I don’t care how well you think you are ready for an emergency, nothing beats professional training to make sure.
It’s pretty common for the family and close friends of a pilot to consider that pilot “the only one I’d feel comfortable flying with.” It’s no different with my family and non-flying friends. (Those friends of mine who do fly know better!)
From mid-November of last year until mid-February of this year, I was at “non-flying” status while recovering from surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear. I used the time as effectively as I could. I put my Cardinal RG in for an extensive annual inspection, leaving my mechanic with a long list of items to check and attack now, while they weren’t problems. With the airframe having just turned 3,000 hours, I wanted to have a “hit list” of favorite items looked at in greater detail. Now that the plane is fully refurbished, I feel it’s time to start going back through it again during regularly scheduled maintenance to double check additional items which, although not a problem now, are known to give problems.
For those of us who use general aviation to travel, conversations often come up comparing the use of our airplanes to the commercial airlines. This has become a major issue since Sept. 11 and the absolute mess the commercial airline system is in right now. The growth of fractional jet ownership organizations is one direct result. But what about small plane GA versus the airlines?
As we take to the skies, one thing is certain: we will eventually hear some interesting stuff over the electronic airwaves.
A few months ago, my column addressed pilots as SCUBA enthusiasts, and the subject of combining flying with dive destinations. The excellent response I received from that column only enforced my belief in the flying-diving connection.
In June, I flew my plane 38.4 hours, of which 37.3 were all cross-country. I was in IMC for 15.9 of those hours and shot two localizer, two ILS, and two GPS approaches — and all six were to within 100 feet of minimums. My personal airline had a 100% dispatch reliability and on time record for those trips, but I did all the work. Well, maybe not all the work. I had George to help me.
As July rolled around this year, so did another chance to host a regional fly-in for Cardinal owners. The North Carolina event has taken on more of a training emphasis and it’s gratifying to see how many owners traveled great distances to partake. People came from as far away as Oakland, Calif., Tulsa, Okla., and the northeast this year for ground and/or flight recurrent training and safety seminars. A lot of training took place in the three days of the fly-in, meaning it took me another three days to catch up on all the paperwork.
Light aircraft are trainers, check-runners, news gatherers, ambulances, taxis, tour guides, fire fighters, police patrollers and family haulers. That’s what general aviation is all about.
My Cardinal RG recently returned to service after a pretty extensive annual inspection. The 12 months leading up to that annual were good because not one trip was canceled due to maintenance problems and only one trip was delayed.