OK, back from my break for dinner, and some TV...
A person gets their Private license, and with plenty of money available, they can continue to rent airplanes, get more dual instruction, whatever.
Basic Instrument techniques are taught in Primary training...it is important, once the basics of VFR become entrenched, that at least a little of some
'hood' time (a device on the student's head to restrict his view to just the instrument panel) is taught, in order to convey how disoriented one
can be, with a loss of outside visual reference, and to teach the basic instrument scan, commonly called the 'T' scan...in a light airplane, A/S
indicator upper left, A/I center top, altimeter upper right, DG or HSI, depending on quality of the equipment, just below the A/I. The VSI (IVSI in a
modern jet) is just below the altimeter.
'course, anything mentioned here could be seen by anyone who has taken a look at PC-based flight simulator programs, so it's not big news...maybe
just a little more background terminology for y'all.
Remember, unlike a desktop PC, a real airplane will not 'freeze' in flight, and your inner ear will fool you if you lose the natural horizon and
cannot relate to the intrument info...that's why it's valuable to continue Instrument training, where you not only learn to intrepret and rely on
instruments (and learn to recognize when one or more are giving false info...we call that 'partial panel' training) but you also learn much more
about communications, navigation in the ATC environment...how to read and intrepret STARS, SIDS, and Approach Charts...most common 800-pound Gorilla
in the room nowadays is the Jeppesen company, publishers of these pages in a handy 6 by 9 inch, or so, seven-hole (or nine-hole, I never counted...)
punched format to conveniently fit into a nice leather binder. Better than the ones issued by the US Military...
So, to get an Instrument rating, you learn how to file IFR flight plans, read back clearances, plan IFR flights...you learn what a holding pattern is,
how to conduct an ILS approach, a Localizer approach, a VOR approach, an NDB approach...(NDBs going away, GPS is more prevalent now) but you still
have to understand weather minima, for the various approaches. Yu have to learn about offset Localizers (LDA) approaches...'circling approaches',
if that will apply to the airport and the runway you are 'shooting' the approach to...oh, and did I mention that this is now a pre-requisite, I
believe, along with completing a written test (70% passing grade), an oral and a practical check ride.
Some may say..."Hey! That takes a really good knowledge of the English language!"
[edit in] I meant to add here, before I talk about the 'lexicon' in aviation, that passing a written test today can be helped by buying classes that
'help' you 'pass' the test. There are only about 100 questions in the official FAA test. These cram courses, for $300 or so, will show you about
600-700 possible questions, with answers...all gleaned from past applicants, and compiled and presented for anyone willing to spend two days and drop
a few hundred dollars to pass a test.....[end of edit]
Well, yes....and no...there are certain key words in the lexicon of aviation language that can be learned, and understood, simply by repetition and
example. A person whose first language is not English doesn't have to remember every time he uses the term "VOR" that it is an acronym for "VHF
Omni-directional Radio", or that ILS means 'Instrument Landing System'...you learn, you gain experience, and you tend to speak in the same
shorthand that everyone else in the aviation community speaks, and understands. Radio phraseology is standardized, and usually succinct.
Thick accents can cause short-term misunderstandings...I've flown in Asia, where you encounter various degrees of English ability, on the part of the
controllers, as well as in Europe and in South America. (Although English is supposed to be the "Int'l" language in aviation, you will find many
controllers will speak to pilots in their native language...it helps that I know a little Spanish, and a little French...but of course, I don't have
to know much because radio speak is limited, mostly, to certain phrases and you can infer what they are saying, based on observations and situational
If I hear, for instance, "Air France neuf deux trois, Paris, then [blah, blah, blah]" I know that the controller is telling AF923 to do
something...turn to a heading, climb, descend, whatever...and that stays in my head. I know if AF923 has been cleared to a waypoint ahead, or behind
me, because I have the arrival or departure Route, with all of the waypoints programmed in, right in front of me...and I have the TCAS, if the
airplane is within 40NM, so I know now which one it is...this is 'situational awareness'. (the preceeding mostly refers to the terminal area of an
airport, where it is most busy and separation standards are reduced from those at higher altiudes, in the enroute environment...).
This has turned into a two-part article, such as you may see in an aviation magazine...not that it couldn't do with some revisions by a good
Perhaps this should have been in the other thread, about the '''Impossibility of Flying Heavy Aircraft"...but I think the two threads are
I have tried to supply some background to educate some of you about what is involved in getting a Commercial license...and to get more than 250 hours!
This is not meant as a joke, it is serious....when I was a Flight Instructor, and after I had gotten to about the 1500 - 2000 hour level of
experience, I began to understand what people told me when I was a hotshot at 200 hours...I thought I knew EVERYTHING at 200 hours!! There is,
commonly, a period of accomplishment when you graduate from being overwhelmed by all the new information, to where you get a little bit big for your
britches. If you have lots of money, it can turn tragic. I only have to mention JFK Jr, or earlier, a golf pro (forget his name...Munson?) from the
late 1970s...There are no doubt others, not as famous, but nevertheless had more money than experience.
Is there a connection to 9/11? Well, history will tell. The main story seems to be, indeed, the Saudis had money, and they had just enough
experience...but, unike all the others I mentioned above, the Saudis had a death wish....more than that, they had a fervent fundamentalist mentality
that made them unafraid of death, in order to foment their sick plans.
Not to impugn anyone's religion here...but the story of 70 virgins waiting in the afterlife...what if, what IF! The 70 virgins are all 'comic book
guy' from the "Simpsons"?? Now, THAT would be irony...
Just an attempt to lighten up...but in no way is ANY disrespect meant, nor intended, to anyone who suffered from the events of 9/11. My heartfelt
feelings will now, and always will go out to anyone who lost loved ones. I had the privilege of attending a service for one of the victims, F/O David
Charlesbois, here in DC (AA77). If the second-to-last paragraph is thought to be in poor taste, then attribute it to my poor editing skills....
[edit on 11-2-2008 by weedwhacker]