Saturday, December 12, 2015

How to give an airplane ride

I'm hesitant to post this.


Well, the internet has made it extremely difficult to share an opinion.

While the technology has made it much easier to reach large number of people, it has also made it very easy for those people to respond with criticism, both constructive and... not constructive, with the latter being quite often being the dominant force.

What I want to talk about could be considered controversial. The video that I will embed as an example is an unvarnished look into my flying technique, capabilities, and inevitably, weaknesses, Posting a video like this is like taking a checkride with hundreds of examiners looking over your shoulder; it's as uncomfortable as inviting your neighbors in to examine your underwear drawer.

Someone is bound to want to criticize something.

But, caution to the winds, and here we go!

Here it is: general aviation as we know it is in trouble, and it has been for years. For reasons that I am not here to debate, the number of people getting licenses and flying for recreation continues to dwindle, despite the efforts of the FAA, the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), and other agencies.

The FAA responded with laxer rules for daytime flyers in small, light flivvers, while the (EAA) has attempted to pursue the solution through grass roots methods.

The EAA in particular has really stepped up. While the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) professes to support aviation for the little guy, I believe they are far more focused on corporate aviation and those private pilots that can afford half a million dollar (or higher) airplanes.

The EAA, on the other hand, has grown into a very large organization that focuses on the needs of the general aviation pilots that inhabit the lower cost side of the spectrum, although some of the niches they support, such as Warbirds, can be very expensive too. A P-51 is fetching a million bucks or more these days.

Taking the long view, the EAA has a program called Young Eagles, the idea of which is to get people with an interest in aviation out to the airport by giving rides to their children. This is a good goal, but I suggest that the long view can and should be paired with a shorter term view. Sure, getting your eight year old interested in flying is fine, but it's Dad (or Mom) that has the wallet.  How many of those kids are out there because Dad (yes, yes, or Mom) has always had a latent interest in flying?

Is anyone offering him a ride?  Is there room for a program like Mid-Life Eagles?

It seems like it would be a better, or perhaps "compatible" is a better word, idea to have a short-term solution to appeal to folks that have the maturity and money to actually do something about it now, not twenty years down the road.

This is where I come in:

I will give a joyride to anyone that asks. I like flying with people, and I enjoy the enjoyment that they have when flying in a small plane for the first time.

What I really like to do, though, is give rides to people that are already interested in learning to fly.

The ride that I like to give is one that convinces them that they actually can be pilots, and failing that, at least satisfies their curiosity on the subject. I do that by giving them something of a mini lesson. It's not anything they can log, there's nothing at all official about it, but they definitely get more of a feel for what's involved than they would if I was just flying them around the local area pointing out the sights.  Again, there's nothing at all wrong with joyrides; I do it quite often. But when the opportunity arises, I like to dig a little deeper.

With the GoPro camera being a very recent acquisition, I have recorded precisely one example thus far, although I intend to do more. The one that I have is not the perfect example in that it is a flight with a young man that has already decided to take lessons, but it will suffice to act as an example of what I consider to be a productive ride.

Note: I am aware of the mistakes I made in this video. Just before takeoff, I say that we need to confirm that the flaps are down - I was referring to the flap handle, which in my airplane is down when the flaps themselves are up, but I should have been clearer about what I meant. I think there was also a time when I said something about down trim when I meant up.  

I'm sure there are other examples.

And yes, it is probably insensitive to use 'Ugly Young Farmers' as a mnemonic for remembering the KUYF airport identifier at Madison County.  On the extremely small chance that a Madison County resident watches this video, please accept my tepid apology - it's the way I was taught, and I haven't forgotten it, so it is provably effective.

So, here is how I like to give a ride in an RV-12:

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