Pilot Error.

As a private pilot I spend a lot of time watching videos and reading about aviation. This is in addition to watching airplanes as they fly over, actually flying airplanes, and wishing I was flying an airplane at any given time. I’m much like my father in this regard; my father had stacks and stacks of aviation magazines around his designated chair that he read and re-read at any given moment.

Part of my reading and watching aviation content includes reading accident reports and/or watching videos on the subject. A video recently came across my Youtube feed of a preliminary accident analysis of a crash near Knoxville, Tennessee. The pilot was on Youtube as “TNFlyGirl”. As best as I can tell, she was a private pilot working on her instrument rating. She flew her own Beechcraft Debonair, a single engine airplane that is fast enough to require a high performance endorsement. It also has a retractable gear and requires a complex endorsements. I have both of these endorsements for flying the Cessna 182 RG.

One of the keys to being a successful pilot is what is called “being ahead of the airplane”. Know what the airplane is going to do before it does it. You should be at least 15 if not 30 seconds ahead of the airplane at all times. You must always fly the airplane, the airplane should never be flying you.

Since TN FlyGirl was such an avid Youtube content creator with her aviation adventures, I started watching her videos. I found them startling. Her Debonair had an autopilot that still required pilot input, mainly putting in or taking out power and keeping the airplane in “trim”. She didn’t seem to understand this and spent several videos fiddling around with the autopilot and not getting the results she expected. I found it very difficult to watch her videos because she seemed always behind the airplane. She seemed distracted by the cameras and seemed more concerned with the electronics and getting good shots with her cameras than she did about flying the airplane. A few weeks ago she and her father crashed in the Debonair at a high rate of speed. The airplane was destroyed and both her father and her lost their lives.

When dad would read accident reports in his stack of magazines and on the few times we talked about them, he’d always say “pilot error, 95% of the time it’s pilot error”. From what I’ve seen and read around post-crash analysis reports and the preliminary report from the NTSB, it seems TN FlyGirl’s crash was also “pilot error”.

As a pilot I am very conservative in my approach to the hobby; I won’t take someone up unless I’m completely comfortable with the airplane. My personal minimums when it comes to weather are rather low. I may try things out when I’m flying solo, but I’m not going to mess around with unfamiliar avionics when my husband is sitting the right seat. If I’m unsure of how something works or if I feel I’m not keeping up with the airplane, I’ll ask an instructor to go up with me to act as a safety pilot. I have no ego when it comes to flying an airplane. Since my father is not around to talk about these things, since he died in an airplane crash in 2011, I believe he would say I’m doing the right things. I’m not afraid to admit that his crash was due to pilot error. I learned from what he did and I learn from these accident reports and analyses.

It’s very sad when people die and it hits us all in the general aviation community when a fellow pilot perishes. May TN FlyGirl and her dad rest in peace.


So tonight I finished up flying instrument approaches with safety pilot Soleil so I can maintain my currency as an instrument rated pilot. With this rating I am able to fly in the clouds, when I can not see outside the airplane, relying completely on instruments. It’s a little tricky; without outside references the body likes to lie to you in relation to your position in space. And when you can’t see the runway, there are specific approach procedures that must be followed to assure the runway will be where it’s suppose to be and that you won’t bash into anything on the way down.

It’s all quite clever.

Tonight I flew three approaches to maintain that currency and I flew the airplane like it was on rails down to the designated runway. The clouds were simulated through the uses of “foggles” and Soleil kept an eye outside to make sure there wasn’t anything in the way between the airplane and where I intended it to go.

It was a great feeling to exercise this skill. Flying is awesome.

30 Months.

With the insurance checkouts and the work on my instrument rating last year, it’d been nearly 30 months since my husband went flying with me. It’d been nearly equally as long since I’d flown without another pilot in the right seat.

We were definitely overdue for a flight. So yesterday I rented the club Cessna 172 and the two of us went up and did some flying south of the city. We had a lovely time.

The key to flying in the desert during this time of year is to go early in the morning and get back on the ground before 11 a.m. or so, at least for smaller airplanes. Otherwise it’s bumpy and windy and not as enjoyable experience for anyone.

We arrived at the airport at 7:00 a.m. and were in the air by 7:45 a.m. and on the ground by 9:00. Earl took a bunch of photos and the airplane handled beautifully.

We’re going up again in two weeks.


Last night I joined a flying club with a very similar structure to the club I belong to back when we lived in Upstate New York. I’ve been looking for this opportunity for a long while and have been on the waiting list for a couple of months.

It was pouring rain when we met at KTUS Tucson International Airport, but we made our way to the hangar where I got to take a look at the three airplanes I am now co-owing with 49 other folks. The airplanes are all Cessnas and all types I have flown before. I’m anxious to get checked out in these airplanes, meet the other members of the club, and start talking general aviation with folks again.


I found this video in a list of old links I had sitting on my computer. From back in 2015, fellow pilot Nick asked me to ride right seat with him in the ’66 Piper Cherokee 180. He’d flown this airplane only a couple of times and for his first flight after his safety checkout he wanted another pilot in the right seat. It was a great day to fly and Nick is a really good pilot. I haven’t seen him since shortly after this video, but I hope he continues to enjoy the skies as much as I do.

Trek Trendy.

I’m always a fan of YouTube channel Trek Trendy. The reviews and sharing of experiences gives me a chance to see parts of the world I have not seen yet. I also feel a sense of inspiration to keep working hard to do some of these things shown on the channel.

For this latest video, a 17 hour first class flight from Dubai to Auckland, NZ on an Emirates A380.

Very Dark.

Flight instructor Prabesh and I flew from Ryan Airfield on the west side of Tucson to Glendale Municipal Airport outside of Phoenix and back in a Cessna 172. It was all part of my instrument training and for the most part I had a good time.

My eyesight is not what it used to be. It’s hard from me to admit this but when I have my FAA Medical Exam later this month I won’t be surprised if they tell me I have to always wear glasses when in the cockpit. I have the glasses and I wear them. It does make landing an airplane at night a little bit more of a challenge. No worries, they’ll be able to use the airplane again tomorrow.

Here’s a photo of Phoenix at night.


I find inspiration in glancing through old photos from time to time. Digital life affords us the ability to do this easily. Here I am four years ago flying a Piper Archer III out of KPWK in Chicago. That was a fun airplane to fly.


I earned my Complex and High Performance endorsements to my Private Pilots Certificate today. I’ve been flying with an instructor since the beginning of May to accomplish this feat. My new endorsements allow me to exercise my Pilots Private skills in airplanes with retractable gear and more than 200 horsepower engines. The airplane used for my training is a 1978 Cessna 182 RG with a 235 horsepower, six-cylinder engine. It’s much heavier than what I’m used to flying and it took me a little under 12 hours of flight time to get used to the handling characters of “Large Marge”.

A rain storm was passing to the north of the airfield today as I performed some landings and demonstrated a manual gear extension (in case the wheels don’t come out when I tell them to). There was quite a bit of traffic up there with us, so we extended the pattern a couple of times. It gave us a nice view of the Lake Michigan shoreline near the Wisconsin-Illinois state border.

I’m excited about my new endorsements as this opens up some cross-country flight opportunities. I’m really happy I was able to accomplish this during the pandemic.


For me, the key to maintaining my sanity during this COVID-19 crisis is to focus on my passion for aviation. I’m listening to podcasts, watching other people fly via Youtube videos, and I’m reading and trying to boost my skill set.

Non-aviation social media is a time sink for my frame and state of mind. I’m finding myself sucked into the screaming and carrying on around Bernie leaving the race and the latest thing Trump has done and what goofy thing Biden just said and it’s draining. It’s my own fault and the solution can be reached only after you’ve identified the problem.

I’m stir crazy. I realize this. I had big plans for flying this spring and along with the plans of everyone else, they’ve been put on hold. “Just sit back and relax”. The thing is, I’m not wired to do that. I’ll have time to sit back and relax when I’m six feet under. Living involves learning and learning enhances living and as far as I’m concerned if I’m not learning, I’m not living.

Learning is helping me maintain my sanity. What will I learn today?