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Don’t think you’re safe just because you are in controlled airspace!

A few months ago I was heading out with an instructor to get some instrument training for the Wings program. We had just departed DVT RWY 7R, climbing to the NE at about 3200′ MSL as advised to do by ATC. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a large white object passing only about 100′ to 150′ beneath me. It was a large twin (C-402). I immediately contacted ATC and told them of the incident, they replied back “Yah, we were trying to figure out who he is and why he is in our airspace.” How about, alerting other aircraft to the fact that a large twin has busted into class D and is not communicating. I never found out what happened or why that pilot was blasting through DVT class D without a clearance. Maybe he just made a mistake, maybe his altimeter was not set properly, who knows.

This incident really hit home for me and actually made me a little sick. It became very clear that it could all end in the blink of an eye.

When flying in the terminal areas of the valley, be very alert, listen to all traffic reports, visually picture where the traffic is presently located and where it is heading. Will it be descending or climbing? Keep a good scan going until you are well out of the congested areas. I wish we all could afford TCAS!

Submitted by Brett Bell (abell@prizeflight.com) August 1, 2006

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Pretend It’s Really a Short Field

When practicing short field landings, be sure to simulate the beginning AND END of the “short” runway. This is best done by identifying an intersection or distance remaining number that is about 2,000 feet from the beginning of the runway. Teach the student to imagine that that point is the end of their short field. Tell them that there is an imaginary fence there and they had better not hit it (be careful not to blow any tires for the sake of the simulated fence). Using this technique will immediately help the student improve their judgment and decision making on base and final.

Submitted by Jim Pitman November 20, 2004

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Aircraft Checkouts

It has been my experience that most FBO aircraft checkouts involve minimal (or no) ground evaluation and about one flight hour of steep turns, stalls, and touch-and-goes. There is usually no real evaluation of the pilot’s decision-making skills or ability to handle real life situations. This is a great opportunity to use both ground and flight scenarios to evaluate the pilot.

The following example scenarios are meant to illustrate two very different situations. The key to being successful is for the flight instructor to create an individualized scenario that fits the pilot’s needs.

Aircraft Checkout Flight Scenario 1

Certificate/ratings: Private Pilot, no instrument rating.

Aircraft: Piper Warrior with VFR GPS.

Pilot experience: 100 hours of total flight time, all within previous 12 months.

Desired use of aircraft: The pilot wants to rent the aircraft to take friends and family flying in the local area.

Example Flight Scenario: Depart KDVT and proceed direct to KGEU. Perform a full stop taxi back at KGEU using short-field landing and short-field takeoff techniques. Circumnavigate the Class B airspace to a point south of Firebird Lake. Perform power-off and power-on stalls simulating landing and takeoff configurations. Transition north through the Class B airspace back to KDVT and perform a full stop landing. Perform at least one surprise go-around at either KGEU or KDVT. The flight instructor should also evaluate the pilot’s basic pilotage skills (turn the GPS off) as well as their ability to use the GPS (and any other installed equipment) properly.

If a pilot can perform this scenario without assistance, I would be very confident in his/her ability to exercise private pilot privileges in this aircraft.

Aircraft Checkout Flight Scenario 2

Certificate/ratings: Private Pilot, with instrument rating.

Aircraft: Cessna 172S with KLN94 GPS.

Pilot experience: Over 500 hours of total flight time, with only about 20 hours in the previous 12 months, has flown various types of aircraft, but has no experience with IFR GPS units.

Desired use of aircraft: The pilot wants to rent the aircraft to perform trips from Phoenix to San Diego for business once or twice each month.

First of all, I hope it is obvious to every instructor that this aircraft checkout is not going to be completed in one day. The flight instructor should start by developing a mini instrument training syllabus that will be conducted over a two or three day period. Special emphasis must be placed on IFR and GPS procedures. The “graduation flight” should include several different instrument approaches in the Phoenix area and possibly a short instrument cross-country flight. If a cross-country flight is not performed, the flight planning portion should be completed and the important aspects simulated in flight.

Submitted by Jim Pitman October 13, 2004

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