P. Edronkin

The Best Way To Avoid Trouble With Aircraft

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Familiarity with aircraft shouldn't mean disrespect for them.

I can say what probably very few people are able to enjoy: Right five metres away from where I write this article and live, there are three aircraft; indeed, there is a PA-11 Cub Special, a Luscombe Silvaire 8A and an IA Ranquel. I fly more often than I drive a car and sitting on a cockpit of a flying machine seems a thing as normal as getting inside a car, and I fly taildraggers out of grass strips! But there is where familiarity and similarities should end because thinking and acting otherwise could be dangerous.

Aircraft cockpits might look like those of cars, they might load the same kind of fuel, cost a similar amount o f money in some cases - believe it or not - and even use a similar engine; but no matter how many analogies you try to find between them, they are and will never be the same. Aircraft are not flown like cars and you can't stop them on the roadside if something breaks down.

Sometimes, those that like me have become very familiar with aircraft tend to step over a few important things. I am not saying that I don't respect rules and regulations, but I have observed seen people doing so and even felt the urge to just go over the "details" once or twice, and that is a fundamentally wrong way to fall into routine: If we are about to do some crop dusting, for example, flying three or four short hops every day, it is easy to feel like walking around the airplane just before the first flight in the morning, forgetting about the rest. Malfunctions, however, seldom come by appointment, and what was ok at dawn might fall apart at dusk, even in the best or most sophisticated plane.

Whenever we approach a non-controlled airfield, instead of flying over for a few minutes to make ourselves noticed, study the runway or landing zone and test the wind, we just dive and land. Most of the times it works, of course, but we only need this not to work once to suffer an accident. We think "the wind should be the same as when and where we departed…" and this could be the case, again, in most cases, but not always. Sloppiness helps a lot in the way to tragedies.

As I just wrote, problems arise unexpectedly and even if trouble doesn't evolve into an emergency, any pending affair with our aircraft is not a pleasant thing, particularly if things unfold while we are. Avoiding routine behaviour is not only to save time and money for pilots; it is a way to show responsibility.

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