Friday, April 23, 2010 coming on like gangbusters!

What a difference a few days makes! gets mentioned on a popular forum of programming geeks and suddenly I have three to four hardcore tech-savy pilots ripping through answering piloting questions left and right.

And these are great piloting questions and answers too! With freaking aerodynamic equations! Fine detailed understand of esoteric FAR rules and regulation interpretations, kick-ass piloting techniques, and whiz-bang technology!

Seriously, this is the most fun I've had in a while. Thanks guys!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poland Crash Update - Pilots probably not pressured

AvWeb's just reported that after listen to the cockpit voice recorder from the Polish government aircraft that crashed in Russian and killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 94 others, the investigating committee has determined:

“The flight recorder, whose tapes are being deciphered, did not register any pressure on crew members”

Sadly, it's starting to appear that the primary cause of the tragic accident was human error (lack of good judgment) on behalf of the pilot(s) of the aircraft.

Anatoly Muravyov, an air traffic controller on duty at the time, told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that the aircraft had not been cleared to land and all he and his colleagues could do was watch and wait. He said the "pilot's desire to land at any costs" was, in his opinion, a factor in the crash.

Ever since the story broke I've read a lot of news stories and heard a lot of theories floating around by the press and online comments on blogs around regarding the crash, that the fault was the age of the Russian Tupolev-154, or pressure from the VIP passengers.

As a pilot, I know whenever I hear of a crash of an aircraft, my defenses suddenly come up and I have an urge to "defend" the pilot in charge from wild, misinformed facts. However that urge to defend has to be kept in check as well, least it comes out that the pilot in question was responsible and I defended the actions of an irresponsible, reckless person.

The crash is still under-investigation, my opinion is that as a community of flyers, the best way to represent our art and profession is to hold off on supporting unproven theories or "what if" scenarios until all the facts of the case come out.

My hope is that there were other factors in the case that lead to the accident, however my experience in aviation and from what I've read in a vast amount of other accident reports is that pilot/human error is still a huge factor in a crash. To ignore that and rush to come up with other excuses does all pilots in the long-run a disservice.

UPDATE: The Moscow Times has more information regarding the investigation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flying and the power of Desire

You have a superpower, an ability to conquer any challenge, an ability to shape the world around you to fit your wants and needs.

Don't believe me?

Think back on your life, back to the last time your really desired something. I'm talking about real DESIRE here, a single minded obsession about obtaining something that you wanted more than anything else in the world.

Your friends, your family, everyone in your life told you it was impossible, you'll never get it, it wasn't practical, you should just give up . . .

But you didn't, you kept at it and couldn't let it go

Did you get it?

If there's a little plastic (or paper) card in your wallet from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration then you know exactly what I'm talking about. There is no way you could have become a private pilot without that overriding DESIRE to fly.

That's the superpower we all have (no not the ability to fly), the ability to DESIRE something so much that we WILL IT into reality.

Still think I'm full of it? Talk to Jessica Cox (, she's a diver, Tae Kwon-Do black belt, and flies a stock, unmodified Ercoupe.

Oh and she doesn't have any arms.

That's right . . . no arms. Big deal, flying an airplane with your feet? Just another sunny day in the pattern for her (she also drives, types, and puts in her contacts).

Anyway this post isn't about her, its about YOU. If you've conquered the challenge of flight, what else can the raw power of DESIRE do for you? What else lies deep in your heart that you've always wanted to accomplish?

If you haven't starting flying (and want to), then why haven't you started? If you've started and given up, why haven't you gotten back in the saddle?

You've got a superpower, time to start using it.

Supplemental Reading Material:
Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Flying, perfection, and beating "the little hater"

Recently I stumbled across a video by a guy named Jay Smooth who runs a successful hip-hop blog and the longest running hip-hop radio show in NYC. In the video he talked about his struggle with what he calls "the little hater." The little hater is that voice inside your head that tells you you're not good enough at something, especially when it's something creative. Watch the video before reading on, it's humorous and spot on, don't worry, I can wait:

What really clicked for me in this video is when Jay said that the little hater sets his first trap of "perfectionism." I tend to demand a lot from myself when I fly, if I screw up one radio call or land a little rougher than I want (which is all the time) that bastard start talking in my ear how much of a "wannabe pilot" I am.

It gets worse when I haven't flown in a few months, the little hater starts asking me questions. "If you flew today, how safe would you be?" "Could you handle a sudden gust of wind 20 ft off the ground?" "Do you even remember how to start the airplane?" Pretty soon my head is filled with ridiculous questions regarding my own skills and worth and ever time I look up at the sky to watch a small plane I almost get sick with guilt. I double down and start building a lot of expectations on myself that the NEXT TIME I fly I'm going to be strive to be PERFECT. Of course, I know that's a lie, so I stall and stall and stall and never make a reservation. Which makes me feel even more racked with guilt.

Now of course the logical thing to do is to just schedule a damn flight, and if you're really worried, book an instructor. Here's the thing, I get even more anxious with an instructor because then I'll have someone WATCHING ME. Even if the instructor is silent that little hater is going to start talking for him/her in my head "Dude, this guy long has he been flying anyway?"

To beat the little hater, the only thing I think you can do is recognize when he's there, then actively and ruthlessly ignore him. Recall your experience, read a checklist, go over radio calls in your head, go over common tasks in an aircraft in your head and mime them out (when no one is looking of course) and just FLY DAMNIT!

I've asked a question on about beating the nerves after going a long time without flying.

If you have any suggestions to help me or anyone else beat the hater, post an answer at the link above! We can fight him together!