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.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
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, and as
representatives of the flying community. 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.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
It's summer, and fly-in season is well under way.
A staple of local fly-in activities is the bomb-drop. Pilots fly
at a prescribed altitude and try to drop a "bomb" as close as
possible to a target on the ground. Usually the bomb is a bag
filled with flour or some other cheap substance that makes a highly
visible mark when it hits -- which is why the practice is often
What makes this practice legal? Contrast it with the Great
Nocturnal Toilet Paper Raid on Iola, KS a few years back (I think
it was Iola; it might have been Fort Scott, but it was somewhere in
eastern Kansas). A good ol' boy running with at least the same
octane level as his Cessna dove and swooped over the little town in
the dark of night, chucking rolls of TP onto hapless pedestrians
below (no, it wasn't me). Why is lofting heavy bags of flour onto
an airport marker okay by the Feds, when squeezably-soft Charmin
was not? (Forget the "octane" and "swooping" part for now). The
answer's in FAR 91.15:
No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object
to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to
persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the
dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid
injury or damage to persons or property.
It's the "hazard to persons or property" part that gets you in
trouble. In the case of an organized fly-in precautions may indeed
make "flour-bombing" a safe and Federally-accepted activity. Same
goes for message tubes, mail pouches, medicine kits and anything
else that you might find yourself wanting to chuck from an airplane
onto the ground.
Aero-tip of the day: If you're going to throw
it out of an airplane, make certain it won't hurt anyone or damage
anything when it hits.