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Rational Self-training

Brian Lloyd, Cameron Park, CA (
[Brian is a CFI, an engineer for Lucent, and a frequent contributor to the RV List.]

I thought that, in light of the current threads on training and transition, I would throw out some ideas that I try to impart to others with whom I fly.
How many of you have sat down and asked yourself:

1. The engine just quit; what do I do now?
2. The electrical system just quit; what do I do now?
3. The prop just failed, what do I do now?
4. I have a fire forward of the firewall; what do I do now?
5. I have a fire in the cockpit; what do I do now?
6. I have an apparent control failure in pitch, roll, yaw, or power; what do I do now?
7. I have to get out of this airplane in flight; what do I do now?
8. I have to get out of this airplane on the ground; what do I do now?
Think about it.  Build a picture in your mind.  Sit in your cockpit as you do this.  Go through the motions.  Try to think of more things that will impinge on the process and incorporate them into the process.

For instance, letís assume cockpit fire.  Can you turn off the fuel and ignition sources?  Can you reach your fire extinguisher?  (I would not consider an extinguisher in the back seat of a -4 or -8 to be accessible.)

A control failure in pitch may seem intractable, but you might discover you can fly the aircraft in pitch with the trim.  Can you do it?  Have you tried it?  You might decide, based on experience, that you could land the aircraft using pitch trim.  You also might decide that you canít.  But Iíll bet that, if you can get it really close to the ground in approximately landing attitude, your chance of survival is pretty good when you finally chop the power (even if the aircraftís isnít).

This type of training is training you can give yourself.  It may not be perfect.  You might not think of everything.  An instructor might think of something you have not though of.  But it is much better than getting surprised in flight and trying to think through the problem as the flames are consuming your lower extremities.

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