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Your biggest ever mistake

The other day I flew for 2hrs at FL150-170 with the pitot heat turned off…

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Starting to upgrade my avionics

Nearly busting the London TMA on an easy 9 minute flight. When I say easy that was how I treated it. It was however at night, in very bad weather with strong winds and 300-500ft ceilings. Hence was too complacent.

EGTK Oxford

When flying home from my license test, called EBAW tower to politely inform them I would be skirting their CTR (absolutely forbidden territory to me!) while I actually was well inside. Luckily they must have turned a blind eye.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Taking wrong direction on take off at large airport – I must not tell which one maybe they still remember :)

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Aborting a takeoff on a grass runway too late.

Nothing happened, but the emotions “f***, why doesn’t it accelerate as it should” followed by the rapidly approaching end of the runway, while applying maximum breaking, meant I learned a lesson on that day.

The guy who was on duty at the (sleepy) airfield also learned a lesson, because he climbed on his tractor and quickly mowed the rather high grass before the next aircraft took off

LOAN Wiener Neustadt Ost, Austria

1) Buying into an aircraft share when prices were at their highest peak and very shortly before the recession hit the market and thus reduced costs. No regrets though as I’ve really benefited from being in a share group, just lost out financially. There was a time when aircraft held their value.

2) Not doing w&b with 3 passengers and almost full tanks. I struggled to get a comfortable climb rate and was only able to do so by raising the flaps quickly. Should have either tried to export some fuel into a container or left one passenger behind. I later worked out that I was just within limits but at the time the engine was near the end of its life and was not producing the power of an zero houred engine.

I once ended up at 140 kts when I wanted to be at 90 kts, descending gently towards terrain and not even realizing why… Transitioning to a new aircraft type and getting behind it. Dumb. Watch those little dials on the panel, they can be useful.

Re aircraft values and cost of ownership, a friend put it to me this way, and its stuck: the money you put into an aircraft is the price for the privilege of owning it for a period of its potentially infinite life. Hope the next guy does as good a job as you, and enjoys himself as much too. And the guy after him.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 23 Mar 17:18

I was in the initial climb into a Z flight plan with the whole family on board and a newly acquired instrument rating and had just received my IFR pickup. The S-TEC autopilot was setup for VS (vertical speed) when I lost contact with ATC. They wanted something from me and I failed to communicate and was trying to figure it out. In the meantime I had entered IMC and was climbing through convective weather. I didn’t notice that I got into a downdraft which caused the S-TEC trim the aircraft all the way nose up and eventually stall the aircraft. I was heads down fiddling with the radios, had just set 7600 as learned and was trying to determine how I could get back safe into VMC. I suddenly got the stall warning, a violent shaking of the stalled aircraft and a screaming family. When I took over the controls, the autopilot was still working against me and I was so stressed and confused that it took a while to disable it. Holding the totally nose-up trimmed aircraft was hardly possible and it took quite some effort to get things under control. A bit later I was receiving transmissions again and able to talk to ATC who only gave one comment “All right, now remove this 7600, it’s distracting”.

The communication loss was caused by strong electromagnetic activity of the convective weather and the S-TEC had no protection against setting an impossible vertical speed. I never again used VS mode in IMC climbs and was the first person to buy the freshly certified Avidyne DFC90 which has IAS climbs and envelope protection. It was the only unintentional stall in my career.

Not pre-flighting properly before going off to do stall test with an instructor. We had a CofG at the rearward limit and luckily the plane forgave us.
The lesson was that one should never assume that the other pilot has everything under control, regardless of who is in authority (P1 or P2).

Forever learning
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