviators showed up, they found a well-organized event being conducted with a strong emphasis on safety (John was particularly focused on that). Some of the more exotic hardware received free fuel and everyone else had theirs discounted.

When the public showed up, they had free run of the place (restricted only by safety rules), the opportunity to touch the aircraft and talk with the pilots, and watch a constant parade of fly-bys and taxiing aircraft. They also received a free meal including cotton candy for the kids (They requested an unspecified donation to a particular charity for the meal, but it wasn't an obligation.) No parking fees! No event fees! And a limited number of vendor booths! Rides in a variety of aircraft were given at a discounted rate. Everyone, regardless of their economic
status, was able to attend and enjoy this event. Whole families came out because they could afford to.

And it worked. Everywhere I went, I constantly saw "civvies" talking and fellowshipping with "flight suits." It was
a wonderful way to spend a Saturday. There was a tremendous amount of sensory stimulation occurring and everyone loved it, aviators and non-aviators alike. I applaud all those involved. Perhaps the success of this event will encourage others to follow suit. (Aerial photo provided by Key Larkin airport) FMI:



-     What are the key drivers of simulator training hour demand?

o   Regulation, Availability, Cost

o   Regulation determines the hours of training.

o   Aviation Industry expansion determines the number of trainees.

-            What drives airline choices regarding outsourcing training vs. buyingsimulators and keeping training                     in-house?

o   Availability, Cost

-            What are important differentiating criteria among external vendors of flight simulator training?

o   Cost, Servicing

Aviation cycles with the economy. When times are good, there is lots of money, borrowing, and over-expansion. When times are bad there is lots of bankruptcy...with little in between. Possible exception, Southwest Airlines...operates mostly with their own money.

Modern corporations operate on borrowed money. They see inventory as a cost because it is obtained with borrowed money. They lease aircraft, again borrowed money.

Operating business with borrowed money means always paying the bank a percentage of profit. In economic downturns, when profits become limited, the banks still want their percentage…it never ends unless you start owning something.

What does an airline own? They lease equipment and facilities. The terminals and parking rights don’t belong to them. They are leased. They don’t own the airways or traffic control. Unless an Airline actually owns airplanes, they have few real assets.



“What should we as a global industry do to remedy the inconsistent way that pilots are trained? Is it a regulatory issue, a manufacturer issue, an airline issue, a flight training provider issue, an instructor issue, a student issue, or an overall lack of leadership issue?”

As a regulatory issue:

Flight training follows the FAA tested criteria. Attempting to minimize cost of attaining licenses follows testing requirements. The basis is an assumption the required tested criteria is sufficient training, after all, the certificate is issued.

As a manufacturer issue:

There is continued added complexity presented as improvements to aircraft with increased costs involved. Many of these “improvements” are questionable depending on the type of flying and proficiency of the pilots.

Like the manufacturer of guns, the systems are available for purchase. The purchaser is responsible for the results of use. In aviation, this improved safety without associated proficiency can be likened to suicide.

As an airline issue:

Financial arms within companies balance costs by factoring risk. Regulation follows after the fact, if they are wrong.

If the future availability of Pilots becomes limited, the airlines in some manner will likely have to provide training costs just as many countries already do.

As a flight-training provider issue:

The profit motive drives the system toward minimizing training to the tested criteria. The provider often realizes minimization may be insufficient, but competition drives the bottom line. There is little they can do to change this.

As a flight instructor issue:

There is a perceived notion that many flight instructors are merely building time to qualify for advanced flying jobs. This is the system. These kinds of job are the most numerous available for new pilots, so obviously attract those wanting to gain flight time experience. However, I never met one not trying to teach safe flight as they understand it.

The training done by the flight instructor is generally that which he himself received. That is, he likely received the same minimized training.

As a student issue:

The majority of student pilots only attain the private license. Statistically these are the pilots that are involved in most incidents and accidents.

There is again a common perception that students want to receive their training as quickly, cheaply, and with least effort possible. Though this may be true in many cases, the responsibility to train professionally is still with the Instructor. If continuing, the Student pays.

These private pilots also are required to have periodic reviews. This is the time the system should become aware of any limitations for continued flight. At present, those doing the checking are the marginally trained instructors…in turn licensed by the marginally trained examiners…who certified the private pilot…ad infinitum.

As an overall lack of leadership issue:

Where does one look when trying to solve any problem? Change must always come from the top.

For this to happen, the leadership must be aware there is a problem, and assure the right definition of the problem to allow a solution. No matter the solution, there will always be incidents and accidents. It follows then, no matter how the problems are solved, the pilot must be trained to handle these things.

So, how is the problem defined? What is it we want to accomplish?

Let’s begin with pilot training.

What is pilot training?

Pilot training consists of different processes.

The initial flight training of five to ten hours is learning aircraft control. This process is introduction and practice manipulating the aircraft. It includes operating procedures, maneuvering, limitations, and emergencies using the machine.

Once the pilot understands how to control, he then spends additional time learning what to do with the aircraft. This process includes practice of operating procedures, navigation, and advanced maneuvering. There are associated regulation and weather procedures learned in ground schools.

Issuance of a private-pilot certificate follows completion of initial flight training. The professional pilot continues with an instrument rating, and the commercial license. The commercial license consists of continued experience accumulating flight hours to gain additional proficiency in maneuvering and navigation.

Is there a problem with pilot training?

We rely on the FAA testing criteria as being complete for the necessary subject matter and flight experience, so coupled with the expense of training, we tend to emphasize and train to pass that testing criteria.

A minimum trained pilot population?

This system relies on the commercial pilot continuing gaining experience through some one of the numerous types of flight.

The majority of the new commercial pilots become flight instructors. This perpetuates the current system of what many consider marginally trained instructors.

Is this the real problem? What does marginally trained mean.

It is the opinion of this author it is not the amount of time spent training nor the testing criteria called for by the regulators. The primary shortcoming in initial training is what is being taught.

The current texts and curriculums have many basic errors. For this reason, pilots are not always taught how to correctly control the aircraft. There must be a reappraisal of these basic requirements for properly controlling aircraft and rewritten curriculums to assure proficiency in basic aircraft control.

Experience is a many faceted thing. There is a lot of difference between experience and experiences. The nature of aviation does not allow many experiences. Ground training programs should incorporate ongoing awareness, presentation, and discussion of the numerous situations that historically have been problems for pilots. This is a valuable kind of experience and can include a large variety of normal as well as emergency situations.

Technological sophistication:

Aircraft control is the same for all aircraft. No matter the technology added for control, it always requires engine thrust, thrust-component lift, and the three flight controls. These are  basic to all aircraft. So, control of all aircraft is in the same manner. All operate in the same atmosphere under the same basic physical laws. This is the same all over the world! By convention, the same language is used internationally…the aircraft does not know language.

The cost of sophisticated aircraft limits their use for training. This is good in many respects. The majority of pilots then learn with unsophisticated aircraft. This allows them greater experience in basic flight control. It is not that the other aircraft cannot do the same. It requires elimination of sophistication to allow learning basic flight control.

This basic flight requires understanding the real effects of control and can be done much more economically with simpler machines…cost is the primary driver of training.

The simplest, cheapest machine will teach flight as well or better than any other. The teaching of sophisticated instrumentation and automatic flight is introduced after assured learning of basic flight control.

Complex and safety critical processes:

The complexity of systems in an aircraft requires additional training and experience. This is a process beyond learning flight control and in most cases requires considerable time gaining the experiences necessary to be proficient.

It is required that pilots be kept current in aircraft basic control especially regarding emergency recovery from unusual attitudes. This is basically knowing and understanding recovery from simple acrobatic maneuvering.

The time and expense of gaining and maintaining proficiency in use of flight control systems coupled with lack of basic control knowledge and currency is often a factor in accidents with complex systems.

Capital intensive and cost sensitive:

The aviation industry is very capital intensive and cost sensitive. No matter where in the world an aircraft is located, it comes from limited sources of manufacture and requires sophisticated operation, care, and repair. All operators, no matter their location, have essentially the same requirements of capital investment and because the investment is so great, operate largely on borrowed money or aircraft leases.

This makes the aviation industry very sensitive to economic conditions. The typical flight customer is traveling because he can. A large part of the business then is a luxury industry. When economic times are good, the companies often make huge profits and when economic times are bad, they often have huge losses. There are seldom any operators in the middle.

It is unlikely this will ever change.

Interdependent elements of aviation:

The owner of an aircraft makes a substantial investment in the machine.

Operation of the aircraft is dependent on operating costs, labor, fuel and maintenance.

            Fuel prices vary slightly over the world.

            Parts replacement costs vary little other than shipping.

            Labor costs can vary considerably from country to country.

Pilot costs vary from country to country, however, pilot training in all cases is very similar.

The source of funding for training also varies dependent upon the economic status of the company and country.

All pilot training is essentially the same. Slight differences in regulation exist. For international flight, all pilots are required to comply with the same basic regulations.

All this and they are saying more flight time will solve the problem. The whole flight training system is a mess. The Managements and Instructors are like the Regulators...looking for a rule change to make things safer.

Has anyone looked at all to see what causes this continued accident rate? This is an excerpt I have written of just one cause. If a person knows how to control an aircraft, they can qualify for license within 30 hours. It is just a machine. I have yet to meet a professional pilot and definitely no Instructor that can convince me they know how aircraft should be controlled...that's a pretty big statement.


There continues to be stall accidents. Most aircraft accident reports start with the comment, "the aircraft stalled and crashed".

Is it possible we don't really know what causes an aircraft to stall? I have made the point by asking, if a pilot knows what causes a stall and his aircraft stalls, does he really know, or is he committing suicide?

The emphasis on the theory and physics of what a stall is rather than why pilots continue to stall aircraft may be why there is misunderstanding of the real cause.

This may explain why, when interviewing any pilot they will give "a stall results from exceeding the critical angle of attack" as an answer. Only one of almost 200 commercial pilots I have asked "What causes a stall?" said directly, "The Pilot". It takes a discussion with questions, leading them on, to make them aware of the real answer.

Exceeding the critical angle of attack stalls, but what causes exceeding the critical angle of attack? You do, dummy!

It is all about how you say it. Samples of how to stall is presented from various sources: (*my comment)

FAA Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

 (After a full page of explanation of what a stall is!) "Remember, the direct cause of every stall is an excessive angle of attack (*by pulling the control wheel).  There are any numbers of flight maneuvers which may produce an increase in the angle of attack, but the stall does not occur until the angle of attack becomes excessive.

FAA Airplane Flying Handbook:

STALL AWARENESS--14 CFR part 61 requires that a student pilot receive and log flight training in stalls and stall recoveries prior to solo flight. During this training, the flight instructor should emphasize that the direct cause of every stall is an excessive angle of attack (*by pulling the control wheel).
           "The student pilot should fully understand that there are any number of flight maneuvers which may produce an increase in the wings angle of attack, but the stall does not occur until the angle of attack becomes excessive (*by pulling the control wheel). This "critical" angle of attack varies from 16° to 20° depending on the airplane design."


First, at the indication of a stall, the pitch attitude and angle of attack must be decreased positively and immediately. Since the basic cause of a stall is always an excessive angle of attack (*by pulling the control wheel), the cause must first be eliminated by releasing the "back-elevator pressure" that was necessary to attain that angle of attack by moving the elevator control forward to attain a positive angle of attack. (Almost said it)

A stall is caused by the pilot attempting to fly the aircraft too slowly, or to pull up too quickly from a dive, or to turn too steeply.  Each of these causes the nose to be lifted until the wing's critical angle of attack is exceeded (*by pulling the control wheel).  Increasing engine power counteracts the increased drag caused by the stall and also increases airspeed, and this helps in recovery from a stall.  The critical action in recovering from a stall is reduction in the angle of attack, i.e., lowering the nose. (Confusingly close by not really saying it.)

Federal Aviation Administration
Advisory Circular AC 61-67B, DATE: 5/17/1991

PRIMARY CAUSE: The primary cause of an inadvertent spin is exceeding the critical angle of attack (*by pulling the control wheel) for a given stall airspeed while executing a turn with excessive or insufficient rudder, and, to a lesser extent, aileron.

Stick and Rudder:  Wolfgang Lange-wiesche, p.33 (again: Saying it, but not really.

Follows with description of a stall.) Note how the pilot got into this trouble: He holds the stick hard back (*by pulling the control wheel) and the flippers (elevator) on the airplane's tail are sharply up. It is this upward deflection of the flippers that forces the ship to assume the excessive Angle of Attack. And it is this excessive Angle of Attack that causes the burbling of the airflow on the wings, and the collapse of lift.

All these sources continually regard what a stall is. Nothing is specifically telling the Student what is causing the "exceeding of the critical angle of attack". Lange-wiesche does say it but then quits flying to explain how airplanes are built and emphasize pulling the control wheel in turns.

An aircraft cannot fly too slowly. It just won't. It can't. It will descend. An attempt to make the aircraft do something it cannot do is pulling on the elevator control…the pilot causes the stall!

Anytime the airplane is going too slow to generate lift equal to or greater than its weight (or induced weight in a turn by generation of increased "g" force) it will descend. Pulling on the control wheel (inputting up elevator/manually increasing pitch) is the only cause of an excessive pitched attitude.

Remember! The ailerons, rudder, and elevator merely cause attitude. Engine Power generates the force to make the airplane go up, sustaining motion for generation of lift, and gravity is a continuous, huge negative lifting force causing the airplane go down.

Sure, the publications and books out there are correct. It is the answer a physics teacher wants to hear, but not a pilot! A pilot has no interest in angle of attack, angle of inclination, climb angle, pitch angle.

All a pilot has to work with are published indicated-airspeed and loading limitations. He reads all this on the indicated-airspeed and rate of climb indicators. He controls attitude visually referenced to the horizon or an artificial horizon. He just needs to understand to leave the elevator alone. The airplane will do its thing without all that help.

The engineers and designers must be writing the books on how to fly. Think about it. The only time you worry about physics is when on the ground discussing why airplanes fly. In the air, you are controlling. That is all you do up there. The airplane does the flying as built by those engineers and designers.

Pulling on the Elevator Control! This is the only way the airplane will exceed the critical angle of attack. Do we really understand to the extent we can convince the Student?

In normal flight, minor elevator input is used to dampen oscillation due to turbulent air or inertial effects when changing attitude or airspeed. There otherwise is little reason to be pulling on the control wheel except for landing roundout and flare.

Stall awareness and practice of stall maneuvers is missing an important input. It has become teaching a maneuver. "Let me show you how to stall!" All pilots will agree the basic recovery is to simultaneously, reduce the elevator input (push) for reduced angle of attack, level the wings, and add power.

If one reviews any publication that discusses stalls in an aircraft, there will be lots of writing on what stalls are and how to recover from them. There will be long discourse of the situations where stalls occur. There is little if any discussion on what causes an aircraft to stall in the first place.

The real emphasis in flight training should be that the pilot stalls the aircraft. There is no other way for it to happen. Pulling on the elevator control is the only way it can be done.

In most cases the discussion refers to releasing the elevator input and then says the stall is because of exceeding the critical angle of attack. Well, it won't exceed any critical angle of attack if you don't teach the pilot to do it.

The only way to recover is releasing or pushing on the elevator control or having available excess power that would enable creating thrust-component lift necessary to overcome the situation. It is that simple! There would be no need for recovery if a pilot understands not to pull in the first place.

All pilots need to be taught and drilled on the concept that this is what is happening and what to expect during a recovery. In most cases, loss of altitude will result. If you do this on the base to final turn you will still go down.

Few aircraft have power enough to recover without loss of some altitude. Down is fine. Just get the recovery before reaching the ground. As the ground approaches during recovery be careful about pulling again. It probably won't work. If you are lucky the wheels will be first to contact the ground instead of a wingtip. It is difficult to push the elevator control when low and slow unless the pilot has considered it ahead of time.

The cross control stall, typically encountered in the base to final turn, is really an inadvertent slip maneuver allowed to become a stall by holding or increasing backpressure for elevator pitch-up in a futile attempt to "make" the airplane do something.

The engine out forced landing into trees and rocks still needs continued normal short field/soft field flight control as long as possible. You'll know when it is no longer possible.

Let's try to understand what these things are and maybe simplify the whole thing to make it easier to understand and avoid. Emphasize that you must "let" the airplane do its thing. You can't "make" it do anything! Just be gentle but firm, handle it like your best friend. It will surprise you how comfortable flight control becomes.

Find Out for yourself:

Go up to a safe altitude and find out what happens with no direct elevator-pitch input when maneuvering. Learn maneuvering without touching the control wheel. To climb or descend, just coordinate a power change. Indicated-airspeed remains essentially the same.

To make constant indicated-airspeed level turns to any bank angle, just coordinate with added power for lift and rudder to coordinate steering. There will be a banking limit depending on the power available, beyond that limit descent will begin, after all, this is all the power so all it can do at this indicated-airspeed. That is a turning limit for your aircraft. Sure, if you were to pull on the elevator it would stay level slightly longer as the indicate-airspeed decreases with increased angle of attack right down to the critical angle and a stall. See, you have to do it to yourself.

For slow flight, just roll nose-up trim to any attitude and coordinate power. It will get sloppy and need quite a bit of aileron and rudder control. If you don't touch the elevator control, there will be no stall. Depending on power available, there will likely be descent at some extreme nose up trim pitch.

Make simulated steep descending turns in landing configuration with cross-controlled aileron and rudder. Is it going to stall and spin? Not if you don't pull on the elevator. You will definitely get descent. That's what slipping does.

Maneuvering for landing, low altitude maneuvers, are not the place to be doing these things. There is an old, well established, procedure for correcting need for steep turns when on final approach for landing. "Go Around!"



The problem is the condition of the current system. The general feeling from the flight training industry is that the younger Instructor Pilots are not acting in a professional manner; they don’t care about what they are doing. They only do this because the system forces them into it.

I spent many years working with these young people. It is true; most think they would prefer other kinds of flying. They don’t really know since most have never had any other job.

No matter, those I worked with did make the effort to keep the airplane safe and taught in the manner their own training and experiences allowed.

The problem, everyone has to start from zero experience. What does it take to improve the experience level of an Instructor? Time? Previous training? Closer supervision? Can a new inexperienced Instructor not be professional?

Experience is not experiences! Scenario’s written of actual events can be studied to allow gaining that experience. It is then in the mind. It will be there if the time comes, even in the middle of an emergency. It is a method of reducing innovation and invention when incurring an unusual situation. We just will not live long enough to have all those experiences.

It is a very large system, and there have always been those that were very good, and those that were very bad. Is it possible to change that? No matter the proficiency level of any group, there will, like any list, be one at the top, one at the bottom, and all else in-between.

An organized flight school with lots of Students and airplanes has a mandated training curriculum to follow. It is a lot of record-keeping blocks to fill. The cost of flight is the main consideration and tends to lead to minimization, allowing even the marginal Student to be finished.

The flight schools seldom spend the money required to teach their Instructors much of any other way than to fill the blocks…if they themselves know any other way.

It is cost, cost, cost!

How do we continue trying to fix a difficult problem, while controlling costs?

It is popular for training facilities to have the most modern equipment in an attempt to sell the course to Students. This adds to the total costs. New and modern equipment is appropriate at some point in the training, but for basic introduction and training of flight control, in most cases, sophistication is inappropriate.

Flight control proposed as an art. The airplane is a machine designed and built to fly. Directing the machine is flight control. There may be different feelings when directing that may be considered art.

Basic flight control comes from correct rote drill to develop the personal techniques that allow natural reaction to cause appropriate response of the machine. It’s not really science.

Most call it technique. It is consciously being aware of how machines work within the environment an operation takes place, the limitations of control, and requirements of machine care. It might be helpful emotionally to consider it as something alive when caring for it.

The current texts used for initial flight training have huge errors. Until this is recognized and corrected, nothing can change. Even the techniques of the best of the serious and professional Instructors, teaching something that is not correct can never hope to make much change of their results.

The best ideas will not solve the problem if the regulators do not become involved enough to upgrade and update their own system. These are the people issuing the certification.

Many different political influences typically motivate regulation. It has become time to encourage improvements in the training systems the regulators impose. Their own proposed training information has many errors that perpetuate the ongoing flawed training regime.

This kind of change does not require change of regulation but merely correcting the current information used and incorporating it in the bi-annual review training systems.

Working within different groups of “professionals”, we need to take care of the motivations of all concerned. It is usual to find represented, the manufacturers of aircraft, accessories, and other “stuff” that are trying to promote their particular products.

The costs of having an organization must be borne by someone, often the foregoing. Is this going to affect the results of any campaign for change?

Do the flight schools really want a 40 hour instead of the current 70-80 hour PPL?

It is very likely we need to revamp the whole initial training curriculum to insure the beginning Student learns safe aircraft control. After that, it is learning what to do with the machine.

To do this requires educating the total flight instructor group to learn how to control the machine.

And, to do this requires reassessment of the regulatory system to incorporate corrected training within all pilot categories. Then all can utilize the best practices and techniques.

It is much easier to profess professionalism if you are getting good results.


I am the only one explaining how aircraft control actually works. Is that proprietary? So far I’ve given away almost 500 copies of my e-book (prior to editing).

I feel I am mostly repeating myself. A point I have found from responses I get of my e-book, there are so many ways to say the same thing. 

How does one say something so everyone understands? 




This is a request for help for all Pilots. Flight Training is considered being in such shambles. Everyone in the industry is commenting, meetings are held, websites are generated, rules and regulation considered.... yet no one has really defined what these problems are.

I contend a big problem is ordinary basic flight control. It is interesting to note aviation’s biggest safety problem and least considered is at the beginning level. Basic flight control.

When every professional Airline Pilot responds to the question, “What causes an airplane to stall?” with the answer…“exceeding the critical angle of attack”, what is wrong with the system? It is so wrong it hurts to think it.

The first response a pilot should make is…“The Pilot pulling the control wheel is the only way an airplane can stall”. Exceeding the critical angle of attack is what a stall is, not the cause! All stalls are from “pilot input”…and they either happen close to the ground during slowed flight or at very high altitudes where again most operation is at slowed indicated-airspeed.

Most pilots are not really aware that very high altitude flight is slow flight. Modern aircraft with autopilots and auto throttles have hidden this aspect of flight.

No wonder things like the accident near Buffalo, N.Y. or the over water Air France incident happened. No wonder many light aircraft incidents are “stall and crash”, no wonder high altitude mach buffet and stall occur.

There is not a pilot out there that completely understands aircraft control. The books are wrong. The Pilots don’t know. The Flight Instructors don’t know. The Students can’t know.

Sure, flight conduct is safe, in the same old way with lots of excess power. Yank and bank. Pull and pull more…until something goes wrong. Sure, pilots can control their aircraft. They just don’t always know why.

I have asked over 200 professional pilots, both, airline and instructor, the same question and gotten the same wrong answer.

A pilot does not like to think he does not really know. It’s not a popular subject to try discussing what everyone already “knows”.

I contend the “stall and crash with fatalities” scenario assigned to most aircraft accidents is lack of understanding flight control. The pilots were taught incorrectly. No pilot should stall an aircraft on purpose!

It’s not just this one problem, there are more. I am convinced aircraft control is the major cause of aircraft fatalities. There are many different problems with the total system, but I would just start with “Stall and crash” vs. “land and dismantled”. A beginning has to start somewhere.

I would appreciate an opportunity to present my case to those who control the required training for all pilots. We really need to fix the system.

All pilots are required periodic flight reviews. This is an excellent, painless, low cost time and place to begin the fix.

Popular explanations of how things work are often erroneous and scientifically unsound. Wrong explanations may be given by well-meaning teachers and others, but false teaching may sometimes be just for convenience. Many years ago, a famous aerodynamicist, Dr. Theodore Von Karman, instructed his assistant: "When you are talking to technically illiterate people you must resort to the plausible falsehood instead of the difficult truth." (From Stories of a 20th Century Life, ISBN 0-915760-04-5, by W.R. Sears, former assistant to Von Karman).

We seem to have fifty years of plausible falsehood accepted as fact! All texts teach for a level, constant indicated-airspeed turn to bank, and pull the control wheel. This is so wrong for tractor aircraft! It goes on and on! A fix? Probably needs to start at the top!

I appreciate your attention.


Some of the things not fully understood about how to fly.

There is a perception that Flight Instructors are responsible for the deterioration of the flight training industry.  The young Instructor is portrayed as indifferent, lazy, or just building flight time. Once this kind of thinking starts, it becomes a way of blaming for a problem.

The workers are seldom the real problem.  It may need looking and reviewing of the management of the workers, regulations, and regulators.  Often there are many facets to any problem.

I personally have dealt with a lot of young Instructors over the past few years.  There are those who may prefer to be doing some other kind of flying and, yes, most thought they were going to the airlines…and they will, eventually.

It is no fault of anyone that there is not a direct line to the airlines.  It is just an economic fact that it can’t occur in that manner.  Everyone knows that, even the youngsters.

So what is the problem we are trying to fix?  I haven’t really seen the problem defined.  Until that occurs, it may not be possible to fix anything. 

The flight training industry has become more and more complex by the different ideas of more and more sophisticated input.  It began as a safety problem.  It then became a resource management problem, and now is a risk management problem.  I might add next probably a scenario based problem.

It’s still the same old airplane and the problem of dealing with the basic physics of flight control.

Therefore, I contend we first need to learn how to fly.  I feel very few pilots really know how aircraft are controlled.  Oh yes, they know the theory of why.  They can almost design the machine. 

A pilot is not ever concerned about the design.  I never met one that wondered if it could generate lift or even how it happened.  It’s nice to discuss on the ground, but when in the machine, think about what your real concerns are.  They are basic.  It’s just control.  It’s a machine.  A truck driver would make a good pilot.  A crane operator would make a good pilot.  They know how to operate big machines.  It ain’t science.




An attempt to explain aircraft flight and control in one page double spaced. (Didn’t quite make it double spaced but close with small font)--This is not rocket science!!

Control—of an aircraft is done with the three flight controls (rudder, aileron, elevator) plus power and elevator trim.

Rudder—inputs yaw forces to move the tail sideways, laterally to the pilot. Rotation around the vertical axis steers the direction of thrust for coordination of the turning forces.

Ailerons—attached to the outboard trailing edge of the wing causes change in the wing lift to cause banking/rolling. Rotation around the longitudinal axis results in change of heading due to a resulting horizontal component of lift.

Elevator—allows manual pitching to or away of attitude to change the angle of attack. Rotation around the transverse axis causes change of the angle of attack with resulting change of indicated airspeed allowing acceleration or deceleration.

Power—controlled with throttle input causes thrust force for acceleration to attain and sustain sufficient indicated airspeed (motion) at a given angle of attack to cause flight. In flight a change of power causes a change in thrust force resulting in a change in lift for coordinating attitude change causing climb, descent, or indicated airspeed (when coordinated with angle of attack change).

Gravity—A continuous force directed vertically downward and equal in thrust force to the mass weight of the aircraft. Engine and/or gravity component thrusts are required to sustain flight at all times.

Indicated Airspeed—A reading of the instrument. It is a measure of the air pressures encountered by the aircraft motion through the air mass to indicate the status of the aircraft lifting available. This is relative pressure speed, not a reading of airspeed or groundspeed.


Rudder and Aileron trimallow adjusting flight controls to neutral position to balance the control around the current center of gravity during flight for constant attitude “hands off” input.

Elevator trimadjustment changes the control neutral position to the angle (angle of attack) at which the aircraft frontal plate area encounters the airstream (relative wind). A setting of elevator trim causes an indicated airspeed the aircraft will fly (a kind of cruise control).

Takeoff—increased power causes excess thrust on the ground for acceleration to attain sufficient motion (indicated airspeed) for generation of lift equal to the weight of the aircraft, flight.

At lift off—“SPACE FLIGHT”

Liftoff—attainment of sufficient motion within the airmass relative to total aircraft frontal airstream encountering frontal plate area and the displacement volume at an angle of attack that causes sufficient vertical pressure to sustain flight at that indicated airspeed.

Angle of Attack—is the angle of the aircraft body and wing chord relative to the direction of movement (the relative wind) within the air mass and results in an indicated airspeed the aircraft will fly. This is the angle between the longitudinal axis and direction of motion.

Relative Wind—A generated wind caused by motion within and through an air mass. It is always exactly opposite the direction of aircraft movement. The aircraft longitudinal axis may not be exactly opposite the direction of movement due to certain body angle aspects used for creating a portion of the total lift.

Acceleration/deceleration—Allowed by changing the angle of attack, resulting in a new indicated airspeed from change of the frontal plate area encountering/displacing the airstream. Increased angle of attack will allow deceleration and decreased angle of attack will allow acceleration to a new indicated airspeed.

Aircraft Pitch—(1) noun-Angular attitude resulting from a specific angle of attack. (2) verb-Result of elevator input away from a trimmed neutral setting (elevator pitch), engine thrust-component lift (climb pitch), or changing of propeller blast, and indicated airspeed downwash from the wing air displacement.

Power/Thrust—(1) Taxi/Takeoff roll/Landing roll—Cause acceleration or deceleration. (2) Airborne—Sustains lift and with changes results in climb or descent.

Elevator and Elevator trim—pitch the aircraft to/away relative to the encountering airstream (relative wind) resulting in an angle of attack into the airmass for acceleration/deceleration to and sustaining specific indicated airspeeds.




How to fly? Don’t!

Let the machine fly. It was designed to fly. You just manage inputs to allow it to happen!

Power input causes the thrust for acceleration and speed for sufficient motion to generate lift. Power makes the airplane go up!

Elevator pitch and elevator trim set angle of attack. Angle of attack causes the indicated-speed it wants to fly (like a cruise control)

Aileron, Rudder and Elevator set attitude. Attitude is orientation of relative position and heading in the three dimensions of space.

There you have it. That is all there is to flying. See the paper, How to Fly on one page doubled spaced. Everything else is technique and regulation!

But I already know all about how to fly! So do the birds…you don’t see them stalling.

Training has never been approached with the idea of “letting the airplane fly”. Training is approached with the idea of “flying the machine”. Therefore pilots spend most of their time controlling with continuous inputs. (That’s work. That couldn’t be piloting. If it’s work it’s not for a pilot. They are inherently lazy. If that were not so, they would go out and get a decent job! r.d.r.)

There are so many ways to say the same thing and at the same time not really say it right. I am continually amazed how all the writing and discussion about how to fly is so correct and at the same time in many ways so wrong. In texts, there is seldom a completed explanation of what is actually going on.

Everyone comes so close to explaining correctly yet do not emphasize what is really happening. It is as if they are unaware of the exact meanings.

There is misuse of a lot of terminology. I cannot find any book, magazine, or other printed material that says it completely. Amazing!

It seems that flight is possible when making any one of the many different techniques of control applications. It seems to be human nature that “how I do it” is the correct way because this is the way I was taught. There are many different concepts of “correct”! That does not mean correct does not change as time and experience show different ways to do the same thing. Maybe that is technique.

It is interesting that in spite of ourselves, the Student continues to learn to fly! But, is that the real objective? The design of the airplane is to fly. It wants to fly and will do it all by itself if allowed the power to accelerate properly. Maybe another look at introduction and practice of flight and flight control is in order.

Would not a better understanding allow progress that is more complete in training? Could not lesson plans be re-ordered to allow more efficient and safe training? I think we need a discussion of the possibilities. Then we can do more than just learn to pass the checkride.

The following are questions I raise about aircraft flight and control. These questions arose when I discovered I was the only one flying an aircraft from engine start to landing roundout without touching the control wheel. Just set takeoff trim to Vy.

The basic scenario starts with a perfect airplane with centerline thrust and the elevator placed out of the wing and propeller blast effect. It is a perfectly smooth day in an aircraft with coordinated sustaining power stabilized at 5,000 feet, indicating 100 knots, and trimmed hands off. Heading control is by small rudder input. We will make no elevator or aileron inputs at any time. Strictly “hands off”!

What is the condition causing the angle of attack?

Answer: The elevator-trimmed position causes the angle of attack. The tractor engine at its slight upward angle of travel causes some thrust-component lifting at the point of attachment. This small lift is incorporated with the elevator trim for the level and climbing angle of attack.

Conclusion: Tractor engine thrust contributes to angle of attack to the extent of level flight sustaining thrust.

What happens if you add some power? A power increase above the level sustaining thrust is excess power.

Answer: Excess power is considered attempting acceleration but the power increase actually causes more thrust-component lift so the aircraft will pitch up into a climb angle. The excess forward thrust, now angled slightly up, maintains a new direction of motion with increasing altituded at the same indicated-airspeed...the elevator has not been changed.

Conclusion: Excess power makes the aircraft go up!

Same scenario; what happens if you reduce some power?

Answer: The aircraft will accelerate some and stabilize at a slightly higher indicated-airspeed as that portion of the angle of attack from the level flight sustaining power is reduced. The changed lift is from reduced engine thrust-component lifting. Gravity thrust-component from descent replaces the reduced sustaining engine thrust, maintaining the  trimmed indicated-airspeed.

Conclusion: Reducing power causes the aircraft to descend with some acceleration of reduced angle of attack effect caused by reduced engine component-thrust lifting.

Same scenario; At what airspeed does the aircraft climb or descend in the above scenarios?

Answer: In climb, there has been no change to angle of attack, only addition of climb angle. The airspeed therefore will maintain its original equilibrium and stabilize at approximately the trimmed airspeed with a climb angle caused by increased engine thrust-component lifting and the increased forward thrust-component sustaining the new direction of motion.

Conclusion: The airspeed is determined by the elevator trim setting, which establishes the angle of attack. Angle of attack sets the airspeed! (a kind of cruise control). From level sustained flight, added thrust increases thrust-component lifting causing climb pitch angle.

Same scenario:  Starting at 5,000 feet, 100 knots, trimmed hands off. Gradually input some rudder to establish a standard rate turn. What happens?

Answer: Slight differences in each wing lift causes the aircraft to slowly bank into a turn but with a gradual descent at the trimmed angle of attack indicated airspeed of 100 knots, as the vertical components of lift have been reduced.

Conclusion: Some vertical component aerodynamic lift is lost when banked since lift is outward from the top of the aircraft.

Same scenario: Starting at 5,000 feet, 100 knots, trimmed hands off. Gradually input some rudder to establish a standard rate turn. Power makes the aircraft go up so adding coordinated power increases the vertical lift to maintain visual nose tracking level along the horizon, maintaining the 5,000 feet. What happened?

Answer: The aircraft makes a level, constant indicated-airspeed, hands off turn! Bank is controlled with small rudder inputs as necessary to control input effects of added power.

Conclusion: Coordinated power in a turn adds engine thrust-component lift with coordinated rudder offsetting any effects that power will make to the turn. No aileron effects are involved. Prior fixed angle of attack from trimmed elevator pitch causes the airspeed to be constant. Power coordination adds lift moment to maintain the total vertical lift components equal to the weight plus centripetal loading of the airplane.

Same scenario: Starting at 5,000 feet, 100 knots, trimmed hands off. Gradually input some rudder to establish a gradual increased bank while adding power to maintain visual tracking of the nose level along the horizon. Continue adding bank with power coordination until power is maximum at the constant altitude. What happens?

Answer:  The aircraft gradually enters a steeper banked attitude. At some angle of bank, the power will have been advanced to maximum power. If further increasing bank there will not be sufficient power to maintain altitude and the aircraft would begin a gradual descent.

Conclusion: There is a maximum bank angle that a given aircraft has enough power to maintain level at a constant indicated-airspeed. For most small aircraft this will be less than 40 degrees of bank.

Scenario: Starting at a safe maneuvering altitude, Set up the aircraft in landing configuration with gear, landing flaps and trimmed hands off to the approach airspeed.

Gradually input some rudder to establish a gradual increased bank while adding power to maintain level flight. Continue adding bank until power is maximum at the constant altitude. What happens?

Answer: The aircraft gradually enters a steeper banked attitude. At some angle of bank the power will have been advanced to maximum power. Again with further increasing bank, there will not be sufficient power to maintain altitude and the aircraft would begin a gradual descent.

Conclusion: There is a maximum bank in any configuration that an aircraft has power sufficient to maintain altitude before it will start descending. In the landing configuration this maximum bank associated with the approach airspeed should be noted. This becomes an operating limit for this aircraft since at low altitudes the pilot should maintain attitudes and airspeeds such that descent can always be positively controlled. Minimum airspeed operation should always be at some indicated-airspeed above this known operating limit. The added drag of full configuration will limit the bank angle possible for level turns.

Same scenario: Starting at 5,000 feet, 100 knots, trimmed hands off. Input full nose up elevator trim with added power as necessary to maintain altitude. Maintain heading with rudder. What happens?

Answer: The aircraft will slow to some minimum airspeed as called for by the trim setting angle of attack. If maximum power setting is not sufficient for maintaining altitude the aircraft will start descending at this minimum airspeed. It may be quite unstable at this very slow airspeed and require constant rudder input to maintain heading. It will be a “behind the power curve” situation.

Conclusion: The aircraft will become unstable and with added induced drag of the high angle of attack possibly start a descent even at maximum power setting.

Same scenario and conditions: Change power to full and monitor response, then reduce to idle and monitor the response. What happened?

Answer: The rate of climb and/or descent changed.

Conclusion: Power changes when operating at the maximum trimmed nose up elevator change the climb/descent rate. Minimum indicated-airspeed (high angle of attack) remains the same. At idle power there may be a small indicated-airspeed increase when reducing the engine thrust component lifting. Constant altitude may not be possible depending on the specific airplane and maximum power available.

The above scenarios are problem concepts for most pilots since training has never been approached with the idea of “letting the airplane fly”. Training usually is approached with the idea of “flying the machine” attempting to make it do what you want. Therefore, most pilots spend most of their time trying to control with continuous inputs.

Initial flight training should not be overly concerned with exact altitudes and headings.

The first concepts of control require learning the use of controls and their responses. Minimized or no elevator input should be emphasized to assure the Student knows what to expect from control responses.

The basic concept of flight training is controlling through specific maneuvers. These particular maneuvers related to normal operation are drilled to proficiency to allow positive control. Along with maneuvering, is the concept of manual over-control that leads to causing the aircraft to the stall.

Throughout the history of flight, the stall has been related to a large percentage of accidents in aviation. The search for an explanation has led to the concept that pilots are not being trained on the real cause of the stall and especially how to operate the aircraft to avoid it happening.

(A concept that comes to mind is, if the pilot really understands what causes the stall then if he does actually stall near the ground and dies, was he committing suicide. r.d.r)

So, what causes a stall? In the scenarios that were flown in the above examples there was no stall. These operations were at attitudes and airspeeds known to lead to stalls but nothing untoward happened.

Why? Because the pilot was not touching the elevator control! When an aircraft approaches a minimum trimmed airspeed and/or reduced lift situation the thrust-component effect of gravity causes it to start descending to sustain the minimum situation. There is no stall!

What would happen if the pilot pulled the elevator control to force it into an extreme angle of attack? The aircraft would stall. There is a maximum angle of attack for all aircraft with any specific wing design that will result in a stall. A positive stable aircraft will never exceed that angle if left alone. Pulling on the elevator control is the only cause that leads to extreme angle of attack and a stall. “The pilot causes the stall!” There is no other way.

Now repeat the scenarios above with pilot input to force the aircraft to continue decelerating. There will be a stall every time. The major confirmation of approaching a low airspeed stall is the added amount of control required to cause change. Awareness of “sloppy” control feel is a major factor in recognition of flight that may be too slow or approaching a stall situation.

The base turn to final scenario must be drilled for kinesthetic awareness of flight conditions. In turns the nose can be directed at or below the horizon with large angles of attack. There is no way to discern an extreme nose up attitude in a turn.

High airspeed accelerated stalls are also caused by pilot over control with the elevator. “The pilot causes the stall”. There are just some things the airplane will not do by itself.


How about the nitty-gritty of initial flight training. So far all it amounts to is pushing and pulling the throttle and pedaling the rudder. Throw in a little elevator trim change for different indicated-airspeeds and that’s it.

There is the obvious “normal” use of manual elevator pitch. We have already minimized its use. In usual flight at the faster cruise indicated-airspeeds, manual elevator pitch is used to initiate attitude change and even for maintaining altitude in turns.

This works when you have those higher indicated-airspeeds. Don’t fool yourself that this results in constant indicated-airspeed flight…it just doesn’t. It doesn’t usually matter in the big scheme of things, until you begin maneuvering in the slower flight of approach to landing conditions.

All approaches to landing, normal or emergency, powered or with loss of power, are flown at minimized indicated-airspeeds. Maneuvering at slower indicated-airspeed means higher angle of attack operation. The potential of approaching, or exceeding the wing critical angle of attack is increased. Any centripetal loading during turns will always increase stall indicated-airspeeds. However, increased centripetal loading only occurs with increased elevator-pitch input.

Extreme elevator-pitch input at any indicated-airspeed will cause stall. This is always manually pulling the aircraft into the critical angle of attack attitude.

We have just found that flight without pulling the control wheel, eliminates the likelihood of reaching this wing critical angle of attack. So, let’s teach minimized use of manual elevator pitch when flying at slow indicated-airspeeds…if we are slow and need to do extreme maneuvering, maybe we should go-around.




As someone said, “A pilot with 20,000 hours of flight experience.  Is that real or is it 20 years with the same 1,000 experiences?”

Experiences are what you get when you go flying.  When you return, you have added experience to that which you already had before leaving. 

Experience comes from many sources.  Obviously, actual flight experiences are gaining experience.  However, there is the information you can acquire from others relating their experience and experiences. Additionally, any source of obtaining information about flight that you have not yet received is more experience.

Reading publications about flight, discussions with others or just thinking about scenarios that have or might present themselves are ways to gain experience.

A pilot will never gain all the available experience and a pilot certainly does not want to have all the experiences in actual flight.  All you can do is be continually aware of the need to keep current with any available flight information while being willing to exchange your own experience with others.

I once survived an accident using a technique I had discussed with another pilot five years previously.  Another time I recalled something I previously had read in a safety magazine three years before that caused me to terminate a flight before it became dangerous.

Scenario based training of this kind is important to the total training of a pilot and is easily incorporated into a training curriculum. 

Any pilot can develop his own scenario-based training by reading published accident and incident reports that are available from the NTSB website.  There are both actual accident reports and immunity reports that can give anyone much pause for thought and discussion.  There is no end!  After all flight is a continuous series of mistakes.  You are just passing through your heading and altitude. 

Sources for Scenario Experience Building:

          Consideration of everyday mixups.

          Immunity Reports  http://www.37000feet.com/

          Actual reported accidents; http://aviationdb.net/aviationdb/AidQuery#SUBMIT


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1) What makes an aircraft stall?  What stalls an aircraft?  How does an aircraft stall?

a) The Pilot!  Pulling and holding the control wheel to cause exceeding the critical angle of attack.  That’s it. The only way it can happen! The Pilot stalls the aircraft!

2) In flight, how does an aircraft accelerate?

(a) Thrust increase (engine or gravity-component) causes acceleration.
(b) But, it requires coordinated angle of attack decrease to allow acceleration.

3) What causes climb angle?

a) Excess thrust, the thrust above that required for sustaining a constant indicated-airspeed in level flight.

4) How does density altitude affect aircraft performance?  Reduced engine thrust!  We usually don’t        talk thrust in little airplanes.  We need to discuss the difference in airflow mass versus airflow         volume.  Don’t just say airflow, it doesn’t make sense to an airplane.

a) Reduced density of higher altitudes and/or higher temperatures and humidity reduces the oxygen mass per unit volume available for burning in the engine.  This results in reduced engine thrust possible.  A small aircraft engine capable of 400 pounds thrust at sea level may only be capable of 200 pounds thrust at ten thousand feet.  If it requires 160 pounds of thrust to sustain that aircraft in flight at a given indicated-airspeed, there is very little excess thrust for takeoff acceleration or in-flight climb and maneuvering. You are hugely underpowered.  This has nothing to do with mountain flying, it is the low powered flight that relates to high altitude mountains.

5) What is different in flight control between tractor and pusher engine aircraft?

a) An increase of thrust with a tractor engine will pitch the nose up.  From level flight, an increase of thrust becomes climb pitch if there is no change made to the angle of attack.
b) An increase of thrust with a pusher engine will pitch the nose down.  Throughout all regimes of flight, any change of thrust is a change of angle of attack allowing accceleration and must have coordinated elevator-pitch change to maintain the angle of attack for constant indicated-airspeed.

6) How does power change affect angle of attack from sustained thrust, level, constant
indicated-airspeed flight?         
a) Tractor engine: Increase thrust does not change angle of attack but causes climb angle from increased thrust-component  lifting.  Decrease thrust below level sustaining thrust allows some reduced angle of attack and related acceleration from gravity-component thrust (descent). 
b) Pusher engine: In all cases, increased engine thrust pitches the nose down and reduction of engine thrust allows the nose to pitch up causing angle of attack change.  Elevator pitch must always be coordinated for maintaining a constant indicated-airspeed angle of attack in all realms of flight.

7) All texts state to make a level constant indicated-airspeed turn, roll to an angle of bank, and pull     the control wheel to maintain level.  Is this possible?  Pulling the control wheel increases angle of     attack with resultant slowing?

a) No!
b) Tractor engine: Coordinating added engine thrust will provide increased thrust-component lift for level turn to some maximum bank angle dependent on the thrust available (most small aircraft at maximum power will sustain level turn up to 30-40 degrees bank).  To maintain a level turn with further bank angle, it requires coordinated elevator pitch up and accepting the related slowing of using the momentum of the aircraft’s kinetic energy.
c) Pusher engine: All turns require coordinated increased thrust and elevator pitch to allow a constant angle of attack for the constant indicated-airspeed turn.  Angle of bank beyond that coordinated at maximum thrust requires continued elevator pitch up and related slowing from using the aircraft’s kinetic energy to maintain the level turn.

8) What controls angle of attack pitch?
    Tractor engine: Control of angle of attack pitch is with elevator position coordinated with level         flight sustaining engine thrust-component lifting. Increased thrust above level sustaining thrust         does not change angle of attack.

a) Descent is reducing below level flight sustaining thrust, requiring some elevator coordination to maintain the angle of attack pitch for a constant indicated-airspeed. 
b) Pusher engine: Angle of attack pitch always requires opposite elevator-pitch coordination with any engine thrust setting or change of thrust.

9) What controls climb pitch angle?

a) Tractor engine: Excess thrust-component lifting from level flight sustaining-thrust causes climb pitch angle.
b) Pusher engine: Excess thrust beyond that required for the coordinated elevator pitched angle of attack indicated-airspeed will become climb pitch angle while simultaneous elevator pitch must be coordinated to maintain the constant angle of attack.

10) How is visual flight control accomplished?

a) Sighting of references outside the aircraft, primarily the horizon, or points on the horizon.  The references are aligned with a point on the windshield and maneuvered to be unmoving.  Bank angle is the angle of the horizon seen across the windshield.  This sets up a “directed course” toward which the aircraft will fly.  A directed course is a collision course.  Visual control is flight by collision course toward a distant reference.

11) How do you visually control to a landing spot?

a) Maneuver to place the landing area centered low and unmoving sighted through the windshield.  Power adjustment of pitch and rudder/aileron steering maintains the flight toward the chosen landing spot.

12) What technique allows safe, slow indicated-airspeed, low altitude steep turns?

a) A powered zoom then turning with assured down elevator input for a reduced thrust dive.  This is a turning climb while allowing natural pitching down from slowing with coordinated rudder and elevator-pitch input to assure nose-down descending acceleration.  This a non-acrobatic “wing-over” with up to a 60-degree banked steep turn. Similar to lazy-eight entry. 
b) As a low-altitude engine failure maneuver, if previously practiced, a pilot will know the technique and know how much altitude is required for an emergency engine-out 180-degree turn...Don’t try it if you don’t know!

13)  During turns, what visual reference is there for determining angle of attack?

a) None!!!  In slowed flight (approach), you must always be consciously aware of any elevator-pitch control input during turns to avoid inadvertent stall conditions.  Coordinated Power and Rudder steering must predominate.

14)  Almost three-fourths of the engine-out emergency landings touchdown on the selected area,         mid-field or beyond.  In these conditions, how can you assure touchdown at a selected spot?

a) See item 11 above.  Maneuver to have the selected touchdown spot unmoving in the windshield.

15)  How do you survive an emergency landing?

a) At or shortly after touchdown, there will be a time when you realize you no longer are in control.  At that time, “you are now a passenger”.  You must be conscious when the airplane stops…protect your head in any way possible.

16)  Why are most engine-out off-field landings classified "stall and crash"?

a) The aircraft was stalled prior to touchdown.  There must be a controlled landing, even into the rocks or trees. 

17)  Why are Private Pilots not required to demonstrate proficiency in emergency off-field     touchdowns?

a) I don’t know either!  They are the ones most likely to need it.  The maneuvering to within 500 feet of the ground does not teach landing at a desired spot.  See item 11 again!

18) Inadvertent IMC 180-degree recovery turn:

a) Turn loose of the control wheel.

b) Push the rudder of the high wing while observing the turn-needle. 

c) Just watch the turn needle and control to an indicated standard rate turn and hold for one minute.

d) Gradually release rudder to show zero bank on the turn needle...fly out of the condition.

    This procedure is in the POH emergency section of older model Cessna 150 and 172.  I have asked     almost 200 Flight Instructors flying these aircraft about it and none had ever read it! Professional     pilots, even Flight Instructors, maybe figure little airplanes are all the same so tend not reading or     teaching the complete POH.

 19) Descent and Approach power and control differences...tractor engine.

a) In descent, adding power from reduced thrust adds thrust-component lift, which adds to angle of attack and slowing.

b) In descent, adding aft elevator adds angle of attack and slowing.

    So how does one accelerate in descent? (tractor engine)

a) In descent, reducing power further reduces angle of attack and allows some acceleration.

b) In descent, forward elevator (pushing) reduces angle of attack and allows acceleration

     Ya hafta think about this a little, because what happens when leveling or initiating a go-around?

a) Leveling with added thrust increases engine thrust-component lifting adding angle of attack and slowing.

b) Leveling with pulling the control wheel is adding angle of attack and slowing…more.

20) Flight below Vy, slow flight.  Trimmed hands-off control is primary.

a) Slow flight maneuvering should be with very careful minimum or no aft elevator input. 

b) Rudder/aileron steering coordinated with power thrust-component lifting (with coordinated pushing only of the elevator) should predominate when slow.  Short final approach to parking should be rudder steering.

21) Right of Way.

a) There is no such thing.  You recognize a collision course, you give way.  You have no idea if the other aircraft or object sees you.  Up or down is quickest.  With time, also turn toward the target to keep it in view and pass behind.

 22)  During engine start attempt, how do you determine if the mixture is too rich or too lean?

a) Close the mixture and crank a few seconds.  That will dry out any rich mixture.  You now know it is lean…if it was rich, during cranking it will pass through a condition of proper mix and possibly fire during this process.  Rapid opening of the mixture control may allow start.
b) Deliberate excess fuel then cranking to dry the combustion chambers if done as a starting technique is a “Flood Start”!




The relationship of crewmembers in an aircraft is a specific culture.  The Captain is responsible for maintaining the behavioral culture of his aircraft.  This involves any flight, single pilot or crewed. 

The Simplistic View
Airplanes from all over the world operate under the same basic laws of physics.  No matter the Country, Language, or Culture, the same physical laws, apply.

Design of airplanes all over the world use the same basic methods of developing power.  They all use engine driven propeller or jet turbine thrust systems.
Airplanes all over the world use the same basic control systems.  They all require elevators, rudders, ailerons, and power.
Airplanes all over the world operate in the same kinds of environments.  They all have to contend with different weather conditions, pressure changes and respond similarly to variations of their operating conditions and situations.

What this Means
No matter, who, whether they are big or small, smart or dumb, native or alien, speak or do not speak English, religious or atheist, black or white or red or blue, all pilots must do the same things to operate an aircraft.

There is one set of physical laws and one set of designated operating rules for all aircraft.  Because of worldwide agreement, there is one language.  So, there is only one way to fly all aircraft!

Personal technique often makes it seem that there are differences.  Pilot training and experience makes it seem there is a difference.  However, an aircraft does not know any of this.  They just respond to the control inputs of a pilot at the time.  The complications involved when flying are the pilot’s perception of the situation and his reactions at the time.  The aircraft does not know.  It just keeps going, and it is the pilot’s responsibility to stay ahead.

Standardization of operation and cockpit environment, require a complete understanding by all crewmembers of their place in the hierarchy of aircraft operation.  This relationship, of crewmembers results in the development of an aircraft culture.


We all have our own Cultures.  Individual cultures are their life experiences, beginning at the time of birth.    Associations within a person’s environment create “Individual Culture”.  It follows that there is “Group Culture” consisting of combined experiences pertaining to education, religion, towns and cities, provinces, countries and on and on.  We have our own combined “World Culture” which is distinct from those of other worlds as depicted by science fiction writers.

We all have an understanding, and interpretation, of expectations of ourselves, and from those with whom we associate.  Even your personal culture can be different in many ways from that of your own parents.  A multitude of cultures has evolved because of the vast dispersion of the world’s population.

It is likely, that most of the problems in the world involve misunderstanding, or conflicts between individuals or groups, due to their different expectations based on their cultural beliefs.

It is not practical to assume that any one culture is better or worse than the other.  It is necessary to understand that individuals of different cultures who are trying to associate with each other be cognizant that there are differences, and be prepared to accommodate those differences as much as possible.  The most effective method of accommodation is usually through communication.

The aviation industry has a culture of its own.  It is necessary for those to understand that culture.  Just as those of different cultures must learn to accommodate each other, individuals in the aviation industry must accommodate and adapt to this culture.

The airplane crew is a culture.  A crewmember must understand and operate in a way to ensure maintaining the aircraft “Crew Culture”. Teaching procedures and standards insures the crew maintains that culture.    Requirements of the crew culture may be contrary to the fixed cultural beliefs of individual crewmembers.  For this reason, it is necessary for everyone to know what Culture means and how we must modify of our behavior to operate in these different situations.

Crew Culture/Crew Resource Management
Maintaining a crew culture involves “Crew Resource Management (CRM)” and understanding of “Crew Concept”.  These are concepts added to aviation training courses and are the basis for most of the standardization procedures used in the operation of an aircraft.

One of the basic premises is that the Captain of a flight should use all the resources available to him for the operation of his aircraft in both normal and emergency situations.

These resources include the Crew, Air Traffic Control, Dispatch, other aircraft, and any other possible source of information pertaining to a given situation.  The use of Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Crew Concept needs understanding by all those involved enabling the Captain to receive the necessary input in an efficient way.

To begin, it is best to define the function of the Resources that are available:

The Captain
What is a Captain?

We all know that the Captain is the designated Commander of the Aircraft and is the “Final Authority” in the flight decision-making process.  Technically his authority over the aircraft begins with the release of the brakes.

Obviously, the Captain has decision authority over the flight planning, preparation and loading of the aircraft. The Captain ascertains accomplishment of proper and legal preparation before starting the flight.  The decisions at that time have nothing to do with the actual operation of the aircraft, just the preparation to fly.  The Captain during flight preparation has the authority only to request what he feels is required, or to refuse the flight.

After approving the preparation for flight, and having started the operation by releasing the brakes, the Captain has now become "God”.  Just as a ship at sea, an aircraft in the air is in an environment that requires special considerations to maintain its prescribed mission and the safety of everyone and everything involved.

The management of the aircraft by the Captain requires him to seek the expertise of the crewmembers to assist and aid in the correct operation.  Though the Captain makes final decisions and has accepted full responsibility for the operation of the aircraft, he needs to assure himself he has received all input and maintain a congenial or accepting attitude with the crew to ensure they feel their input wanted, expected and accepted.

An emergency allows a Captain   to use “Good Judgment”, if he deems it appropriate, to deviate from rule or regulation, for the safety of the aircraft.

Acceptance of the crew by the Captain should be considered in the same light as his own conscience and personality.  Considering alternatives is merely extending those possibilities when accepting input from a crewmember.  In a complex situation, the crew input could be the only viable source and must be considered just as seriously as if the Captain himself had been the source.

Commonsense is not written into the regulations and probably needs some consideration to determine if it is ever appropriate since safety, regulation, and legalities govern most operations.  The owners of the machines are typically motivated by costs.  Lawsuits can be very expensive.

Safety and Regulation then are the primary guides to most operations.  Efficiency of operation is highly desired and opportunities to apply efficiency are often available through the use of commonsense.  One has to be careful it does not override safety and regulation.

Though the position of Captain is “God”, he is not “King”, all encompassing judgment, and benevolence, vs. dictatorship.

The Crew
Who are the Crew, just about everyone else?  Assigned personnel trained to assist in the operation of aircraft.  These are the copilot (co-captain), flight engineer, navigator, attendants, and any specialist for special operations etc.  Aiding the Captain though not necessarily thought of as crewmembers are functionaries such as ATC, Tower, Flight Services, and even passengers.

What is a crewmember?  A crewmember is an extension of the Captain.

In complex situations, it is impossible for the Captain to attend to all the required operations of large aircraft.  Crewmember assignment of duties, to assist the Captain, gives the responsibility to fulfill these duties with or without direct supervision.

The total operation of the aircraft, its systems, welfare of its occupants, and the conduct of any crewmember is the responsibility of the Captain.  At the same time, the result of any action of a crewmember is the same as if the Captain himself had done it.  In other words, a crewmember is an extension of the Captain.

A crewmember has the responsibility to do what the Captain in their place would do.  Though this may seem impossible, and in reality not done exactly, the standardization of rules, regulations, and procedures as established to manage the aircraft, allows the crew to know what the Captain would do, and they can thereby, reasonably conduct operations as the Captain would want.  At the same time, the Captain can feel confident he is operating the machine properly.

The Crew must realize they are the Captain.  The training of standardized procedures by all participating in the system allows the crewmember to know what the Captain would have done in their stead.  It is the responsibility of the crewmember to exercise reasonable judgment when handling any problem, and advise assuring the Captain knows of the problem, allowing an opportunity to confirm or deny actions.

The Rest of the Crew
On an airline, a management area, unrelated to the cockpit crew, often regulates the flight attendants and their duties.  There is a tendency for them to be considered “Crew” only in an emergency, when they magically become required to assist the cockpit crew with their part of the aircraft.

In ongoing operations, it is appropriate to assure the flight attendants they are part of the crew.  It is the Captains’ responsibility to ensure that the flight attendants are aware of their place in the hierarchy of crewdomism.

An example of command chain for a crew is; A junior flight attendant with a problem will advise the senior attendant (the Captain representative to that crewmember).  The senior attendant advises how to handle the problem.  The Captain just solved the problem.

If the senior attendant does not know how to solve the problem, advises the junior cockpit member, who either solves the problem or relays it to the Captain for his decision.  If a junior flight attendant delays a trip, the Captain delays the trip!  If an attendant spills coffee, the Captain spills the coffee!

  How does it Work
The basic premise is every crewmember follows standard operating procedures, and in doing so, is the Captain doing the prescribed duty.  There is forwarding of nonstandard or unusual problems, which they cannot handle, to the next senior position until there is a solution.  Commonsense and judgment have to be used to know how far a given situation progresses before the Captain himself gets directly involved.

It is imperative all crewmembers are knowledgeable enough of this process, that they do not become a victim of a situation where the Captain is unaware, and cannot intervene, if necessary.  When a problem gets to the place no one is sure what should be decided, it is appropriate for the Captain to become involved.  It is essential the Captain always know what has happened.

The operation of complex aircraft, with the attendant problems of caring for passengers, makes it   important that the Captain create an atmosphere with the crew of his willingness to receive their input. He must ensure they understand his position, and his awareness of the relationship, and responsibilities of Captain and Crew.

It is equally important for crewmembers to advise the Captain of their disagreement of his decisions if they deem it appropriate.  Though it may be difficult to do, it is imperative not allowing the Captain to make an obvious mistake that a crewmember judges may become dangerous.  It is always best to resolve issues as quickly as possible without personal feelings getting involved.  The fast moving environment of aviation does not allow for prolonged disagreement.  Always resolve an issue expeditiously and wait to argue the case after landing.

As a Captain and/or Crewmember, it is also necessary to address mistakes.  Again, it is only human to make mistakes.  The response to mistakes is often to find a place to lay blame.  In reality, a mistake is not something done on purpose.  The statistic often quoted by institutions is that pilot error occurs in most accidents.  You could explain the cause in many ways.  One-hundred percent of the time the pilot made the mistake of flying that day.

When in flight, and noting a mistake, the quicker one realizes, admits, or at least is aware, the quicker rectifying the problem can be rectified  The Captain and Crew should be cognizant of how mistakes relate to the operation and the necessity of quick resolution.  Again, the Captain made the mistake though a crewmember may have caused it.  Not making the Captain aware of the mistake that a crewmember or the Captain himself have made, the crewmember has made another mistake.

Just as in the military, where the senior person takes charge, someone in an aircraft must also always be in charge.  If the Captain is missing or even distracted from the operation of the aircraft, the next assigned person is to take charge.

It is important to note that the one assigned to fly the aircraft is not necessarily always in tune with the current operation.  All other crewmembers must continually act as if they were also operating the aircraft to backup the one in charge in case of distraction or other cause.

Communication is always important to remind the Captain of situations or conditions of which you are not sure he is aware.  Questioning the one in charge to ensure awareness is essential.  A backseat driving mode, it is always better saying something not needed, than not to say something that should be said.

Differences of opinion between the Captain and other Crewmembers regarding flight or flight procedures should normally be decided toward the most conservative solution.  In fast moving situations, it can be appropriate for the Crewmember to take action while determining the Captains’ decision.

In the flight environment, it is also important that those in control, such as the Air Traffic Control, Tower, and Dispatch aware of mistakes or situations that may affect the safe operation in their area of responsibility.

Operational Procedures
All Crewmembers trained to perform their assigned functions/duties assures compliance with the many details of preparation.   For the accomplishment of these tasks, it is necessary to abide by each procedure.  Standardized procedures allow all crewmembers to know how to accomplish a given operation.

It requires accomplishment of Checklists to ensure completion of procedures.    Accomplish checklists on command, by Challenge and Response, with both crewmembers participating, or unilaterally by one crewmember reading aloud, and announcing accomplished when completed.

If possible all procedural actions should be accomplished prior to reading the checklist.  Usually, a checklist requires no action, unless a procedure requires deferral of the action. The announcement "checklist completed" notifies final completion when done.  Any interruption of a checklist requires that it should be repeated entirely.

This then is the “Aircraft Culture”

When operating in the fast moving little island in the sky, all participants necessarily must ensure continuous awareness of the environment in which they operate.  It is in no way like that of any other world!




From the March/April FAA Flight Safety-Brief:

By Gene Hudson an Assistant Chief Flight Instructor at Trade Winds Aviation at Reid-Hillview Airport, San Jose, Calif.
Gene has been a flight instructor since 1987 and has logged over 17,000 hours in over 100 aircraft types.

Year after year, stall/spin events account for a disturbing number of general aviation accidents. According to the Air Safety Institute’s Nall Report, “failure to maintain airspeed” appears as a proximate or contributing cause in roughly 40 percent of the fatal accidents. This statistic persists in spite of stalls, stall recovery, and stall prevention having been taught — ad nauseam — to virtually every candidate for every certificate, rating, flight review, insurance checkout, and type certificate over the last half-century, or more.

Someone once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” It is the opinion of this author — a long-time flight instructor — that the results demonstrate that we in the flight instruction profession are not giving our customers an adequate methodology for dealing with this problem. Specifically, we do not provide a sufficiently clear and effective means of preventing unintentional stalls. This article is an attempt to define such a methodology.

Central to the problem of the prevention of unintentional stalls is a general misunderstanding of how and why an aircraft will stall. Too often, we hear discussed the aircraft’s stall speed; in fact, the aircraft stalls if, and only if, the wing exceeds the critical angle of attack. That this will occur at a particular speed is only true given a closely defined set of con­ditions. Any stall speed is only valid at a particular combination of weight and load factor; the critical angle of attack does not change as long as the flap configuration is constant.

A second poorly understood concept is the issue of trim and stability. Pilots tend to think that the aircraft trims to an airspeed; this, also, is only true under particular circumstances. The static stability of an airplane tends to drive it back to a trimmed angle of attack. This will correspond to a particular airspeed only under steady-state conditions.

The stability of the aircraft can be used to the pilot’s advantage with regard to stall prevention. In a nutshell, let go of the controls. Once releasing the controls, the aircraft will return to the trimmed angle of attack (regardless of the airspeed) within a little more than a second. Most aircraft will not trim to an angle of attack that exceeds the critical angle of attack; thus, with very rare exception, an aircraft loaded for­ward of the aft center of gravity limit cannot be stalled in hands-off flight.

Unintentional stalls, then, occur when the pilot applies enough backpressure on the yoke to overcome the natural stability of the aircraft, leave the trimmed angle of attack, and exceed the critical angle of attack. It would seem, then, that we could eliminate unintentional stalls by warning pilots to avoid applying excessive backpressure. One would think this would work. His­tory tells us, however, that it does not. Discovering the reason for this paradox requires bringing some outside knowledge into play. In particular, I find it helpful to consider the 19th century contributions of German anatomist and physiologist Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795-1878), and his student, physicist and philosopher Gustav The­odor Fechner (1801-1887).

These two scientists developed the theory of perception, defining the “just noticeable difference (JND),” or, in other words, the minimum change in a stimulus required to trigger perception. With regard to pressure stimulus (such as force on the yoke), the JND is a change of approximately 14 percent of the pressure already present. Today, the relationships they defined are referred to as the Weber-Fechner law, or the W-F law. It is common knowledge in physiology but, unfortunately, not so well known in aviation.

Several features of the W-F law are important to flight operations. First, any stimulus (yoke pressure) which is constant will fade from perception over a short time. A pilot who is flying in an out-of-trim condition will soon lose the ability to perceive that he or she is applying any elevator pres­sure at all. The out-of-trim condition becomes the new zero; the pilot cannot trim it off, because they do not perceive that it is there.

Second, a constant stimulus (i.e., steady back­pressure to compensate for being out-of-trim) will elevate the just-noticeable-difference. If the pilot is holding a constant 20 lbs. backpressure, the mini­mum pressure change he or she can feel on the yoke is now 2.8 lbs., in any direction. Every attempt to make a “small” input will become a “small” input plus 2.8 lbs. of additional pressure that the pilot has no way to know he or she is applying. The result is over-controlling; small, precise inputs are impos­sible. Also, the pilot will tend to make unintended inputs, in pitch and roll, across a 5.6 lb. “dead spot” in his or her perception. This can be especially vexing when the pilot is attempting to accomplish non-flying tasks, such as reading a chart, or dialing a radio frequency; he or she will apply an unknown and unintended input up to the limits of the JND.

A pilot flying in this manner is much more at risk of inducing an unintentional stall. Too many pilots are in the habit of flying the aircraft with large control pressures, far away from the trimmed angle-of-attack. The elevated JND makes it easy to acciden­tally apply the control forces necessary to overcome the stability of the aircraft and drive it to and past the critical angle of attack.

What can we do?

To avoid the unintentional stall, we need to develop the habit of flying the aircraft in trim and hands off. An airplane which is in trim and flown hands off is (with rare exception) impossible to stall. The natural (static) stability will drive it to and hold it at the trimmed (not stalling) angle of attack; flying hands-off ensures the pilot will not force the aircraft away from the trimmed (not stalling) condition.

Getting into a perfectly trimmed condition is not always as easy as it sounds. For most pilots, it requires a change in the way we touch the controls. Due to the physiology, it is virtually impossible for pilots to trim an aircraft precisely if their hands are still on the yoke.

Trimming, then, requires that we trim the aircraft to the limits of our perception (trim off the pressure), and then let go. Only with the hands off the yoke can we observe the change in pitch attitude and vertical speed, which is the clue to the remaining out-of-trim condition that existed below our ability to perceive. Once observed, the change should prompt the pilot to pitch (with the yoke, not the trim) back to the desired pitch attitude and rate of climb, trim slightly against the error, and try again. Only when the aircraft will stay at the desired pitch attitude and vertical speed for five to 10 seconds in hands-off flight can it be considered to be truly in trim.

Once in trim, the pilot should endeavor to avoid violating that trim. That is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Said another way, the pilot should not touch the yoke unless there is presently an error in pitch that needs correction. If the airplane is doing what it should, there is no need to touch it!

All transitions in airspeed, power setting, and configuration will induce some trim change. Immediately address any change in the trimmed condition to bring the aircraft back to the desired trim. Once regaining the trim, maintain it by flying hands off to the maximum possible extent.

It is important to realize that the oft-repeated advice “use a light grip” is, unfortunately, a mis­nomer. Another principle of physiology, the grab-and-grip reflex, makes this so. Under stress, the reflex induces us to unconsciously grab hold (of the yoke) and grip with increasing pressure. Over time, the light grip will invariably escalate to the famed white knuckles condition we see so often, and create all of the same problems as an out-of-trim condition. Thus, when a pilot does have to make a control input, it is important to avoid setting up a grip condition; it is better to touch the yoke, rather than to grip it. Use the minimum pressure required to achieve the desired correction, and then go back to hands off.

If you’ve developed the uneasy feeling that this methodology involves a radical change in the way we fly, you would be correct. It requires discipline, thought, and practice to achieve truly in-trim and hands-off flying skills but the rewards are worth it: better stall resistance, smoother ride for the passen­gers, more precise control of the aircraft, and lower pilot workload.


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