Turbulence

What is turbulence? Pilots experience different types of turbulence during flight. Understanding turbulence can help you better respond when you face this situation. What is the definition of turbulence? The definition of turbulence is a sudden, violent shift in airflow. It creates up and down currents caused by irregular atmospheric motion. We were in the clouds, Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), and flying in an area without radar coverage. My first officer (FO) was busy programming the Citation jet’s system with the latitude and longitude coordinates instructed by Bangladesh controllers. I was focused on leveling the Citation at FL390 (39,000’). Suddenly the FO pointed upward exclaiming, “Oh my!” I looked up […]

This Is Your Captain Speaking

This is your Captain speaking… The Importance of Understanding the Ignition System You have envisioned sitting in the left seat announcing to the passengers, “This is your Captain speaking, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.” Awaking from your dream, you look over at the mounds of study material open on the desk. Nothing as an Earthling prepares a student for the amount of what seems like alien knowledge and skills required to become a pilot. A few examples of this knowledge required to earn a certificate are the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) comparable to studying a legal document; then understanding weather as an amateur meteorologist; and one of my […]

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricanes: What’s in a name? Did you know that “Huracan” was the god of big winds and evil spirits worshiped by the Maya people of Central America? While people have been naming major storms for hundreds of years, meteorologist first named hurricanes by the latitude and longitude coordinates where the storm was located. This system of tracking was confusing to people seeking hurricane information. In the early 1950s, the U.S. National Hurricane Center started the process by naming storms according to a phonetic alphabet, such as: Able, Baker, Charlie. The first hurricane of each season was always named “Able,” the second “Baker,” and so on. Repeating names each season became […]

Once Upon a Time: Filing a Flight Plan

Once Upon a Time: Filing a Flight Plan     This fairy tale began long before the FAA announcement for change to the form used by United States pilots when filing a flight plan.   The purpose of a flight plan might be compared to going on a long drive to visit a relative. The relative would know the overall anticipated travel arrangements of the visitor that included approximate time of arrival. An overdue arrival would likely cause concern and a call to the visitor from the awaiting relative. The relative only had the information provided by the visitor with no method for tracking progress. A flight plan is much […]

Flexibility is the Key to Safety and Happiness

Flexibility is the Key to Safety… and Happiness     By Captain Judy Rice The Citation was at FL370 (37000’) while a thunderstorm was seen building in the distance. It was amazing to watch and feel this energy from a far distance. The cumulonimbus clouds were building higher than the jet’s altitude. The lightning brightened the darkening sky.   Are thunderstorms really all that dangerous? Thunderstorms are part of summer weather in Florida, as most pilots here know. Thunderstorms are one of nature’s most powerful forces and a weather hazard that are dangerous for all pilots. Flying too close to these powerful beasts can end in disaster. Pilots should understand […]

Go-Arounds

Go-Arounds? That is the question! By Captain Judy Rice, Epic Ground School Instructor   To Go-Around or not to Go-Around, that is the question. However, there are some questions pilots should ask themselves before making this decision much sooner than the final approach. Safe pilots should ask themselves, “Is the landing checklist complete?” and “Is the approach stabilized?”   A good, safe landing begins before entering the airport environment with continued evaluation throughout the entire phase of landing.   One go-around I recall, after having completed the appropriate landing checklists and while on a stabilized approach, was when a sudden gust of wind lifted my airplane into the air over the […]

Density Altitude

Density Altitude After all, airplanes do not feel. Or, do they? The cockpit felt like a sauna in the Arizona heat. Not only was I enduring the summer heat, but so was the airplane. How might an airplane suffer from heat? After all, airplanes do not feel? Or do they? Flying on a cool Florida morning or evening, you will notice ample runway remaining before lift-off and how eager the airplane climbs. Fly on a hot, muggy afternoon, and the runway remaining before lift-off will be far less. The airplane would climb much slower, as well. Temperature, pressure, and moisture (dewpoint) in the air affects our airplanes’ performance: an increase […]

Ready for Attitude Flying?

Ready for Attitude Flying? I knew myself fairly well when I started flying lessons at age 40. Or so I thought. The long solo cross-country was when I discovered what I did not know. During that flight, I had not properly timed or verified checkpoints resulting in becoming completely off course. My drive home from this particular flight provided reflection on how to be a better pilot. I’d replayed each skill set. I flew the airplane well and used the checklist regularly but was consistently lost. What surprised me was how many times I said to myself, “That check point is only slightly off course.” I then recalled reading something […]