General Aviation Safety

A good pilot is always learning. San Carlos Airport is privileged to have many Certified Flight Instructors on the field who have decades of experience in many aspects of aviation. We are pleased to present the following articles about safety and other related topics by some of our local experts. If you have an article that you would like to contribute, please email webmaster@sancarlosairport.org.

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber

Someone once said, “If you don’t think too good, then don’t think too much.” I can recall a few aircraft accidents that really didn’t take much thinking on anyone’s part to investigate. Sure, as an aircraft accident investigator there are certain rules about...

read more

Xmas Wishes

As we get older Santa just doesn't seem to get it. The holiday gifts never seem to bring the same excitement as when we were kids. It is understandable. Neckties and slippers just don't cut it anymore. Often well-intentioned gift givers don't understand what we really...

read more
They Got it Wright

They Got it Wright

It is pretty easy to step into this photograph.  We stand on that wind-swept beach at a respectful distance observing the two brothers and their machine.  It is cold, but no one feels it.  The engines are clattering away as the plane moves down the launch rail into...

read more
What Your Instructor Never Told You About Stalls

What Your Instructor Never Told You About Stalls

Learning to stall or unstall an aircraft is for the most part a rather mechanical task. You could probably train a chimp to do it. Pull on the control wheel to stall - Push to recover. Right? In the world of flight instruction and airman certificate requirements it...

read more
Sounds of Silence

Sounds of Silence

I guess if I really thought about it, I would have to question my sanity as to why I am willing to put so much trust into that one infernal combustion engine that propels me through the sky.  It rumbles, it vibrates, and has a zillion moving parts anyone of which...

read more
One Strike and You’re Out

One Strike and You’re Out

If there is not enough aggravation and expense in your life, try having a prop-strike.  A pilot's first verbal response to unstraightening a prop blade is probably not printable here.  The second response upon learning how long it will take to repair and how much it...

read more
No Fuel’n Around

No Fuel’n Around

We've all been there.  All of a sudden the fuel gauge is the most important instrument in the plane.  Our eyes start fixating on it every few minutes trying to find comfort in a remaining fuel supply that is now in question.  Then comes that anxious feeling in the pit...

read more
What You Can’t See Can Hurt You

What You Can’t See Can Hurt You

Many years ago, I was flying a single-engine plane at night across some very remote and hostile mountainous terrain when the engine started to run rough. It was so subtle at first that I thought it was "automatic rough" caused by an over-active imagination when being...

read more
The Missing Link

The Missing Link

"I really don't like the idea of you taking this plane to Tahoe," said the owner of the FBO who had just checked me out in the school's Cherokee 140. I gave him reassurances that I was a very safe and competent pilot and, in fact, I had even flown in and out of the...

read more
The Final Turn

The Final Turn

All summer long it seemed that no matter which direction I headed, there was a permanent headwind attached to the front of the plane. If this kept up I was going to trade my airspeed indicator in for a calendar. Finally, the winds agreed to partner up with me on a...

read more

Lessons Learned

Crossing the majestic Sierras on one of my rare weekend pleasure flights, thoughts of work started to creep in. Though all was serene in this perfect sky, I couldn't help, but wonder how many of my fellow aviators would experience a less than an enjoyable ending to...

read more
Ice Ain’t Nice

Ice Ain’t Nice

I consider ice accumulation equivalent to an aircraft being on fire. You have to take immediate action or the consequences will be disastrous. Some pilots rely on the belief that there will be plenty of forewarning before things get serious. Perhaps, but it depends on...

read more

Grounded Part II – After the Engine Starts

You would think that taxiing an aircraft is a relatively low risk proposition. We follow painted lines. We move at slow speeds. Ground traffic is often controlled by ATC. We have signs, rules, radios, and space to maneuver and yet this seemingly innocuous phase of...

read more
Gearing Up for Trouble

Gearing Up for Trouble

One of my early claims involved a pilot who was flying his recently purchased Beech Bonanza and could not get the landing gear to extend. He conscientiously tried everything he could think of to extend the gear, but finally resigned himself to the fact that he was...

read more

Enlightenment

Last week while flying back to the Bay Area, the topic for this article came to me in a flash. Well, actually several flashes. Over on the west side of the San Francisco peninsula nature was putting on one of its most dazzling shows. Brilliant bolts of lightning arced...

read more

Don’t Go There

It was a beautiful summer's day as the pilot and his family were flying back in the late afternoon after visiting friends in Sacramento. Over Concord the pilot could see that the marine cloud layer was blanketing the Bay Area with the coastal stratus just touching the...

read more

Zero Doesn’t Always Mean Nothing

It was 109 degrees on the ramp at Sacramento International. My preflight was a half-hearted walk around the plane and an oil check. I must confess my mind was more on getting the prop started to get some air circulation than it was in a detailed aircraft inspection....

read more

Grounded Part I – Before the Engine Starts

"Ouch!" I muttered after turning around too quickly and banging my head on the leading edge of the wing during preflight. I haven't even started the engine and I'm already an aviation casualty. The reality is that you don't have to be airborne to have trouble...

read more

Canceling VFR

Last week I planned a flight from San Carlos to a crop duster airstrip in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley.  The weather forecast seemed pretty consistent on my route with occasional rain showers and cloud bases ranging from 3000 to 5000 feet thanks to an...

read more

The Big Bang

It is easy to feel relatively secure in dealing with known aviation risks.  We can plan for potential hazards such as bad weather or systems failures and then apply an alternate course of action to insure the safe outcome of a flight.  The prospect of a mid-air...

read more

No Such Thing as an “ILS Circle to Land”

One day a few years ago, I was on an instructional IFR flight from KSJC to KSCK with a very perceptive and talented instrument student. The flight conditions were IMC with KSCK ATIS reporting a ceiling of 600 feet, sky obscured and one-mile visibility. The tops were...

read more

Fastest Most Accurate Way to Adjust a Compass

There is no mystery to adjusting a magnetic compass. The only things needed are a non magnetic screwdriver and maybe some masking tape. No compass rose, no pelorus, no special equipment. Just follow the instructions below. These adjustments should be made away from...

read more

Looking for a New Challenge?

Looking for a new challenge in small-plane flying? No, not aerobatics—pulling excess G's is not everyone's idea of fun. I'm suggesting a mountain flying course from an experienced mountain flying instructor. There are several experienced mountain flying CFI's...

read more

Categories