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    « Free Pilot Study Courses Available for Young Eagles | Main | Buffalo FL 3407 Pilot's Original Employer Fined $1.3 Million by FAA »


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    Funny that the point flew over some people's heads (get it? flew over? har har)... to focus on eliminating a word from your vocabulary wasn't the issue at hand. "Probably" could be "maybe", "perhaps", or anything else. It's the -attitude- that Max is talking about here.

    Mark Fraser

    You are trying desperately to link breaking FAR's as a normal decision making process for pilots. CFII's that break regs (like your Luke Skywalker example) are irresponsible idiots, not rational decision makers. You also try to link irresponsible behavior like Russian Roulette with rational flight decision making based on "best outcome" of an action in a situation.

    Your argument reminds me of proponents of gun laws. Gun laws (like FAR's) don't stop idiots and they don't help already responsible rational people.

    As far as I can tell, you can't convert idiots so all the rest is preaching to the choir.

    Max Trescott

    Mark, I sure hope breaking FARs isn't normal for any pilot. My personal standard is to never knowing break an FAR; I hope others do the same. Regarding Russian Roulette, my point was that even a 99% probability of a favorable outcome--which is sufficient in many other areas of life--is totally inadequate for flying.

    I agree we cannot convert idiots. Hopefully we can give other pilots additional decision making tools early enough in their careers to prevents them from getting into trouble. I think there are licensed pilots who were never told of the risks of say, flying in the mountains, IFR, at night. That doesn't make them idiots (though perhaps they lack curiosity to have not figured that out), but it does indicate that we have a pilot training system which sometimes fails to give pilots all of the tools they need to become safe pilots. Sadly, a lot of training is geared to meeting the minimums standards outlined by the PTS. But the PTS barely addresses decision making and judgment. Yet these factors address 80% of all accidents. So yes, some idiots can never be helped. But many newly minted and even experienced pilots can learn a few new tunes while being preached to in the choir.


    Mr Trescott:
    I just read your 'probably' article concerning a crosswind takeoff at max demonstrated velocity.
    As I understand it, Max Demonstrated Crosswind velocity is NOT a limitation, but rather the greatest crosswind available to be demonstrated during the certification process. The aircraft may be capable of much more, or only that much. Without reading the engineering reports a pilot cannot know.

    Also, it IS possible for more than half the pilots to 'be above average' mathematically. If for instance there were 10 pilots, and 9 of them scored 60points out of 100, and one scored 10, the average would be 55. 90% would be above average. You meant that only half could be above THE MEDIAN.

    Get 'em right, please.


    I am the chief flight instructor at a nice school in Northern Ca. I try my best to teach students the proper ways to fly and to manage risk the best the can by remembering to fly the airplane, not panic, and to always have a backup plan.
    With this in mind, a student cancelled her private pilot checkride because of winds. She said she was not comfortable and did not want to risk failing the checkride and possible damage to the aircraft. Demonstrated crosswind for the Cessna 172N is 15 knots. Crosswind at the airport at the time her checkride was to take place exceeded that limit. I praised her decision not to go as did her flight instructor. Problem started when to owner of the school complained and questioned me as to why the student did not want to take her checkride. I simply stated that it was her decision and the reason she gave. After all, she is pilot in command. I was berated for not in some way forcing this student to take her checkride. What would I be teaching this student and her flight instructor in doing so? That's it's OK to risk running off the runway and damaging the aircraft just so you can take your checkride? I don't think so. I will always stand by a persons decision not to fly. Weather environment changes. Things will change. In this case, why take the risk.
    Your article was great. Drove my point home.

    Howard Williams

    Great Article Max! I'm a CFI in Houston, TX. When planning a lesson with a student and we say we can 'probably' do this, then we do something else, probably doesn't cut in aviation. And for those who wish to take everything out of context or really disagree with this concept, I just hope you are not the subject of the next NTSB investigation or make the next issue of IFR!

    Max Trescott

    RJ, Good for you! CFIs should always stand up for what they know to be right, even if the boss doesn't want to hear it. Candidly, that's what you're being paid for--to teach good judgment, to exercise it yourself and to defend that good judgment when others may try to trample upon it.
    Howard, as a well known airline pilot and author wrote to me today, “How will this look at the hearing when you are sitting at the end of the long table and everyone else has a glass of water?” A great phrase I'll try to remember the next time I even contemplate doing something unwise.
    McGowan, you challenged me to "Get 'em right" and I contend that I did. No where in the article did I use the word limitation. Median is a type of average so it's not incorrect to use the term average in this context (though I admit, median would have been more accurate, which was the type of average I was thinking of). Of course you did exactly the same thing in your comment--you used the word average while describing "the mean." However if we used the mean, if every pilot scored a 100 we would all be perfect pilots, which isn't a very useful concept. Using the median is a far more useful concept, since half the pilots will always better than the other half. That 80% of the pilots think they're above average suggests that 30% of them have overestimated their skills, which could lead some of them to overestimate their ability to handle difficult situations.

    MJ Renolds

    Max: "my point was that even a 99% probability of a favorable outcome--which is sufficient in many other areas of life--is totally inadequate for flying."

    Me: If 99% is TOTALLY inadequate for decision making in General Aviation by amateur pilots then you are at odds with the FAA and the entire FAR Part 91. Even FAA acceptable scores for pilot certification are not issued only when a student scores ABOVE the 99 percentile.

    I hate to say it, but the FAA is being realistic and reasonable when it comes to regulating amateur aviation flight operations. You're not.

    Max Trescott

    MJ, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. I wasn't talking about the passing grade required to get a pilot license. 99% is of course more than adequate. I'm was talking about in-flight decision making--something which the PTS doesn't test very well. My point is that if in flight, you make a decision which has only a 99% probability of success, than on one out of every one hundred such flights, you will have an accident--which is totally unacceptable in my mind.

    Howard N LaPierre


    Another way of saying it is: "If you think you can make it, you have made your first mistake"


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