May 2009 Newsletter
The weather is getting beter and the days are getting longer. Time to be thinking about brushing up mountain flying skills. In order to assist and remind, Rich Prillinger will be presenting a Mountain Flying ground school at the club rooms on Tuesday, May 12, starting at 6:30pm. Find out what you need consider before you venture into the mountains. And remember, club rules state that you must have had instruction prior to landing at an airport with a field elevation above 2500 feet MSL. Details and enrollment are available on our web site.
Sundance Flying Club is conducting a Fly-in to Merced.
The Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend (May 24th) is the date of this year's
Open Cockpit Day at the Castle Air Museum. The air museum is located on the grounds of the former Castle Air Force Base near Merced. The old base is now a towered airport (KMER).
This is an ideal trip by club airplane. For student pilots, it is a cross country and is to an easily accessible airport. Talk with your CFI to make arrangements.
We will meet at the club rooms at 10am on Sunday the 24th for a briefing, and then fly to KMER. Once at our destination we will have transport to and from the museum (it's about 1 mile away). Admission to the museum will be $12.00 each. Lunch is available at the museum.
If you are interested in visiting this unique collection of USAAF airplanes, contact the office by May 20th.
Do it all in one trip! Sundance is planning a club flyout to the world-famous airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, happening July 27 to August 2nd. Mark your calendars and talk to your favorite instructor now about the arrangments. It promises to be a great time with countless learning opportunities for all involved.
The Garmin 430-530 series IFR capable GPS units are becoming more and more common; a number of Sundance airplanes are so equipped. These units are quite complex to use to their fullest capability, so most pilots merely skim the surface and only use the
Direct To feature. For those of us who want to do more there is a series of excellent on-line courses put out by the FAA. We strongly recommend them, and the price is right!
The recent bouts of windy weather have indicated that pilots are still not tying down the airplanes securely after flight. After a recent blustery day, 8GE was found with loose tiedowns, blown almost 45 degrees to the normal angle. On another occasion, 65M was discovered not tied down at all! If you are not certain how to tie down an airplane, either talk to your CFI, or reread the article in the December 2008 newsletter.
In this periodic column our instructors discuss items of safety that concern them
This is the time of year that many birds are looking for a place to nest. Around the airport, unfortunately, the most attractive spot for a nest is often an airplane.
In your preflight you should be especially vigilant in looking for evidence of nest building. Check around the tailplane and the engine area openings. Often the only evidence is a concentration of bird droppings on the ramp or airplane near an opening. As nests can be quite flammable it is important to remove the material before flight. In addition, the unwanted passengers may cause unneeded excitement in your flight if they decide to visit the cockpit.
If you suspect that you have discovered a bird nest in the airplane, contact the office, your CFI, or Palo Alto Aero Services for assistance.
Every two years we are required to undergo a flight review in order to remain legal. If 24 calendar months has passed and you have not have a flight review or other qualifying event under 14 CFR 61.56, you cannot legally fly as PIC. Besides the flight review, there is another option that keeps you legally current and safe. The WINGS program that you have heard of before has recently been revamped, brought up to date, and made more relevant to your particular type of flying. You can use the WINGS program to satisfy the requirements of a flight review, but the real spirit of the WINGS program is ongoing training and currency. If you participate in the WINGS program regularly, you never need a traditional flight review.
Here is how it works. The new WINGS program has three levels of achievement: Basic, Advanced, and Master. Each of these achievement levels requires ground and flight training in then form of credits. Each ground lesson is one credit, and each flight lesson is one credit. After six credits are accumulated, you've completed the requirements for the basic level, and have satisfied the requirements for a flight review.
The difference between the 3 levels is only the level of proficiency you wish to achieve. For example, for the Advanced level, you are to be held to commercial PTS standards as opposed to private PTS standards. (But note there are some exceptions.) However, in order to achieve Advanced or Master levels, you must first complete the Basic level of achievement.
The key to understanding this program is that it works on a 12-month sliding lookback window basis. When you get started and make progress through WINGS courses, as long as you have enough at least six total credits (three ground, three flying) in the previous 12 months, you are considered current and legal to fly per the flight review regulations. In this way, if you obtain even just one flying lesson every few months within the structure of the WINGS program you can stay current, and at the same time reap the safety benefits of recurrent training. Credits are good for 12 months, and the FAA will remind you via email 30 days prior to any credit expiration.
It sounds complicated to keep track of, but, thanks to the internet, it isn't. The FAA Safety website is used to track your courses and progress, and this is the only legal way to track your progress and currency. It will show you what you have accomplished and when, suggest courses to keep you current, and advise you of credit expiration.
Here is how to get started:
First, watch the 22 minute video introducing the new WINGS program. This video will help you understand the FAASafety website and how the program works.
Next, create your airmen profile on the WINGS site. When you create your profile, you will describe the kinds of aircraft you fly, your certificate level, and any specific training you are particularly interested in. You will also need to enter your last flight review date. Important note: Simply starting the WINGS program does not relieve you of a requirement for a flight review if it is close to the 24 calendar months since your previous flight review! You must complete a WINGS phase to get 61.56 credit.
After entering this information, click on "My WINGS" on the left side. In front of you should be a transcript of all completed courses. The interface has a lot of information on it, but to help you decode it, click on the "Icon legend" link and the "To get started" link.
At this point, your account is setup and all you need to do is find coursework that will satisfy the requirements. Click on the binoculars in each basic phase credit area to see courses that can be used to satisfy requirements. When you find a course you are interested in or that is required, click on it, print it out, and call your favorite CFI to schedule a lesson on that topic.
After you receive the lesson and have an entry in your logbook indicating such (CFIs: the required endorsement is on the printout the student brings), go back to the FAA Safety web site and request credit for that course. You enter your CFI's email address (They must be registered on the FAA Safety web site as well) and the request will be routed to them for approval. Once your CFI logs in and approves the request, you have a WINGS credit!
This is a significant improvement over the previous WINGS program and offers an opportunity for ongoing, regular education that is recorded and credited. Consider using WINGS courses instead of flight reviews for your ongoing training and safety as pilot in command.
by Chuck Cali
As promised, we bring you part seven of Chuck's excellent flying adventure. Again, for the newsletter, we have edited the text for brevity. The full text appears on our web site.
Our story so far - Chuck Cali has been tasked with ferrying a T206 from Massachussets to Jamaica. Equipped with a G1000, the late model T206 is a most competent airplane. However, the weather on the east coast has taken a turn for the thundery worse . After negotiating the weather, he has made it to Ft. Lauderdale.
Sitting in the lounge at our hotel - contemplating our fortunes - Anders and I anxiously awaited the arrival of the pilot assigned to fly this airplane in Jamaica.
Leaving Boston, there was no expectation to seat another. Indeed, considering fuel and the expansion of our cargo to include ocean going life rafts, there was little doubt one of us would be flying commercially somewhere.
It seemed a simple matter really - based on a few assumptions - Anders, the worldliest of young men, had the connections, papers and cash to deal with the authorities in Nassau and Kingston. My skills in this arena don't even register on the experience scale
The Jamaican pilot - supposedly familiar with the technicalities of Cuban over-flights - regional ATC and local weather - seemed the logical choice for PIC. I fully expected to be told my services were no longer needed. This is not new for pilots. Our fates, like our sea going ancestors, are only partially controlled by us. Since the first air mail carriers were established pilots fly, or not, depending on the political and/or business whims of the times. And so it went, though fate had intervening plans.
We met Mark that evening. He was no older than Anders. After the pleasantries of first meeting we got down to the specifics of this pilot's experience in the type of aircraft we were flying.
Pilots by conscious choice have cultivated their modesty. Indeed when referring to one's own aerial prowess, phrases like "... I was lost nearly the whole way. By some quirk of nature, the winds aloft corrected my inability to hold a compass course and there, by sheer chance, under the nose was the airport."
So when Mark confessed to zero time in type and woefully little in similar types I immediately assessed him as a young man of good character. No bluster or ostentation. Though he ultimately convinced me that his proclamation was in fact the literal truth, and not false modesty, he also believed I would be flying.
A conundrum was developing here.
Today, with technologically advanced GPS navigation, incredibly reliable and clear communication radios, on board weather information and a standardized Air Traffic Control system, arriving anywhere in the lower 48 is a non-event. The greatest difficulty comes after leaving the runway, trying to navigate a maze of taxiways.
From the moment I signed on, the only anxiety for me was the international component of this flight. Though I had prepared my self, I was entering personally uncharted territory.
Frankly when I heard Mark was in Florida, I felt a sense of relief. Like much that I had learned from others experience to grow my own, I would learn from this young man.
The flying was straightforward. Execution of the flight plans and dealing with foreign authorities was new to me. It followed that I would show him how to handle 556 and he would show me how to fly the Caribbean.
We tossed around these notions, the three of us. As it was my privilege to be the elder in years and hours aloft, both of them kept looking my way.
The issue for me was of the unknown. Unknown in this matter took the form of dealing with foreign officials who take their authority seriously. For the cargo on board 556 was not declared and could be considered contraband by an industrious peon in a bureaucrat's uniform.
Anders, for all his worldliness was comfortable in such situations. Moreover his father had given him the documents and, if needed, the cash to work with such bureaucrats.
One seat left. Ok, so who flys. This youngster, Mark, admittedly was not ready to launch. I could fly and send the kid home on American Airlines. I had Andres to deal with bureaucrats, but what of the flight plans that were to take us over Castro's beloved Cuba? In this part of the world, could my ignorance of airspace etiquette get us shot down? The jaws of uncertainty were slowly closing.
There was no imminent danger so, like all good captains, I chose to gather more information and put off the actual decision making. In my most captains like voice, I announced that sooner or later I would have had to check out our young charge. Might as well make it sooner and then decide who fly's to Kingston. Why not put off until tomorrow...
Since the flight plans were already filed, I was advised it was best to stick to them rather than change them.
The next morning, the three of us arrived well before sunrise, and began. Whoever was flying must be airborne by 0800.
This airplane - equipped with the Garmin 1000 glass cockpit - can be intimidating to the uninitiated. In every other aspect however it is just another airplane. Bigger, heavier and turbocharged, it was more airplane than Mark was used to, but the same laws governing flight apply.
The thing about professional pilots is that their professionalism is not linked at all with age or experience. Such was the case with this young man. He listened attentively during our abbreviated ground school. His demeanor in the cockpit was nothing but serious and mindful that, there was a lot he did not know. He took the instruction well. In less than two hours he learned to satisfactorily fly 556.
I cautioned him that he was in no way ready to fly IFR. That would take time using the avionics. Time we did not have. "Fly VFR," I said, "and leave using the G1000 to Anders."
It was time to make a decision. With only two available seats onboard, Anders had waited for our return in the comfort of the FBO. He had yet to see this young pilot command an airplane.
I sat opposite him now, sensing for the first time his own anxiety around tempting his fate with this unknown and admittedly inexperienced pilot. We had flown many hours together. There were incidents during his training that had bonded us as brothers inside the sky and friends on the firmament. We had tested together the elements from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale and emerged not just student and mentor, but a single entity working as one.
At this moment, when he sensed that I was about to send him on without me, he asked, "Would you send your children with him?" In all my years training pilots, few would qualify. Of my own mentors, only two qualify. This was an unanswerable question. It posed a new dynamic for indeed, Anders, had become like family to me. Was I willing to send him off with this guy?
A dichotomy had surfaced. Anders was a child from another father yet our bond was undeniable. His father, a man I met only briefly but instantly liked and respected had placed the care of his son in me, primarily because Anders felt secure with me. A father myself, I understand.
Vacillating no longer, it was decision time. The jaws of uncertainty unclenched. I had been tasked with getting this airplane and cargo to Kingston. Had my children been aboard all my concerns would still be real.
Yet this was not about my children. Within the limits of staying VFR, my professional judgment was to send Anders with Mark. This took away the uncertainty of executing the international flight plans as well as explaining away the cargo if foreign bureaucrat's demanded it.
It was agreed that more work in the airplane would be needed. I would meet them in Kingston that afternoon and in the days to come would complete Marks training.
Wheels up at 0800, heading due east, 556, my friend Anders and Mark became lost inside an early morning sky already dotted with building cumulus...
To be continued ...
Fred has wrapped another stellar set of movies evenings. He has also discovered a secret Treasure Trove of WWII training films. These short movies put you right in the cockpit of various fighter and bomber airplanes! Fred's offering for May is
The Hunters, which we will screen on May 20. For the full program of this year's selections, visit our web site.
IFR charts will change again on May 7.
The following VFR charts have changed recently -
Chris Melton has passed this important milestone under the tutelege of Fred Thomas. Chris is getting as much flight time as he can before joining the US Army, where he hopes to become an helicopter pilot.
Percy Hsu has earned Solo privileges despite the robust weather of the last few months. His instructor is Ralph Robinson.
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