I have a question to all you civil trained pilots.
I am a military trained pilot who was always taught that the lookout and situational awareness is one of the most important aspect of flying. How much of your early training involved emphasis on situational awareness and looking out?
Yesterday afternoon I had a potentially dangerous experience at Blackbushe which could have ruined an otherwise uneventful flight. Whilst on final to land on runway 25 I noticed some light flickering in my periferal vision. Looking out to my left was an aircraft, literally feet away heading straight for us at right angles. He then passed just behind us after ATC told him that he was number 2 to land and to go around, then at 2-300 feet flew over Yately noise abatement area!
On explanation the pilot said he had not seen us having been told to follow us into landing by ATC and had turned far too early on to base which conflicted with our standard approach path (he thought we had already landed). It seems that he was totally unaware of the busy circuit traffic, lost situational awareness and was totally unaware of the Blackbushe circuit layout. This showed a severe lack of airmanship and in my view stems back to his training!!
The purpose of my little rant is that we have all got to keep safe up there otherwise an avoidable accident will happen which will further destroy the reputation and increase the legislation to our beloved hobby. So this is a plea to all PPL holders, to keep a better lookout and to be more aware of your situation, otherwise one day someone is going to get hurt.
Yes, one can on occassion (I stress on rare occassion) be completely perplexed by the decisions made in the Blackbushe circuit, some of the circuits being somewhat polygonal in shape and large to boot. I have also seen the odd aircraft apparently transiting the zone well below 2000 on the QNH!! Maybe they had information, but I still don't understand the need for it.
If it is the case, then how is it that SA is lost in the latter case? Is in part due to something like relience on GPS CDI style displays or something?
and I consider myself extremely tollerant and understand!!
- 45-60 hours training to get a PPL, often over several years.
- A nominal average currency of 6 hours per year.
- Flying costs which are so high that an increasing number of PPLs don't achieve much more than that.
- GA aircraft increasingly being filled up with large amounts of avionics that PPLs don't properly understand, but don't have the sense to turn off and ignore.
So, some things tend to go by the board, particularly checks, lookout and briefings - things that to somebody military trained like yourself are second nature. An unhappy situation, but unless we become very restrictive of who is allowed to fly, we have to accept and allow for it.
It does seem, looking here and elsewhere, and out of the transparent bits of the cockpit, that airmanship is on a downward trend.
Fortunately, in the less crowded airspace of the north we have not yet been too inconvenienced by it. I do recall, though, some situations where I have apparently not been seen by another pilot: situations both within and without the circuit.
I had the good fortune to be taught by a variety of instructors, all of whom encouraged me to think about what is going on. Situational awareness has so far, and I am touching wood as I type, not eluded me.
I believe, however, that the important point is that students be encouraged to think for themselves, from the first moment of setting foot on the airfield prior to flight. I fear that formulaic teaching breeds formulaic pilots - who believe that if they do everything in the cockpit that they learnt, then they will be safe, no matter what else is going on around them. In other words, their safety is entirely the result of the observation and good reactions of others, and they are failing to reciprocate to the benefit of all.
Location: Wherever i lay my hat, that's my home...
As some of you know, the ones I met at the Popham fly-in, I am working towards my PPL.
One thing I have noticed is that although after a few days off my flying has not deteriorated but I do become forgetful of the avionics. An example, I forgot to turn on the Xponder, when I entered the active the other day... Got a clip round the ear from my instructor, but I have found myself "out-of-habit", and do tend to start scanning internally to ensure my avionics are set correctly!!! Not good I know!
But coupling this with a conversation I had the other day with my father, and another forum on Prune ( Why is a/c rental so expensive ) Is aviation still in the realms of a slightly elitist attitude we have in this country. I fail to see why aviation is so much more expensive in this country than the States. Considering most of the aircraft used by ad hoc rental clubs are US origin. I do worry slightly how after completing my PPL I will be able to maintain practice and save for further courses (CPL/IR etc).
I do strongly feel that if aviation was made more available, we would all be able to practice more and be better at it. I am hoping the costs come down, as diesel becomes more available to the GA community.
Whilst you are under the care of an instructor, follow his advice. But the issue here is the lookout.
In gliding, that is the constant theme of all flying in gliders - keep a lookout. It's what power pilots are especially bad at doing. The normal cockpit layout is very poor and doesn't help - with my xx hours looking through the PA28 'letterbox' I can swear to that.
But gliders are used to flying in close proximity to other gliders and so a lookout is life-enhancing.
I despair when I read on these threads about pilots relying on TCAS and ATC instructions - they should be listening and looking out and taking avoiding action earlier than later.
Location: Wherever i lay my hat, that's my home...
Indeed you are correct... I was refering to things such as, Strobes and Xpdr into and leaving the active runway; Fuel Pump after a Tank change; next frequency ready to go...
When you are out of practice, I find myself noticing one thing, and then re-checking everything, as you get the feeling you may have forgotten something else.
I have often gone to change Xpdr code, and just before changing a dial, remebering to switch to STBY. Dodgy, when around the 7000 mark!
I don't use a GPS yet.
I was trying to make the point that as a low hours pilot, without even thinking about it, your attention is very easily distracted by the lack of practice. I am lucky that I am aware, as it has been pointed out to me. If I fly for two or three days on the trot, the issues go away. Therefore by more practice I think the distractions for low hours will disappear due to habit and not affect the flight safety.
Couldn't agree more about lookout. On my first solo nav had some military hardware go above, then a different set go below, by a few hundered feet within about 20 seconds on one of my solo navs...
Maybe it is just me, but sometimes when completing a check, for example, downwind checks, if I forget one small thing it makes me re-check, as I could have forgotten something else. Time spent looking inside the cockpit. If however I have flown for a few days, I tend not to miss things.
(Sorry about the split answer - you responded during my writing of the reply to dutch... so just added comments on)
Another problem is the increasing complexity of airspace and 'local' procedures.
Invariably these things have a negative impact on safety since people become more concerned with watching out for airspace boundaries (which contrary to opinion don't hurt if you bump into them compared to looking for other a/c which hurt a lot if you happen to end up sharing the same piece of sky.)
This leads to more and more people becoming reliant on technology such as GPS rather than looking where they are going.
Add all this complexity to the fact that people are flying less and less often because of the cost and you'll find a pretty nasty trend emerging.
I personally don't know many PPL's who "rely on TCAS" simply as it isn't fitted to the vast majority of light aircraft. Personally, when flying a machine equipped with TCAS, if it goes off and tells me to do something, then I'm going to do it. All commercial aircraft have it fitted and in certain circumstances we are 'reliant' on it. I certainly wouldn't want to trust the safety of my passengers purely to the MK1 eyeball.
Location: Wherever i lay my hat, that's my home...
I am lucky with my school that they are pushing "look out of the window - to maintain cinstant attitude" very heavily. I can not comment on other schools, as I am still flying from one place.
My point was just that the theme seems to be degraded airmanship. I feel, even from a young inexperienced position, that practice is a major contributor, and that maybe a degree of cost prohibition is contributing to the lack of practice.
As I want to go further with my flight training, I am going to try to make sure that I fly as often as I can, even if for cost reason it works out at 30 minutes of circuits, to keep in the groove. That way I can divert cash to the CPL fund! And then start going places again!
I do feel, most sincerely, that constant practice is pushed too much to the exclusion of all other considerations.
It is necessary, IMHO, to develop the skills of thinking too in order to gain and sustain situational awareness. That is why I personally advocate the student learns the discipline to brief himself or herself prior to getting to the flight school - by this I mean thinking through the impending flight, anticipating where and how the flight will be conducted, navigation and vertical navigation, looking at the charts (even when in the circuit: one sees other features outside the circuit).
Then the student meets his instructor, hopefully the instructor will provide a briefing for the flight which now the student can synthesize with his own.
The flight can then be conducted with the student comparing flight progress with his mental image of the flight. This will make the inculcation of gaining situational awareness, ultimately as an automatic process, easier.
For maximum effectiveness, after the instructor's post-flight briefing, and preferably away from the airfield, the student can think through the actual progress of the flight, and make mental notes of what went well, what was uncertain, and what went badly, to inform his subsequent forays in the air.
This adoption of a mental discipline, of a way of thinking is not, so far as I know, taught in all training organisations. I suggest it should be. As a musician this is the way that I have come most effectively to learn. I do not believe the analogy, though imperfect, to be entirely devoid of merit, since, on the face of it, both flying and being an instrumentalist are activities with a high practical content.
Pending the universal adoption of this discipline in the teaching of flying skills, however, it should not be beyond the wit of an aspirant pilot to do this for themselves. Since they can do it for themselves, they should do it immediately.
Fully agree with you. I go my PPL in June, got about 70 hours now. Running through the flight while driving home was the time when I learned the most. When you have got time to think about it, and go through it in you mind then the things that you got wrong or didnít do as you should, you remember for next time. Worked wonders for me!
My instructor could never stress enough about looking out of the window and making yourself be seen. Also listening to the radio to build up a mental picture about what the other traffic is doing. Then you can react, if you hear that someone is going to be over the VRP where you are going, etc.
Lessons that a lot of people could use in life on the ground, as well as in the air.
When on final approach with full flap, runway insight in a circuit of a busy airfield within a dedicated ATZ what the hell could I have done if I had seen him earlier, that surely is the point of the ATZ!! Also if he was behind me how the hell could I have seen him until the last minute!! It is his responsibility to stay clear of me!! This was his failure not mine!!!!
It's not a question of what you could have done. It's obviously your right of way and his responsibility to give way. The point is that you didn't see him, and that suggests that while looking out is easy, actually seeing the other aircraft on a collision course in time to do something about it is much harder.