A Safety Journal for General Aviation
by Max Trescott, Master CFI & FAA Aviation Safety Counselor
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As you know VFR-into-IMC accidents are a big problem in the S.F. Bay Area. They're responsible for nearly one-third of all fatal accidents locally, but the question is what do you do to prevent them? There are few good articles on the topic, but I finally found one and I've summarize it below. If you read nothing else, make it a point to skip down and read about preventing VFR-into-IMC accidents.
Either I've been flying too much or perhaps not getting enough sleep. Today when I pulled in front of a dry cleaners I did a double-take when I saw the sign in the window that said "alternator repairs." Actually it said "alterations repairs." Or maybe Dr. Freud was playing tricks on my mind and reminding me of the electrical system failure I had on Sunday--while giving a new private student her first flight lesson no less!
The cell phone interface to the new Lightspeed headset I mentioned last month worked great. I called Palo Alto tower on the phone and told them I was headed in with no radio. They told me to look for the green light to authorize landing. Of course we never saw the light and I don't think they gave it to us (though they are hard to spot from the air in the daytime). We landed uneventfully.
If you're interested in what to do when your electrical system dies, you might want to look at a couple of articles that I wrote for Avweb last year. The articles are entitled Failure is not an Option--Part I and Part II; just click on the titles to read them.
Do you have the phone numbers programmed into your cell phone for the towers for the airports you fly in and out of frequently? It's handy to have those numbers when surprises occur. At a seminar I taught this week, someone mentioned that the tower phone numbers are listed in Optima Publications' Pilots Guide to California Airports. I've carried one around for years and never noticed that! I'm always learning something from seminar attendees.
Thanks to everyone who came out to Reid-Hillview last month to my presentation on Night Flying. I also appreciate the feedback from audience, which I'll be using to fine tune the presentation before I give it at Oshkosh later this month. I'm giving the seminar again at Palo Alto on July 6, and you can find details at www.faasafety.gov If you haven't registered at that site to receive emails of upcoming seminars, Do it Now!
Speaking of seminars, the local Cessna dealer at Reid-Hillview airport has asked me to give a presentation on the new G1000 glass cockpits, which are now shipping in new Cessna, Diamond, Mooney and soon Bonanza and Baron aircraft. The seminar starts at 10AM on Saturday July 9 and cost $30 or $35 per person depending upon whether or not you're a member of Trade Winds Aviation, with whom you can register. There will be snacks and new airplanes to look at. Come on out and say hello.
Speaking of Cessna, I've added a long article below on my visit to their factory last month. While it's not directly safety related, I've included it since I had so much fun there and wanted to share the highlights with you. You'll also find out more information about the homebuilt that crashed at Hayward a couple of months ago, the new airbags shipped in all new Cessnas, and information on how to get a Bay Tour in the East Bay if you have trouble getting one. I hope you enjoy the newsletter!
Feel free to forward this newsletter to your flying friends and encourage them to subscribe. If you're on the distribution list, you'll receive an email each month highlighting the information contained in the online version of the newsletter. Submissions and feedback are always welcome!
Have fun flying safely,
and start making plans to go to Oshkosh!
Max Trescott, Master CFI
VFR into IMC
The Psychology of Decision Making Affects your Choices
Anyone who's read articles of mine on accidents in the S.F. Bay area knows that VFR into IMC is a particularly deadly killer. While it accounts for about 5% of all fatal accidents in the U.S., its responsible for fully one third of all fatal accidents in the San Francisco Bay area.
Knowing that, however, isn't sufficient. What we need are strategies and plans ahead of time for dealing with it should we start to encounter clouds or declining visibilities. Unfortunately there are few good articles on the topic, so I was delighted to find one recently in Mentor, the National Association of Flight Instructors magazine, that was written by Dale Wilson, a Master CFI in Washington state. All quotes below are from his article.
Wilson points out that VFR-into-IMC accidents are particularly fatal. Whereas 19% of other types of GA accidents are fatal, virtually all of these accidents are fatal. He says 80% are fatal; when I looked at the 2003 Nall report, it was 89%. Either way, if you go into a cloud and have an accident, the odds are you won't live to tell about it.
Most of these accidents involve low time pilots, but an Air Safety Foundation study found that more than a third of these accidents involve pilots with more than 1,000 hours. Student pilots are fairly immune from this due to CFI supervision, but once they get their private, their risk rises dramatically.
Oddly, many of these accidents occur when weather conditions are higher than VFR minimums. Recent research at the University of Illinois indicates that pilots aren't good at judging ceiling and visibility from a moving airplane. "They found that most pilots overestimated visibility and ceiling values, but those who continued to fly into simulated adverse weather had significantly higher estimates of flight visibility. Other research confirms that a major reason pilots, especially inexperienced ones, continue flying into deteriorating weather is their inability to determine when they are in or nearing IMC."
& Mountains Increase the Risk
VFR-into-IMC accidents are far more likely at night. Wilson says they're at least 3X more likely; I think its closer to 10X more likely. Part of the difference is the estimate of the amount of GA flying at night. He suggest it's around 10%; I think it's less than 5%. Whenever I ask a seminar of pilots what percentage of time they fly at night, very few people indicate that they fly more than 5% of their hours at night. Since the FAA doesn't collect this statistic, the actual percentage is anyone's guess.
"Mountains make it worse: eight of the ten states with the highest VFR-into-IMC accident rates are located in designated mountainous areas." Mixing the low level marine layer that moves in from the ocean most nights with the the coastal mountain range is a deadly combination. Pilots returning home late in the day to the S.F. Bay area often use the Hayward, Sunol or other mountain passes to cross the hills at their lowest points. Clouds, moving eastward through the Bay area, move in the opposite direction through those same passes. As a conscientious pilot, you MUST have a strategy in mind BEFORE you encounter decreasing visibilities.
plays a factor
Did you know that we're all above average pilots? Not possible of course, but studies show that most GA pilots "believe they possess greater flying skill, are less likely to take risks in flight, and are less likely than their peers to experience an aircraft accident." Wilson's research shows that "most VFR pilots believe they are less likely than others to experience a VFR-into-IMC accident and believe they are more capable than others at avoiding and successfully flying out of IMC."
Many of the accidents in the S.F. Bay area where pilots meet clouds and rocks at the same time are in the Livermore Valley. Most of these pilots were returning to the Bay area at night and continued their flight into deteriorating conditions. It's easy to see how someone might press on since they've already come 97% of the way and HOPE that things will work out for last 3% of the trip. I've always thought they were trying to avoid the cost and inconvenience of stopping short of their destination and Wilson's article explains the psychology behind this decision making.
"How we frame our go/no-go decisions can bias our choices. For example, if you had a choice between a sure win of $85 and an 85 percent chance to win a $100, which would you choose? Most of us would avoid the risk and take the sure gain of $85 (risk adverse). How about a choice between a sure loss of $85 and an 85 percent chance of losing $100? Most of us would choose the risk of losing the $100 (risk seeking). Research has discovered that if we frame our go/no-go decision in terms of the certain loss of unwanted overnight motel expenses and missed appointments over only a chance of a loss (i.e., an accident), we will likely avoid the sure loss of diverting and try to make it to our destination. If we frame our decision in terms of the certain gain of landing safely over only a chance of a gain (i.e. successfully making it to our destination), we are more likely to divert to the nearest suitable airport and wait it out."
Another psychological trap occurs if we have invested too much time into a course of action to quit (like flying a long trip back to home) even if it's a failing option (e.g. because of decreased visibility that may lead to an accident). Once we've invested the time, we're reluctant to turn around and backtrack, since it seems to represent undoing work we've already accomplished. Research indicates that many accidents happen on the "last leg" of a trip since pilots push on, despite deteriorating weather, as they get close to home.
Having passengers on board can also negatively influence our decision making. "A significantly higher proportion of VFR-into-IMC accident flights carry passengers on board. That means the presence of others...can negatively influence our go/no-go decisions." You must be aware of how the expectations of others might color your judgment.
In local seminars I teach, I outline a scenario of flying back to the Bay Area at dusk under an overcast cloud layer, crossing over Livermore airport (while talking to the tower) at 1600 feet, and experiencing decreasing flight visibility while approaching Sunol pass (where Interstate 680 crosses the mountains). The key point I try to make is that pilots have options, and plowing ahead into the clouds is a poor one!
The best option, whether your instrument rated or not, is usually to land at Livermore airport. If you're not instrument rated, you can call a friend to get you, rent a car (before 6PM I think) or stay in the hotel that's within walking distance of the airport.
If you are instrument rated, you CANNOT get a pop-up IFR clearance at the typical altitudes at which you'd be staying under the clouds in the Livermore area. The minimum vectoring altitude there is 4,000 feet! That means you need to climb to 4,000, while maintaining your own terrain clearance, before they can start vectoring you and give you an IFR clearance. When the marine layer moves in, you may not be able to climb safely on your own to 4,000 feet. However, if you land at Livermore, you'll get an IFR clearance that follows a standard departure procedure which guarantees terrain clearance as you climb to the MVA or minimum vectoring altitude.
Remember, whenever you fly, choose an option that you know has a Guaranteed Successful Outcome. Don't ever continue into deteriorating weather "hoping" that things will work out. Hope is not a great alternative. If you find your self hoping, choose another course of action while you still have good options. If you continue on and things get worse, you may run out of options.
Bottom line, plan ahead and follow your plan if you encounter clouds or declining visibility Fly safely and have fun!
Clogged Fuel Filter
This crash happened a few months ago and I didn't mention it then since I don't want to cover every fender bender unless there's something worth saying about it. Well now there is. Thanks to my friend Andy W. for passing along an email that went out to some local builders.
Apparently the aircraft was a six-year old RV-6 and the owner had just put on a a brand new IO 360 with constant speed prop and was planning to break in the engine at high manifold pressure settings.
According to the email, "A friend called to say one of our mutual friends was in the City of Hayward maintenance yard when an experimental aircraft crashed into it after an engine failure. I listened to the news and sure enough, it was Richard who had been out first thing in the morning to get some smooth air when the engine quit at 1000' AGL. He got it turned around but of course couldn't make the airport. He could have landed in a school yard and had more flat terrain but he chose to put it in the city yard, loaded with trucks and equipment rather than risk kids getting injured.
He was very fortunate in that he only broke both ankles, and that after hitting a big Ford flat bed truck.
"It was then about a month later when I stopped by our FAA FSDO that I met [FAA inspector]... He said that he was the one that did the investigation into the crash.
"What he found was that the fuel filters were completely clogged and the engine died from fuel starvation. Now I'm not absolutely sure of the details but I think Richard had said that he had put in new tanks. Everything looked great on the wing so if the new tanks were installed, they were painted to match.
"The lesson I learned is that when I start running my new engine, I plan to check the filters on a regular basis to make sure I don't have old carbon and fiberglass dust in the tank and that NOTHING is in the tank but air and fuel."
Cessna Factory Visit
Disneyland for Adults?
Usually I spotlight something related to flying safety. But, please indulge me this month while I share a little about the couple of days I spent at the Cessna factory a month ago. As you can guess from the subtitle above (or the picture of me imitating the statue), we had a great time. And I highly recommend that you go out, buy a new airplane and pick it up yourself at the factory. If you need a CFI to come along, give me a call!
Thanks to Dan for buying a new T206. He's a new pilot and, because of time in type insurance requirements, needed a CFI along on the trip. Naturally, I was flattered that he hired me to come along on the trip.
It's probably no surprise to most readers that the cockpit of new aircraft have undergone a radical change in the last year. Manufacturers are shipping virtually every new airplane with glass cockpits. People just aren't buying the old "steam gauge" versions anymore, even though they are still available as options. About 90% of all new airplanes shipped now go out with glass cockpits.
As I've said before, I believe the new cockpits are going to have a large impact upon reducing accident rates. However, there is a learning curve associated with them, which is why new Cessna owners get a three-day "G1000 transition training" course at the factory or from authorized instructors in the field. Doing it at the factory has the benefit of allowing you to tour the production line and ask the experts any question you have about your new plane.
Welcome to the Factory, May I
Search You Please?
The first thing that happens when you arrive is that they search you. JUST KIDDING! Everyone we met was incredibly friendly and helpful. I don't recall having ever visited a facility that was so customer service oriented. How far will they go to satisfy a customer? When I asked the guard at the front desk to help us fake a picture of me being searched, he laughed and obliged. So even the guards know which side their bread is buttered on. Anyone who wants to make their company more customer service oriented could learn something from Cessna. We enjoyed every minute of our time there, and it was the Cessna employees who made it so enjoyable. To be fair, I'm sure the other aircraft companies are also excellent.
The 172/182/206 factory is in Independence, KS, not in Wichita (as many people think) where Cessna builds the Caravan and jets. To get there, you fly into Tulsa, OK and drive about an hour and a half to Independence. There are a lot of fields and oil wells along the way. The biggest hill we saw enroute was a buckle in the pavement. It turns out that May is also the month in which they receive the most tornadoes--but fortunately they set a new record by having none in May this year.
Business at Cessna is obviously good, as there is a lot of construction going on. Currently, the aircraft prep and paint occur in the same building. In the future, separate buildings will eliminate dust particles from the prep area finding there way into the paint shop. There's also a new customer delivery center being constructed. Starting in late-2006, Independence will also start shipping the new Mustang mini-jet and they need larger and fancier facilities to accommodate the jet business.
We started with 3 hours of ground school. There are two classrooms set up with a high tech projection screen and terminals for everyone in the class. Most of the time, the terminals show copies of the PowerPoint slides being projected on the screen. Periodically, however, the terminals are switched so that they run copies of the Garmin G1000 software simulator. Everyone in the classroom then runs though the exercises on their own simulator. This includes simple things, like entering COMM frequencies, to more difficult tasks like re-programming a flight plan to accommodate changes in destination or instrument approach procedure.
Lunch was in the factory cafeteria. The food is fine, but the highlight was rummaging through the company store located in the cafeteria. We came back with Cessna shirts and hats and posters and more smiles.
In the afternoon, we got to see Dan's new T206 and fly the acceptance flight. You can see him checking out his new plane in the photo to the left. He didn't stop smiling for days.
We spent a lot of time looking it over externally and then flew with a delivery pilot who ran through all of the systems to assure that everything worked. There were virtually no squawks and they were so trivial that I've already forgotten what they were. The plane is beautiful. The engine purrs. The interior is leather. The cockpit is all glass. This is not your father's Oldsmobile! That night we celebrated by joining other customers and factory personnel for dinner in town.
Day Two--Boy are they customer
Day two started with another 3 hours of ground school. Dan commented that he had never seen a PowerPoint presentation with as many slides in it. It was hundreds of slides, but our instructor went through it quickly. Somewhere along the line, we realized that they had planned for us to be there for three full days of training, whereas our plan called for only two days.
In another example of customer responsiveness, they asked Dean, our instructor/pilot, to fly late with us and pack two days into one. Soooo, we each had about 3.5 hours of flight training that day in the T206. Some of the approaches were into Tulsa and we commandeered the courtesy car at an FBO, packed six people into it (since we met up with another customer flight) and drove to a local restaurant for dinner.
Most of my 3.5 hours of training was after dinner at night and we got back into the Independence airport about 11:30PM that night. Surprisingly, the customer delivery center was still in full swing. Did I mention that business must be good? Later we found out that Dean lives in Tulsa and still had a 90 minute drive home that night. Did I mention that the Cessna employees are incredibly accommodating? Everything about the visit impressed us, particularly the employees and their attentiveness.
The next morning we were at the factory at 7AM, since it was the only time in which they could squeeze in our factory tour. Steve, the training manager took us around which was fun since he is a former factory floor supervisor and knew everyone. Whereas they originally had two assembly lines, they have now consolidated into one so that there's room to install the Mustang jet assembly line. Planes start at one end of the building as a collection of parts and roll out the other end fully assembled, though not painted.
Preparation and painting occur in another building. Formerly tape was used for some of the decals, but now almost all of the design is painted onto the plane. It adds a few hours to the process, but the exterior now lasts longer. The best part of the tour was looking into the paint shop to the see only Mustang jet in existence, which had just receive a coat of paint over night. I was struck by how much larger it looked than I had imagined. Although it has only six seats, it stands considerable taller and longer than it's little six seat buddy the T206. Flies a little faster too I hear.
We were wheels up at 8:30AM and flew for the first two hours at about 2000 AGL to stay below a layer of clouds. First stop: Liberal, KS. We refueled and re-examined the radar picture, which showed a band of showers still to the south and west of us. We had thought we would have the Garmin data link in the plane, which would have downloaded real-time weather graphics from XM satellite, but unfortunately that won't ship for another month or two. That will really revolutionize flying. Imagine flying along pulling up not just metars, TAFs and Winds Aloft, but being able to see graphical depictions of Airmets, freezing levels, satellite and radar imagery and GET THIS--Temporary Flight Restrictions! It's a new world, and I like it.
From Liberal, we flew north, avoiding lightning strikes displayed on the Stormscope, and visually avoiding the darker areas of rain and clouds. Heading south and west as we approached Trinidad, CO we were able to gradually climb as the clouds rose and eventually disappeared. Next stop: Las Vegas, New Mexico, which is apparently a popular gas stop on the East/West route as a Cessna dealer we met at the factory had mentioned it.
Winds at Las Vegas were approximately 30 knots, which the ground personnel told us is fairly typical there. The New Mexico State Aeronautical map gave us a laugh as it has a symbol for "Alien Crash Site" at Roswell, NM. A picture on the wall commemorated the landing of Lindbergh at Las Vegas some 75 years ago. I think things have been a little quiet there since then.
Fuel Range Ring to the Rescue
From there we launched for the other Las Vegas, with a route over Albuquerque and Flagstaff. Over Albuquerque, we experimented with the trip planning function and the fuel range ring and realized that our destination was about half way between the "range to reserve" ring and the "range to fuel exhaustion" ring. Since we'd set the reserve for 1 hour, that suggested we'd have about a half hour of fuel upon landing, which neither of us found particularly comforting in an aircraft in which we hadn't had prior experience with the fuel gauges. On the other hand, we wanted to avoid an extra fuel stop if possible.
Fuel Range Ring to the rescue! Ironically, when I first saw this feature several months earlier, I dismissed it as being unnecessary glitz. Well I was wrong. It's an excellent planning tool for longer cross country flights that provides instant, graphical feedback. We starting adjusting the power and mixture controls and almost immediately found a combination that would give us at least an hour of reserve fuel upon landing and only knocked a couple of knots off of our airspeed. The photo, which I shot of the display after the adjustmets, shows our destination next to the inner range ring, indicating we'd land with an hour of fuel. It worked great. We landed with almost 20 gallons of fuel and also verified that the fuel gauges are highly accurate.
We stayed overnight in Las Vegas, NV and our 3 hour flight home the next morning was uneventful. Overall, the flight took about 13 hours. While we average about 150 knots, we had 40 knot headwinds most of the first day. During the flight, we explored virtually every feature of the G1000. For example, on the last leg we used the VNAV or vertical navigation function, to show us graphically on the map when to start are 400 fpm descent so we'd arrive at RHV at traffic pattern altitude.
In summary, if you're considering buying a new airplane, pick it up at the factory if you can. You'll learn a lot from the factory people and get a lot of experience in the airplane on the way home. If you lack experience in the new plane, bring along a CFI to make you're trip safer and even more fun. But, be prepared to have a non-stop grin on your face for at least a week!
Bay Tour Update
Starting a Tour from the Livermore area
Any pilot living in the S.F. Bay area has heard of the "Bay Tour." Generally, it means starting from some airport in the Bay Area, flying either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the South Bay, spending time loitering over the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and other sites in the S.F. Bay, and then returning to your original airport. Yes, there are many permutations, which is why this is always a popular topic for local Safety Seminars.
At one recent seminar I taught, a couple of people mentioned that they were sometimes turned down for Bay Tours when they initiated a call up to NorCal approach in the Livermore/East Bay area. Rather than speculate, I rang up NorCal Approach yesterday to get their take on it.
The person I talked to said they had never heard of someone being turned down for a Bay Tour, which I'm sure is probably at least 97% true--after all, I've never been turned down for a Bay Tour. They did say that they cannot handle tours when the S.F. airport is socked in, which wasn't a surprise. I've always taught in my seminars that you cannot get a low level (1500 foot) tour over the peninsula if they're running instrument approaches into SFO due to a marine layer. You might still be able to get a tour at 3500 feet, depending upon clouds.
Then I asked about the 125.35 frequency over the Livermore area, which I have noticed is often highly congested, since they handle the arrivals to runway 29 at Oakland. If you don't recognize that frequency, its because its new and not yet on the charts. Cross out 135.4 and write in 125.35. In you're ever climbing north or east over the SUNOL and Calaveras Reservoir area, you'll notice a steady stream of jet traffic headed for Oakland as you get around 4,000 feet. I generally advise pilots to not climb much about 4,000 until they're out by the Livermore airport to help avoid this traffic.
The NorCal guy I talked with agreed that sometimes people calling in the East Bay/Livermore Valley area for a Bay Tour on 125.35 might be turned down if the controller's workload doesn't allow him to handle additional traffic. In that case, he suggested that pilots proceed North to the Concord/Richmond area and initiate their Bay Tour there by calling up on 120.9. That makes perfect sense to me, since whenever I fly in that area the frequency is so quiet you might wonder if your radio had stopped working. Try it and see if it works. If you still run into trouble getting a Bay Tour, drop me a note and I'll check it out.
Now Change With the Wind!
Just like my IP address, the frequencies are now dynamic.
I was flying south of RHV with a student on a cross country to Merced the other day and something strange happened. NorCal Approach switched us to 121.3--a frequency that heretofore has always been associated with an area north of SJC and RHV. What's up with that I wondered?
If you fly the same route often, you'll get to know which frequencies are used and where they'll change along the route. If you don't, then the Terminal Area Charts give you a good idea about which Approach Control frequencies to use in any given area. Outside the Terminal Area Chart areas, you're more or less on your own. Sectional charts don't list Center frequencies and the low altitude enroute charts for Instrument pilots print the frequencies so lightly they're hard to find. The Garmin 430/530/G1000 GPS databases will help you find the nearest Center frequency, but they don't list Approach frequencies. So how you find a frequency varies depending upon the location and what resources you have available to you.
Finding the right NorCal Approach frequency in the San Jose area just got even more interesting. To get the right frequency, you now have to consider which way the wind is blowing! Or more precisely, which direction aircraft are landing at SJC (which may be different from the wind direction if winds are light and airplanes are landing with a tailwind). The whole idea is to associate a frequency with traffic flows, rather than geographical areas. Henceforth, 120.1 is now associated with arrivals at San Jose, regardless of whether landings are being made to the Northwest or Southeast. Departures, are now associated with 121.3.
It use to be fairly simple. Heading south out of RHV? Call 120.1. Heading north, call 121.3. But now you'll need to know which way the traffic is landing to figure it out. Or you might ask ground control before you depart which frequency they're currently using in the direction you're traveling. I'm sure the change benefits someone somewhere. Unfortunately for us small airplane drivers, it just made it a little harder to figure out which frequency to use when calling NorCal.
New Cessnas Shipping with Airbags?
Yup! Hard to believe. Of all the possible future aircraft innovations, I'd never thought of this one! Earlier this year, Cessna started shipping airbags as part of all of their new piston engine aircraft. The airbag is part of the shoulder harness, and four of them ship with each aircraft (no airbags for the back two seats in the 206).
The airbag, which is made by AmSafe, a division of TRW, only operates if the seatbelt is fastened. The electronics and an accelerometer are located in a box below each row of seats and the box controls both airbags in that row. The airbag is inside a leather pouch that has one seam sewn more loosely than the others. In the photo, it's the thick part of the seatbelt below my hand.
When activated, the airbag comes out vertically, extending above the persons head and fully covering their face. The airbag is rectangular in shape, with the longest end extending straight up. I've seen a video that shows the airbag coming out and it's remarkably large given the size of the leather pouch it's in. As I recall, the activation device is good for seven years, and needs to be replaced at that time.
So next time you have a really hard landing, you may have to do more than check the ELT! But if you're in a crash, you'll be grateful for the added protection. Flying small planes just got a little safer.
So now you know.
Pilot Safety News receives a number of comments each month. Here are some that we received this month.
Regarding the article on a recent crash into terrain in Nevada and the terrain warning capabilities of the Garmin 295 GPS, Walt O. wrote:
"A friend and I recently did a 41 hour trip to Maine and back in a T210. We had a Garmin 296 on each yoke and a 430 in the panel. The 296's were the hands down winners for fast navigation, quick route changes, useful terrain information, nearest information, special airspace depiction and moving map--you name it.....with an unexpected routing change, the 296's were a gift from heaven. Also, on one of our few VFR legs, approaching the Rockies from the East, we wondered if we would need higher to clear terrain. Just zoom out the terrain page to 50 miles and see if there's any "yellow," indicating terrain within 1,000 feet. Etc., etc. At $1,500 this unit has to be the biggest bargain of my 30-year flying career....On flight planning with charts vs. GPS direct, the 296 is also an excellent, take-home flight planning tool. Plot out a route (direct, airway, whatever) and you have a very detailed view of airspace, terrain, airports enroute, etc. I find the unit indispensable for this use alone. We update the databases of the 296's every month."
Regarding the article on my new Lightspeed headset and battery consumption, John E. wrote:
"... The answer seems to be rechargable nickel metal hydride batteries. They are more expensive, but last much, MUCH longer than Alkaline batteries; and they have no memory. So, you can fully recharge before they need recharging...The only draw back is that the manufacturer recommends not to mix old with new, and partially discharged with fully discharged batteries when charging. I just mark the batteries to keep the old from the new.
July 1, 2005 8-4PM Historical Aircraft Day Mariposa-Yosemite Airport 209-966-2143
July 8-9, 2005 10-3PM Nevada County Airfest Grass Valley, CA 530-273-1972
July 23, 2005 7:30-1PM Old Time Fly-In Colusa, CA 530-458-0580
Pilot Safety News
© 2005 by Max Trescott
Master CFI & FAA Aviation Safety Counselor
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