YOU’D THINK PILOTS WOULD BE SMART ENOUGH TO STAY CLEAR OF HANGARS. I would think so, since when I’m the pilot in command, I’ve managed to slip past any number of obstacles in my life, and have never bumped a parked airplane, person, or hangar with my airplane while taxiing. I guess I always thought of this as my job – you know, to SEE AND AVOID things both on the ground, and of course, while in the air.
Yep, you read that right, flames, as in FIRE (which is never a good word around an airplane fueled with any kind of AvGas) around your airplane when you are trying to start the engine. If you haven't seen this yet, be wary, because all it will take are the right circumstances, and you not only can see this type of event, YOU WILL.
YOU DON'T OFTEN HEAR ABOUT EVENTS LIKE THIS, BUT THEY DO HAPPEN. I happened to notice that there was a fleet of fire trucks headed towards the airport. It turns out they had good reason to be in a hurry, since one airplane had just plowed into three airplanes!
You don’t hear about people hand-propping planes very much any more. While there are still a good number of planes without electric starters out there, the pilots that fly (and hand start them) are generally a well-trained and cautious bunch, and don’t generally get into trouble.
While talking once with avionics professionals at the Aircraft Electronics Association show I learned some problems they found over the course of the years -- one of which was so serious I nearly dropped my flight bag. The issue involved “paper” altimeter static checks, or the routine check that allows ATC to be sure that your plane is at the altitude it says it is.
You've probably already read my call to watch your tires and preheat your engine when the temperature gets cold. Now I'm going to remind you about another important part of your flying that needs a little time to warm up on those spring mornings (and most any other day) - namely, your Avionics! The key here is to remember that aircraft are generally built for transportation over large distances. (Translation: just because the nights are warm where you came from, that doesn't mean they'll be warm where you're going.) As a pilot you must be very aware of your surroundings -- more so than you are attached to your expectations.
Believe it or not, the cylinders in aircraft engines have been known to fail. While this doesn't happen every day (thank goodness!) it certainly can't hurt to know what you need to do, or to understand the telltale signs that will tell you your cylinder may not be a "cylinder" anymore.
Cold weather has arrived -- rather brutally this year for many of us. Whether that cold weather translates to life in the mid-50's (as it often does in the southern climes), or in the sub-zero's (for northerners), cold weather means we need to keep an eye on our aircraft's tires, to make sure they stay properly inflated.
STUFF HAPPENS WHEN WE FLY. Whether that stuff is exciting (like an engine failure), or it's just a distraction (like the failure of a radio), how we react to the event frequently determines whether it becomes a big deal, or an event easily corrected.
I happened to remember the other day while I was driving this experience from my life as a pilot. I was on my way back from an American Bonanza Society (ABS) Service Clinic, where experts on the Beech aircraft line went over my plane with a fine-tooth comb, looking for problems. They poked and prodded, did a retraction test of the landing gear, and found a few problems that needed to be resolved.