The Silly Things We Do

Okay. Passengers loaded and seatbelts on, passenger briefing demonstrated and explained. Let’s go! Ah dangit! We are not moving forward under power. Must have left the parking brake on. Nope! Double dangit! Left the chocks on. Shut down. Explain to the passengers that their dumb pilot didn’t do a good walk around and leave it to their imagination while I am taking away the chocks on how well the rest of the flight is going to go.

Leaving chocks on and attempting to taxi is a relatively harmless mistake, but if I am that thoughtless about that what else will I eventually forget? Looking back, these things usually happened when I was really tired or had a lot of things on my mind resulted in a good ego thrashing as a consequence. Others aren’t so lucky though.

Some of the silly and stupid things I and many others have done could fill a book up I am sure, but I’ll list a few that I’ve seen. Leaving the tow-bar on the aircraft and attempting to taxi. Leaving a fuel cap off and going flying. Leaving the access panel to the oil dipstick open and having it flap in the wind. Attempting to cross a thick patch of mud on the taxiway and getting stuck. Pulling the mixture to idle rather than carb-heat on the downwind. Landing with brakes on. Leaving the engine tent on and taxiing. And the list goes on. 

Most of the above mentioned involved a poor walk around but the next two involve pilot decision making based on overconfidence and disregarding the training instructors have drilled over and over into our students brains.

There’s a fellow who flies out of the airport here at Morden that always seems to be in a rush. He also always seems to have an overinflated opinion of his aircraft and it’s herculean performance. The first time he did his intersection take off with only 800 feet of runway, I was astounded since I have always told my students to use all available runway even if that means taxiing all the way back on runway 10. I am not sure if over the months I was seeing a progression of his boldness but then I saw him take a 30 knot cross-wind rather than use the grass strip. The icing on the cake was seeing him do another intersection take off but this time with a 15 knot tailwind. He ran out of runway really quickly, went past the threshold and onto the grass. Without batting an eye, he turned around wreaked a threshold landing light and  fire-wallied the throttle for take off into wind. All this happened without him stopping to inspect the damage created by his extremely foolish behavior. Since then I have heard of a few other antics he has done but will leave it at that for now. 

Unfortunately he is not the only one to make light of extremely strong tailwinds. We were all sitting in the office enjoying our mid-morning coffee break when we heard on the radio that a King Air was inbound. We gave them a wind advisory that the wind was from the west at 30 knots and favouring runway 28. The captain said roger and then proceeded to make a traffic call saying he was going straight in runway 10. Out of morbid curiosity we all sallied outside to view the forthcoming landing that our much more knowledgeable and esteemed captain was going to do. He flared beautifully over the threshold of 10, floated over 3000 of the 4000 foot runway, and finally touched down with tires smoking and quickly throwing the props into reverse. He didn’t go over the end of the runway but there was barely any room to turn around for the shaky backtrack to the apron. We all laughed in relief but it struck me when the sole passenger got out the aircraft that it wasn’t so funny. In my opinion, if you’re going to be a jack-assed pilot, do it by yourself and well away from me. Unfortunately that’s rarely the case.  Remember there are old and there are bold pilots but there are few old bold pilots.

Safe flying!!!