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Guest RSmith

Investigative Reports on A&E

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Just a little informative bit for those of you who may not be aware. At 12:00 Midnight there is a set of "Investigative Reports" on A&E about aviation, the first one is about airline security post 9/11, and the second is titled "Flying Blind: Small Aircraft crashes". It was on before, so it appears to be a second showing. I managed to catch the last 10-15 minutes of the small aircraft one, and like all media representations of the aviation word, it was extremely misrepresented. From what I saw they were discussing the IFR hoods that pilots use for the training, and they seemed to portray them as though its standard procedure to use them. Just thought you might find it interesting.Scott

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Thanks! for the info. 12:00 in what time zone?Maybe I'll watch it but it only makes me angry because of how the media talks about Aviation. I remember a show called "Why Planes Crash" and all they kept oing on about was some conspiracy that planes crash becasue airlines don't care about people, only profit!!! How lame is that? Someone should ask them "If planes are so unsafe and airlines don't care about people then why is safer to fly then it is to drive?" I forgot what the ratio was for deaths per million or someting like that. The thing I hate most is when the people who make the show have absolutely no idea about Aviation and how it works. OK, Ranting is finished! Maybe I'll watch it.Take careMike

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Sorry bout that Mike, in my haste, I must have forgotten, its midnight CST. It starts in about 1 hour, and its bound to fit that profile of shows created by uneducated media. Though, it could make som interesting discussion here ;)Scott

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Hi ScottThe show was pretty interesting. Not as bad as the "Why Planes crash" one though. I don't agree with 2 things.1. The guy saying that guns in the cockpit are a bad idea. He said that having a gun distracts the pilots....how? If I was a pilot, I would feel much better knowing I have defence next to me against terrorists. I would say it adds to a sense of safety. What do others have to say about this?2. In the second part about "Flying Blind". Some guy said that the most common accident is flying into bad weather...What? Flying into bad weather and crashing because you don't know what to do is an accident. That's why I agree that IFR should be mandatory to PPL pilots. Also one guy said that it's safer to have VFR then to have both VFR and IFR. No way. VFR pilots fly into bad weather by mistake, or because mother nature is unpredictable and cruel to pilots...sometimes!, all the time and they would not crash if they had an IFR rating. The rest of the show was good, it saddened me to see that tragedy where the woman lost her husbabd and 4 children. :-(One thing that made me laugh..."the reason that most airports don't have the high-tech screening machines is because the floors are not strong enough to hold them" there were other reasons but that one is a poor excuse dont you think?Anyway, just my 2 cents.Take careMike

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Actually, I found it to be pretty interesting too. Amazingly, they did a fair amount of research rather than using wrong information. One thing that I found strange is that they seemed to insinuate that pilots never recieved any IFR training during the standard PPL training. If I recall, aren't night flights a part of the required FAA PPL course? And if so, isn't there a reasonable amount of IFR training in that to help a pilot stay alive during a situation where they managed to get stuck in low-vis? Just a few of my concerns, but I do agree that the floors part was pretty funny. Scott

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Hi ScottHere in Canada there is no night flying for the PPL as far as I can recall. But limited IFR is taught in the PPL in any country. They teach you enough to get out of situations. The teenager in the show did not have a PPL yet but he was doing IFR with his instructor.Anyway, the show was better then I expected. Thanks for telling us about it.Take careMike

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Well, for each topic - guess there are always (2) views..... :-))I didn't care for the show. I thought it was a very superficial, and a somewhat demeaning report on the actual training process, the aircraft maintenance requirements, and the professionals in the GA field. Statistics were scewed, slanted, and abbreviated, to support the show's "danger element" - the main TV / viewer attraction for the feature. Comments like - "these planes are old - real old - and using carberators that modern cars don't even use anymore"...... geeeze....... aircraft carbs. have always been different than automobile versions. And what car uses a carburator anymore - anyhow -Just found the inference that all the GA equipment was model "T" vintage a bit distorted. They didnt even touch on the professionals that conduct "regulated" overhauls & inspections..... And, further, in contrast to there report - and widely available information - GA aircraft stress tests - have shown over & over - that properly maintained aircraft have very long life spans - without any fatique crisis to speak of...... Those tests are followed - so that airframes beyond the tested limit - are in fact, renovated, refitted, or retired. Didn't here any of that - just that "old planes flying will have their wings fall off".......The file footage of the landings were a joke - in my opinion. Singles and small twins - looking like they were under control by a 15 hour newbie, with a 8 kt. cross wind. Planes were fluttering and wiggling all over the place - two bouncers were good - some went for three or four...... I've had many that look like that - but most landings are much better, smooth, and comfortable...... Wonder how longthe camera crew had to wait for those landings..... or ..... was the pilot "contracted" ????The tragic crash stories were sad, and yes, we do have accidents in GA. The repeated comparison, though, to airline statistics was inaccurate - but often - widely used. How can GA compete with airlines - which carry hundreds of passengers per flight - GA usually carries 2-3-4..... You would need to have a 99.999999 % perfect flight history - over many decades - to compare that statistic (safe # passenger's /flight) to the airline industry - just due to the mere #'s of passengers carried per flight.I don't mind statistical analysis, but in reality - comparisons should be made with other forms of transportation as well. No mode of transport is 100%...... I just felt they exagerated the "risk" of most GA flights - and the competence of GAand Commercial (GA aircraft)pilots. Most are very careful, cautious, and safe. They made it sound like (to me) we were a bunch of cowboys, using lawn mower engines on wings attached with rubber bands - and routinely disregard all safety procedures, as well as the weather.And, another tragic story - but used again last night - was the John Denver crash. Bad mistake, John made. Fuel is necessary to fly. But, that crash is really not reflective on GA overall. Experimental, high performance aircraft and flights, represent less than 1% of GA. They made it sound like it was a typical - crash caused by equipment failure....... nope.I.R. - (again - to me) - used this subject to commercialize another mystical cover story - knowing that people always are "'shocked" and "drawn" to aircraft accidents. I really felt, watching this show, that I was being taken advantage of - for "TV ratings" purposes..... In "IR's" defense - most of there previous shows, I enjoyed. This one, I did not. For more accurate aviation stories, I routinely watch Disovery "Wings"..... or read the GA magazines......Boy, hope I.R. never comes to do a story about my other hobby - Mountain Biking. They will present that like a 50/50 "do or die" sport !Ron

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There are no statistics to record how often VFR pilots inadvertantly fly into IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) and successfully escape, because of course it is not reported. I've done it myself on a hazy day where the ceiling was sloped and we flew into the clouds. Because of the haze you could not see the cloud bases. A 180 degree turn as I was taught, and all private pilots are taught, quickly got me back to the VFR conditions where I came from. This sort of thing happens all the time.A simple 180 degree turn is not rocket science, and certainly does not require an IFR rating. Three hours of simulated instrument conditions are required by the FAA for the PPL. Unfortunately some pilots never get any recurrent instrument training with an instructor, but surely almost all pilots can execute a simple standard rate 180.The leading cause of GA accidents is not inadvertant encounter of IMC, but rather intentional continued flight into such conditions. The AOPA Aviation Safety Foundation reports:Two-thirds of the pilots had received weather briefings generally indicating that VFR was not recommended, and nearly 80 percent shunned a flight plan of any kind. This seems to indicate that the weather was not a surprise in most cases--and the risks taken were deliberate. Very few of these accidents occurred on landing--the flights never made it that far. Most were lost en route, although nearly 15 percent either crashed on takeoff or during initial climb, where the danger was obvious before ever leaving the ground.You can read the full report at http://www.aopa.org/asf/asfarticles/sp9607.html. Also of interest is the 2000 Nall Report of GA accidents, http://www.aopa.org/asf/asfarticles/2001/sp0103.html.Obviously if you're going to be stupid, no amount of training is likely to save you.There's a lot to learn on the ASF web site. Pilots should definitely take time to poke around.

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I didn't like the comment "Babies teaching to fly babies" sheesh! is that what they think of instructors? It's degrading to them because they put so much into getting there and the media calls them babies.I agree with you, the best shows are on Discovery!Take careMike

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Ron, you made some really good points there. Personally, I agree about the statistics. I almost shouted out when I heard them say that "600 GA flights a year crash". I found it very interesting that they chose not to reveal taht millions of GA flights a year zip across the country. If you were to do the math on just 2 million flights, 600 crashes is still less than 0.06% of all flights a year. The way they portrayed all ga flights as "having an inherent danger" would imply that GA is a deathtrap even though it is not.I also agree about the landings, my perosnal favorite was when that Cessna 152 came in and bounced something like 7 times. I personally have been in a plane once and I could probably have pulled off a landing better than that. I agree that the majority of landings are much better, including when I was in a plane for a flight with the EAA Young Eagles, and despite a crosswind, the pilot managed to set us down smoothly and quickly without any hopping.Maybe one day we'll see a channel like Discovery Wings showing the true sides of general aviation, rather than the blasphemous reportings of the general media.Scott

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BrainC,Agree 100%.........Now, .... I'm a licensed PP, and I have - "in-fact" - on my "own accord & judgement" - made a mistake, and a bad one at that..... flying into weather beyond my capability. Lucky for me - I had (wisely) assured a seasoned IFR pilot was in the left seat, and I was enjoying (or trying to) a cool right seat flight - under an IFR plan, FULL IFR conditions + (the heavies were diverting), and ATC followed us all the way in..... they had to..... we were borderline..... and, we (obviously) made it.......But - the point with last night's program is - "Are PP / GA "Dangerous" or "Reckless"..... as they presented".... and, I say not.I made a judgement, we did all the checks, we had the "ratings" on board, and we made it - weather just made a nasty "left-turn" when we expected a "right"....... Bottom line - "I made the judgement".Yup - weather & judgement are the predominant factors. I think that's freedom, and nature. Training and licensing are inperative - but - please - don't take GA away from us !! That's where I felt Investigative Reports was heading......Have a good Wednesday, all....... Ron

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