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Gray Beard do's/don'ts for newbies

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Well-known member
Jan 11, 2002

We've earned the required ratings, instructed at the local FBO and have managed to stay alive. Our logbook is falling apart, but shows a fair amount of flight time and we have gained enough experience to be hired by a regional, cargo op, or major ( yes, just go along with it <grin> )

Those of you who have been there / done that.. what advice, the do's and don't, would you give to the hungry to fly newbies who love aviation and wouldn't want to do anything else...as you look back on the good and bad decisions you've made.

IE: flying poor aircraft / certain things to look for with a particular aircraft, how CRM really works, helpful hints in cockpit management/house cleaning, how to break the ice with really tough captains/flight crew, 401K, interview/sim items, logging time, to get/not to get a type rating on our own, hotel tricks (planning next flight, washing clothes, stealing pens, etc ) etc etc.

Thank you for sharing your experiences..

A1FlyBoy:) :eek: :D
My biggest piece of safety advice would be DO NOT RUSH, EVER!
Don't let ATC, passengers, bosses or yourself rush you in any phase of a flight, whether it is planning, taxiing, enroute, whatever...

One time in 135, I tried to save a little time by going on memory instead of pulling out a freakin' low chart before a particular departure. I almost got myself into a world of hurt both physically and professionally. The FAA ended up leaving me alone on the matter, but the occurrence had its effects, both positive and negative.

Read the NTSB page. Listen to other pilots' stories. Learn from others' mistakes.

I'll bite on a couple points...

Flying poor aircraft:

Most aspiring professional pilots will fly an aircraft that only its mother could love. I taught in some airplanes with torn up interiors that smelled somewhere between spilled coffee and vomit. The paint left something to be desired, and every plastic or fiberglass trim piece had 10-11 stop drills in it. That's OK. My advice is... take the time to learn the airplane, and learn the regs. Never fly an airplane that is unsafe or not legal. It's not worth your life or your certificates. If your employer ever asks you to fly an unsafe or illegal plane, refuse to do so. If they pressure you further, quit and work for an employer that takes better care of their planes, or at least respects your PIC authority.

How CRM really works:

I am on furlough, and I just went and flew an AST 300 after not having flown on instruments in several months. I realized how fast you become rusty, and also how much the workload is decreased by having another pilot there to keep an eye on things, and perform all those menial tasks like move the lever that turns those little green lights on. All in all, I'd say it works pretty well if it's done right.
I haven't flown tens of thousands of hours, but I can add one piece of advice.

I was working my first 135 cargo job. It was with a fairly large check-hauling operation that has a great reputation. One night, my second-to-last leg of the night was to fly into an airport that had no deicing fluid at all, and the field was calling freezing fog. The only person on the field was my courier and the FBO clerk who was asleep. Now mind you, most 135 pilots probably came from flight instruction or similar flying backgrounds. I myself had never flown in freezing fog up to this point. I had plenty of experience with inflight icing, but nothing yet actually on the airport. The only experience that I had to call upon is driving a car in those kinds of conditions, and then trying to translate that into a scenario with an airplane.

With so many strikes against this flight just to pick up 1 bag of checks, I decided to make the decision to cancel the flight. There were no other airports that the courier could make it to, and I had no idea what the freezing fog would have done to the airplane (i.e would I become a flying cube of ice, would I only get a trace of ice, would I be able to clean-off the airplane manually before T/O?, etc.) After telling dispatch of my decision, they supported me and had the bag airlined-out a couple of hours later.

Moral of the story: don't ever let anyone pressure you to take a flight. There is no cargo or passenger that is that important that you can't cancel a flight. Make an informed decision based upon the facts (wx, a/c capabilities, airport capabilities, etc.) and stand your ground. If you can change airports, then great. But, if you don't feel safe, STAY ON THE GROUND! There have been too many dead pilots who think they are invincible that are now "pushing up daisies" that would be alive if they just stayed on the ground.
Don't let anyone strong arm you into doing something you either know is not right or safe!! The pressure is real and can come from many places. A stubborn captain that just wants to go, dispatch telling you to go now or the flight will have to cancel, does my release REALLLLLY call for the appropriate fuel load for the current weather?? The possibilites are endless and to be honest, I was burned a couple times as a new F/O and when I was a fresh captain. I chalk them up as learning experiences. Anyways, be assertive and stand your ground.:) :)
.02 Advice

Here are my thoughts, in terms of importance.

1. Safety.

1(a). Your certificates. Don't do anything that would jeopardize your certificates. Losing a job suxx. A certificate action, of any kind, will suck even more.

1(b). Your reputation. This business can force people into doing things that are, at best, untoward, and at worst, out and out criminal. Don't succumb to temptation. Chances are, if something sounds shady it probably is. Injuries to your person can heal. Injuries to your reputation are irreparable.

2. Try to get along with people. If you don't know how to get along with people by now, it's time to learn. Be humble. As a pilot, you need the goodwill of others. You may be more intelligent than the rest of the universe and the greatest pilot to boot. If both are true, you know it already and you don't need to remind others of these "facts."

3. In line with No. 2, you can always become a better pilot. Polish your skills to better than standards. Learn as much as you can. I found that every day I flew I learned something new, even if it was just a nuance on the same-old, same-old. Don't stop reading. There is always a weak area of knowledge you can shore up.

4. A certain amount of independence is desirable in a pilot. However, you should follow the rules; they're usually right.

5. Further to No. 4, learn Aeronautical Decision Making, the Five Hazardous Attitudes and their antidotes.

Antiauthority: Don't tell me.

Antidote: Follow the rules. They are usually right

Impulsivity: Do something quickly.

Antidote: Not so fast. Think first

Invulnerability: It won't happen to me.

Antidote: It could happen to me.

Macho: I can do it.

Antidote: Taking chances is foolish.

Resignation: What's the use?

Antidote: I'm not helpless. I can make a difference.

AC60-22, http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/Ac60-22.html.

Lots of luck as you build your career.
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Don't piss off mechanics, receptionists, dispatchers, flight attendants, or your wife, not necessarily in that order.

Fly the airplane until you are out of breath, or in the car going home. Never stop.

Never stay in a hotel where you can smell curry when you enter the lobby.

When landing on an icy/contaminated runway, always slow to the point you must add power to taxi clear. Never let the airplane roll clear under it's own inertia.

Don't piss off the FAA.

Remember that your family is more important than your job.

You can never study too much, or learn enough about your craft, your airplane, and yourself.

The day you stop learning, is the day you start dying. Don't forget that, ever.

There is no such thing as "skirting" a thunderstorm. You can never be too far from a cell.

Watch out for cold fronts.

No matter how attractive a flight attendant, it's your wife who loves you. Don't lose sight.

Kids are important. Get some, love them. Let them know it.

Never bust minimums. Period. Set personal flight rules (PFR's) and live by them. Remember that the FAR's are minimums. You must at least stay within them, but there is nothing that says you can't be more conservative.

Some things are safe, but not legal. Some things are legal, but not safe. If it isn't safe, AND legal, the flight doesn't go.

Things always look darkest, just before they go totally black.

In a time of rising unemployment, furloughs, divorce, and calamity, remember that you were alive and kicking before things turned south, and if you keep your head about you, you'll be alive and happy for it long after. This too shall pass.

Tune AND identify. Always.

Don't drink the water.

Always carry mouthwash, antacid, and dental floss in your flight bag.

No matter what anyone says, the person who invented the leatherman was inspired by God, and the leatherman should be required equipment for every pilot, mechanic, and child over the age of three.

Eat your vegetables. Your mother was right.

Don't eat yellow snow. You're mother is still right.

Always have an "out."
One more thing to add to that.

Remember no matter how bad a day of flying you have had DO NOT drink the isopropyl, they may call it alcohol but it just isn't the same as a shot of Vodka.
Make sure you listen to your co-pilot. He is there for a reason. If he says anything with regard to your present situation in flight, there is probably a **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** good reason for it. So don't ignore him because you feel you know the airplane better than anybody. And the same thing applies to you as a co-pilot. If you feel uncomfortable with something, then by golly let your captain know. If he is a decent pilot then he will take whatever you say into consideration.

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