V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N

August 22, 2013 by Bruce Landsberg

The oldsters will remember it as the title of a song by Connie Francis but it’s also the latest Pilot Safety Announcement (PSA) by the Air Safety Institute. These are sometimes humorous, sometimes brutal, two-minute clips on aviation safety. It’s one way to snag people who might otherwise not take time to participate in an online course or attend a safety seminar.

There has been much discussion in the past year about reaching the unreachables. The term oxymoron comes to mind but hope springs eternal. As long as I’ve been flying there have been some pilots, fortunately small in numbers, who are oblivious to good operating practice and often common sense. In the immortal words of comedian Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.” Some of the accidents are in the “Hold my beer and watch this” category such as attempting aerobatics in non-approved aircraft (a Cirrus SR22, for example).

Others fall more into the “I think I can” reach for the stars approach when other pilots are hearing Clint Eastwood’s admonition “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Now, it’s hard to know limitations without exceeding them, but one has to approach the edge cautiously lest we slip over. VFR into IMC is a perennial over-reach and we’ve devoted A LOT of ink and electrons to that topic.

The Air Safety Institute has used the PSA concept for years now with hundreds of thousands of views and we think it’s gotten to some of the more casual pilots out there. I’d welcome some thoughts from the blogosphere on what else might be effective. As for the unreachables—we probably have to accept their occasional crashes as the price of freedom of flight, just as we do on the highways and in all other modes of personal activity. It also means being the best you can be so that you’re not in ASI’s next rhyme.

Bruce Landsberg
President, AOPA Foundation

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4 Responses to “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N”

  1. Jack in Jax Says:

    ” I’d welcome some thoughts…”

    Bruce, one bias I see when attempting to ‘reach the unreachables’ is the belief they are active pilots who just lack judgment or sufficient knowledge to fly safely. IOW it’s the intrinsic qualities of the pilot that lead to less safety, which of course can often be the problem. But what I see at my airport – what worries me the most – is the substantial number of a/c owners who are far less than current. Cockpit time of 25 hrs/year – or less – seems to be the ‘new normal’, especially WRT two groups: those who financially struggle to fly actively, and those who are older and less active generally. While it’s a good thing that members of these two groups choose to stay involved in GA, it seems to me a significant safety factor for them is ‘how’ they remain involved.

    ASI had a program not long ago about ‘aging gracefully’ which offered reflections by those who used to be quite skilled & active pilots but who had chosen to ratchet down their level of flying to suit their changing physical capabilities. That was on the right track BUT I think there could be another, lower level of adjustment needed for the ‘consistently barely current’ population. Perhaps a short, structured curriculum for how to stay minimally but safely current. A self-assessment tool for the individual pilot to assess what minimum flying might be considered safe. A list of alternative strategies that allow one to remain involved in GA, perhaps retaining ownership, and even periodic piloting but with sufficient safety (e.g. co-ownership which increases use and tends to keep the a/c healthy; formalizing a ‘flying buddy’ arrangement, more frequent reassessment with a CFI).

    Jack

  2. Bruce Landsberg Says:

    Jack…..

    Well said. For decades the USAF has used 4 hours per month ( 1 per week? ) as a minimum to collect flight pay. Don’t know if there’s any science to it but it’s a starting point.

  3. Dan Winkelman Says:

    As one who falls into the “barely able to afford this hobby” group, I would LOVE to see more suggestions, tips, and tricks to remain current on a tight budget. I am the target demographic for light sport: the guy who can’t afford a modern full-on certified airplane at $300k+, but wants to spend as much time in a plane as the weather permits, just for the fun of being airborne. I have eaten up the handful of articles on cost reduction in aviation that have been in Pilot magazine recently. More on staying safe and current in an affordable manner would be much appreciated.

  4. traveleam Says:

    “Good post. We’ve posted a vacation-packages-for-canadians profile here: http://traveleam.ca/vacation-packages-for-canadians/

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