Tag: oshkosh

Loss of Control

When You Ask for Too Much

Article appeared in Flying Magazine April, 2016 by Martha King –

It was the slightest of rumbles.  Both John and I felt it.  John, who was at the controls, eased the control yoke forward slightly and the rumble stopped.  We landed safely and taxied into the ramp.  We had a plane full of pilots, but an after-the-fact survey revealed no one else on the airplane had felt the rumble.  It was the aerodynamic warning of a stall in our old Falcon 10.  With hydraulically-assisted, irreversible controls in this airplane, the pilots don’t get feedback in the controls.  The rumble was the only aerodynamic warning we would get.

Martha King PIlot and John King Pilot land the King Schools Falcon.

The King Schools Falcon 10F on a short-final on Runway 36 at Tullahoma Airport.

Had John reacted differently the aircraft could well have stalled and the aviation community would have racked up one more “loss of control” tragedy.

We had been on our way to Oshkosh for AirVenture.  Ironically, we were diverted to Appleton due to the loss-of-control crash of another jet.  The pilot was on approach to runway 18 at Oshkosh and had been given instructions to slow for traffic on the runway, and keep his approach south of runway 27.  These are the exact circumstances that John and I had escaped some years ago with a go-around.

Our diversion to Appleton left us scrambling.  We quickly briefed our approach, but then at the last minute the tower directed us to another runway.  The rumble occurred during John’s last-minute maneuvering with a steep turn from base to final to get lined up with the new runway.

What these situations have in common is that they were set-ups for loss of control.  The National Transportation Safety Board has loss of control on their most wanted list, and for good reason.  Loss of control is a big deal.  Almost half of all general aviation fatalities are caused by loss of control, and they are almost always fatal.

I confess I have had a hard time getting my brain wrapped around the subject of loss of control.  It has become the safety issue du jour, but it is a huge category.  I mean, you could say there are only two conditions in which an aircraft can crash—either in control or out of control.  I am not sure that learning that a crash happened as a result of loss of control gives us much actionable information.  Plus, I have a tendency to see loss of control as a result rather than a cause.  Having said that, if we as a community could crack the code to eliminating loss-of-control accidents we could save thousands of lives.

Loss of control has occurred anytime the aircraft does something you don’t want it to do.  That can happen whenever you expect too much of either the aircraft or yourself as the pilot–asking one or the other to do something they just can’t do.  For instance, asking an airplane to fly with too much load factor will result in loss of control.  Yet pilots do it on the turn from base to final with regularity.  Pilots frequently ask too much of themselves when landing in crosswinds, or flying in instrument weather conditions without proper preparation.

There are many ways to lose control—pilots can be very creative about it.  What they all seem to have in common is that almost all loss of control accidents occur in repeating scenarios—with perfect hindsight you realize the pilot should have seen them coming.  The idea behind learning the habit of risk management is to turn that perfect hindsight into foresight for pilots when it counts.  It means knowing what’s happening now and what bad thing might happen next if you don’t do something about it.

Looking at it that way, all loss of control accidents are the result of a failure in risk management.  But not everyone looks at it that way.  A flight instructor-friend of ours firmly believes that anything that might distract from stick-and-rudder skills during flight training is doing the learning pilot a disservice.  In fact, he calls these “distractions” “fantasy flight training.”

Truly, there is much to be said for helping learning pilots have the highest level of skills they can attain.  However, all pilots inevitably have some limitation on their skills.  Without risk management, it is possible for any pilot to get themselves into situations that no amount of skill could get them out of.  To paraphrase an old saying, it is wise to use your superior risk management to avoid situations that just might require even more than your superior skills.  A training program that focuses solely on skill, and ignores risk management, will leave pilots unnecessarily vulnerable.

When a pilot does manage to avoid an accident, it is hard to know whether it might have been superior risk management or superior skill that saved the day.  On our approach to runway 18 at Oshkosh, it could be said that I executed a go-around so that I didn’t have to use superior skill, although cleaning up and doing a go-around in a highly wing-loaded, swept-wing jet from low altitude is not without its challenges.

On John’s approach to Appleton it could be said that John’s slight forward pressure on the control yoke in response to the rumble was a demonstration of superior skill.  But with all due respect to John, it didn’t take all that much skill to apply that slight forward pressure.

The important point in each case is that a successful outcome required the knowledge and risk management habits to recognize a scenario that was a set-up for stall/spin, and also recognize the mitigation needed. Although in times past we sometimes did not demonstrate these qualities, our performance in these instances seems to indicate that over the years we might have developed them.

Then, in addition to knowledge and risk management, skill was required to execute the response.  That’s why the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), which in June will replace the Practical Test Standards (PTS) for the Private Pilot and Instrument Rating tests, will require pilots to demonstrate all three.

Pilots have been taught knowledge specific to aviation since the beginning of flight.  We need knowledge to get full utility out of our flying.  But the real reason we need it is to be able to identify and mitigate risks.

The knowledge needed for the Oshkosh and Appleton events was the standard knowledge that everyone learns about stall/spins—the need to manage angle of attack and load factor, and the importance of keeping the nose yawed into the relative wind.  Additionally needed was knowledge of the aerodynamic warnings that our airplane provides for a stall.

Learning risk management, in this case for stall/spin, requires practice at recognizing scenarios that can lead to stall/spins, and coming up with mitigation strategies.  The specific scenario in the traffic pattern that most often leads to loss of control is the very one we had at Appleton—turning from base to final with lots of distractions.  In this case there was also a last-minute runway change requiring maneuvering to get lined up.  Add in a tailwind from base to final, and an overshoot, and it becomes an almost irresistible temptation to steepen the bank and maybe even add some bottom rudder.

Consideration of the skills required for preventing loss of control prompts a call for a return to the basics.  All the skills we learned when we learned to fly are about keeping control of the airplane.  In addition to all the other skills every pilot learns, in stall/spin scenarios it becomes particularly useful to have a well-honed sensitivity to load factor, and to the side loads that tell you when the nose is not yawed into the relative wind.

While learning knowledge and skills has always been fundamental to learning to fly, the recent emphasis on preventing loss of control brings a new understanding that loss of control is at its core a failure in risk management.  Among the many outcomes of poor risk management, loss of control is the most frequent and the most deadly.

The ideal is for pilots to become so practiced at identifying risky scenarios that they develop the ability to “smell” trouble, and not allow themselves to get into situations that might lead them to ask themselves or the airplane to do something they just can’t do.

The problem with any kind of loss of control is that while it may take considerable time for the situation to develop, when it comes to the actual moment of loss of control, it can happen very quickly.  When things have progressed to that point it is very difficult to recover.  The best recovery is not to need one.

King Schools Offers Initial and Recurrent Part 135 Training

Main menu of King Schools Part 135 Initial online training Course

Oshkosh, WI, July 26, 2012— Today, John and Martha King announced that King Schools has completed their Part 135 knowledge training suite by releasing two new Part 135 Recurrent online training courses. The KING Part 135 Initial and Recurrent Pilot Training courses easily fit into a company’s training package to address all the general knowledge requirements of FAR 135.345. These online courses significantly reduce the classroom time required to address the training requirements, freeing up time from the trainer and allowing pilots to meet requirements on their own schedule. Operators with many pilots also have the option to receive regular reports on completion status for their pilots.

Main menu of King Schools Part 135 Recurrent online training course

“These courses greatly reduce workload while providing pilots with a thorough review of the general knowledge topics required in FAR 135.345,” Martha commented. “And because the courses are delivered online, pilots can take them wherever they may be—from any computer or iPad with a connection to the web,” continued John “These courses include progress tracking along with a completion certificate and logbook endorsement to prove the training was received,” concluded Martha.

The King Part 135 Initial training course is available for $189 and each of the recurrent training courses sell for an introductory price of $99. Volume discounts are available.

For more information, visit www.kingschools.com.

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About King Schools

For over 36 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun courses. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 pilots flying in the U.S. today has learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit www.kingschools.com. or call 800-854-1001 (worldwide +1-858-541-2200).

Press Contact

Barry Knuttila, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Technology, King Schools
direct phone: (858) 576-6265
e-mail: bknuttila@kingschools.com

King Schools Offers Free Private and Instrument Flight Training Syllabi

The KING Instrument Rating Syllabus, available as a free download

The KING Private Pilot Syllabus, available as a free download

Oshkosh, WI, July 26, 2012— Today, John and Martha King announced the immediate availability of free King flight training syllabi for the Private Pilot Certificate and the Instrument Rating. The King syllabi are targeted at independent flight instructors and their customers, and include guidance on incorporating the King Schools Knowledge Test Courses, Practical Test Courses and special subject Takeoff video courses to create a comprehensive and easy to follow roadmap. Each syllabus is not only suitable for Part 61 training, but is also Part 141 approvable.

“The use of a syllabus increases learning effectiveness by ensuring that the instructor and their customer both have clearly defined, common goals for each flight lesson,” commented John King. “When using a King Syllabus, customers will know what to expect, and will have the opportunity to learn new concepts at home rather than in the airplane,” continued John. ”This will increase customer satisfaction by helping them excel at each new task,” commented Martha. “It will also save them money by reducing training hours required to reach their goal,” John emphasized.

“Most significantly, this syllabus incorporates concepts of risk management and supports scenario-based training,” continued John. “Making this important training tool available for free makes it easy for all flight instructors to use a professionally developed plan of action,” concluded Martha.

For more information, visit www.kingschools.com/cfi.

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Transition To the Cessna Skycatcher or Just Learn All About Flying This Remarkable New Airplane

About King Schools

For over 36 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun courses. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 pilots flying in the U.S. today has learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit www.kingschools.com. or call 800-854-1001 (worldwide +1-858-541-2200).

Press Contact

Barry Knuttila, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Technology, King Schools
direct phone: (858) 576-6265
e-mail: bknuttila@kingschools.com

AirVenture 2009! – the Annual Event of a Lifetime

airventure-oshkosh-09It’s the event of a lifetime that happens every year. There is no other conference, convention, tradeshow or whatever you want to call it in any other industry or interest area that comes anywhere close to AirVenture.

EAA and AirVenture are all about engagement. Do you have a particular area of aviation that really turns you on? It’s there. Interested in space? You got to see the White Knight 2 fly. Fascinated by the advances in airliners? You saw the huge Airbus 380 do multiple passes, then land and taxi up to the ramp to be available for tours. Interested in antique airplanes? Which one? It’s there. Same with warbirds, aerobatic airplanes … you get the idea.

And it’s not just the aircraft, it’s the people. Want to meet Jack Pelton, Chairman and CEO of Cessna? You can walk right up to him in the Cessna exhibit. Want to see Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles, the two pilots who landed the Airbus A320 in the Hudson? They roamed the grounds and were interviewed by David Hartman, formerly of ABC, in the Theater in the Woods.

Every kind of aircraft was at AirVenture Oshkosh

Interested in how women have fared through the years in aviation? Martha King and Peggy Chabrian (President of Women in Aviation International) conducted interviews of Dawn Seymour (a World-War II WASP), Lt. Colonel Jill Long (who flew 50-plus combat missions in Afghanistan in A-10s and is also an airshow pilot), Julie Clark (a former airline captain and an airshow pilot), and the most unbelievable of all, the inspiring Jessica Cox (who was born without arms and became a Sport Pilot flying an Ercourpe with no mechanical accommodations whatsoever). Among the questions Martha and Peggy asked these remarkable women was, “Who helped you along the way?” The stories were moving.

Panel Discussion with Miles O'Brien, Patty Wagstaff, Rich Sugden, and John and Martha King

Panel Discussion with Miles O’Brien, Patty Wagstaff, Rich Sugden, and John and Martha King

For those interested in how airplanes can be a tool to help the environment, Martha and I, along with Miles O’Brien, Patty Wagstaff and Rich Sugden, participated in a panel discussion after the showing of “Over Africa”—a movie about the Lindbergh Foundation’s  project to support the training of the pilots of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Patty started this outstanding program, and the rest of us were delighted to participate this year.

meeting-oshkosh-folks

Meeting some of the great folks at Oshkosh

And talk about people—Martha and I must have talked with thousands. We wanted to get the message out about the new Cessna Sport/Private Pilot course that we’ve been working on for over a year. AirVenture is the place to do it. The editor or writer you want to talk with is right there. You might check out my my interview on AVWeb. I tell Russ Niles in that interview that I think the course’s emphasis on scenario-based training and preflight risk management analysis just may change the way people learn to fly forever.

Now that we are back from AirVenture, Martha and I are just exhausted—and how could anyone not be? It is an aviation smorgasbord without end. It is the event of a lifetime—until next year.

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