U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

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


August 2005




Thought for the month..... There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.

Fishing for finesse... I just got finished inserting change 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual into my personal copies. I have two; one that stays in the office and one that goes on the road with me. The FAA provides inspectors with a subscription to the AIM that includes the basic manual and the three changes that come out during the two years that basic manual is in effect. After two years, a new basic comes out and the process begins all over again. It always takes me several hours to insert the changes, not because the task is beyond my limited capacity, but because I always get caught-up in reading the manual.

I guess the sign of a real aviation geek is someone who reads the AIM for pleasure. That shouldn't be a surprise however, because other than instructions on how to physically operate the aircraft, everything a person needs to know about aviation is in there. More so than the regulations, it really is the equivalent of the Bible for aviation.

I didn't start out with a great appreciation for the AIM. The Army Instrument Flight Examiner Course forced me into an intimate relationship with the document. The IFE school is arguably the most challenging flight-training course the Army offers. Graduates of the course are the only instructors authorized to conduct instrument check-rides for Army pilots, so they take it very seriously. I think if you look up the definition for nit-pick in the dictionary, it will refer you to the Army IFE course. For the first four weeks of the school, attendees could be seen walking around with a backpack full of manuals including the FAR's, Army regulations, flight information publications, TERPs, the aircraft flight manual and, of course, the AIM. Any time not occupied by flying or simulator periods, was devoted toward completing a comprehensive test developed by some sadistic CW3 who had been passed-over and was locked-up in a windowless dungeon under the windsock at Cairns Army Airfield.

The test guaranteed a detailed research of the various documents, and would pose questions such as: "Where is the Missouri Slope located?" Or, "the angle at which the cockpit structure limits downward visibility below the horizon is referred to as…". The correct answer and the reference were both required so that even if, by some freak chance, a person happened to know the answer, it was worthless without a source. These two questions are really quite easy because you know they come out of the AIM. We didn't know the originating document. We had to somehow divine what the question might be referring to and then go fish. If you found more than one source for the answer, you got an atta-boy. If you failed to find the answer, or found the wrong answer, you got an aw-shucks*. One aw-shucks wiped out all the atta-boys. Two aw-shucks got a pink slip. Two pink slips got you thrown out of the course (sure, it's negative motivation, but it worked!). *Verbiage modified so as to not offend the non-military

The AIM has grown by several sections since those days. I'm sure current enrollees in the IFE course are getting hit with questions like; "What is the zenith cone setting for TIS?" or, "Identify the requirements to file "Q" in the equipment suffix in block 3 of the FAA Flight Plan". That's one of the reasons it's important to review the AIM at least annually. It's a living document that is constantly changing. Years ago when LAHSO procedures were being formalized, the original wording specified that student pilots shall not be issued, and will not accept a LAHSO clearance and that the available landing distance (ALD) would be provided on the ATIS. Over time the procedures changed and now say that controllers will provide ALD data upon request and student pilots or pilots not familiar with LAHSO should not participate in the program. Subtle, but important differences.

Flying with finesse requires shaking off airman paralysis that occurs when we become comfortable with the equipment and our aviation environment. It's a factor for every individual, regardless of the type or category of aircraft being operated, from the lightest light sport, to aircraft that list "Q" on the flight plan and have emergency procedures for avionics cooling fan failure. A fishing trip in the AIM is time well spent and a vital factor toward flying with finesse. There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.

Upcoming Events

Aug 17
Wings of Hope Hangar
Spirit of St. Louis Airport
Light Sport Aircraft and Airport Safety
6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Aug 24
Cape Girardeau Pilots Club
Cape Girardeau Airport
Light Sport Aircraft and Airport Safety
7 to 9 p.m.

Aug 25
Hillbilly Junction, Willow Springs, MO.
Airport Safety and Weather
7 to 9 p.m.

Sep 8
Grecian Steak House
Kennett, MO.
7 to 9 p.m.

Sep 10
3rd Annual Helicopter Fly-In
Cline Farms, Union, MO.
Go to http://www.stlouishelo.org for more information.

Sep 26
Florissant Valley College
3400 Pershing Rd
AOPA Air Safety Foundation
The Last Five Miles.
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Register at http//faasafety.gov for E-mail notification of safety seminars in the St. Louis District.

Let's Not Meet By Accident
Fred Harms
Operations Safety Program Manager
800-322-8876 ext 4835