A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.")
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you
may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
something we might never have considered before, or something that
didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
it for the practical test.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network.
I just got back from annual Convention duty with my "day job" as
manager of education and technical programs for the American
Bonanza Society (www.bonanza.org).
Well over 100 member airplanes were tied down in tight rows on the
Colorado Jet Center ramp at Colorado Springs, CO. As is customary
after the ABS Convention, the majority of pilots left early on
Sunday morning immediately after the four-day event.
"Departure day" this year coincided with the morning after the
Air Force Academy/Naval Academy football game in "the Springs." In
addition to Beechcraft the ramp was crowded with biz jets and
military T-1 Jayhawk transports (retired and active-duty generals
and admirals, no doubt), and a large collection of assorted other
airplanes from Falcon jets on down to Cessnas and Pipers. The
tiedowns were already populated with local airplanes. In all, the
ramp was packed.
And most of the Beech pilots would take off before dawn.
KCOS' air traffic control did a superb job of sorting this all
out and getting our members on their way. In fact, three
controllers came to our convention hall the day before and gave a
detailed departure briefing, so every pilot knew beforehand what
clearance to expect whether under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR),
Visual Flight Rules (VFR) with flight following, or a simple VFR
routing out of the Class C airspace. Discussion centered on GPS
waypoint procedures, given that virtually all pilots in the room
raised their hand when the controllers asked who has GPS in the
I asked if I could interject a point and was given the floor. I
reminded the group that it would be crowded and dark, with pilots,
passengers and ground vehicles on the ramp, and asked them to:
Input all your GPS data and set up your communications
radios before you push the throttle forward and taxi out of
I don't have any specific data (yet; give me time), but it sure
seems to me there's been an increase in reported taxi mishaps,
ground collisions and propeller strikes that roughly coincide with
the introduction of GPS-driven flight management systems in
lightplane cockpits. I regularly caution my students to program the
GPS before taxi or when stopped in the run-up area, but to
concentrate outside the airplane when in motion. This goes for
listening to ATIS, copying a clearance, and any other head-down
chores. You don't want to run into something-or somebody.
Aero-tip of the day: Crowded ramp or empty,
dark sky or light, do cockpit chores when you're stopped, and keep
your eyes outside the cockpit while taxiing.