Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Group 2 Emergency Procedures Flight Clinic

By Capt Karin Hollerbach

Yesterday I completed my sortie in our emergency procedures flight clinic and, always in our clinics, learned a lot!

Capt Michelogiannakis. Archive photo.
Group 2 organized a flight clinic for our pilots to practice emergency procedures – especially those that we might not ordinarily train for in our normal training, even when preparing for a Form 5 or a biennial flight review. Thanks to Capt Michelogiannakis (Squadron 188) for organizing the event and acting as Project Officer as well as Ground School (and Flight) Instructor.

Staff in the clinic included Group 2 instructors and an Incident Commander (IC)/Flight Release Officer (FRO):
  • Lt Col Dolnick (California Wing)
  • Lt Col Luneau (Group 2)
  • Maj Tubis – IC and FRO (Squadron 10) 
  • Maj Ironfield (Squadron 156)
  • Capt Michelogiannakis (Squadron 188)
  • Capt Arasmith (Squadron 10)  
  • Capt Basile (Squadron 10)

A total of 12 pilots are going through the training, which included the ground school (done virtually, since we are scattered all over the Bay Area) and one sortie per participant.

Ground school discussion topics included:
  • Engine fire
  • Electrical fire to emergency descent
  • Wing fire
  • Impossible turn simulated at altitude
  • Power off landings from altitude to an uncontrolled field
  • Landing without flaps
  • Simulated alternator failure (G1000 aircraft)
  • Landing with a flat tire or severe bald spot
  • Brake failure in one wheel 
  • Asymmetrical flaps 

Among both the staff and the students, we've had great cross-squadron participation! Twelve pilots came from 5 different Group 2 squadrons:
  • Lt Col Suter (Squadron 44) 
  • Lt Col McDowell (Squadron 80) 
  • Maj Brown (Squadron 156) 
  • Capt Rivas (Squadron 188) 
  • Capt Hollerbach (Squadron 188) 
  • Capt Mateos (Squadron 10)  
  • Capt Heldt (Squadron 80)
  • 1st Lt Kraus (Squadron 188) 
  • 1st Lt Booth (Squadron 188)
  • 1st Lt De Bleecker (Squadron 10)
  • 1st Lt Gross (Squadron 10)
  • 2d Lt Sharma (Squadron 188)

Here's where I get to point out that 25% of our pilot participants in this clinic are women.  Nice work, Group 2! (And an additional 8 pilots are men.  Nice work, Group 2!)

My sortie was a great combination of fun and learning. That seems to have been the theme among students. Lt Col McDowell, for example, started his learning immediately, before he even got to the emergency procedures: "the flight itself was a bit of a challenge as I was in a new plane with avionics I wasn't familiar with."

I was happy to hear him say that, because "new" (to the aircrew) avionics may be workable when everything is going smoothly on a clear, calm VFR day in familiar territory, but once things start going wrong, they can go very wrong very quickly when unfamiliar avionics are thrown into the mix. At least for me, I've found it really important to train with new aircraft/avionics in "easy" conditions.

We started off with emergency descents, with the goal of reaching the ground (preferably a suitable location on the ground!) as quickly as possible, while remaining safe. That was well worth practicing before you have to do it in a real emergency, as the steep spiral that we did (on the assumption that we wanted to get down in a location close to where we were, not use our descent to get somewhere further away) presented a rather unusual sight picture – at least, unusual for anyone, like me, not used to aerobatics.

Following the emergency descent, we also practiced a simulated “impossible turn”, simulating an engine out shortly after takeoff, and measuring how much altitude we lost if turned the more than 180 degrees required to return to the runway and land (in the opposite direction of takeoff). Fun at altitude… probably a lot scarier close to the ground. Of course, how much you actually lose will depend on a lot of factors, including your airplane’s configuration, the wind, your reaction time and ability to maintain best glide, etc.

An extension of that was the simulated engine out at higher altitude, where we spiraled down over an un-towered airport, lined up with the downwind portion, and then turned in a “normal” pattern to land.  Well, I didn’t land due to crosswinds, but demonstrated being able to land. I did come in too high because I didn’t want to do another complete 360 turn – which probably should have had me extending my downwind a bit further but instead I slipped into the runway. Perhaps there was some psychological pressure to not get too far away from the runway…

On the flight back to KOAK, we also discussed several in flight fire scenarios, and simulated an alternator failure. Finally, we ended with a no flap landing and a short field landing.

On top of all that, Capt Michelogiannakis caught a couple of less-than-ideal flying habits of mine, which was great! The goal, after all, was to improve my flying skills and to increase safety – ideally while having fun doing it.  All goals were accomplished!  A huge ‘thank you’ to all of our volunteers for making this clinic happen and to our pilot participants to investing time to improve their skills.

For those of you who haven't completed your sorties yet, fly, fly, fly!

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