the learning never stops!


And now for something different. . .

. . . It has been four years since the last "face lift" to so we are bit over due. The website has grown to well over a thousand different pages and has been getting between two and three millions hits every month. Your support has been incredible and there has only been one complaint, and that complaint came from me. There was so much stuff it was becoming very difficult to find what you need. The website needed better organization. So here goes.

If you are looking for updates to the International Operations Flight Manual, the are here: IOFM Updates.

But how do you know what has been most recently updated? If you are reading this, you've already figured it out. Just click "Updates."

Oh yes, one more thing. The magnifying glass (top left) is the same search function as before, provided by Google. The problem is Google memorized the old website which was made of .html files. The new one is full of .htm files. It will take Google a while to learn the new website, so please give it some time.

Good Pilots Gone Bad — March 13, 2017

I spoke to the Air Charter Safety Foundation in early March, 2017, about the pilots on N121JM, the Gulfstream IV that crashed in 2014 at Bedford, Massachusetts.


They asked me to hypothesize about the human factors involved that would lead two professional pilots to act with (as the NTSB put it) Habitual, Intentional Noncompliance. My theory is that they were once good pilots, but they had gone bad. This is a video of the speech. I also wrote an article about this for Business & Commercial Aviation magazine in an article called, "Fixing Problem Pilots."

The Big Sky Theory — March 1, 2017

The "Big Sky Theory" postulates that the sky is so big and airplanes are so small, that we should have to worry about a midair collision. Of course nobody admits to using this theory in actual practice, but many pilots conduct themselves as if they did.


With a better understanding of how our eyes actually work, we can make better use of them for the first half of the "see and avoid" directive placed on all pilots, even those operating under Instrument Flight Rules. We should also understand the help available as well as the limitations of air traffic control, ground based radar, ACAS/TCAS, and ADS-B In. The best way to avoid a midair collision remains to employ better situational awareness and to fly predictable so as to increase situational awareness for all those that share they sky with you.

V1 Reaction Time — February 1, 2017

How much time do you have to react at V1? None. The reaction should have already happened!


There is a reaction time built into V1, but it happens prior to that speed. Knowing this should effect when you make the V1 call. Your reaction time begins at VEF (critical engine failure speed) which must occur before V1 by at least the time allowed for reaction. And how much time is that? It depends.

Leadership in the Real World — January 25, 2017

We concluded a four part series on leadership with a look at a civilian flight department.


I've had several times at bat as a civlian chief pilot, flight department manager, or whatever you want to call the position. But I will look at another pilot's attempt at it because, (a) he was very good, and (b) I want to introduce quite a few elements to distance this flight department from ones that I was a part of. The point of this lesson is to give some pointers in story form while protecting the identities of the people involved. That's why we are looking at the Acme Paperclip Company's flight department.

Leadership Secrets — January 17, 2017

In the late nineties a great book on leadership made its rounds around the U.S. Army, "Leadership Secrets of Atilla the Hun," by Wes Roberts.


Not many in the Air Force would admit to reading it; the conventional wisdom was Atilla was a ground pounder from days of yore. I thought it was the best book on leadership I had ever read. Apparently its lessons were lost on some of us blue suiters. But even there, we find lessons.

Leadership Styles — January 9, 2017

What style of leadership is best? Does a particular style of leadership always work?


As I took command of a flying squadron I was to apply the lessons learned over the years, thinking I would have the right solution my first time at bat. I certainly didn't make the same mistakes as my predecessors. But it took me a few years to realize that I did make a mistake.

Leadership 101 — January 1, 2017

How does a young pilot approach crew leadership for the first time? We had our share of leadership courses in the Air Force, but none of them really taught the "how" we need to run a crew or a flight department.


For that you need experience. Lacking that? Find a good mentor. Fortunately I had the best. The Nick is four years older than me. He is wise beyond his years and his lessons are as applicable today as when this story was written, way back in 1984.

A Question of Balance — December 15, 2016

How do you balance your hectic life as a professional pilot with all the demands placed on you by your non-pilot life?


Eddie gets that exact question for a reader and provides his answer which begins and ends at the same point. It may not be the right answer for you, but perhaps it will provoke some thought along your way to discovering your own answer.

Aviation Gurus — December 1, 2016

The long awaited for pilot shortage is here. That's good news, right?


The problem is that the most experienced professionals are "out there" flying, too busy to mentor the next generation. We need more mentors, but we need more mentors of the highest caliber. Here are a few aviation gurus trying to mentor the next generation of gurus.

SAFA Checks: Alternate Fuel — November 1, 2016

One of the hot items during these ramp checks in late 2016 has been an inadequate documentation of fuel reserves on aircraft flight plans for arrival or departure.


You need to have the minimum required reserve fuel listed as just that, reserve fuel. If you don't need an alternate, do you have the required holding fuel? If you do need an alternate, is the computed fuel realistic?

Safety > Comfort > Reliability — October 1, 2016

As pilots for the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base (now Joint Base Andrews), we had hammered into our heads the idea of “Safety, Comfort, Reliability.”


“Safety > Comfort > Reliability.” The preceding elements are more important than the subsequent. But theory is often overwhelmed by reality. I cover the various interpretations of this motto in Flight Lessons 3: Experience, the third book of that series. The danger for crews at the 89th and for us in commercial aviation, is that we can be corrupted into thinking of the motto as "Reliability, Reliability, Reliability."

Declaring an Emergency, Effectively — September 1, 2016

There is a general reluctance to declare an emergency by pilots who believe it is either "less than manly" or will lead to a mountain of paperwork and unforeseen costs.


If you think the safety of your airplane is in danger unless you are guaranteed everything you need from the rest of the world, you need to declare an emergency. And do so using that word: "I am declaring an emergency." Air traffic control should understand. If they don't, try this: "If you do not approve this, people will die." Yes, you need to be blunt.

Maintenance Malpractice — August 1, 2016

I got an angry letter to the editor for the Business & Commercial Aviation magazine version of this article. A mechanic thought I was being unfair . . .


A doctor who jeopardizes a patient's life through unskilled, improper, or negligent treatment is guilty of medical malpractice. Any person in the maintenance profession — from the lowest mechanic to the highest VP — can be guilty of maintenance malpractice through unskilled, improper, or negligent treatment of an airplane. Malpractice. Is that too strong a word? No.

Pre-Accident Investigator — July 1, 2016

We all know the vital role accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies play AFTER an accident has happened. Their primary role is to learn from the past so that we may avoid future accidents. All that is great.


But what role do we line pilots have in all this? I contend that we would be the perfect PRE-Accident Investigators. We should be able to learn from everything at our disposal so that we can investigate the causes of accidents BEFORE they happen to prevent them in the first place. I think a perfect case in point is the case of what I call the "Ambiguous Gulfstream Auto-Throttles." If you aren't a Gulfstream pilot, I am betting you could find a similar system on your airplane that could use some good PRE-accident investigation. I gave a speech on this topic to the Teterboro Users Group, in June, 2016.

Weight and Balance (A Sensual Approach) — June 1, 2016

Weight and balance tends to be a math intensive subject and you should understand the principles. Because some airplanes are more sensitive than others and even those that are center-of-gravity-sensitive tend to be okay most of the time, we tend to let our guards down on this subject.


Even if you aren't a math wizard, having a "feel" for weight and balance can come in handy. If you can visualize where on your airplane the center of gravity resides, the forward and aft limits of your center of gravity, and how the seats and fuel tanks all relate to those points, you will have the skills you need to approach your weight and balance sensually. Sensually? Yes: weight and balance by feel.

Gray Areas — May 1, 2016

When we have incomplete knowledge about an upcoming decision we tend to say it is an issue mired in a gray area and therefore open to our personal judgement.


That kind of latitude leads to rule bending and more times than not, the wrong answer. A better way to respond to a question from the gray area is with the answer: it depends.Of course there are many so-called gray areas that need clarifying. But if you have the methodology down you can tackle them all. We'll look at a few here.

Functional Check Flights — April 1, 2016

The glamour days of the test pilot are long gone. It makes absolutely no sense to strap on an airplane that has never flown before, go up there an "punch a hole in that thar envelope."


You could very well be called upon to do a functional check flight in your business jet and those that came before you will say it is no big deal. You may start to believe that, because the pilot who had the task before you was nothing special. How hard can it be? I recommend you read this: "I've never been so scared." And then you should get serious about the task at hand.

Departure Obstacle Analysis — March 1, 2016

If I asked five pilots how to best deal with departure obstacles, I would get five different answers.


No wonder, this stuff is complicated! You can be a math wizard or math-phobic, but either way you should understand what will happen if you lose an engine anywhere from V1 through the moment you have cleared the last obstacle. And here is the bad news: some of that software that promises to keep you safe is lying to you.

Case Study: Bedford — December 1, 2015

We are told that on May 31, 2014, the professional pilot world got a wake up call when two pilots crashed their Gulfstream IV and killed all on board. The NTSB rightfully calls their performance an act of "intentional, habitual noncompliance" but this is being charitable.


We analyze the accident itself and debunk the thought that the "cause" was the design of the gust lock. It was not. The cause was the design of the two pilots up front. Then we'll look at checklist philosopy; it is more clear cut than you might think. Finally, we'll look at pilot complacency and a way to cure that.

Slow Onset Hypoxia — August 1, 2015

We in the high altitude jet set train extensively for the chance we may one day suddenly lose cabin pressurization and need to immediately don oxygen and execute an emergency descent. But how often does that really happen? Almost never.


But we are trained for this. When it happens, it will be obvious and we will know what to do. A rapid depressurization has never resulted in the loss on an airplane, at least not that we know of. The real dangers lurks when the loss of pressurization happens gradually. Slow onset hypoxia has killed and you are at risk.