Thursday, October 10, 2013

Guest Post- Chris Oquist

For all you aviation types... here's some great encouragement from a friend, Chris Oquist:

Staying Safe in the Sky

If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.
— Wilbur Wright

Pilots are adventure and excitement seeking individuals at heart. We tend towards boldness, impatience, competitiveness, and self-reliance. And honestly, though we take our responsibilities in the sky very seriously, we occasionally forget the basics.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve logged over 6000 hours or...

...under 300, no amount training can completely prepare a pilot for the real situations they may face in the air. Conditions are not always ideal and one poor choice can have a dramatic result. Below are a few common sense practices that all pilots should adhere to (but sometimes forget).
Be a Man (Or Woman) with a Plan
Never enter your aircraft without a plan. Extensive thought must be given to your flight from take-off to landing, and your entire route in between.  It is essential to familiarize yourself with your landing site and your course before takeoff. Know how high the terrain you are covering is and where potential emergency landing sites are.
Check, Check, and Check Some More
Checklists are there for a reason: to minimize your safety risk. Do a thorough preflight. You were taught how to do them in training and hopefully you were taught why they are of importance. Once you start getting complacent, you start overlooking potential problems. You do not want to compromise safety by taking a shortcut. Doing so may eventually prove disastrous. Even if you are lucky and your shortcuts have worked for you, luck usually runs out and the time you saved may not be worth it. Always keep in mind that little mistakes add up.
Safety Supplies – Never Leave Home Without Them
For private pilots, it is up to them to make sure their aircraft is fitted with the proper safety equipment. Prepare yourself (and your passengers) for the worst by acquiring life vests, escape straps, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a Flight Data Recorder. You may never need to use them, but nevertheless it is better to over pack than to be without.
Anticipate and React
Unexpected challenges will arise, but most problems could have been foreseen. Pilot error (90%) is the most common factor of aviation crashes. Incidents are initially overlooked or begin as minor mistakes or incorrect choices.
Always answer the what-ifs ahead of time so the proper solutions are in your arsenal if the need ever arises. Though we would all rather brush off certain situations because we can’t imagine them ever actually occurring, it may prove beneficial to give them some forethought. Unpreparedness will make a bad situation worse.
Don’t Stick to the Schedule
Tardiness is typically frowned upon, but when you are flying small aircraft and the conditions are not right you must play it safe. Hasty and poor decisions are made when you are dead set on arriving at a certain time. Be flexible. It is better to be late then run into trouble in the sky because you didn’t wait for the storm to pass or wait for a new part to arrive.
Never Ignore Instincts
If something doesn’t feel quite right, do not disregard it. Take the time to examine it further and evaluate if your concerns are valid. Most of the time, they will be.

About the Author:
Chris Oquist is a private pilot and web developer at Banyan Pilot Shop in South Florida.  He is a blogger and article writer whose expertise includes aviation headsets and other pilot supplies.  As an aviation enthusiast, Chris is passionate about sharing his knowledge on all-things-aviation.

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