Tag Archives: aviation

Surviving the Crash

This morning a little girl is lucky to be alive after her and her father went down in a small aircraft this weekend. She came out in good condition with only minor injuries. Unfortunately her daddy did not survive.

One of my fears is going down in an aircraft with Abby. We train so that we know what to do if something happens to me.

One of my fears is going down in an aircraft with Abby. We train so that we know what to do if something happens to me.

As a private pilot who travels with his daughter, this is the scenario that scares me. Often where we fly, we do not have cell reception like they did in this weekend’s case. Often, a survivor of back country aircraft accidents are  seriously injured and do not have immediate means for reaching the outside world. In many cases even if in cell range, phones are either lost, trapped, or damaged upon impact.

Abby and I have trained specifically for this scenario. Not only do we keep a survival kit in the plane, but each of us has a PSK (Personal Survival Kit) on us, so that if we or one of us escapes with just what we have on us- we have as a minimum the basics to survive. In addition, Adventure IQ offers aviation specific training to back country pilots and FREE training to General Aviation (non-commercial rated) Pilots. All they have to do is book with us.

Hard skills are just part of it. We also train the best we can for PMA- Positive Mental Attitude- this means training by herself on cold, wet, and rainy days with me observing from a distance.

Hard skills are just part of it. We also train the best we can for PMA- Positive Mental Attitude- this means training by herself on cold, wet, and rainy days with me observing from a distance.

We have the basics of what goes into a kit here.

For the PSK- it should be small and compact. A fly fishing vest is a great place to store all this stuff. Propper even has a tactical vest that we have been using in the back country for close to a year now and holds a decent amount of gear comfortably.

This is a sad case and hope my kiddo never ha s to face it. If you fly, please book training with us for both you and your family.

Here is the original article from this weekend’s crash

Top Gun – I Feel the Need for Speed

Another geek confession. I loved Top Gun. I saw it 26 times in the span of three weeks. Most pilots over the age of 40 remembers Top Gun. This was the 1986 blockbuster with Tom Cruise that encouraged many people to learn to fly. I was one. Though it was something I had wanted to do before, but the movie sent me over the edge. I took initial lessons, joined Civil Air Patrol, talked to professional liars (military recruiters).

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 I naively joined the Air Force thinking this would be my path to flying, in both the military and general aviation. I didn’t realize at the time I would spend my career in the field, eating MREs, and only talking to pilots.

Fast forward and the movie has been re-mastered in 3-D and will return to about 300 IMAX theaters beginning this Friday (Feb. 8) for a six-day engagement.

Though my love for Kelly McGillis has faded because she isn’t interested in my type, and Tom Cruise is a dweeb, Val Kilmer is fat, and Meg Ryan in her small role still makes my heart thump. But it still has Goose, AKA Anthony Edwards—who played Maverick’s back-seater/radar intercept officer. Edwards recently became a private pilot who drives a serious a Cirrus SR20.

The movie follows the story (kind of far-fetched at the end) of elite Navy Aviators competing to be the best in their air combat maneuvering class. The blockbuster earned more than $300 million in box offices worldwide. It can be corny, and if you forget everything you know about military discipline, aviation, and beach volleyball, it’s a great movie. Plus the Navy has always been great at allowing Hollywood access to ships, planes, and other aspects that incorporate real footage.

Not sure yet which Imax theaters will feature, really hoping I get to see it in BOI and introduce my kiddo to one of my own influences in becoming a pilot.

Breakfast in McCall

My two favorite things in life is breakfast with my kiddo and flying. Since becoming a pilot I have been able to pursue both of these interest together.

My 11 year-old and I have been going to breakfast together for one-on-one time since she was 18 months old. This weekly ritual has very few gaps in it. To date we have had an estimated 1500 hours of time spent with just each other. A great investment in her life as a Dad.

So it is without question that the first weekend after receiving my Private Pilot Certificate that she was not only my first passenger- but my passenger on the way to breakfast. Checking out a plane from our co-op and making a short trip from Nampa to Caldwell was one of the most memorable “first” for both of us.

We have now expanded that to other destinations for breakfast. Lately this has been flying into McCall for our weekly Daddy-Daughter time.

McCall was once a logging and sawmill town but is now an all-season tourist destination for outdoor recreation. The resort town is known for its Winter Carnival, extended winters, and the highest average snowfall in the state. It is simply a beautiful place to fly into.

Flying in from the Treasure Vally you experience breath taking views of the mountains. On the ground there are several local places offering breakfast and the people are very friendly.

If you would like to experience flying on your own, shoot me a note on Facebook, I know of a few ways to get you started.

Basic Survival Kit (Aviation)

The last two nights I have taught a mini-seminar for my aero club. One of the request was for a survival kit list. After not finding one on my own website ( I was sure it was transferred … so I thought…) here is a basic kit. Most of this should be placed in the vest and the vest should be worn by the pilot. Auxiliary items such as fleece jacket/shirt and the 70 oz of water should be in a pack in the back of the plane.

The reason the vest is worn is in case the crew has to egress the aircraft and either cannot get to the survival bag or is too injured to do so. (Imagine trying to crawl over the back seat of a 172 and digging around for a bag with busted up ribs, etc)

Below id the basic list of we went through in class– and with all list like this– modify to your needs, experience, and terrain and weather you are flying in. Additionally if you have passengers, you will want to increase these items as needed.

  • Signaling
    • Whistle
    • Mirror
    • Strobe
    • Smoke
  • Shelter
    • Space Blanket (red or orange)
    • 25’ Para Cord
  • Fire Kit
    • Striker
    • Tinder
    • Cotton Balls/ Dryer Lint
    • Rubber Inner-tube (1×3)
    • Candles
  • First Aid Kit
  • Navigation
    • Map
    • Compass
    • GPS
  • Water
    • Minimum 70 oz
    • Ceramic Filter
    • Puri Tabs
  • Head Gear (fleece hat and/or boonie hat- should be hunter orange)
  • Solid fuel tabs
  • Small metal cup
  • Power Bars/ Energy Bars
  • Air Force Survival Knife
  • Multi-tool
  • 50’ Para Cord
  • Light-weight fleece shirt
  • Lights
    • Head Lamp
    • Small Flash Light

 

Aviation survival is often focused on the aircraft mishap- and we often forget that a survival situation can begin simply when we fly into the back country on a Sunday afternoon and when leaving a beautiful grass strip we had to ourselves for the day…becomes a little more permanent when the battery dies or the starter fails.

Firepuck Demo and Review

As many of you know—I have been burned (no pun intended) by survival products I have purchased in the past. Sometimes the concept is great, works well in the lab, works well in limited field testing, fails when you really need it.

I am also conscious of where I spend my hard-earned dollars. Sometimes though I have to be aware that there are guys out there that may not have the same experience as me, so I have to think about the guy or gal who is new to the woods, is cold in the woods, or the person who pulls up to a camp site and has to get it quickly situated.

Okay, enough of the prelude, let me tell you about a product we strongly endorse… Firepuck.

This is by far one of the coolest things (there is that pun thing again) we have tested in a long time. I can start fires with everything from shotgun shells to belly button lint. If you have been to one of my seminars we do just that. I will still carry a couple of these. This is a great way to get a fire started whether you are a survival expert or the guy who has to start the fire pit in the backyard.

Starting with the stats, this thing burns at 1400 degrees.  To get a fire going you need oxygen, fuel, and heat. If your fuel source is wet it is going to be difficult to light. Put yourself in a situation where you are hypothermic and all sources are wet, you are in deep trouble if you can’t get a fire going. I won’t matter how many cotton balls you can light with flint and steel, wet fuel source means trouble. The advantage of the hot temps produced by the Firepuck is that not only does it provide quick ignition of your fuel source, it actually dries your source.

For our test I soaked seasoned pine in a 5 gallon bucket for approximately 60 hours. (I had intended to do it for only 48 hours, but got side- tracked so the wood stayed submerged and extra day.) I then used a modified Tee-Pee build for the fire with no other kindling. Please check out the video for more perspective.

The Firepuck is easy to use. It has a friction based ignition system integrated into the cap. It took me three attempts in the video to light it…this is because I was a pansy and was over-cautious. In reality, like all of you laughing at my failure in the video.  I was impressed with how concentrated the flame source was, a feature you want in high wind conditions. Unlike all those cotton balls I fill with petroleum jelly, this product is petroleum free.

One of the points made about the product is that it is not water proof. Honestly, there are not a lot of products that are truly waterproof that are this easy to use when it comes to fire starting. This can be made water proof though by using either a Mylar bag also sold by Firepuck or a Zipper style baggie. I am currently testing one in a zipper baggie with two small moisture tabs (designed to pull moisture out) and will test that next week. They are sitting in a backpack in the downpour we have been receiving off-and-on the past few days. They show no signs of taking on moisture at all.

What I like about this product is that you don’t have to be an expert to use it. It takes the guess-work out of staying alive. I would ensure that I don’t use it at the back end of my jeep, in doors as a gag, or substitute it for birthday candles. I also like that it does not leave residue like a road flare would, and for the same size of a flare, I can carry six of these.

I will be carrying these in my EMT/ Wilderness Rescue bag, survival bag, and in my vehicles. If you buy anything new to go into your survival or camping kit, this should be first on the list. I would also include this on a list of something to keep on hand for those back yard parties where you have a firepit. This is a no hassle way to get a fire going for your guest.

Checkout the video on YouTube

 Be sure to check out Firepuck at their website for more info.

Blinded By The Light

This one boils my skin. The stupidity of the action. The seemingly whimsical act that could have cost me my life. I take risk. I love adventure. I understand that there are things I do could have dire consequences in spite of what I do to reduce the risk. This is who I am and to take that from me is to take away the things that make me who I am. But when someone else introduces that risk, it’s a whole new world for me. One that I will seek justice.
Tuesday evening I was flying in the Nampa, Idaho area. I was doing my night time proficiency training. The FAA requires that I make 3 nighttime take-offs and landing every 90 days prior to carrying passengers. I was flying more out of my passion to do night flights and not so much for the reason I often carry friends around to see the lights at night.
At about 845 pm (2045 hours local) I departed the runway to do a “left closed pattern” or in other words, I left the runway, would make four precise left turns in the landing patter, land, bring the aircraft to a full stop, exit the runway to the taxiway, leave the taxiway to the take-off spot on the runway, and execute the maneuver all over again.
After my take off I executed my first two left turns and was now headed “downwind”. Aircraft take-off into the wind or “up wind”, I was flying the opposite direction of take-offs and landings. I was at the point where I have to begin my approach to landing sequence. This required me to reduce the throttle and allow the plane to slow down and begin my decent towards earth. Eventually making another two left turns that would bring me onto the smooth service of the runway.
It was just after I pulled the throttle back that I caught the first two flickers of a bright light in my eyes. It was green. It was a laser.
There are over 2000 incidents each year of pilots getting “lit up” or “tagged” with lasers. Ranging from simple hand-held pens to the kind used on rifle scopes and on occasion the ones you see at music concerts. They are extremely dangerous to a pilot. It can cause a pilot to be blinded and not able to fly. It can kill a pilot, his passengers, and people on the ground. I got hit with the kind of laser you find at a rock concert.
I immediately banked the plane out of the pattern. I threw the throttle to the fire wall and made a highly aggressive climbing right turn out of the pattern. I had to take a moment to make sure I was okay and that nothing was wrong with the aircraft. I also needed time to think.
I looked at several options. Fly back into the pattern as normal, bring the aircraft in from a different point and land, or leave the airport and proceed to another airport and land.
I knew I could not land the opposite direction because of the strong winds on the airfield already. The wind was only 10 knots, but it was blowing strait down the runway. I really didn’t want a 10-knot wind at my back while landing at night. I also knew there were no other aircraft in the pattern. I pretty much owned the skies. Instead I flew an evasive pattern away from the spot I had been tagged at and was able to land with the laser behind me. It was a little dicey, but completely safe.
I was overjoyed to know that I caught the incident on video. I was disappointed that I didn’t get the entire attack or replicate the intensity, but it did show that I had come in contact with a laser. If you want to see the attack, check it out on my youtube page
Please don’t be one of these morons. This is extremely dangerous to pilots and carries stiff criminal and civil liabilities. I was lucky that I took immediate evasive action. According to officials in some of my interviews with the FAA, the common mistake is the pilot fixates on the light source. I attribute my reflex to years of military training and operations. Once a soldier is shot at, he never thinks about ducking.

Passing of an Icon

I am not a believer I the adage “at least they died doing what they loved.” In fact I will throw the BS flag on this. I will chalk it up there with other non-sense such as “better to have loved and lost than not loved at all” and “all battle is glory”. I don’t believe in the final moments of tragedy anyone who embraces life to the fullest, feels that in any way. I love kayaking, but when it almost took my life 5-years ago, thoughts were with my wife and daughter and I was moments from never seeing again.

Sorry to start this blog off on such a negative tone, but I am dealing with the shock of loss. It is a sad day in the world of adventure. Someone I admired and had even worked on a few projects for, died this morning. Steve Appleton, a terrific CEO and a model for adventurers everywhere was killed in a small plane accident. I admit this is tough to swallow not only because I admired Steve, but as a pilot we all share a since of loss when we lose a fellow aviator. Steve had a passion for life and adventure. He raced motor cycles, baja cars, was a stunt pilot, and other incredible accomplishments.

Being in the world of adventure there is always a chance that someone will not return from something perceived as “risk”.  Not for a moment would I want to change myself or anyone else who is honestly adventurous and does things outside the norm. A great adventurer that will be missed. Yes, simply rambling at the moment.