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Thread: What's your biggest challenge?

  1. #1
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    Exclamation What's your biggest challenge?

    I am trying to put together a research paper for a senior seminar class about the challenges every pilot faces. From students, to crop dusting, corporate flying, commercial pilots, and any other piloting careers. I am hoping to gain insight of the challenges and adventures a pilot faces everyday.

    Also, what are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job? What is the most stressful part of what you do? Will you offer advice for pilots who might want to follow your line of work? Really anything you can think of that would help my research paper is most appreciated. Any name or information that you divulge will be kept anonymous and end to schafca@quincy.edu.

    Also, if you have an pilot contacts (even contacts of retired pilots) that you think would be willing to help in my adventure please pass on my information to them, or with their approvial their information on to me.

  2. #2
    Member RocketRick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flylow22 View Post
    I am trying to put together a research paper for a senior seminar class about the challenges every pilot faces. From students, to crop dusting, corporate flying, commercial pilots, and any other piloting careers. I am hoping to gain insight of the challenges and adventures a pilot faces everyday.

    Also, what are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job? What is the most stressful part of what you do? Will you offer advice for pilots who might want to follow your line of work? Really anything you can think of that would help my research paper is most appreciated. Any name or information that you divulge will be kept anonymous and end to schafca@quincy.edu.

    Also, if you have an pilot contacts (even contacts of retired pilots) that you think would be willing to help in my adventure please pass on my information to them, or with their approvial their information on to me.
    Trying to find a consistent CFI that won't quit.

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    The biggest challenge to ALL pilots, from students to those 30,000-hour big iron drivers, will always be weather.

    The most rewarding aspect must surely be that, at the end of your career, all your successful landings were equsl to the number of your successful takeoffs.

    Best advice: flyi the airplanle. Forget about the radio, your chatty passenger(s), and everything else when things go a bit sour. First of all, fly the airplane. All else will fall into place when time is abailable for it.

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    Weather is a significant factor, but fatigiue is bigger for me. I have my minimums either personal, FAR or Company, and those are easy. but fatigue kicks my butt no matter which airplane I am flying, the big company iron, or my personal single engine aircraft. The best part is, when i am flying my single engine machine, I say when i quit. I usually, just land and take a nap, or don't take off unless i know i should be in good shape the entire flight. Just my $,02

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    Truth is

    You never know what the biggest challenge will be.

    "Situational awareness is key to survival"

    Weather, knowledge of mechanics and how your equipment is intended to work and being aware of change, and pending decisions (landing takeoff flying VFR on top .... etc.), change in any of the above.

    There is ALWAYS a little conversation going on in my head, regardless of the company or social requirements that is in constant review / due dillagence with regard to the outcome of any given flight / adventure.

    Always keep the little conversation going and question what you think you know ....

    no wrecks in Alaska beginning in 1984

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    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    Tuff one to ans. Flying big iron weather isn't much of a factor, there its trying to stay FAA legal, rested and dealing with the company rules. Also being away from home lots.
    Flying singles it just what ocnfish said.

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    This is a very tough question to answer because there are so many ways to approach the question. I would have to say the part of flying I have the most trouble with is saying “no”. Most of us are type “A” personalities and are prone to leaning forward.

    As a military helicopter pilot SAR and CAS missions always peculated to the top of my priorities. If the SAR was another aircrew I was going! WX did not mater; I would even take a degraded aircraft (not down). I always thought how I would feel out in the water and I always wanted to know if I needed it someone was coming for me. Lucky for me I never had to take a degraded aircraft. Secondly, if someone was in contact and needed help (someone with a heavier weapon or a MEDEVAC) I was doing everything possible to get help to them. When I looked at my risk assessment process the amount of risk I would deliberately accept for these two missions was substantially higher. I would not kill my crew to complete them but I would hang our cheese fairly far out into the wind for them.

    Now I fly mostly for oil companies and happily their risk tolerance is minimal. However, I have had occasion when flying for a small company who did not understand exactly what he was asking put a lot of pressure on me to complete a high risk flight for a part to repair a piece of equipment he had. It was February and he wanted me to make a night landing (fixed wing) on the Yukon and he would light the runway with a snow machine on each end. I have not done a lot of night off airport work. As I was pre-flighting and thinking about how I was going to do this the thought hit me that I was feeling a similar amount of pressure as when flying CSAR missions. As soon as that occurred to me it was enough for me to recognize the risk/benefit of the flight and I called it until first light. In retrospect there were a couple of things that were wrong with my decision process. First, I personally liked the guy and liked the project he was working on. This led me to “want” to go the extra mile for this customer. Second issue was I had not completely defined my operating limitations. To tell you the truth the thought he would ask me for a night flight had not even entered my planning process. When the question came up it was not on my list of showstoppers so I was trying to think of how I could say yes to the job.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    It really depends on what type of flying you are doing.

    Flying down to Homer to get your Beer Jugs filled.
    Trying to beat the crowd to your super secret fishing hole.
    Picking up some hunters before the storm gets much worse.
    Flying a load of drunks and cases of beer into a small town or village in a beat up C206.


    If you look at the NTSB reports for Alaska between Jan 200 and today...NOT COUNTING THOSE NOT YET IN THE SYSTEM, OR THOSE NEVER REPORTED.

    You will note that there were 1,248 accidents and incidents in Alaska between Jan 2000 and now. (1220 accidents)
    Only 238 involved part 135 carriers.

    Of those 1220 accidents, 115 aircraft accidents had fatalities.
    29 of those fatal accidents involved part 135 carriers.

    So were all the general aviation accidents just private pilots???? NOPE...

    There are lots of guiding operations, instruction and flight seeing flights that are really a commercial type flight, but not logged as such after the accident.

    As Grizzly1 said, a review of those accidents shows that a high percentage were caused by or occurred during bad weather conditions.

    Another high percentage occurred while "Pushing your luck, to make a buck."

    Then there are those accidents which come under the heading of "What the Heck Was I Thinking?"
    Those are the boo-boos that occur when you try to land on a short gravel bar while a long gravel bar is only 1/8 mile away. Or trying to see if you can really land on the highway without getting snagged by a wire or hit by a truck. They are the dumb things we do,,, , that seem like a good idea right up until the wings come off.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

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    Member chriso's Avatar
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    My biggest challenge is that I get airsick... not puking sick, but real miserable. If the weather turns too hot and bumpy, I gotta land before I turn green and start to make increasingly poorer decisions....

  10. #10

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    My biggest challenge tonight, was trying to put my "lift spoiling" wing covers on, in 60 mph gusting wind... by myself! The Cub is happier now. It's not trying to fly on it's ropes anymore. Now I can sleep.

  11. #11

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    Finding enough time to fly is my biggest challenge. Juggling job and family and other hobbies.

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    Weather. Learning when it's good enough to go or bad enough to stay without any help from man or technology. You're on your own. The pressures to fly affect your decision making. You can read about it all you want but you can't prevent it. At least I can't.

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    Sounds like you fly for a company. How do you handle being forced to fly even when you're fatigued (i.e. informing your employers, co-pilot, asking for help)? I've heard a few pilots quit because they were forced to fly under conditions that were not appropriate for them or when trying to follow the FARs.

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    KLK - Flying as a hobbie. That's another aspect I hadn't thought of. Trying to find time can be very challenging. When you do get in the air, do you still feel confident in your knowledge and flying ability?

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    Chriso -

    What type of flying do you do? General/corporate etc??

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    Quote Originally Posted by flylow22 View Post
    Chriso -

    What type of flying do you do? General/corporate etc??
    I'm a chief pilot for alaska air! (just joking!) nope, just a g.a. guy here, been working some on crossing over to helo's recently, seem to make me less prone to my curse!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by RocketRick View Post
    Trying to find a consistent CFI that won't quit.
    I have 7 or 8 in the student section of my logbook
    Worst part of that was, long after I felt I was ready for my FAA ck ride, my instructor would leave and I would have to demonstrate to yet another CFI that I was ready for a sign off.

  18. #18
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Trying to find a consistent CFI that won't quit.
    I have 7 or 8 in the student section of my logbook
    Lots of younger guys go into instructing just to build hours. I have met a bunch who came out of the U.N.D. aviation program.
    They have two things in mind, when is the next beer party and when can they start flying big iron.

    Then there are sometimes personal incompatibilities that can cause a client-CFI relationship to burn-out fast. Over the years I have dropped four clients.
    One looked like he was stoned all the time...
    One could not stay away from booze for 12 hours (or 24 in his case) before flying....
    One tried to kill us both one too many times...
    and the last one is going to kill himself,,, and I don't want to be with him when he does...
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  19. #19

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    I think its true that one of the hardest things to do is say no when under pressure. You need to realise your own personal limitations every day and for every flight. Just because someone else used to do it all the time and in worse conditions doesn't make it OK for YOU on THIS day, maybe for reasons of fatigue, inexperience, etc.

    Accidents are often caused by a chain of poor decisions from a number of contributing factors.

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