U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

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


February 2002 




Thought for the month....
As pilot in command, we can do anything we want - as long as it's right.

There are rules and there are laws....Rules are made by people to put artificial limitations on our activities to protect us or the general population. When well thought out, rules can be very good at ensuring our safety and making flying more fun. In most cases, if we wish to deviate from a rule, it must be a flawless performance (e.g., If you fly under a bridge upside down, don't hit the bridge.) Proficiency and/or blind luck can save the day when we operate contrary to a rule.

Laws (of nature, physics, etc.) are not made by man. Laws are absolute. We can, and sometimes should, bend the rules. We can never bend a law. Some of our rules are based on laws. One example of that in aviation are the limitations specified by a manufacturer. When a certificated aircraft is built, the finite limits of the materials being used are known. To ensure that we won't find ourselves operating near those limits, the manufacturer establishes rules such as maximum weights, airspeeds, and maneuvers.

If we operate out beyond a limitation, we may not notice any immediate effect. We may have operated too heavy and gone too fast, but the aircraft doesn't seem any worse for wear. Aircraft are actually elastic. They are designed to stretch and return to their original condition. As long as they are flown within the manufacturer's limitations, they'll do that. When a limitation is exceeded however, part of the aircraft never returns to its original dimensions. When that happens, we no longer know for sure how strong the structure really is. The best way I've heard this described is, "The metal never forgets." I always assume that aircraft I rent, and particularly those used in flight training, have, for one reason or another, been operated beyond a limitation at one time, and I apply an additional cushion to the limitations.

Homebuilt aircraft may or may not come with very accurate numbers regarding limitations. It all depends on how much testing the designer was able to perform. In many cases, homebuilts are over-built. We may not know the actual strength of the main spar, but since it's the same one as in the Space Shuttle, there is little chance it will fail, even with a 300 hp engine strapped on the front end. Some builders modify the original design for various reasons. That may make the limitations invalid.

Obviously, not all limitations are structural. Many helicopters may be flown with the doors removed. In most cases, the manufacturer applies a limitation to the airspeed. Not because the aircraft isn't as strong, but because the airflow pattern is changed, and flight control reactions are different.

A memory aid we often use to help pilots remember some of the requirements of an airworthy aircraft is AROW. It is often mistakenly taught that the "O"stands for operating handbook. What it really stands for is operating limitations. Operating limitations are required to be in the aircraft, and may be located in more places than just the handbook. As pilot in command, we are held responsible for knowing, and complying with, the operating limitations at all times. It's the right thing to do, and we can do whatever we want, as long as it's right.

Heart Felt Thanks....As a result of an unusual series of events, I found myself suddenly facing heart surgery on Jan. 23rd. I had an undamaged heart, equipped with several non-functioning arteries. To ensure my heart remained undamaged, it was decided to do immediate by-pass surgery. During the 12-hour operation, doctors removed arteries from my arms and used them, along with some chest wall arteries, to by-pass 5 arteries of my heart.

There wasn't much time to let anyone know this was happening, but the aviation community is a pretty close-knit group and the word went out quickly. As I was regaining eyeball control in the ICU, I was informed that several inquiries had already been received from pilots, checking on my condition. By the time I was released from the hospital, I had received numerous calls and cards from well wishers, offering terrific moral support any assistance that my wife or I might need.

So far, recovery has been going well. If things continue as they have, I hope to be back on the job around the middle of March. Naturally, such an event is a grounding condition, so I will begin the process of getting a medical restored. Working for the FAA doesn't give me any special "in", so I'll slug my way through the system just as many of you have.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to offer support and best wishes.

Upcoming Events

February 21
West Plains, MO
Land Survival, Are You Prepared?
Ryan Steak House
West Plains, MO

February 23-24
Greater St Louis Flight Instructors Flight Instructor Renewal Clinic - FIRC

March 22-23
Holiday Inn, Collinsville, IL

The St. Louis Area Aviation Maintenance Counselors Annual Maintenance Symposium, and
The 28th Annual Illinois Dept. of Transportaion Aviation Maintenance Symposium

Avaition Maintenance Awards will be presented at this year's event. An awards buffet open to anybody wishing to attend is planned for the evening (time TBA), Friday the 22nd, for people from this district who have received special recognition in the aviation industry.

This is a two day co-sponsored maintenance symposium and is open to ALL PEOPLE WITH AN AVIATION INTEREST technicians and pilots alike. Day one will begin at 7:00 AM with general registration and continue to 5:00 PM. Day two begins at 8:00 AM and will finish at 1:00 PM.

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