11 February, 2010

7 Tips to Getting Over Your Fears Before Getting Your Private Pilot License

By Cris Cato

We all have fears. Some of us won't even admit to them, but we have them. Embarking on anything new, while being very exciting, can also be very scary. The reason, the main reason...fear of failure. You need to get over your fears not only of flying, if you have one. but of failing as well before you can be the proud owner of a private pilot license.

If you've taken a driver's test and didn't pass the first time, you remember what that was like when the instructor turned to you and said, "Sorry, you failed." If you looked up the word "down" in the dictionary, you would have seen a photo of yourself right next to the definition.
Nobody likes to fail, and fear of failure is one of the worst fears in the world.

Okay, great... now that we've established that... how do we deal with it?

Here are a few great ways of overcoming the fear of failure.

1. Consider The Missed Opportunity.
Imagine that you decide that you're too afraid to go through with learning how to fly and taking your exam. Now imagine what life is going to be like without being able to do this very thing that you love so much. I'm assuming that if you want to learn how to fly, there is a big reason for it. Focus on that instead of the fear and this will go a long way to alleviating that fear.

2. Research The Alternatives
Imagine what you will have to do without your PPL. You'll have to rely on commercial airlines. You won't be able to go where you want to go WHEN you want to go there. You'll be at the mercy of others. The alternatives to flying your own plane, if you don't want to rely on commercial airlines, are driving, train, bus and even boat. If that thought makes you sick to your stomach, focus on it. That'll get you over your fear of failure.

3. Put The Worst Case Scenario Into Perspective
Let's say you fail your PPL exam? What's the worst thing that can happen? They can't tell you that you can't take it again. You can still take another shot at it. It's not like this is a one time offer. If that were the case, there would be a ton of people not driving or flying planes. It's not the end of the world if you fail. At worse, you have to wait a little longer to get your PPL.

4. Understand The Benefits Of Failure
Believe it or not, you learn something from failure. You learn what it is you did wrong and get a chance to improve it. Would you rather that you didn't fail your exam only because some instructor took pity on you and ended up getting yourself killed because you really weren't ready to fly? I think you know the answer to that.

5. Make A Contingency Plan
If you do fail, have a plan. You should already be planning in advance on taking more lessons, getting more flight time and rescheduling. Failing doesn't mean that you give up.

6. Take Action
The best way to get rid of that fear is to just go ahead and do it. The more you procrastinate, the more afraid you're going to become until you reach a point where you're unable to take your exam at all.

7. Burn Your Boats
In ancient times, Greeks would burn their boats so that they had no choice but to move forward. They couldn't turn back. I don't know what you have to do in order to burn YOUR boat but do it. If that means picking up the phone and scheduling your exam, do it. Don't look back.

Hopefully, the 7 items I've gone over will help you get over your fears of getting your private pilot license

Cris Cato is an avid fan of aviation. If you are ready to pursue your very own private pilot license, head on over to my site for a special software that will help you prepare for the private pilot exam.

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16 December, 2009

Mnemonic Checklist For Pre Take Off Checks Or Vital Actions

By Chris Puddy

I have flown many different types of aircraft, and when I was operating both Airline and Air Taxi work single crew it was often slow and ponderous to try and use a check list, especially on simple aircraft like the Islander or Trislander.

So I developed a Mnemonic which I have adapted and use for all the aircraft that I currently fly or have flown. It is necessary to get the mnemonic in your head first, and some of these are well known like the FREDA checks or the HASELL checks that are used for the cruise and pre-aerobatics. When reading many UK checklists there is a pretty standard mnemonic annotated within the checks. This is the one I have adapted and it works for all aircraft I have flown including turboprops like the King Air or Twin Otter.

If you want to develop your own based on the following if it does not quite fit into your current checks, then it is easy to adapt. What is needed is to carefully go through the aircraft check list and make sure that using this mnemonic everything is covered. If there is something missing, then weave it into your mnemonic.

For example, the checklist for piston aircraft does not include turning on the autofeather, and so when I go through the check list, and I get to M for Mixture, Mags and Master, I then add this memory sequence. Manual = Auto feather. Job done.

So here is the list I have created, and you may notice that the final check is controls full and free. I have a good reason for this having taken off in a Twin Otter with the control locks in. That is another story that I may write about one day.

T Throttle friction tight

T Trim set

M Mixture Rich. Mags on Both. Master on both switches. Autofeather on.

P Propellor levers full forward

F Fuel. On and sufficient. Correct tanks. Fuel Pump on. Fuel primer Locked.

F Flaps set as required.

I Instruments and radio aids set as required for departure

H Harnesses

H Hatches and general security.

D De-Icing as required. Pitot Heat as required.

C Caution lights. Out or as expected.

A Altimeters. Set for departure.

When cleared for Take Off

T Transponder for radar visibility On. Strobes for human visibility On.

C Controls Full and Free.

That's it. I think you will find that covers everything in your aircraft, if not just modify it a bit, or put in a new letter or sequence of letters that you can remember. For instance the DCA is easy to remember for me as many countries have a Department of Civil Aviation.

Chris Puddy has been flying since 1965 and has over 14,000 hours experience mostly single crew on light aircraft. He is currently instructing in Bristol, and at the http://CotswoldFlyingSchool.com in Gloucestershire England.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Chris_Puddy

20 November, 2009

How to Work Out a Cross Wind Component in Seconds When on Final Approach to Land

By Chris Puddy

When coming in to land it is often difficult to work out the cross wind component quickly. There are 2 quick methods I know to be able to do this and when you understand them choose the one that suits you best.

The first one is known as the clock code and with it you assume that any wind that is more than 60 degrees off the runway heading is a full strength cross wind. So if landing on say runway 27 which is 270 degrees from North, then if the wind direction is less than 210 or more than 330 degrees, whatever the strength is it is regarded as full cross wind. So if the wind is say 200 at 15 knots then it is a 15 knots cross wind.

Now to work out how much of a cross wind there is between these 60 degrees either side of the runway heading you imagine that the number of degrees off the heading are the numbers of minutes round a clock face. Then imagine how far round the clock face that is, and that proportion round the clock face is the proportion of the wind strength.

So if the wind is 20 degrees off the heading, say for example 290 at 30 knots, then 20 minutes is one third of the way round the clock face, so the cross wind component is one third of 30 knots which is 10 knots.

If the runway was 03 which is 030 degrees, and the wind was 070 at 20 knots, this is 40 degrees off, and 40 minutes round the clock face is nearly nearly three quarters of the way round the clock face so the cross wind is three quarters of 20 or 15 knots.

As wind constantly varies in strength and direction, then you do not need to be highly accurate with your calculation. If the wind is roughly 30 degrees off, it is half strength so roughly half the wind strength is the cross wind component. 45 degrees off is 3/4 of the strength of the wind and 60 degrees or more full strength.

Another easy way to work out cross wind and head wind component is using this simple mathematical formula.

For calculating cross wind. If the wind it 30 degrees off the nose it is.5 the wind strength, 45 degrees off.7 the wind strength, 60 degrees off it is.9 the wind strength, and if 90 degrees of then obviously it is full strength. This applies on cross country flights, or for working out the cross wind when coming in to land.

If for example when coming in to land the wind is 60 degrees off the runway heading it is.9 times the wind strength, so using simple arithmatic on a 20 knot wind just multiply 9 by 2 which is 18 knots. For a wind of 30 knots and 45 degrees off the runway heading the calculation is 3 X 7 which is 21 cross wind component. If like me you learned your multipliction tables as a child, this is easy.

If you reverse the formula, you can use it to work out head wind or tail wind component as well. So if the wind is directly towards you, it is full strength, if 30 degrees off it is.9 of full strength, 45 degrees off.7 of full strength, and 60 degrees off it will be half strength.

If it is 90 degrees off then there is no head or tail wind component. However bear in mind that any strong wind will be affecting the aircraft by drifting and turning into wind will in effect mean that you have to fly a longer track than a straight line so it will slow you down a little bit.

If the wind is coming from behind you, then the same proportions can be applied to work out the tail wind component, so if it is 30 degrees off your tail, it is.9 of the strength of the wind and so on.

For working out a diversion, you can apply this percentage to your airspeed to get the groundspeed, and then to work out drift interpolate the following formula as well. The formula is that at 120 knots airspeed, half the cross wind component is drift. So if you are flying at 90 knots then your drift would be 25% more than half the drift.

This method can be used to quickly calculate heading and groundspeed if a diversion is necessary, or if you want to check your calculations after using a computer to plan your journey.

Chris Puddy has been flying since 1965 and had had a variety of flying since then, mostly on light aircraft, and much of it single crew with no autopilot with many landings. He also has over 2500 hours instructing, and his varied experience is a huge benefit to his students especially as much of his flying was single crew without an autopilot.

Chris is CFI of the Cotswold Flying School at Kemble in the UK.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Chris_Puddy

09 November, 2009

Let's redesign the Artifical Horizon, shall we?

New research has indicated that the Artificial Horizon which was introduced in 1927 to allow pilots to fly safely in cloud, is not actually the best design. Test carried out by cockpit ergonomics researcher Donough Wilson of Coventry University indicated that 92% of pilots would make a fatal error in recovering a plane shown in a specific position due to the limitations of the AH.

Look at this diagram

I'm confused. Is the plane on the left banking to the port or the starboard. If it is banking to port then why is the AH showing a turn to starboard? Or am I misreading this (which is - after all - the premise of the research)? I suspect that's the whole point of this: at a certain point a starboad turn will end up being indicated as a turn to port. Recovery from this would be to turn the plane to starboard thereby increasing the turn and putting the plane into a potential spin.

The new design works by  keeping the horizon level and indicating the angle of bank of the aircraft by turning a display showing the heading. In the diagram above the plane is turning on a heading of 204 degrees. The benefit of this is that as you are turning the numbers will increase/decrease depending on your direction of turn. This is an additional safety indicator.

My problem is that the new design isn't quite as 'useful'. Is the plane in level flight but turning? Or is it pitching down slightly? If you are used to the design on the left you would assume that the plane was pitching down because the numbers appear to be below the 'horizon'. However in reality there is no pitch indication on this instrument. Not at the moment anyway. That's planned for the future.

There is concern about adopting such a radical design change. Phil Hosey of the International Federation of Airworthiness in East Grinstead, UK says "This would be like changing the side of the road a country drives on. And the big question is how long would it take existing pilots to train on this."


However there could be a potential us for remotely piloted vehicles such as the military UAV's. Any intrument which can give a remote pilot more spatial awareness would be better.

Original article and graphic courtesy of New Scientist

05 November, 2009

Tips and Tricks For Private Pilots - Check Ride Guides

By Bruce Hogan

Anytime one is completing a practical test in any subject the attitude of the examiner plays a part in how comfortable and confident you feel. Of course you are going to feel some form of intimidation, but make every effort to put this aside as it will interfere with your capabilities.

Completing your Private Pilot Check ride is a perfect example of the above scenario. This is your final practical test before achieving your Private Pilot License. You must remember that the examiner has a job to do. He/she must determine that you are knowledgeable enough and capable of flying a plane on your own. There is a standard form that the examiner must follow but some will add a few twists of their own to see how you react. They go a little beyond the classic textbook knowledge.

A favored trick of some examiners is the pencil fallacy. Here they will drop their pencil at some point of time during your flying. Most often, it will occur when you are engaged in performing a task that requires your undivided attention such as doing a turn. Your first instinct is to want to impress the examiner, so you will immediately try to retrieve the pencil taking your attention away from your maneuver. This act of kindness on your part could cause you the loss of the chance to obtain your license. In other word a failing mark. Be one-step ahead of these types of ploys. Keep extra pencils on your kneeboard. Then simply tell the examiner you cannot reach their pen as you must concentrate on what you are doing, but in fact, you do have an extra one.

Always be prepared for the unexpected. Dead batteries are one of the most common mishaps. Let's assume you are being rerouted to another airport and your E6B that you rely so heavily on is suddenly flat. If you carry a good supply of extra batteries with you then there is not going to be a problem. If you don't then you have to rely on the wheel that you have thought about since your initial training. Talk about extra stress this is it. The last thing you need is any more stress at this particular time.

There are not only instances where deviating from your concentration could be dangerous they could also be embarrassing. You can imagine how you would feel if you were in the take off mode only to discover that, you hadn't removed the tie down rope? After all, isn't this something you should have completed in your pre flight? The lesson to be learned here is taking nothing for granted and check everything.

The purpose of this test is to show you are capable of being the pilot in command. This includes viewing your examiner as your passenger. Ensure that your passenger has his seatbelt on. If you miss this simple step you could be missing your license. Don't forget about the pre flight briefing that is to be given your passenger as well. You are ultimately responsible for the safety of your passenger regardless if he happens to be the examiner. Also, remember to do your break check at your takeoff. You have to show that you are considering the flight as a whole. You need to know that you can land.

You must always be prepared. This means that if the examiner were to tell you that an engine was out you would have to be prepared for an emergency landing. In this case, you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings and always know the possible places you could put your plane down safely if you had to do so.

These are just a few of the unforeseen circumstances your examiner could put in your path. Just be prepared for anything.

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30 October, 2009

What to do with empty economy seats....?

Todays increase in airline usage - coupled with higher oil prices and increasing costs - has put a premium on airline occupancy. Recent airline earnings declarations have shown varied seat occupancy rates over the last 12 months. But one thing is for sure: The Holy Grail of airlines is to have every seat occupied on every flight. In reality this seldom happens. Some airlines (you know who you are) manage to fill these seats by offering 'free tickets' (which are then loaded up with additional charges and surcharges for everything from choosing your seat to breathing fresh air (Ok, I jest about the air, but it could happen!))

Air New Zealand on the other hand have gone a different route. They are apparently commissioning a new B777-300ER layout which has the possibility of 'seat beds'. The principle is straight forward. If you buy a ticket and the seat next to you is unused you can convert it into a bed. In economy class. Obviously you will be charged for this, but considering that ANZ had a recent trial where you could purchase an empty seat on a trans-pacific flight for an additional $75, this doesn't seem too bad a deal.

I think this is a brilliant idea. Instead of using traditional airline thinking which is saying 'I must pack as many cattle, sorry, passengers, into a plane as possible to maximise revenue' they are looking at this and saying 'We realise 100% occupancy is not possible on our routes so how can we maximise the revenue from the empty seats?". This solution is neat because it increases income, has a marginal overhead (An empty seat does not need feeding and needs no extra fuel to carry the occupant and baggage to the destination), and more importantly it gives the passenger something he or she would not normally get - an economy class bed. The question (As posed by this article from Flightblogger) is "Can Air New Zealand make more money from an 'empty' seat than from one that is occupied?"

To quote another post I saw on this
If Air New Zealand can pull this off, they'll be the first airline to offer lie-flat beds in coach, hopefully starting a trend that other airlines are eager to copy.

I wait with anticipation..

26 October, 2009

11 Proven Study Techniques to Become a Better Pilot

Interior cockpit of a twinjet flight simulatorImage via Wikipedia

By Amir Fleminger

Chair flying. Flight training involves learning new motor skills. You would do much better in the air if you learn those skills in a relaxed and safe environment, while on the ground. Airline pilots spend hours practicing procedures in a "procedure trainer" (a non-functional mockup of the cockpit) before they step into an expensive level-D flight simulator or into the actual aircraft. That way, they already know what to do. "Chair flying" is simply the act of pretending to fly the aircraft while seating in a relaxed environment. You can practice chair flying in a procedure trainer, in front of a cockpit poster, in a parking aircraft, or on your couch at home. Any of those locations work. Be sure to practice every procedure in your normal, abnormal, and emergency checklists. Reach with your hands to the approximate position of each switch, lever or knob required for the procedure in order to build "muscle memory".

Flash cards. Learning the huge amount of details for training can be very challenging. System descriptions, Aircraft limitations, regulations, SOPs, memory items are all required to be retained in your memory and put in use immediately when time calls. You can make flash cards to help you remember those items. Buy a pack of index cards from any office supply store. On one side of a card write a question such as: "what is the maximum takeoff weight?"; on the other side write the answer: "Normal cat. 2550 lbs. Utility cat. 2200 lbs." (for a c-172S). Make as many cards as you need to cover all subjects including: regulations, system descriptions, memory items, and aircraft limitations. Once you have a large pile of cards start using them. Read a question and try to answer it, then flip the card to see if your answer was right. Put aside all the cards that you answered right and keep reading through the ones you got wrong, until you answer all of them correctly.

Learn the "cockpit songs" for your aircraft. Sometimes you can be familiar with a procedure but still have difficulty performing it in a steady pace while flying. The reason is that your thoughts of "what to do next" are slowing you down. Practice procedures verbally, so when you later perform them in the air, you won't stumble. For example, recovery from a low nose attitude would be "reduce power, level the wings, slowly pitch up". By practicing this procedure verbally while "chair flying" you could easily recall it when needed in a checkride or even better, in an actual unusual attitude encountered in flight. You can take any procedure and build a verbal action list in this way.

Analyze "what if" scenarios. One very important (if not the most important) characteristic of safe pilots is the ability to make good and timely decisions. Luckily, this trait could be practiced and improved. Before, during, and after each flight consider "what if scenarios". WHAT IF the weather moves in over my destination while enroute? Where would I divert? Would I have enough fuel to go there? Or WHAT IF I have an engine failure on the takeoff roll? WHAT IF it happens immediately after takeoff? What would I do? You get the drift.

Take advantage of Group study. Studying with other people can boost your understanding of the material and help you gain new insights.
Highlight with a marker essential ideas in textbooks while reading them.
Use mnemonics and acronyms to aid memory retention. "Black square, you're there!" John and Martha King [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY0GxKRDBmk]repeat, referring to airport location signs. Although mnemonics often sound goofy, they can be very effective in helping you remember things better.

Visualization. Mental rehearsal helps us improve our skills and correct errors. Visualize each maneuver while on the ground prior to your flight lessons. This is a technique used by many pro-athletes to improve their game. You can use it to improve your flying skills.

Ask many questions.

Study the Practical Test Requirements for your rating or certificate level. After all, you have to know what's expected from you on the checkride so you won't be surprised.
Use a PC-based flight simulator or PCATD. Despite their many limitations, PC simulators provide you with free practice time. Although it cannot replace real practice time, it is still very valuable.

Amir Fleminger is a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor and an airline pilot.

Learn more and read news stories, tips, and tutorials about flying at Pilotscafe.com Connect with other pilots, ask questions about flying or help others on the aviation pilots forums.

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