WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A SHARP PILOT – PART 1
(Acknowledgements: AIR FACTS/Richard Collins)
Below are some of the things which Richard believes define a sharp pilot, based on over 50 years of studying general aviation accidents. (Ed. Note: The list is longer, but for now let’s start with the following)
In his words then ……
A sharp pilot is:
I’ll start with awareness, which I think it is the most important. What it means in relation to flying is that you are aware of everything that is going on with, in and around the airplane at all times.
The most frequent cause of serious accidents is low-speed loss of control, which results from the pilot not allowing the airplane to fly. A lot of time is spent on stall training, but whilst this teaches a pilot at a safe altitude how to purposely induce a stall and recover, it does nothing to make a pilot aware of what leads to low altitude inadvertent stalls. Most stall/spin accidents occur because when you fly too slowly too low you crash. Airspeed awareness is critical.
And how much time is spent teaching the relationship between back-pressure on the elevator and increased use of opposite aileron to combat overbanking? For most pilots who spin in, the answer is: “not enough.” We spend a lot of time on the theory of stalls, but that doesn’t mean much on base-to-final.
Stall/spin accidents are often preceded by a distraction causing failure to monitor what is going on with the airplane. A pilot who has a mechanical problem with the airplane has to be aware that this frequently results in a low-speed loss of control.
If the problem is total power loss, most of the accidents that follow are not in the forced landing itself but in the stall/spin that comes while the pilot is maneuvering the airplane, at low altitude, to try to make the forced landing work. Regardless of the circumstances, a pilot has to remember that survival is more likely if the airplane is under control when the crash sequence starts.
Automated systems and pilot awareness are also linked. In an airplane with every warning system, does the pilot feel he is aware that all is well if no warning lights/sounds come on? A sharp pilot monitors everything even if warning systems are provided.
I submit that awareness is the number one sign of a sharp pilot because the penalty for being unaware can be absolute.
Part 2 follows shortly ….