Earlier tonight I attended an FAA Safety Seminar called The What Ifs, presented by Lennert Von Clemm. (Interestingly, he was the instructor I flew with on my second supervised Citabria solo.)
The FAA regularly organizes safety lectures in the Bay Area. A couple months ago I attended one that presented an analysis of flight accidents in the Bay Area. It turns out the some accident types are six times more likely here due to our unusual weather patters and terrain. In other areas, we're right in line with the national averages.
Tonight's session, attended by roughly 30 pilots, was all about the things we need to think about before something goes wrong. Len talked a lot about engine failures (both partial and complete), getting caught in bad weather, and the value of being prepared for the unexpected.
He reminded us of something that most pilots know that I suspect most non-pilots never think about:
The single most common cause of engine failure in planes is... running out of gas.
That's right. It's not a mechanical problem at all. Now there are any number of reasons it can happen, but they're almost the result of poor planning, laziness, or hubris. Len had some great stories about local pilots, accidents, and almost accidents. Each of them served to reinforce the point.
These sessions count toward the FAA Wings program which encourages pilots to participate in ongoing training, including lectures, book study, and in-flight work with an instructor.
There are two main benefits to the Wings program:
- Pilots who participate can use their Wings experience to take the place of a Biennial Flight Review (BFR).
- Participation in Wings goes in your FAA record. If you ever get called I front of the FAA for a violation, they'll often take that into consideration. It's not exactly a "get out of jail free" card, but it's the next best thing.
Now I just need to remember to hang on to the paperwork and get my instructor to sign off on it. It's never too early to start accumulating Wings credit.
Posted by jzawodn at January 03, 2006 10:03 PM