Know where you are!

Improving aviation safety for Mooney pilots

Jerry Proctor

(Previously published in MAPA Log)

I bet you think this is another watch the landmarks, know your surroundings, and check magnetic deviation article.  Nope, not this time.  So what do I mean?

A couple of years ago, I gave a Flight Review and then an Instrument Proficiency Check to a Mooney Pilot at one of the MAPA Safety Foundation Pilot Proficiency Programs (PPP).  This pilot was a very experienced with private ticket and an instrument rating.  He owns a long body Mooney and he also owns a nice tail dragger.   He is semi but mostly retired and lives in the SW.  He has a total of 3200 hours, 2200 of which are in his Mooney.  For a number of years, he use to fly is Mooney for business, averaging 2-300 hours a year.  When I gathered his flight background information and asked why he had come to the PPP event, he basically said that he had been flying the tail dragger plane a lot, but was down to less than 40hr a year in his Mooney.  He felt he needed a refresher.  Good for him; that is what the Pilot Proficiency Program is for!

The evening before the first of two 2-hour flights, I asked him to review approach plates for three airports, one of course was the airport we were flying out of.

The next morning, as we pre-briefed the flight, I asked had he reviewed the instrument plates?  Answer, no.  Hummm, thinks I.

So, off to the plane, a nice Mooney Bravo he has owned since new.  Preflight walk around was mostly normal; however, when in the cockpit he was one to not really use a checklist.  Hummm again thinks I.  Upon my urging he did pull one out but still he was rather quick to get ready and start.

I will spare you all a lot of details, but he was very good with engine management and situation awareness; however, when it came to upper air maneuvers, he was fairly rusty.  He varied quite a bit in steep turns, including all the key points such as the angle of bank, the altitude, and rollout.  After two turns, I said let me try one.  I completed it in FAA standards and was rewarded with the vortex bump.  He then became more serious and, with practice, the flight steadily improved.

After a brief break and lunch, we launched for the IPC.  This flight was more along the same lines, rusty at first but more serious now and he progressed well.

In short, he met the standards for both sign-offs; but here is the key point I discussed with him after we landed.  You have to know where you really are, regarding your airplane proficiency.  He had started the flight as if he had been flying his Mooney 200-250 hours a year as he once did.  However, some of his skills were those of a less than 50-hour a year pilot.  He quickly got back up to speed, but I cautioned him.  He was setting himself up for a major issue by not initially acknowledging that his skills were less than what his ego and mind thought he was.  He needed to slow down, use the checklist, practice basics more, and then acknowledge his skill level.

He agreed and was very appreciative of this advice.

So….do YOU  know where you are.? The Mooney Safety Foundation PPP is now coming out of a winter pause.  Are your skills maybe a little lower then you think they are?  Good time to take steps to make sure you lessen that gap.

The Mooney Safety Foundation PPP can help.  Hope to see you there soon!