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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
SW Aviator Magazine is available in print free at FBOs and aviation-related businesses throughout the Southwest or by subscription.
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Airplane speed is not as readily apparent when you look out the window as speed on the ground, but it is there, and it can be just as deadly if you are not in total control.
By Jim Trusty

Two Hundred-Knot Airplane Meets 90-Knot Mind. A scary movie? No, it’s called a transition, a checkout, and as the pilot told me, “It’s just something the insurance company requires.” Good for them, I thought.
Learning to fly calls into use, sometimes for the first time, a few particular skills. They can be lumped under several categories like hand to eye coordination, motor skills, anticipation, preparation, and what we pilots call “Getting ahead of the airplane.” As an instructor, I am thrilled when I get a student who rides a motorcycle or a Jet Ski, drives a racecar, or a multitude of other things that require the use of your mind and hands in making quick decisions.
This transition, as it is called, has now reached such a level that an instructor could make a living from it alone. Using just one example naming an airplane we are all familiar with, transition to one of the new fast Mooneys is 25 hours of training with an instructor. And this takes us to my latest victim who sold his Warrior and got a Mooney 252 (capable of doing 252 miles per hour).
On the first trip we had already accomplished some very fast steep turns, slow flight at 160 MPH, and a stall that he recognized and I missed; now we were about to finish with a few touch and goes. While on downwind I noticed we were doing 150 MPH. I asked him what gear down speed was, or approach, or any of those V things that were safely tucked away in the back of the Mooney in “The Flight Manual.” Receiving no verbal response, but in the time it took him to think and take a look at me, we were on an extended downwind and being asked by the Tower if we were still going to land.
I answered for him by saying, “Not this time. Thank you, though, for being concerned.”
We left the pattern to regain some composure, and I asked him to take us to a nearby VOR airport and shoot the approach. This would give us some extra time to work on speed management. He immediately started to work on his panel with GPS, HSI, Auto Pilot, two VOR Heads, ADF, Fuel Management System, and an elaborate Flight Director of some kind. I was sure it had all come out of a “Star Wars” movie. After traveling 34 nautical miles with him heavy on that panel, cursing, explaining, redoing, I told him that we were seven miles past the airport and 12 miles to the right. My equipment (two eyes) showed us right over the city that the airport is named after, and it just happens to be, according to the chart, 27 DME from our home base and 12 miles that-a-way.
“Well, it’s all new to me,” he said, and I had picked an airport that was not readily available in his data bank. I told him, “Okay, take me back to home base and let’s do one or two soft field landings and takeoffs.” While all this is taking place, we have traveled 19 miles further away from civilization, and while he had been talking, I had finally gone through the entire fuse bank and found the two that I wanted, Panel Avionics and Landing Gear.
As I pointed and he looked, both fuses were pulled and all got real quiet. Not wanting to leave our state completely, I told him to turn 180 degrees so we at least would be headed toward something recognizable to me. Now in a total dither, banking, cursing, flipping, turning, and more cursing, nothing worked but the Compass and the Turn & Bank Coordinator.
“We’ll never make it back!” he said. I said, “What do you mean ‘we’?”
We did make it back and sure enough, he threw the gear handle, talked on the radio, no GUMPS, no look at the floor indicator, and still doing about 140 when he announced, “Speed Brakes coming out.” As I slid forward under the seat belt and out of my seat, he turned left base at 140 and I said that maybe we should do GUMPS now. “Too close to the runway for small details,” he said. I then told him (and I really like to do this), “Your gear is NOT down!”
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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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