U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


August 2002 




Thought for the month....
It takes three things to fly, airspeed, altitude, and brains - except for takeoff.
Then it only takes two.

Getting Our Tang Tonguled-...
A slip of the tongue or using improper phraseology can be the direct cause of an accident or create a serious problem for other pilots by causing a distraction during critical phases of the flight. Since the beginning of aviation accident statistics, operations in and around airports have always been where most accidents occur. The inability to effectively communicate our intentions has led to many of them.

I was recently contacted by a pilot who wanted to discuss an incident that occurred at a nontowered airport. He was in the pattern with four other aircraft. Everyone was trying to keep the pattern in tight which was great, except for the three airplanes lined-up waiting to depart. Seeing the situation, the aircraft approaching the base leg decided to extend his downwind and allow the waiting airplanes to get out. What he said was, "Cessna 1234 is going to continue north to create a slot". Unfortunately, the aircraft behind him didn't understand what he meant and when he observed the plane ahead continue, he assumed he was departing the pattern on the downwind, so he turned base leg. To complicate the situation even more, the first airplane holding for takeoff heard the transmission and replied, "'preciate that, Piper 5678 is on the go". The end result was an airplane on short final and another taxiing onto the runway in front of him. The go-around was successful and apologies were made, but at least one pilot was shook-up enough to want to call and talk about it.

Clearly, no one intended to do anything wrong but it caused a situation that had the potential for disaster. From what I could determine, none of the transmissions included the airport name. That may not have resolved the misunderstanding, but it would have at least kept the confusion at one airport. While these guys were reinventing aerospeak at airport A, pilots operating at airports B and C on the same Unicom frequency, were probably spinning their heads around trying to find out if any of this stuff is happening at their airport. The danger there is that their attention was diverted. They became distracted by events that didn't even concern them.

A hot topic at any discussion of airport operations is the straight-in approach. A Learjet executing an ILS at a non-towered airport was on a long final straight-in for the runway. The pilot made all the correct radio calls, but he was being ignored and the airplanes in the pattern would not make room for him. He had to break off his approach and join the pattern which was higher and wider than everyone else's and eventually put him on a long final, which is exactly where he was on the ILS. So what was gained? Did the aircraft already in the circuit prove a point that in VFR conditions aircraft on an instrument approach don't have priority over other traffic in the pattern? Or, did someone not clearly understand what was going on. At least one pilot took a heck of a chance by exercising his right as the lower airplane to turn final in front of the Lear.

Everyone involved in aviation has to be a player and keep the communications clear and proper. Failure to do so can, in the worst case, be the direct cause of an accident, and in all cases, be the source of distraction. You have to keep your eyes and ears open for me when I screw up, and I need to do the same for you. You may be perfect, but I have been known to make mistakes so assume it's me in the pattern with you. Remember, it takes three things to fly.

Upcoming Events

August 10th
Wings of Hope Hangar
Spirit of St. Louis Airport
Pilot and Aircraft Courtesy Evaluation (PACE)
8:30AM to 12:00PM.

September 7th
Highland Airport
Highland, IL
St. Louis Soaring Association Open House and Safety Day
9:00AM to 1:00 PM

September 14th
Spirit of St. Louis Airport
Skyline Aviation Hangar
Avoiding Aircraft Upsets and Avoiding the Inadvertent Spin
9:00 to 11:00AM

October 17th
Mt. Grove, MO
Club 60 Steak House
Airspace and Charts

October 26th
Mid Coast Aviation Hangar
St. Louis Downtown Airport
Helicopter Safety Seminar
8:00AM to 3:00PM

Operations Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 extension 4835