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Thread: Lessons Learned

  1. #1
    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    Default Lessons Learned

    I just got the idea in my head that since a pilot is always learning that maybe we could have a thread on lessons we have learned either by doing something right or wrong while flying. Experienced and new can share. Some of it may be a no-brainer to the experienced guys, and some of it may be over the heads of the new guys but I think it could help us all. If it is a good idea maybe the mods can make it a sticky.

    I'll start. Flying back from Minchumina lake for my 2nd solo XC last Friday I approached Fairbanks prepared to make my approach to the smaller strip (2R-20L). Tower decided to try and confuse me and told me to enter a right pattern for the big strip (20R) then at the last minute asked me to switch runways to 2L. I landed on the big strip and then ground control proceeded to give me a bunch taxi instructions which I had only read about in ground school in order to get me back to GA parking. At that point the only taxi instructions I had ever received was "taxi to parking via ramp."

    Lesson Learned: Just because you think something you won't have to use something you learned in ground school doesn't mean you won't have to. Don't get comfortable with the normal operating procedures at your home airport because they can change without warning.

  2. #2
    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    Default One more

    On my first attempt at an XC solo I hit some weather and had to turn back. I decided to salvage the flight and fly to Nenanna for some touch and goes. I saw some weather south of me but I figured I was safe. After my second touch and go I saw the clouds start to move in. I decided not to do my third touch and go and began to head back to fairbanks, however the visibility dropped and I decided it was safer to land in Nennana and wait it out. I waited for 7 hours while I watched the visibility go between 4 miles (only allowed to fly in 7+ at the time) to less than a mile and 6 inches of snow accumulated. Finally my instructor had to fly in with another instructor and right seat with me back to fairbanks. During the times when the weather would lighten up I was tempted to go for it, but as I flew back with my instructor hugging the ground I saw what a couple miles of visibility looked like while flying and realized it would have been a good idea for someone at my level.

    Lesson learned: I saw the clouds coming in but I continued my touch and goes. If you see bad weather coming and you can't fly in it, don't delay, get out of there. Also, best to wait it out on the ground if you don't feel comfortable flying through it. Finally, bring a book or something when doing XC flights. I spent 7 hours watching snow accumulate on the runway.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodman6437 View Post
    I just got the idea in my head that since a pilot is always learning that maybe we could have a thread on lessons we have learned either by doing something right or wrong while flying. Experienced and new can share. Some of it may be a no-brainer to the experienced guys, and some of it may be over the heads of the new guys but I think it could help us all. If it is a good idea maybe the mods can make it a sticky.

    I'll start. Flying back from Minchumina lake for my 2nd solo XC last Friday I approached Fairbanks prepared to make my approach to the smaller strip (2R-20L). Tower decided to try and confuse me and told me to enter a right pattern for the big strip (20R) then at the last minute asked me to switch runways to 2L. I landed on the big strip and then ground control proceeded to give me a bunch taxi instructions which I had only read about in ground school in order to get me back to GA parking. At that point the only taxi instructions I had ever received was "taxi to parking via ramp."

    Lesson Learned: Just because you think something you won't have to use something you learned in ground school doesn't mean you won't have to. Don't get comfortable with the normal operating procedures at your home airport because they can change without warning.
    Don't feel bad. I fly out of MRI regularly, and the confusion on ground[and tower] is almost comical, pilots and ATC alike. Next time, ask for a progressive taxi. That puts the burden on ground to get you where you want to go.

  4. #4
    Member arizonaguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodman6437 View Post
    I decided not to do my third touch and go and began to head back to fairbanks, however the visibility dropped and I decided it was safer to land in Nennana and wait it out. I waited for 7 hours while I watched the visibility go between 4 miles (only allowed to fly in 7+ at the time) to less than a mile and 6 inches of snow accumulated.
    Well done, Woodman. You avoided the typical "Get-Home-itis"...seems like you did it right.

    GREAT thread idea.

  5. #5

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    If you're looking for a bunch of great stories to learn from, and don't like reading and prefer story-time, check out AOPA's "Never-Again" series on ITunes... there's a lot of great podcasts and I've already used one of them to help another pilot, so I guess this will be my story:

    One of the podcasts recalled a flight a guy made where he left his fuel caps off after refueling, which resulted in a quick dead-stick emergency landing after take-off into a gravel pit turned pond (he was on floats).

    Sometime during the Iditarod last month I was doing my engine warm up at MRI and saw a guy take off with a large vapor trail exiting the top of his wing.. It was a pretty busy day and I don't think the tower noticed it and the pilot wouldn't have noticed it unless he was looking backwards which would have been unlikely during take off. There was also giant snowberms which made the runway and climb-out hard to see from the taxiways. I called up tower, which alerted the pilot to his problem and gave him clearance to land any runway - he made an uneventful circuit around the pattern and landed.
    Even though I know to always check the fuel caps and know the consequences of losing all your fuel - hearing someone else's story and then seeing it firsthand has really driven the point home.

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    Great idea, especially for those of us just starting out. I did a few hours flying when I was 19 and loved it. I'm finally picking it up again this summer (after XX years !). Of all the things to be concerned about with flying, the one that concerns me most is communicating with the tower. Sound silly? It's encouraging to hear that others have a similar problem and its not just me! I'm sure I will have a lot to post on this thread over the next four or five months.

    How long a flight is it to Kotzebue? Would that serve as an appropriate XC solo towards licensure?

  7. #7

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    Dreamer - Kotzebue is 500-600 miles from the Anchorage area, depending on route selection.. and could serve as a XC solo but might not be as appropriate as somewhere like Homer or even Illiamna if you have a nice clear day and like flying in the mountains. Most folks around Anchorage do Homer with a landing in Kenai. It's an easy flight with a road to follow if you prefer or take the shortcut along the edge of the Kenai mountains.

  8. #8

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    For my long XC i did Merrill/illiamna/king salmon/ merrill.

    I just waited for a really nice day.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangeak View Post
    For my long XC i did Merrill/illiamna/king salmon/ merrill.

    I just waited for a really nice day.

    How long were you up?

  10. #10

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    its been a while.. id have to look.. but i want to say it was about 5 hours.. i did it in a 172rg so i could combine it with complex time in prep for another rating

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    Default lessons learned

    Mistakes made and lessons learned...wow, I could be here for a while.

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    Share a few! Or at least one!

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    Well I had learned a lot of lessons over the years, been flying since 1975. Both airplanes and helicopters. I guess I learned well because I am still here. A good lesson for you, young student and private pilots to learn and to take to heart, its to be conservatuve in you decision making. Do a Weight and Balance for every flight{yea I know you do two or three for a 152 or 172 and you done them all} Do a T.O. and Landing Distance calculation each airport you go to, along with a Density Altitude. And Plan your fuel. Know what the chart says for fuel burn at the power settings and alt you fly and Make note of what you really burn. And always leave yourself an out. Alaska is huge, and once you leave the Airport you are on you own, for the most part. And take enough stuff with you so you can get along if you go down and have to stay out for a few days. And tell somebody were you are going, the route you are going to fly and when you are going to be back. In other words a flight plan, be it with the FAA or somebody that would start looking for you if you become over due. That is the most important lesson any pilot can learn.

  14. #14

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    Got one that I've learned up here... Pay attention to the tall cumulus stuff in the summer. They'll start to collapse about dinnertime where I am. You don't want to be underneath them when they do (severe downdrafts), and you can burn a lot of fuel trying to get around them.

  15. #15
    Member Toddler's Avatar
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    Here is one I learned the hard way. No matter how much ice is covering the gravel on a runway if you can see gravel DO NOT LAND. You will stop like you landed on Velcro!!!

    Just my nickel
    Normal people believe that if something ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

    Scott Adams

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    Can I get you to explain that for me?

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    Musta been on skis.

  18. #18
    Member Toddler's Avatar
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    Sorry I left the detail out - I was on strait skis. I did a low a pass to look and the runway was covered in what looked to me like rough ice/snow and clear ice. I could see some patches of gravel through the ice but it looked to be under the ice and not sticking through. When I landed I discovered the hard way there was gravel sticking though the ice the airplane slowed down very fast. I had to use full power just to move. I finally got her moved off of the runway and onto the snow/grass along side and over to the ramp which still had plenty of snow. Like I said I wont make that mistake again.
    Normal people believe that if something ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

    Scott Adams

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDREAMER View Post
    Great idea, especially for those of us just starting out. I did a few hours flying when I was 19 and loved it. I'm finally picking it up again this summer (after XX years !). Of all the things to be concerned about with flying, the one that concerns me most is communicating with the tower. Sound silly? It's encouraging to hear that others have a similar problem and its not just me! I'm sure I will have a lot to post on this thread over the next four or five months.

    How long a flight is it to Kotzebue? Would that serve as an appropriate XC solo towards licensure?
    Dreamer, I think all of us have trouble with this from time to time, especially when you are starting out. One thing I did when I was working on my private was to spend a lot of time reading the Supplement and getting familiar with every airport I planned to go to and any I could divert to. I also tabbed them so I could easily get to them. It helps a lot to know the patterns, frequencies, etc. Also, for places like MRI and AIA, getting additional information such as handouts from the local flight schools, helps you understand things like a "City High" or "Ship Creek" departure or a Part 91 deviation. I have heard a lot of pilots from out of the area really struggle and then get the "please come to the Tower after you park" speach.

    Also, controllers are people just like us who put on their pants one leg at a time. Often being up front and telling them you are a student pilot or are unfamiliar with the area helps a lot. They want you to get up or down safe and clear of obstacles as much as you do and most are willing to help out if they know you are not sure of what to do.

    Just my two coppers.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDREAMER View Post
    Great idea, especially for those of us just starting out. I did a few hours flying when I was 19 and loved it. I'm finally picking it up again this summer (after XX years !). Of all the things to be concerned about with flying, the one that concerns me most is communicating with the tower. Sound silly? It's encouraging to hear that others have a similar problem and its not just me! I'm sure I will have a lot to post on this thread over the next four or five months.

    How long a flight is it to Kotzebue? Would that serve as an appropriate XC solo towards licensure?
    When I was a student I borrowed a hand held and would sit at MRI all day and listen to the radio talk.
    And as littleman81 suggested, get the supplement and become familiar with arrival /departure routes. Don't try to memorize them all; that can be overwhelming. Just concentrate on what you are going to be doing that day. No point fussing over a City high when you are going East.
    It realy boils down to 5 things
    #1-who are you talking to-'MRI tower this is ...
    #2 Who you are"787 hotel"
    #3 location"over eagle river bridge"
    #4 ATIS"I have X-ray"
    #5 Intentions "I would like 16"

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