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Thread: Thoughts on back-taxi, runway or lake entry

  1. #1
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Default Thoughts on back-taxi, runway or lake entry

    NOTE: take with a spoon of salt since I am often guilty as well.....

    It seems like there are a lot of planes and pilots coming through our area who are transient.
    I have seen some pretty close calls lately on several lakes and when on wheels at a couple Kenai Peninsula Airports.

    Yesterday while working on my Cub down at the lake, we had one local pilot in the middle of a water take-off run while another was just finishing a back-taxi to the far end of the lake. Suddenly a Float-Cessna dove over the bluff and came whizzing in on final. It touched down right behind (within 100 feet) the departing C-206 just as it broke water. And of course flew right over the other plane which was turned sideways at the far end of the lake.
    I had my radio on the local freq and this visiting pilot never said a word. He then blasted across the lake on the step and tied up over by the McDonald's... And he was not the only guy to do this lately....

    It really reminded me of the seaplane to seaplane mid-air we had last year up north of Anchorage. Scary...!!!

    Folks need to remember that many Float-Plane pilots are not up on the radio during a good portion of their initial water maneuvering. Or they are over on a different freq while they activate their 135 flight plan. And the plane on the water has the right of way... Just because they won't talk back to you, does not mean it is OK to blast down onto the lake without them seeing or hearing from you...

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    Last week while up in the Kenai traffic pattern (towered) the traffic flow was thrown out of whack because 4 (type deleted to avoid bar fight) wanted to do a four-plane flight formation style take-off. So we all zig-zagged and S- turned while these guys got themselves taxied out onto the runway, lined up, sat there waiting for the last plane and finally started to move. At least they were on the radio, the tower freq of course, with calls like " Bob you back there?" "Where's Bob?", "Ted, can you see if Bob is behind you?" "Is everybody ready?" and "Here we go!"

    Yeah I know that a 4 ship take-off is pretty cool,,,, when done right,,,,, in a 2,000hp P-47 Thunderbolt........ But come on....it's a towered airport, that was very busy and commuter turbos are backed up while they wonder where Bob went....
    They could not see behind them....They were sitting at the mid runway point.... And nobody could talk them... because they were talking about Bob on the radio! And by the way, if something had gone wrong, they would have had four wrecked planes on the runaway... I saw the formation , nobody was going the same speed or climb rate...
    Just line up and go.... one at a time, save the practice formation flying for a non-busy and non-towered field.

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    Anyway,,,
    I figured it could not hurt to discuss different methods for reducing possible mid-airs and taxi conflicts... Hunting season is coming up and lots of pilots who have not flown in a year will be blasting around the skies...

    What are your suggestions...? thoughts ????
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  2. #2
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    Im a new pilot so communication is very important in my case. Maybe I'll just park her during hunting season? Lots of planes overhead out here at Alexander in the fall. Makes you wonder why there aren't more inccidents than there are! Then again if I'm out there I guess the experience is important. Guys fly formation out this way alot and I dont hear a word on the icomm.

  3. #3
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    You are right about having good coms.

    One thing I catch myself doing is talking to clients or passengers while back-taxing when I should be thinking about the radio.
    It is a two edged sword for a CFI... On one hand you need to be instructing.... on the other,,,, missing radio call could get you killed.


    Sometimes you are trying to respond to a radio call and your clients / students voice overrides yours through the intercom... A couple weeks back a local C-206 driver was landing down-wind while I had a student doing a climb-out into the wind. When the student lowered the nose, there was a C-206 heading our way. ( we had declared our take-off run by the way.. ) But when I tried to key the mike button to talk to the 206.... the only thing going out was my student saying " Oh-S**T!...Oh-S**T!...Oh-S**T!...Oh-S**T!..." I"ll bet flight service loved that.....
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  4. #4

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    I have found that the enforcement of sterile cockpit procedures is almost easier with my family on board than with other pilots. And no matter where we are, my family will stop talking and wait if there is any radio traffic.

    I have also found that I like flying with pilots that are not in an all-fired hurry all the time. I don't like how that translates to ground or traffic pattern operations, where it feels as if they might be in too much of a hurry to assess traffic activity and opt for something like a blind straight-in...
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    The best way to improve pilot habits including communications, using accurate routes, and flying safe altitudes in a region where uncharted strips and off-airport ops are prevalent is for biennial instructors to teach it. As far as sloppy ops at a towered airport? The tower is as much to blame as the pilots.

    It concerns me how transient pilots fly so low over popular areas like salmon streams. They must not consider that guys may be departing the water or sandbars and that those guys can't see the low flyers coming. In those instances radio ops almost never work to prevent a conflict. A little common sense on the transient guys part is the better solution.

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    You may be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can't teach a dumbell ANYTHING !!! A guy has to wonder how some of these hotshots got their licenses. Certainly they didn't really EARN them . . . . .

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    The best way to improve pilot habits including communications, using accurate routes, and flying safe altitudes in a region where uncharted strips and off-airport ops are prevalent is for biennial instructors to teach it. As far as sloppy ops at a towered airport? The tower is as much to blame as the pilots.

    It concerns me how transient pilots fly so low over popular areas like salmon streams. They must not consider that guys may be departing the water or sandbars and that those guys can't see the low flyers coming. In those instances radio ops almost never work to prevent a conflict. A little common sense on the transient guys part is the better solution.
    Good advice! Especially during salmon season, Neighbors, charter services, and boats. It can get pretty hairy! Flying at safe altitudes is a good practice to counter-act those that are not as cautious. Good to have so many experienced pilots giving out advice on this site. Hopefully one day I'll know as much too!

  8. #8
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    I am always amazed by the people who do their pre-flight, warm-up and run-up and then back-taxi down the runway only to hold short and ask flight service for current winds and traffic info... Like they just-now noticed that their altimeter was 100 feet off........
    I like to have all that info before I turn the prop. Fuel and time is money....
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    I am always amazed by the people who do their pre-flight, warm-up and run-up and then back-taxi down the runway only to hold short and ask flight service for current winds and traffic info... Like they just-now noticed that their altimeter was 100 feet off........
    I like to have all that info before I turn the prop. Fuel and time is money....
    And here I thought we were all SUPPOSED to do that before we moved the airplane ......................... !

  10. #10
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    I never figured it was my business how guys operated on the ground. My business was to enter the pattern with a clear view of my LZ so I could see things like other planes, 4 wheelers, animals, boats, drifting debris, etc. Sometimes I've had to orbit a few times to let the LZ clear. No big deal to me.

    Radios are not required equipment in small airplanes. I don't assume any air or ground space is clear just because I don't hear somebody yakking on the radio.

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