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#154 Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)

(Normally, I don’t discuss religion or politics in the pages of the Tailewheeler’s Journal.  But I couldn’t resist this time and I hope my readiers with strong opinions in that area will understand and put up with me this once.  That would be tolerant of many of them, and tolerance is kinda what this little article is about.  B.L.)


My mother didn’t raise any idiots (well, there was the one, but she drowned him).  I’d


My mom, Janet Lansburgh, c 1940

be an idiot to rail against a system which controls well over 90% of flight training and not to realize that I can’t change the resultant 90% of pilots.  For some time, I’ve been ranting against the teachings of the Acme Flying School and of Whuffos in general.  I may have given the wrong impression.

When I thought of this little article, I thought mostly of tolerance.  I remember listening to a broadcast preacher acquaintance of mine, who railed against tolerance in one of his sermons.  I guess some Christians think that tolerance is a quality of Christianity… others have no use for it. I guess they’re the ones who ignore the lessons of Jesus.

I’m unabashedly heterosexual, but there is no way I’d ever think about limiting the rights of those who are not.  They can marry whoever they want, as far as I’m concerned.  As some wag put it, “if heterosexual people can marry and be miserable, there’s no reason homosexuals should be denied the same right”.

With tolerance in mind, I realize that many of my flying friends are Acme proponents.  I think they are wrong and that their flying skills are substandard as a result, but I’m not going to try to convince them.  So many of my arch liberal and wild-eyed conservative friends always seem to be trying to convince others of their correctness.  It’s futile.  Just as futile as it would be for me to think that I could convince all those Acme fliers that they don’t have to settle for a stabilized approach, can learn how to slip well before they are on final, can go ahead and extend their flaps in a turn and should probably practice closing the throttle abeam the numbers.

Mom on scooter

The woman who didn’t raise any idiots was also an accomplished scooter thief.

Nope, I count a lot of wild-eyed liberals, conservatives and Christians among my good friends.  I’m certainly not going to limit my list of friends to those who agree with me.  That would be stupid.  And my mother didn’t raise any idiots….well, there was the one…


Happy Swooping!


10 comments to #154 Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)

  • Carol Walker

    I could not agree with you more! The lack of airmanship in the pilots being turned out of the schools these days is shocking. Their energy management skills are typically zero. Their situational awareness is limited to a 6 x 6″ screen. They are so technology dependent and so lacking in basic airmanship skills, it is a frightening thing to see.
    Worse than that, there are more than a few of them who would like to do it differently, students who long for aviator skills, but there are no instructors left to teach them how to think outside the box that they have been confined to. They are never exposed to anyone who knows any differently. The senior instructor in the schools is typically under 25, and third or fourth-generation pushbutton pilot. There is nowhere in their instructional “family tree” where they were exposed to non-automated flying. Not only are these pilots dependent on automation – they are petrified without it. It’s a pitiful thing to see.

    Keep up the good fight, Brian!

    Carol Walker

  • Terry

    I agree.

    I would rather have a non-friend point out something stupid I was about to do, than a friend wary of hurting my feelings!

    However, if one is going to criticize me for behavior, faultfinding should be grounded in reality, not some goofy anecdotal hogwash from a 185 hour CFI!

    • brian

      Terry is very irritated about something. It’s something he has every right to be irritated about! I’ll get to the bottom of it… I smell another article!

  • I wouldn’t worry about losing friends from a rant, I’m not sure anyone is listening.

    There’s a large number of earnest students of Acme who leave tire rubber at our little airport. They’re welcome to fly however they like, but I’m concerned about the 747 size pattern and the stabilized approach from three miles many choose to practice. With as few as three of these in the pattern, it can take a while to weasel out between them. My leaky old O-300 Continental can lose a quart of oil while I wait.

    I’m pretty sure these folks are training for an airline career as they fly the monster patterns, but if their engine ever gets tired of making noise, they better be good at off airport landing cause they’ll never make the runway.

    I’m just say’n, ya know.


  • Pete

    Flew the Chipmunk on Saturday. Had to politely ‘offer’ to push the Mooney, parked near us, forward a bit, just before they started up. Their plan was to fire up, 5 feet in front of our 1950 taildragger and right in front of an open hangar that is full of vintage aircraft and gliders. Was going to offer the same to the Piper Arrow parked next to us. However, he caught us by surprise by starting, without saying ‘clear prop’. Could only glare at him but was unable to get his attention because he was occupied doing his run-up checks between the hangars as opposed to at the designated Bays.

    When l fly my four-engined jet, l fly wider circuits than my light aircraft, because the energy equation is different between the two types. When l see students being taught wide patterns (to practice for big jets) they are always being taught by instructors who have never flown jets themselves. You should fly the aircraft you are in, appropriately to its type and energy footprint. If you need to fly ‘jet like’ patterns in your Piper Warrior, to keep ahead of the game, then you are going to have serious issues doing the same in something going three times faster on the downwind leg, whilst also trying to configure for landing.

    North American readers can take comfort in the fact that declining airmanship standards are a European phenomena as well!

    It’s not what you fly, where you fly or why you fly that matters. It’s about how you THINK whilst engaging in that flying. We used to call that ‘thinking’ part airmanship.

  • Gayla

    Well said, Brian! The student pilots of today, are being taught by 2nd and 3rd generation instructors that did not learn good basic pilot skills. Most seem to think the more “gadgets” they place in their panel, the safer they are. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are such slaves to technology, that they miss the joy of actually flying.

  • fred cuozzo

    I think after reading all the reply comments here, that everyone is soooooo right. It is indeed a sad thing to see the quality and “thinking” part of some of these pilots. I always like to see some gray hairs on the person sitting in the left seat. Okay, it just makes me feel better. Maybe they should all have to go around the patch with Brian.!!!!

  • Simon

    I love me a good rant from Brian!

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