As the country re-opens to aviation events, it is natural for us to want to jump back in the airplane and zoom off for the fun. However, I would like to you consider the numerous factors that now come into play because of the pandemic and resultant effects on our flying.
Flight operations were decreased in 2020 and early 21 due to COVID-19. Painting with a broad stroke, operations not only include us as a PIC but Mechanics, FBOs, Flight Instructors, ATC and Charitable Flights.
For a moment consider all the things we need to possess or exhibit to be a safe, proficient, pilot; currency, muscle memory, recency of flight, logical methodical thought, competent with our avionics. Now imagine for 12-18 months you were not able to utilize those skill sets. The degradation of cognitive processes and physical muscle memory are real dangers when we don’t fly often.
Before you launch for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, or a local, state or regional event objectively look back at your flight activities in 2020 to date. Many of us took advantage of virtual aviation events during this time, but were not in an actual airplane. It is a great idea to consider the airplane, pilot and environment while still on terra firma.
- Airplane might have hidden mechanical issues due to lack of use [hoses, battery, fuel/brake lines, belts].
- Look for fouled pulleys in control cables, cracked tire sidewalls, mice dining on your wiring, mouse nests in the fuselage and wings.
- Check for water and gunk in the fuel lines, bird nests in the engine compartment, cracked ignition wires, bearings frozen in gyros.
- Mechanic might have been off for an extended time.
- FBOs might have newer staff fueling your airplane
Pilot Factors: Time to pull out your mental, physical and emotional checklist and do an inventory. Are you ready to fly across the state, region or country for an aviation event?
In addition to weather and airport/runway conditions, please take the additional factor of destination activity. Let’s take EAA AirVenture Oshkosh [OSH] as an example of the environmental factors that need to be considered. For over a decade I have flown halfway across the country to Oshkosh, WI in a Mooney. I have come in to OSH using the FISK arrival and twice in the mass formation Mooney arrival. As well I have landed in Juneau, Madison and Appleton, WI when coming for the week. All arrivals have varying levels of risk, safety and excitement. If you have not flown much in the past 18 months it would be best to choose the safest, least exciting way to get to the show.
My personal experience with the FISK and the mass formation arrival is that I have always had another pilot in my right seat. It is nice to have two sets of eyes looking for traffic, landmarks and the like. Even having flown 120 hours since the pandemic, I don’t think I would fly single pilot landing at OSH this year.
Mass Arrivals: Do consider a formation clinic or individual instruction in your region in 2021. Most clinics welcome all brands of aircraft. The skills you will learn will serve you well and formation flying has a strangely addictive quality. The fun, fellowship, and flying are hard to beat. Plus, you might get a super cool call sign to memorialize your participation.
Bonanzas to Oshkosh Their website https://www.b2osh.org/Web/B2OSH/default.asp
Mooney Caravan : Vita nimis brevis est tarde volo [Life is too short to fly slowly.]
Their website : https://www.mooneycaravan.com/Web/Mooney/default.asp
“Friends don’t let friends fly the Fisk arrival”
… overheard in the North 40
Cessnas to Oshkosh Their website: http://www.cessnas2oshkosh.com/1410home.aspx
Cherokees to Oshkosh Their website: https://www.cherokees2osh.com/
In summary, do what I have done. Consider yourself, airplane and environment before launching. If you are headed to #OSH21 please do look for me there. I will be at the AVEMCO booth on Tuesday July 27th from 11-12 for Women Moving the Needle. On Thursday July 29th at 1:00 p.m. I will present Into the Alligator’s Mouth: Psychology of Personal Minimums for AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Institute. Door prizes for this safety seminar have been provided by: Lightspeed Aviation, LIFT Aviation, King Schools, Flying Eyes Optics and Pilot Safety.org