A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Gauges Green, Airspeed Alive…

You’ve dutifully calculated your weight & balance for your flight. Weight and CG are within limits. You’ve completed a conservative performance estimate for all runways at all airports to be utilized. All are within limits for your aircraft and within your personal minimums.

On paper, the planned flight will work. As you’re rolling down the runway, though, how do you know you’re actually getting the performance needed for takeoff in the distance available?

“Gauges green”

Once the throttle is full, take a quick glance at the engine instruments. Just a quick glance is all you need to know if everything is in the green and where in the green everything is. Primarily, check RPM, oil pressure, oil temperature and fuel flow.

If you see anything out of the ordinary for the given conditions, immediately reject the takeoff by maintaining directional control, reducing throttle to idle and braking while smoothly adding back pressure and retracting the flaps. The key is knowing what ‘ordinary’ looks and feels like and being able to determine out of the ordinary with a simple, quick, non-distracting glance.

“Airspeed alive”

It’s not just about the gauge; it’s about the acceleration. Here, there can’t be too much of this good thing, but how do you determine if there isn’t enough? The rule of thumb I use was developed by Sparky Imeson and shared in his book, “Mountain Flying.” It’s known as the 70/50 rule and works as follows:

If you have not attained 70% of your lift-off speed by the time you have reached the 50% mark of the runway, reject the takeoff.

This works because most airplanes stop much better than they accelerate. In our Cessna 172S, we lift off somewhere around 55 knots. Seventy percent of this is 38.5 knots. Keep it simple and conservative and call it 40 knots. If you haven’t reached 40 knots by halfway down the runway, reject the takeoff.

This rule of thumb will not guarantee a climb rate sufficient to clear the trees or other obstacles on the far end. Plan ahead and be conservative.

Know your machine, the environment and your limitations. Of course, never feel forced to make or continue any flight because of pressure stemming from passengers or for any other reason.

Have fun out there!


Be safe, have fun and keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo


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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots


Inevitably, each time there is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in our area, at least one (and usually more) pilot deviations occur. How can this be prevented? Simple. Call for a weather briefing prior to every flight, whether a 1,000 nautical mile adventure or a few laps around the “patch.”

“But it’s bluebird / CAVU / calm / beautiful out…” This is a common reason pilots don’t call for a weather briefing. Remember, you can’t see TFRs simply by looking outside!

“But I just got a briefing on ForeFlight / DUAT / DUATS…” ForeFlight, DUAT and DUATS all serve as ‘official’ weather briefings, putting the pilot in the system and essentially giving them ‘credit’ for obtaining a briefing. However, it is very easy to overlook TFRs and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) due to the sheer amount of data presented. While it has gotten easier as data is organized and presented more logically, it is still very easy to overlook important information pertaining to your flight.

The simple solution is to call 1-800-WX-BRIEF prior to every flight. The call itself is fairly straightforward. However, you should be prepared prior to dialing. When you call, the weather briefer will want to know some key information. You should provide it in the prescribed order, which is what the briefer will expect. For more on how to obtain your preflight weather briefing, please enjoy ‘Preflight Weather Briefings Made Simple’ for free.

A tip is to get your weather briefing online, using ForeFlight, DUAT, or DUATS. Then, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF and request an ‘abbreviated’ briefing. With an abbreviated briefing, you still provide the same key information, but instead of getting a ‘soup to nuts’ briefing, you tell the briefer specifically what information you wish to receive. This should always include adverse conditions (including TFRs) and NOTAMs.

Lockheed Martin, the authorized FAA Flight Service provider, offers helpful tools and customization. You can set up a profile for your weather briefings, have texts sent if conditions change outside of the parameters of your briefing, or even have a text sent if you file and forget to close your flight plan!

Calling for a weather briefing only adds a few minutes to your flight planning. However, it can clarify the weather picture if you’ve already gotten your briefing online, provide NOTAMs in an organized flow and prevent you from violating a TFR.

Have a safe flight!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo

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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Safe and airworthy…

You’re planning a fun flight to New Hampshire and are getting ready to preflight. For it to be airworthy, what documents need to be on board the aircraft? What inspections are needed for the aircraft to be airworthy?

As for the required documents, the familiar ‘ARROW’ acronym can be very helpful:


Airworthiness Certificate

Registration Certificate

Radio Operator Permit (Pilot needs for international operations)

Operating Limitations (POH + Placards)

Weight & Balance (Current data for specific aircraft)

In terms of the inspections, you can always dig into the FARs to see what is required. You should review these periodically in case the regulations change, but here is a simple acronym (yes, pilots love acronyms!) to help remember what’s required:


Airworthiness Directives (ADs)


Inspections (Annual + 100 Hour)

Altimeter and Automatic Pressure Altitude Reporting



Static System

Is each of these inspections required for your type of flight operation? How often do they need to be completed?  Let’s take a look:

Airworthiness Directives (ADs): Required for all flight operations, as specified in the specific AD.

VOR: Required for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations only, every 30 days.

Inspections: Annual: Required for all flight operations, every 12 calendar months. 100 Hour: Required for aircraft operated for hire or flight instruction, every 100 engine hours.

Altimeter and Automatic Pressure Altitude Reporting: Required for IFR operations, every 24 calendar months.

Transponder: Required for all flight operations, every 24 calendar months.

ELT: Required for all flight operations (except flight training within a 50-nautical mile radius of originating airport), every 12 calendar months with additional inspections due for the ELT battery.

Static System: Required for IFR operations only, every 24 calendar months.

Once you’re certain your current documents are on board and your inspections were complied with, conduct your preflight. If all required equipment is operational, the aircraft is airworthy. Is it safe?

This is where doing a thorough preflight and using your Pilot-In-Command (PIC) decision making come into play. Be thorough and don’t assume anything – especially in terms of fuel and oil quantity and quality! Never allow yourself to feel rushed by your passengers, your schedule, or any external pressures. If you do feel rushed, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider if it’s smart to make this flight.

Only by knowing both what is required for the aircraft and what to look for during a thorough preflight can you, as PIC, determine the aircraft is both safe and airworthy.

Have a safe flight!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo


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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Summer and Fall Goals…

Regardless of whether you’re a student, private, instrument-rated, or simulator pilot, or if you’re an aviation enthusiast, always look to increase your knowledge, experience and skills. What are your goals this summer? They may be to finish your private certificate, visit a new airport, fly the Hudson River, gain proficiency in Redbird, earn your tailwheel endorsement or instrument rating, improve your skills with crosswind, or to introduce someone to flying. Whatever those goals, make sure to write them down and come up with a plan!

Once you have your goals in writing, share them with family, friends and flight instructors. They can help support, encourage and, in the case of instructors, guide you. Whether or not it’s specifically required, it’s always a good idea to go up with an instructor. An instructor can help you achieve your goals more safely and more quickly. All goals that will result in your personal minimums increasing should only be accomplished with an instructor.

The goals themselves should be ‘SMART’: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This common acronym from the world of project management applies very well to your aviation goals and will help set you up for success to achieve them.

How do you make your goal…


Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, what is preventing you from accomplishing it, where you will accomplish your goal and who is involved.


Ask how you will measure the attainment of your goal. How will you know when you’ve succeeded?


Is the goal reasonable in the time frame you’ve specified? What are the steps you will take to accomplish your goal?


Is your goal something you are willing and able to work toward?


By when are you going to accomplish your goal? Is this reasonable based on your plan?

Write down your goals and come up with a plan of action.

That being said, risk management always has to be at the forefront of goal-setting and goal achievement. Pilots are often very goal-oriented. Generally, this is a very good thing, especially when combined with a healthy work ethic. However, it is possible to be overly focused on achieving our goals. To determine if this is the case, ask yourself and answer specific, relevant questions, such as:

“Am I putting too much pressure on myself to fly to that new airport?”

“What are my personal weather minimums to fly the Hudson River?”

“Are my passengers putting pressure on me despite weather being outside of my minimums?”

“There is moderate turbulence forecast – is this the day to introduce someone new to flying?”

The answers to these will guide your risk mitigation and aeronautical decision making.

What are your aviation goals for this summer?! What steps are you taking to achieve those goals? Share your goals on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo

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photo 2Congratulations on earning your Private Pilot certificate today! Very nicely done!

Enjoy flying up in Maine this summer! Of course, fly down to N07 for a visit!

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Sunday Morning Social at Aero Safety

Enjoy Hangar Flying at Monthly Sunday Morning Social

You and your families and friends are invited to join us for our free SuHangar flying at Aero Safety Trainingnday Morning Social on Sunday, 27 July, 10:30am – 12:00pm. You do NOT have to be a pilot or student pilot to attend.

You will have the opportunity to meet and share stories with other student pilots, pilots, flight instructors and the Aero Safety Team! We would be happy to answer any questions you have about flight training or flying. Enjoy continental breakfast and aviation camaraderie. Hangar flying at its finest!



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CarolAnn Garratt at Caldwell – tonight!

Reminder – CarolAnn Garratt will be speaking at Caldwell tonight! 5:30pm “Gourmet” dinner (hot dogs & burgers), 7:00pm presentation. CarolAnn has flown her single-engine Mooney around the world three times, raising both awareness of and over $400,000 for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research as a tribute to her mother.

CarolAnn is very inspiring and her presentations are fun and informative. Free, but please purchase each of her books at the event. All proceeds go towards ALS research. Not required, but please register here: http://goo.gl/LLzT22 .

Thank you to the 99s, C&W and Paramus Flying Club for hosting!

Hope to see you there tonight!

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Reminder to Young Aviators: AeroSessions is tomorrow, 10:00-11:00am!

AeroSessions is Saturday, 5 July 2014, from 10:00 – 11:00am!

At tomorrow’s AeroSessions, you’ll learn about flying Light Sport Aircraft for Law Enforcement! Flight Instructor and Police Officer Brian Finale will share stories and photos of his adventures flying surveillance for Law Enforcement.

Hope to see you there!

Happy 4th of July!

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Happy 4th of July!

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A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Who, Where, What…

Speaking on the radio is often cited as a beginner pilot’s biggest fear. This is not surprising, considering most people fear public speaking more than death!

Getting over this ‘mic fright’ early in training is essential to fully utilizing your pilot certificate in the future. Those who are nervous about going to busier airports or speaking with Air Traffic Control (ATC) will, unfortunately, avoid those areas to avoid those communications. This greatly limits the wonderful freedom our pilot certificates provide us.

The best way to break the ice with radios is to start with non-towered airport communications, and then transition to towered airports. Believe it or not, while initially more intimidating, towered-airport communications are often easier than non-towered. After both non-towered and towered communications are mastered, transition to speaking with ATC.

This communication training should all be done on the ground first, so you fully understand the basics. Then, PilotEdge Live Air Traffic Control should be used to hone your communication skills in the simulator.

Three prerequisites to all radio calls are:

1. Tune the appropriate frequency and check volume.

2. Listen before you transmit.

3. Think before keying the mic.

A big comfort in learning radio calls is that most calls follow the same format. This is helpful for practice, as you can focus on a ‘standard radio call’ and then practice exceptions using scenario-based training.

A standard radio call contains five elements:

1. Who you are calling.

2. Who you are.

3. Where you are.

4. What you are going to do.

5. Who you are calling (repeated only at non-towered airports).

Keep it simple and to the point. For example, a call from a Skyhawk ten miles north of Lincoln Park should sound like this:

“Lincoln Park traffic, Skyhawk niner one juliet, ten miles north, three thousand five hundred feet, inbound for landing runway one niner, Lincoln Park traffic.”

Of course, you should first follow the three prerequisites:

1. Tune Lincoln Park’s Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) of 122.8 and check the volume.

2. Listen for other relevant traffic on the frequency to attain or maintain situational awareness, including the location of other traffic and runway information.

3. Think of what you are going to say prior to keying the mic. Early on, pilots should rehearse, speaking their radio call aloud to themselves once or twice prior to saying it over the air.

After the prerequisites are followed, simply walk through the five elements of a standard radio call:

1. Who you are calling: “Lincoln Park traffic”

2. Who you are: “Skyhawk niner one juliet”

  • Use the model name and the last three letters/numbers of the call sign for non-towered operations.
  • Use the model name and the full call sign (excluding the ‘N’) when speaking with Air Traffic Control, including towered airports. Abbreviate only when abbreviated by ATC.

3. Where you are: “ten miles north, three thousand five hundred feet”

  • Omit altitude once on a leg of the traffic pattern: downwind, base, final, crosswind. At these locations, it is assumed that you are at the appropriate Traffic Pattern Altitude (TPA). Are you?

4. What you are going to do: “inbound for landing runway one niner”

  • If the runway is not yet known, simply state “inbound for landing” until the runway is determined.

5. Who you are calling (repeated only at non-towered airports): “Lincoln Park traffic”

  • Although many students dutifully include this at first, “Who you are calling” should be omitted at the end of calls to ATC. Since ATC frequencies are discreet (not shared by other airports or controllers within reasonable range), it is not necessary to include the name of the facility at the end of these radio calls. Most non-towered airport frequencies are shared by nearby airports, so the facility name should be repeated at the end of these radio calls in case the listeners missed it at the beginning for any reason.

For more information on communication phraseology and techniques, please see:

  • Current Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM): Section 4-2
  • Current AIM: Pilot/Controller Glossary
  • PilotEdge – Excellent communications training resources

And remember the cardinal rule of flying:




ALWAYS in that order! Although communicating will take extra focus while you’re learning the basics, never drop the airplane to fly the mic!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo


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