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The Reapers are Coming 

By Kris Wadolkowski, CFI


We’ve seen them on the news in action over Iraq and Afghanistan, now they’re coming to a neighborhood near you.  They are the MQ-9 Reapers.  Reapers are Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) used for surveillance and strike.  This summer, training operations for the MQ-9 are moving to March ARB.  Until now, this training has been conducted in restricted airspace in the high desert but these operations will now originate from March ARB.

The MQ-9 Reaper:   Their paint scheme intentionally makes them hard to see.

This means that there will be unmanned aircraft taking off from and landing at March as they fly to and from their training area in the R2515 complex. 

If you've seen the new ACS (Airmen Certification Standards) which will soon be replacing the Practical Test Standards, you may have noticed a new format for training and evaluating students. It focuses on three things: What a student must Know, Do, and Consider (as in Risk Management).
Under the area of Risk Management for the Emergency Approach and Landing, it lists "Managing startle response". Evidently this is an element the FAA wants us CFI's to address in training, and it will be included on checkrides. What is "startle response"? Why is it important to manage it? And how can it be managed?

This was an important topic that came into my inbox recently from the FAA.  It's a good quick read and worth some extra thought.

What is Loss of Control (LOC)?

A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen because the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and may quickly develop into a stall or spin.

These days, runway incursion avoidance is a big deal. The FAA is doing everything it can by educating pilots and controllers so we don’t run into one another on the ground. It’s such a safety priority that the FAA has made it a required task in the CFI PTS as well as dedicating an entire Appendix to the subject in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. I find that most pilots are not aware of the relatively new requirements for turning on their lights and transponders during ground operations. Sometimes this gets pointed out during check rides - which is not how most of us like to learn new things. The Airman’s Information Manual has also grown in space dedicated to the subject, the details of which can be found in AIM 4-3-20 and 4-3-23. Recently, the FAA issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) further clarifying the somewhat ambiguous language in the AIM regarding transponder operation on the ground. The safety alert can be found at http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/airline_safety/safo/all_safos/media/2015/SAFO15006.pdf

So here’s the short version for those who don’t enjoy reading FAA prose. Prior to taxi you should turn on the following (you did remember to turn your beacon/anti-collision lights on before engine start – right?

  • Transponder on set to altitude reporting
  • ADSB enabled (if equipped)
  • Taxi lights on
  • Strobe lights on (unless it would adversely affect vision of other pilots)
  • Navigation lights on

When crossing a runway and prior to beginning the takeoff roll, landing lights should be turned on.

Try this out on your next flight and make it a habit from then on. Safe flying. 

Dave Simpson, CFI


Decision Making11PM.  A half moon, beautiful VFR night.  Departing with no electrical on a 1.5 hour flight to Las Vegas.  Wait, what?  No electrical.  How many would make that flight?  I would hope that everyone would say "no way."  Now suppose you have already departed.  Everything is working well... Until!  You get to TNP (Twentynine Palms VOR) and you notice your electrical system is not all that healthy.  In fact, it looks like it's spent to much time in a Vegas Casino.  Coughing, blinking on and off and generally ready to throw you back a century like Vegas tends to do with my bank account.  One of your ALT lights is on.  No big deal since you're in a beautiful SR-22, have two alternators and a parachute, right?  What to do?  Is this an emergency?  The plane is still flying perfectly, the weather is great and you may be able to see the aura of lights from Vegas.  You have plenty of fuel and you REALLY just want to get to Vegas.  After all, they have repair facilities at McCarran so whatever is wrong can be fixed while I hit the tables and look for ways to enjoy whatever it is Sin City has to offer.  

While troubleshooting your electrical issues, you make it another 15 miles and then it happens.  You start losing instrumentation.  In this glass cockpit airplane, you lose the MFD, Fuel Gauges, Com radio and the list goes on.  Now what?  You've ask ATC for a direct vector to Las Vegas and requested the Luxor activate their HILL (High Intensity Luxor Light).  ATC says no way Jose, there's military activity in the MOA and the only thing worse than your electrical failure is your electrical failure and being shot at.  After all, you move about the same speed as a drone.  You see some lights up ahead on the ground.  Looks like a good road, let's follow it.  10 minutes later, you lose everything.  You know there's an airport around Laughlin and you see the lights of the baby-Vegas strip.  Having no way to activate PCL, you make a few low passes and declare the runway OK to land.  Stabilized approach, on speed, 7 degrees nose up, beautiful landing.  Taxi somewhere to park this thing and start looking for the nearest bar.

What would you have done in this situation?  You have three options.  Shoot me an e-mail and let me know.  I'll publish the results next month.

  1. Continue to your original destination of LAS (122NM).  At your current speed, you'll likely get there within the next 20-25 minutes and you think your battery will last about 30;
  2. Divert to KTRM (35NM).  It's the closest airport and there are lights there.  You can probably find a way to a hotel in town since there won't be anyone around the airport at that time of night.
  3. Declare an Emergency and divert to KPSP (40NM).  There are plenty of lights, an operating control tower and I've heard somewhere there are hotels nearby.  Not to mention, there are emergency services very close but you won't need those right?

This is Part 1 of a 2-Part article on decision making.  Next month, we'll look at what Decision Making in detail and see who chose what.


January 2015 (Volume 2 Edition 1)

Happy New Year Plus One Flyers!  We're well into 2015 now and as you can see, the newsletter is a few days late.  I took a much-needed vacation over the holiday's and was able to get lots of R & R.  I'm back to the grind of daily life here in San Diego now and I'm loving the winter (Webster:  A season never seen in San Diego) weather we have!

Last year was a tough year for the Club.  With your help, this year can be much better.  2014 was the "Year of the Prop Strike" as it is known throughout many cultures in the world.  2015 is the "Year of no Incidents."   Unlike the zodiac, you don't have to be born this year though, just make yourself a promise to do things safer.  

I have started sending a monthly update to all of our Club instructors and I want to hear from you, the member.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let me know.  If appropriate, I will include them in this monthly update to the CFI's.  Your name will be withheld if you'd like to protect your privacy.


Shane Terpstra, Safety Officer

It's the beginning of a new year and it's time to start fresh.  Forget everything you know, remember, or might think about what to do in the event of an incident.  Here's a refresher of what to do in the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident or incident.  The following assumes minor incidents or those not requiring notification of the FAA or NTSB.  Those notifications are too in-depth to be discussed here.  If you are involved in an incident or accident, the following steps should be taken:

December 2014 (Volume 1 Edition 7)

Greetings Fellow Flyers!  We were almost there.  Just about a month left before the new year and the last half of the year would have been accident free.  Take a look at the picture of the month to see more details.

Winter is upon us which means....  eh, who am I kidding, there is no winter in San Diego.  If there was and should the weather God's decide that San Diego needs some good Arctic air, you should be ready for it.  For folks that have flown in colder (which is to say nearly every every other) parts of the country, you already probably know about cold weather operations.  For us, the biggest issue we have seen is in the starting procedures.  Here's a quick lesson on oil, the infamous lubricator.

Lubrication.  That's the word of the month for December.  The engine relies on a thin film of oil to keep metal/metal contact at a minimum and your engine lubricated.  When you see engine oil types, you typically see something like 10W-100 or 5W-50, which are multi-viscosity oils.  The first number is the oil's viscosity (thickness) at cold temps.  The second number is the viscosity at "normal" operating temps.  The "W" indication means the oil has been certified for use in the winter.  For us here in SoCal, we rarely have temps that require preheating of the engine (< 20F).  Multi-Viscosity oils, like the ones above, should be just fine for our "cold" weather, however, the engine may be a little harder to start.  Most engines will start almost immediately, especially here in SoCal, with just a few pumps of the throttle (BEFORE CRANKING NOT DURING).  Even in colder temps, a shot or two of primer 
(i.e. vaporized fuel pushed directly into the cylinders) should be more than sufficient.  For starting a REALLY COLD engine, you may have to prime as you crank the engine.

November 2014 (Volume 1 Edition 6)

Greetings fellow flyers!  Fall is in full swing now.  Weather is getting colder, fireplaces are getting warmer, and Instrument Ratings are calling!  San Diego is by far one of the best places to fly but when that marine layer moves in, don't lose out on your killer weekend by being stuck doing touch and goes under the weather.  Get with your favorite club instructor and get it done.  Thanks to all of you, this past month has been pretty quiet on the safety front.  Your club instructors met at the bi-monthly safety meeting and heard some good information from the FAASTeam Manager at the San Diego FSDO about Pilot Deviations, airspace violations and MYF runway incursions.  There are a few hot spots in the county causing grief for many pilots and more violations than Lindsay Lohan has had arrests!  Well, maybe not THAT many.  

Keep up the excellent safety attitudes and get up in the air as much as possible.  This edition explores Unusual Attitudes in a way that I guarantee you weren't taught in primary training.  Enjoy and fly safe!


Shane Terpstra, Safety Officer

The antichrist.  The word alone brings terrible images of demons and inverted crosses.  Or, for some members of Plus One Flyers, a picture of me.  The Safety Officer in a lot of industries is the guy that everyone loves to hate.  They are the guys (and girls) whose sole job is to look for ways to really piss off their coworkers right?  Wait, huh?  I mean, "the people that are charged with trying to create a safer environment in which to work."  They look for unsafe practices, dangerous situations and problems areas that can use improvements.  Any way you spin it though, they are likely the one that the rest of the company feels is unnecessary, right?  I mean, really if I am doing my job, I'm going to do it safely 'cause I don't have a death wish.  I've been doing this job for 20 years, I don't need some punk kid telling me how to do my job.

October 2014 (Volume 1 Edition 5)

Welcome to the "new" Rotating Beacon!  I'm excited to release a new design of the monthly safety newsletter and I hope that it continues to get better.  I've added a few new sections and hope that this will be the start of some great content from members, instructors and owners.  Here's a quick synopsis of the new sections.

  • Safety Alerts: Official information received from a variety of sources that may affect us all.
  • Instructor Corner: Information, comments or articles that your fellow Plus One Flyers instructors would like to share.
  • Airplane of the Month: A new airplane, highlighted every month.  Owners, this is your chance to tell the members why your airplane is the best in the club.
  • Image of the Month: Self-explanatory and generally, you do not want to be credited with an image of the month.
  • Safety Tip: A quick tip you can use in your everyday flying.


Shane Terpstra, Safety Officer

I need a soap box.  I was all set to write about fall weather flying and the [very minor] seasonal changes we can expect here in beautiful San Diego.  My blood pressure was low, I was laying in my hammock and all was well.  That was before.  Now, as with the last newsletter, it seems as though the topic of the month has yet again presented itself to me.  

In the past year we have had numerous issues with either damage, an open discrepancy, or just plain carelessness that were discovered during a later flight or immediately after a previous one.

September 2014 (Volume 1 Edition 4)

Greetings Plus One Flyers! 

These past couple months have been full of flight hours and light on incidents!  Thank you for keeping yourselves safe and all the airplanes in one piece (mostly).  We had a few small issues last month, mainly with night flying activities, which is our topic for this month.   While it's the perfect time to get that night proficiency in there, night time has its own set of challenges.  It requires you pay extra attention and thought.  If you are returning from a night flight and if you have any doubt that you'll be able to safely put the airplane back, taxi over to the Gibbs transient line and ask them to do it for you.  Make sure you bring in some donuts for them the next day though!

I'm still not entirely happy with the new design that I've been working on so for September, we have the old design.  We are looking to have a General Membership meeting sometime in October, date, time and location TBD.  These are great meetings to come and meet fellow club members, bring your aviation-enthusiast friends and enjoy some good food.  More details on that as we get closer.

The mere mention of these flying machines will get many airplane-only aficionados blood boiling (mostly Glen Daly).  Like it or not, these birds are part of aviation and we have to learn to play nice.  I speak to a variety of helicopter schools and operators on occasion and there are lessons-learned for both airplane and helicopter pilots to ensure everyone stays safe.

The Rotating Beacon is a safety related newsletter put out by Shane Terpstra, Plus One Flyer's Safety Officer. 

August 2014
Rotating Beacon
Greetings Plus One Flyers!

Summer is finally here in SoCal and the weather is shaping up pretty well every day.  I've been able to get a few early morning and late evening flights in without worrying about the marine layer finally.  There was some interesting weather last week with the thunderstorms along the coast and a few in East County which reminded me the importance of making sure you have all available information before departing.  Looking at the METAR's, TAF's and even SIGMET's didn't have the thunderstorms predicted at that time yet they came anyway.   Anyone flying up that coast that day would have been a very unpleasant surprise.

The newsletter is undergoing a makeover so next month, I'm hoping to have the design completed and unveiled.  I'm behind on getting the online courses for Plus One Flyers completed, however, there's good progress being made.  If you want some WINGS credit toward your member incentive, come by for a new membership meeting at MYF.  We review several safety-related items and you'll get your 1 Knowledge credit toward the incentive.

Few things get my blood pressure up but pilot preventable issues keep me up at night.


What does it take to be a proficient pilot?  

No one is watching!

C.S. Lewis once said "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."  I think the same thing can be said for safety.  Last week I wrote about checklist usage.  This week is a quick follow-up to that article, specifically relating to checklist usage when flying Solo.

Summer is approaching with those longer daylight hours and the return of the marine layer in the mornings. During the months of May and June, especially if you are VFR, plan on that marine layer usually clearing by 12 noon and returning in the late afternoon. This might be a good time to look at training for that instrument rating: great weather for instrument practice.

As you may have heard the club has had three accidents within the first week of April.  Our club has had a pretty good safety record until December, 2012. Should these accidents continue not only will insurance rates be affected but someone may get hurt and we do not want that to happen. 

The accident in December involved an LSA leaving the runway at CRQ and crashing into the rear of a helicopter result was total damage to the LSA and the helicopter. The pilot had just gotten a 1.7 hour check out in the LSA and was not that comfortable and panicked, could the CFI have given him more instruction in that plane before signing him off.

Our last CFI Safety meeting covered a very important topic regarding the clubs safety record.

As you all are aware the club has in March had three accidents in a one week period. The first was a prop strike that occurred at Bermuda Dunes with a Cessna 182RG ,  two days later the Arrow  landed gear up at OKB with an instructor doing a new member check out.  Then three days later our club Citabria lost control on landing going off the runway at MYF resulting in a total loss in damages. Just this  past week one of our C182 G1000 had a landing accident while on a cross country resulting in prop damage.

We take safety very seriously at Plus One Flyers and are proud of our excellent safety record which we attribute to the care and good judgment of our member pilots and our Safety Program led by Safety Officer Bob Agresto.

Plus One Flyers Safety Record Nets 46% Insurance Reduction

A whopping 38% reduction in aircraft insurance premiums paid by the club relative to 2006 rates highlights the success of the club's Safety Program and the collective excellent flying judgment, skills and habits of club members, and helps offset rising fuel costs! Keep up the great work and best flying practices, everyone!