Christmas and all that! Ever wondered how Santa copes with 90 day recency?


But that sleigh definitely looks like a Non EASA Type

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From JP trading as ‘Ask Captain Jon’ at Flightpath Flying Club, Halfpenny Green.

Happy Christmas to you all and a good ‘fly safe’ Happy New Year to you. Let’s hope the new
year starts and ends with the same amount of flying schools still in business or even a few more.

This is a Christmas newsletter-it takes a lot of time, trouble and effort-mine! Ask yourself did you get one from YOUR flying instructor or school? Welcome to the professional world of flying! Professional flying instruction is much more than playing around on Facebook!

who says men dont rember

Its that time of the year again when families get ready to fall out and eat something that is supposed to be able to fly but lacks common sense but more about pilots and turkeys later.

Did you remember the 17th December? The 110th anniversary of powered flight or as I always say the anniversary of pilots teaching themselves to fly, a process regularly repeated at many flying schools ever since with commentary instructors whose only useful purpose seems to be to satisfy legislation and utter the festive phrase ‘Jesus’ at the most inappropriate moments.


After walking out of a meeting at Westbeach Flight Academy at Halfpenny Green I am relieved to say I am no longer associated with that company in any way as I can find no common ground with the way the operation is managed, I do however wish them well. I am currently flying and annoying June Edwards at Flightpath Flying Club at Halfpenny Green.

I have to say I am a very, very reluctant flying instructor. I’ve been appalled at some of the goings on I’ve seen since reluctantly returning to instructing from airline flying for originally the sole purpose of teaching my son to fly as a 21st birthday present. The standard to me, including the way that so called professional people conduct themselves, appears to be disappointingly very low, even compared to nearly 30 years ago at Wellesborne when I had my own flying Instructor training school.

I’ve even had to go to the extent of talking to Aeros at Wellesbourne & Coventry and booking my students in with them. I thought I had solved my problem until the father of the one student said, “My son either flys with you or he doesn’t learn to fly and I am paying the bill so I choose”! As non compliance would have an enormous affect on my social programme for 2014 I have little option but to risk life and limb in the airfield cafe yet again I suppose. Its rumoured I will be doing FIC training from there too( no not the airfield cafe silly) but they will have to catch me first. Please remember, I was built for leisure, not work and you wouldn’t enjoy flying with me anyway!

So many desperate people have told me that I need to start my own school but do I really want all that aggravation again? I am supposed to be retired after all and its so much easier doing ground school from my own house with no hassle and its more profitable.


This area of the aviation industry has always been populated by many whom I feel would be more suited to other occupations, its a great shame really because this is the entry level for a truly great industry. Make no mistake its alway been the same. I was told quite categorically when I arrived at my first flying school with pimples and attitude that if I wasn’t prepared to fly in sympathy with their flying programme rather than the Air Navigation Order there would be no job. Couple that with the fact that what I knew about flying and instructing could probably have been written on the back of a postage stamp lead to me spending most of my time in Scotland just wondering which piece of Gaelic landscape I would end up being embedded into.

Imagine flying with with -200 feet on the altimeter, below and right beside the cliffs, trying to keep the wheels out of the sea and the top of the a/c out of cloud and then running into cloud! Think I am exaggerating, within a year of me leaving a student was killed on a qualifying solo cross country when he spun in on final approach at Wick with a 200 feet cloud ceiling, the instructor lost his rating. Within that same period the flying school next door went through the airport main cables on take off blacking out the airfield and burning a hole in the wing from the leading edge to the spar, hit the side of a mountain with the C172 destroying it and destroyed a brand new C150 while low flying when it hit pylon power cables and was somersaulted into a field.

remove snow

My favourite dual story however is the instructor and student from the Woodvale Aero Club who spent 18 hours on the top of a Lake District mountain after accidentally hitting it while in cloud. That must qualify as the longest ever Exercise 4 Effects of Controls lesson and the only time a PPL student has qualified for a Duke of Edinburgh award after leaving home thinking all he would be paying for was a flying lesson. It’s at times like these that you really hope that the first aid kit has more inside it than just the instructions and a safety pin. You do check it before each flight don’t you? Sorry, there I go again sounding like a real flying instructor.

However nothing can surpass Shobdon’s legendary ‘mines a pint’ CFI, ‘Woodie’ in the 70s who sent Fred Smith on a solo cross country to O/H Staverton and return, a 1 hour cross country 1 hour before it was due to get dark. Fred landed 3 hours 20 minutes later in the dark at Manchester International airport non radio thinking it was Birmingham until they arrested him. Not many students can say they have completed most of the night rating course after an intended daytime local area rejoin navigational exercise. Fred’s off track error after 30 mins flying was eventually 88 nautical miles, try solving that with the one in sixty rule but don’t forget you’re never lost until the circle of uncertainty is larger than the map in the cockpit! Freds nav log, by the way, which I later found, had only two pieces of information written on it -Shobdon 123.5 & Staverton 122.9-he called neither as he didn’t fully understand how to change frequency! He later told me that when he eventually found the cockpit lighting he was at an altitude of 12,000 feet (obviously in the airways).

PPL’s of course can be legendary too, Distress & Diversion spent a good hour once trying to locate a lost pilot in southern England on a simple home counties cross country to eventually find him in Northern France. See now why its a good idea to always carry your passport, a lucky cats paw and some Euros?


I see Irv lee is in print again about avoiding controlled airspace in the latest edition of the CAA’s ‘Clued Up’ magazine – (available online now)

I can never understand why some instructors spend so much time trying to teach students navigation procedures which take them close to CA. How about teaching them common sense procedures that take them away from it such as mine. Define a 10 nm exclusion zone from CA and stay away from the boundary whenever possible! An extra 5 nm on track and a two sector avoiding leg is better than closing down a control zone and a big fine or worse! Have you ever noticed that those who fall into rivers do so because they walk too close to the edge! Have you ever heard that phrase that I think came from WW2, ‘Is Your Journey Really Necessary’? I am going to modify that for flying:


Go onto Sky Demon light and put in a cross country from Shobdon to Coventry and notice how close that goes into the Bham CTZ Now put in Shobdon to Stratford upon Avon to Coventry, it puts 5 nm on the total distance but look at the safety buffer it gives you against penetrating that zone! If you want to do it belt and braces go from Stratford upon Avon to the VRP at Draycot Water. That ‘verging on the ridiculous’ avoidance is a mere 14 nm longer, hardly epic is it! I should add of course that around this area the Bham CTA starts at 1500ft and is the one of the most widely pieces of penetrated airspaces in the country so do consider what airspace is above you as well as your altimeter setting.

Flying schools could do much more to help CA avoidance by conducting the strict teaching of local controlled airspace avoidance and compliance when dual cross country flying rather than choosing bizarre routes and sometimes destinations that serve no useful post PPL purpose. All this sort of stuff is basic threat and error management which flying schools are supposed to be teaching but as very few even seem to understand what TEM is they are hardly likely to be teaching it I suppose.

The last instructor seminar I went to had little information on TEM but included a section on aerobatics which to me just proves how this section of the industry is completely disjointed and has lost its way. Also the instructor representing the CAA talked about lost procedures near controlled airspace but at no time mentioned that one of the most useful first priorities might be to consider calling the relevant controlling ATC unit! You can tell pilots till you are blue in the face to call 121.5 to solve the problem but pride and post flight stigma may well prevent a declaration of being lost on the national distress frequency. The failure of instructors to understand basic human nature at times is quite disappointing.
If of course you are anywhere near CA you should be considering listening out on the appropriate frequency and letting the controller know you are on frequency by adopting a listening squawk. Single crew Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) is about using all the resources you have and including ATC as part of your onboard team. This is why listening squawks are essential-here are all the latest

0010 Birmingham 118.050 MHz
0011 Solent / Bournemouth 120.225 MHz / 119.475 MHz respectively
0012 Thames Radar/Gatwick 132.7 MHz / 126.825 MHz respectively
0013 Luton / Stansted 129.550 MHz / 120.625 MHz respectively
2677 Leeds Radar, 133.125 MHz
4572 East Midlands Approach 134.175 MHz
4572 Farnborough Radar (West) 125.250 MHz
6170 Doncaster Approach 126.225 MHz
7045 Aldergrove Approach 128.5 MHz
7366 Manchester 118.575 MHz
(Yes, 4572 is used for two different units.) Remember usual rules apply, you are not in receipt of a service and you must stay in Class G airspace, you cannot enter the CTA or CTR. Go back to another suitable squawk (eg: 7000-C) when you move away from the area or stop monitoring.

The internet is awash with useful information and vids, here are a few of my favourites

This is one of the best AOPA educational vids I’ve seen, watch it at least twice to gain max benefit. What would you do on base leg faced with this problem? I would have gone around from base leg, a standard RAF circuit manoeuvre seemingly unknown to civilian pilots. A few years back this very problem occurred at Coventry and both a/c had a fatal mid air.

Understanding that a 60 degree level turn will produce a 41% increase in stall speed is paramount to making any steep avoiding turn. Too many pilots concentrate on into circuit lookout because that’s the way you are going!. Turn your head the other way too! Its the traffic coming from the out of circuit direction that poses the most threat, think about it! Always consider in a circuit that if you do something non standard something very non standard is likely to happen to you-in this pilots case it was his death along with two passengers, all totally avoidable by following standard operating procedures with TEM and SA.

To quote one instructor, No need to practice Fire On The Ground its common sense, thankfully the guy that pulled this pilot out of the burning Cessna was a trained professional not sharing that view!!

There are an awful lot of aircraft in UK controlled airspace have a look,-0.78/7

What a watch, if you are stuck for my Christmas present here it is!

Age of the Jet – part one from an excellent two part series. This is a must if you are interested in the last glory days of the British aircraft industry!_When_Britain_Ruled_the_Skies_Military_Marvels/

Piper PA-32R-301 Saratoga SP, G-BJCW 10-13.pdf (473.56 kb),%20G-BJCW%2010-13.pdf

Yes one or two have asked when I am going to give a reply, I know its been slow coming. I will complete it in January honest!

Thanks for all your input, some unprintable and you know who you are! I did love the one that said, “ Why should I try and solve a taxy incident at Humberside, I would rather have an ice cold enema than go to Humberside”! Personally I think you are being a bit unkind. I have to say that because Jetstream Operator Jon Ibbotson from Links Air is on this mailing list! I spent a very enjoyable month teaching a FIC course with Frank Morgan at Humberside in the 80s one of the nicest gentlemen instructors I have ever met.(RIP Frank)
Anyway I digress, if anyone would still like to offer their version of events please do so before the closing date of 31st December(its to give you something to think about over Xmas)

This is the question I asked
From the information presented on the AAIB bulletin can you:
Understand the path the a/c took and how it came to strike the sign?
Can you see any problems, errors in regard to the complete incident (there are quite a few)?
Add anything to this bulletin, advice, comments etc-its a situational awareness and threat and error classic!
Get thinking and have a very happy Christmas and New Year and remember:

If at first you do not succeed, sky diving is not for you!

JP – December 23rd 2013