Sunday, April 06, 2014

Early April Photos

A few recent photos from various training flights in various aircraft.

Approaching front ...

Night carnival

Cleared for takeoff

En route, Calaveras

Cumulonimbus mammatus? Get me outta here!

Almost on top

Dodging the yellow stuff

Hayward Sunset

Hitching a ride to KLVK with Allan and Chris. We owe you guys!

Lots of glass


Calaveras Departure

Twilight taxi

Altamount clag

Port of Oakland at Sunset

En route KLVK

Steep turns before the storm

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fork in the Road

No one was hurt when a Southwest Airlines 737 mistakenly landed at the wrong airport in Branson, Missouri or when a Boeing Dreamlifter landed at the wrong airport in Wichita, Kansas, but these high-profile boo boos did reignite a smoldering debate about cockpit automation, autopilots, and stick-and-rudder flying skills. How could experienced flight crews allow this sort of thing to unfold? Is automation the enemy or is it a godsend? It depends on one's perspective and the particular flying situation. With autopilots and glass panels becoming standard equipment, even in light GA aircraft, one thing is clear: It's not enough to know how to fly the aircraft, you also need to learn how program and manage the automation. But if you become too reliant on the automation, your hand-flying skills will erode, you can neglect to monitor the various systems, and you may even stop looking outside the cockpit for traffic. Eschew the use the VOR or GPS receivers and the autopilot, your automation programming and management skills deteriorate. When trying to make sense of this conundrum, it's all too easy to choose a side and dig in one's heels without considering all the variables, not unlike the simplistic pitch-power debate,

Glass panel cockpits and automation are similar to the ubiquitous personal electronic devices, apps, and social networks and with our smart devices it seems that we have developed some dumb behaviors. We have become a little bit addicted to our devices and the constant, subtle feedback they provide. If you're not sure this critique applies to you, think back on the last time you had coffee or lunch with a friend where you didn't check your smart phone. Worse, when was the last time you talked on your phone without a hands-free device or sent/received a text message while driving? Show of hands?

Hi, my name is Bob and I'm addicted to my smart phone.
Hi Bob ...

The introduction of electronic flight bags has created its own share of problems. It's great that an iPad weighs less than a bag full of paper charts, that it's easier to update, and that it provides potentially greater situational awareness, but it also introduces a new workflow and the possibility of distractions. Mounting an EFB so that you don't have to look down at your lap is a good thing, but over-dependence on battery powered magic can degrade other skills, like using a paper A/FD or a chart.

Now what do we pilots do when confronted with a wearable, head-up display? Yes, we're talking Google Glass (skip about a minute and a half into this video):

Since one wears Google Glass, you can't really put it down and the potential for distraction is different. Some might argue it's much worse. The video above uses really rudimentary aviation application: A checklist that consists of three items? Really? I've yet to try Google Glass and while I don't want to get into the blogging equivalent of a bar fight nor be accused of being a GlassHole, I am curious about a device that could be even lighter that doesn't require a yoke or console mount like the iPad requires. The potential is there and we should expect to see more aviation applications for Google Glass in the future, for better or worse. Perhaps we should take solace in the words of Yogi Bera?

When you come to the fork in the road, take it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 2014 Photos

A few photos from the last few weeks of flying ...

14,500' in a C172 with EIS ... not bad!

Skimming the Valley in the Silver Surfer

Owens Valley

En Route Mammoth

Winds aloft 350@43 knots, but not too bumpy

Mammoth in Sight

There's a runway down there ... somewhere.

Picturesque pattern work at Hayward

Turns about a point

Direct OMWAP

Byron Sunset