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The Magazine Articles

Book Notes

My bottom line is "spreading the word" and there are a few magazines out there that give me that privilege.

Business & Commercial Aviation Magazine, in particular, has a lot of good operational content and I collect a lot of their articles from other writers. I think they are the finest aviation magazine for pilots out there and I can't recommend them enough.


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"A New Standards Captain" (November 2017, B&CA)

I've always aspired to become the top instructor in any squadron, flight department, or other group of pilots. But quite often I had to take another path as a standards captain. The title varied: check airman, flight examiner, or standardization/evaluation pilot. But in each case I learned that being a standards captain didn't mean the instruction had to stop. In many ways, a standards captain is the top instructor.

"Absolute Discretion" (September 2015, B&CA)

I spoke at the annual Pilatus Owner's and Pilot's Association meeting in 2015 and was alarmed by all the stories of FAA violations against these single pilot operators. That got me interested in to figuring out just who was on whose side and how much good those NASA ASRS forms really do.

"Aircraft Performance: Certification versus the Real World" (November 2014 B&CA)

What does a "demonstrated crosswind" really mean? How about V1? This and many other items of performance are decoded here.

"Assumed Safety" (October 2016, B&CA)

We often used the term "assumed risk" in Air Force safety circles to describe the fact we, as pilots, assume a level of risk everytime we fly. I've explored that here, using the friendlier term "assumed safety" because our passengers are making that assumption.

"Approach Impossible" (May 2017 B&CA)

Just because an approach plate says "TERPS" or "PANSOPS" on it doesn't mean you can fly it to minimums. Sometimes that approach will be impractical, improbable, or even impossible.

"Automation Resource Management" (September 2016, B&CA)

I think we should treat our cockpit automation as fairly competent, but imperfect, student pilots. Trust but verify.

"Aviation Guru" (February 2017, B&CA)

The pilot shortage is real and that means a generation of aviation gurus are too busy to mentor. We need to fix that.

"Becoming the Old Man" (August 2014 Airways Magazine)

The editor at Airways Magazine heard about me and asked for an article on whatever I chose. This is the story of my first domestic flight as the PIC on an EC-135J (Boeing 707).

"Better International Trip Planning, A White Paper" (2016 Jeppesen-Sanderson)

I was asked to do this for Jeppesen and was happy to see it widely disseminated.

"Big Sky Redefined" (April 2017 B&CA)

This is something we in the USAF grew up with where the two airplanes involved were both F-4 Phantom IIs "beak to beak" with a closure speed of 900 knots. Pretty scary stuff. I tamed this down to a GV at 200 knots and a Cessna 172 at 100 knots and guess what? It is still pretty scary.

"Cabin Fire Battle Plan" (December 2014 B&CA)

I've heard from early on you have 8 minutes to fight a cabin fire before it is no longer controllable, and you have to get the airplane on the ground in 15 minutes or less if you want to do so under you own terms. This article explores both of those ideas.

"Circling Approach Survival Guide" (February 2015 B&CA)

If you find yourself circling at minimums, especially on an older style TERPS approach, the odds are stacked against you.

"Command Decisions" (November 2014 Airways Magazine)

This is the "I'm blind" story I've told in public a few times. The editor really wanted it in print, so here it is.

"Contaminated Runways" (September 2014 B&CA)

Our manuals aren't very friendly on the topic of contaminated runways, but there are things we can do to demystify how the snow and ice impact our landing distances.

"Continuous Descent Final Approaches" (July 2014 B&CA)

I've had more than a few readers dispute the contention that "dive and drive" is dangerous. I wrote this article hoping to put an end to that idea.

"Cross With Care" (June 2015 B&CA)

I continue to see Gulfstream pilots who insist the "wing low" method is how we deal with crosswinds. But the "crab" method is wrong. Chances are, if you are flying a business jet, you may need to revise your crosswind landing technique.

"Countering Complacency" (October 2014 B&CA)

When we get comfortable in an airplane or operation, we tend to let our guards down and can become undisciplined and sloppy. There is a way to prevent this.

"Departure Obstacles" (May 2016 B&CA)

I'm told there is too much math in this article and I suppose that may be true. But if you use obstacle analysis software, you need to read this to understand the risks you are assuming.

"Fixing Problem Pilots" (Mar 2017 B&CA)

How did the pilots of N121JM, slip through the SMS audit process and pass so many recurrent checkrides when they were guilty of, as the NTSB put it, "habitual, intentional non-compliance," and (in my view) worse? More importantly, how can we fix such pilots?

"Flying Paranoid" (July 2014 B&CA)

One of the writers at BCA asked me how I deal with obstacles and I told him "with paranoia." He added a page to his article about that paranoia. (Those mountains really are out to get me.)

"Going the Distance" (March 2016 B&CA)

Getting the most miles or time from a drop of fuel, the techniques depend on what kind of wing and engines you have.

"Intuitive Decision-Making" (Nov 2015 B&CA)

I don't have a "touchy feely" education but this article seemed to have struck a nerve. I got calls from industry and academia alike about this one.

"I've Never Been So Scared" (July 2017 Airways Magazine)

Talking about fear in the cockpit was something that was verboten in my Air Force flying and perhaps that instilled in us a kind of fearlessness, the idea that you deal with problems as they come and dwell on the emotions later (if at all). So when I hear someone say they were scared it gets my attention.

"Keeping Cool Through Upset" (May 2015 B&CA)

When I found out the other pilots in my flight department didn't have a lot of zero-G experience, I sent everyone (including me) to upset training. This article dives into that subject.

"Landing Assured, Departure Not" (March 2015, B&CA)

I had always wanted to do an article about pavement strength (PCN/ACN) and here it is. The editors usually choose very good titles, but this one can be misleading.

"Lessons from Bedford" (April 2016, B&CA)

It took me a year to write this and while I was working on it another writer came up with an article that covered "what happened." My article covers more about "why it happened" and "how to prevent it from happing again." That resulted in his article becoming "Part 1" and mine "Part 2." But they both stand on their own.

"Left Seat, The First Time" (January 2016, B&CA)

I've always thought that most business jet instructors just assume the skills needed in the left seat just happen, we get them by osmosis. I wanted to put into writing many of the techniques.

"Maintenance Malpractice" (November 2016, B&CA)

It has always bugged me that we don't have minimum duty rest or maximum duty day limits for mechanics. And that's not all the ails us when it comes to maintaining our airplanes.

"Normalization of Deviance" (January 2017, B&CA)

I've always called this the "Good Pilots Gone Bad" phenomenom. Whatever you call it, it is a real problem we need to be on guard against.

"Now Hiring" (July 2017, B&CA)

I've been hiring pilots for decades and usually the philosophy is to the hire the best person available. Now I am in an organization that says hire the best, and if you can't don't hire at all. So it has taken a while. Along the way there have been lessons learned.

"Paid to Say No" (June 2016 B&CA)

Saying "No" to the person signing your paycheck can be difficult. But using a few examples I hope to provide a few techniques on just how to do that.

"Personalized Fuel Minimums" (April 2015 B&CA)

Regulatory fuel minimums will hardly get you from your destination to alternate, much less allow for traffic delays or holds. You need to raise those quite a bit.

"Pilot Error: A How-To Guide" (October 2017 B&CA)

Not all pilot errors are created equal; some are critical and others less so. Understanding the difference will allow you to place your focus where it needs to be and to learn. Admitting to a pilot error in front of your peers and those who look up to you is hard word. But the more often you do that, the less often you will have to.

"Pointing and Calling" (July 2017 B&CA)

The Central Japan Railway Company System, the Shinkansen, has carried over 20 billion passengers since 1964 without a single fatality or injury. And they've done that in one of the most densely populated countries in the world. How is that possible? Some credit belongs to their "Shisa Kanko" method, Pointing and Calling. It is a technique that can pay dividends in your cockpit.

"Pre-Accident Investigator" (August 2016 B&CA)

I've always thought investigating an operation before the crash could prevent the crash.

"Safety, Comfort, Reliability" (December 2016 B&CA)

The informal motto of the 89th Airlift Wing was once "safety, comfort, reliability." (It has since changed slightly.) But that motto was often corrupted. Here is how I would change it and how I would apply it to our civilian flight operations.

"Saying Yes to Portable Electronic Devices" (January 2015 B&CA)

If you turn a blind eye towards your passengers when they operate their PEDs, perhaps you should read up on the greater flexibility given to us in the last few years.

"She's Got Legs" (Dec 2015 Airways)

Airways Magazine features airliners and really wanted another article about a Boeing 747. So I gave them an article about three.

"Slow Onset Hypoxia" (Dec 2015 B&CA)

How many airplanes have been lost due to a rapid depressurization? None, that I know of. How many due to a failure to pressurize? At least five.

"Stabilized Approaches" (May 2014 B&CA)

Ever since "stabilized approach criteria" became fashionable I thought the rules were unworkable. My flight department tried to build a better mousetrap.

Strategic Lateral Offset (March 2014 B&CA)

This is an article by B&CA writer David Esler who contacted the FAA for a better understanding of the Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure. They referred him to me and he pointed me out to the editor. And thus began my stint as a magazine writer. (Thanks Dave!)

Teterboro Non-circling, Circling Approach (September 2017 B&CA)

When is a circling approach not a "circling approach?" More importantly, when can attempting to fly within an instrument approach's stated visibility minimums be a bad idea? The answer has to do with your understanding about what air traffic control means when directing you to circle. And this distinction is about as important as it gets at Teterboro Airport, NJ (KTEB). I elected to divert on May 15, 2017 because I was uncomfortable with having to circle from Runway 6 to Runway 1 with an overshooting wind. Another aircraft crashed later that day attempting to do just that. The non-circle, circling approach is a skill unto itself. Let's learn how to do it properly.

"When Pilots Become Passengers" (June 2017 B&CA)

The first rule of aviation is "Fly the Airplane!" You should never forget your basic flight duties, never cede control of the aircraft to someone not in one of your pilot seats, and never let CRM takeover.

"Windshear: Has it been tamed?" (August 2015 B&CA)

Windshear is no longer the mystery it once was; technology helps us to forecast and detect it. But it remains a fundamental truism in aviation: the best plan is to avoid it in the first place.

Revision: 20171101
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