For much more on flying safely see
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C2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc. All rights reserved

FLYING LESSONS for February 28, 2008 suggested by this week's mishap

FLYING LESSONS uses the past week's mishap reports as the jumping-off
point to consider what might have contributed to accidents, so you can
make better decisions if you face similar circumstance. Feel free to
forward this message for the purpose of pilot education.

This week's lessons:

** Propeller control in most airplanes with controllable-pitch
propellers is accomplished by oil pressure boosted and controlled by the
prop governor.

** In most single-engine airplanes the system is designed to go to HIGH
rpm in the event of oil pressure loss, the logic providing for maximum
power development for as long as possible if the engine starves for oil.
Contrast this with the design of most multiengine airplane propellers,
which are spring-loaded to the feathered position in the event of oil
loss--providing minimum drag for flight on the other, "good" engine.

** Propeller overspeed may be the first indication of a massive loss of
engine oil in single-engine airplanes.

** The urgency of dealing with a propeller overspeed is that, if the
prop exceeds its design rpm, the propeller may fail and shed one or more
blades. The resulting imbalance can (and in some cases, has) almost
instantaneously rip the engine from its mounts, rendering aircraft
control difficult, or even impossible (if the engine separates from the
airplane) because of the resulting aft shift in center of gravity.

** Consequently a propeller overspeed calls for reducing throttle and
airspeed immediately to keep the prop within design limits, and the
typical Emergency Procedure checklist calls for putting the airplane
down on the closest suitable surface--prepared runways are optional.

** Like pilots, mechanics are human beings and are subject to
distraction and oversights just like those of us who (only) fly. After
a detailed post-maintenance preflight inspection, the first flight after
maintenance or inspection is your first chance to detect any errors that
may have occurred in the shop. The post-maintenance test flight (and
that's what it is, a test flight) should be conducted very carefully, in
good weather and preferably within gliding range of the airport.just in

** When planning "only a few minutes of ice" exposure it's extremely
important to understand the effects even "a little" ice can have on
lift, stall speed and thrust generation. According to a 2006 NTSB
assessment <> of the danger
of airframe ice, "wind tunnel data [shows].particles of only 1-2 mm
diameter [the size of a grain of table salt], at a density of about one
particle per square centimeter, can cause lift losses of about 22 and 33
percent, in ground effect and free air, respectively.

** "Every icing encounter is a unique event, and small differences in
the shapes and locations of ice will have different effects on
performance and handling. Gambling that you can visually distinguish
between an accretion that is flyable and one that threatens survival is
a dangerous gamble." (NTSB)

** Unfortunately the science to determine the presence and rate of ice
accumulation is just beginning to emerge and we don't yet have the
tools, except for accurate and timely PIREPs, to determine these things
ahead of time. When we have an icing equivalent of a Stormscope in the
cockpit we'll be able to be much more flexible with our ice planning.
Until then, using a "through the clouds" route as an "out" for icing
conditions, or expecting a safe climb or descent though areas with a
strong potential for ice, is based largely on hope--not a good tool for
risk management.

Questions? Comments? Send me a note at


Jim McElvain Manager of the Southwest Region FAA Safety Team, writes
about a recent FLYING LESSONS discussion of pilot decision-making and
the need to concentrate on those situations that most commonly
contribute to fatal mishaps:


You approach a subject near and dear to my heart, and one that would
surely reduce accidents, incidents and violations if we could understand
and influence it. I contend that pilots are the wrong folks to fly
airplanes, since we are by nature a group that accepts more risk than
our average neighbors. We are "glass half full", "it worked last time",
"have faith" optimists. We're intelligent people who have taken the
world and made it work for them. Why else would we climb into old
single engine airplanes and launch out over populous areas, or areas of
inhospitable terrain. Yep, not Evil Knevels, but risk takers compared
to the average man on the street. How do we reach us?

I found with myself that I listened carefully to my instructors and
believed what I was told. However, I know from life experience that
everything has degrees to it, and I immediately began to test to see
what the difference was between risk free and unsafe. Thunderstorms and
other Wx are examples. I knew a thunderstorm was very bad, but there's
a lot of ground between clear blue and a level 4. So, like most of us I
think, I began to push into weather a little further each time.
Eventually, flying for a small oil operator in a light twin, I chose to
penetrate the "weakest" (according to ATC radar) area of a line. That
ride gave new meaning to avoiding thunderstorms, and my comfort zone has
had new definitions and limits ever since. I fear we (pilots) all do
that to some extent, and some of us don't live to set the new

How do we teach it, then? Of course we keep up the classroom and
textual learning, but we really must find a way to bring it home. Actual
accidents, the more relevant the better, should come into our everyday
teaching. When we've discussed Wx and T-storms, it should be followed
up with the dissection of an actual accident that resulted from poor
judgment. We must let students (we're all students throughout our
flying careers) know the consequences of poor decision making, and that
the folks involved with the accident started the flight thinking
everything would turn out fine like every time before. Scare tactics?
Not really. We just need to find a way to allow airmen to experience the
"weakest" area of a line without actually flying through it. They must
have the consequences brought home to them. They must realize that most
of the pilots who die in aircraft accidents started the day just like
them. "The glass is half full, everything will be alright, it always
worked before..............!"

So, I'm a fan of bringing in the NTSB reports to drive home a point.
When teaching density altitude, spatial disorientation, weather, weight
and balance, aircraft performance, visual scanning and many other
topics, we need to sober folks up. We must get the point across that
flying has risks, but that if properly addressed the risks are fairly
benign and manageable. The folks in the accidents forgot or made bad
calls. Every flight we take, just like starting out in our cars, starts
with risk of death. If we assess and address the associated risks
properly, they can be mitigated to a safe level. The trick is getting
pilots to vicariously experience the results of poor decision making, so
they can plan and set their limits without having to dip into their
finite bags of luck.

I'm sure you've heard of the "bag of luck" theory that some military guy
proposed, but I'll thumbnail it just in case. Every pilot is issued a
"luck bag" when they begin flying. But, the amount of luck in the bag
is not the same as that in anyone else's bag.....some have a lot, and
some have almost none. Unfortunately, the pilot does not know how much
he has, and cannot look in to see. The trick is then, to use good
judgment and skill for every flight so that you don't have to dip into
your luck bag. You don't want it to be empty when it's the last option
you have.........!



Congratulations and great job to these two FLYING LESSONS readers:

Max Trescott, noted aviation educator and author, has been named the
2008 CFI of the Year. As a strong advocate for general aviation and
flight safety, he regularly posts articles on his blog, <outbind://47/> urging the FAA
to set more aggressive safety goals for general aviation. Max also
produces the online newsletter
<outbind://47/> .

Mike Busch, co-founder of AVweb, frequent author and lecturer, and
founder/president of the popular Savvy Aviator
<> seminars that teach aircraft owners how
to troubleshoot aircraft problems and manage the maintenance of their
aircraft more effectively and cost-efficiently, has been named the 2008
AMT [Aviation Maintenance Technician] of the year.

Great job to these fine educators, and all who were recognized by the
FAA's General Aviation Awards Program!


"Flying is a safe as we choose to make it."

Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation
(and FLYING LESSONS reader), in the March 2008 AOPA Pilot.


The February 21, 2007 Weekly Accident Update is now posted at <> , including this

** A V35B's propeller went into overspeed, resulting in an off-airport

** A Baron 58's right main gear collapsed..

** An A36 made an emergency landing in a cane field..

** An A36 crashed during a night instrument approach..

** The pilot of an A36 force-landed in a field..

For more information, commentary and analysis see the Beech
<> Weekly Accident Update
link at <> .

Fly safe, and have fun!

Thomas P. Turner, M.S. Aviation Safety, Master CFI

2008 FAA Central Region CFI of the Year

Mastery Flight Training, Inc. <>

I welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact Mastery Flight
Training, <> Inc.

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C2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc. All rights reserved.


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