• Category Archives Flying/CAP
  • Sir Edward Chilton

    So, this morning as I was sitting in a staff meeting at work, I looked over at a bookshelf in the room and found a giant book called “The Blue Book” from 1976. Basically this was one of those “Who’s Who” books that they used to publish every year (and still are, I suppose, though why is beyond me.)

    I opened it up to see just what kind of content it actually had in it, and the page that I happened to open it up to just happened to be the one with Sir Edward Chilton’s biography in it. This was kind of surprising to me, or at least serendipitous, because I have read an awful lot of history concerning the Battle of Britain. I remember Chilton’s name popping up in at least one or two books that I read as a kid (either it was in The Dam Busters or Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill.)

    Just wanted to relate that little moment to the world.

    Actually, there was another moment during the same meeting where someone spoke the word invalid, which got me thinking about a story my mom told me of when she went on vacation in Ireland. Apparently she had to to go the bathroom, and when she went inside, there was a stall with a sign on it stating “invalid”. She puzzled over this, wondering what was wrong with the stall, and used a different one. Only after she had left the bathroom did she realize the other meaning (and pronunciation) of the word “invalid“.

  • Asiana 777 Crash: Today Show with the experts

    Some interesting footage portrayed here from inside a simulator, showing just what it is like to be in the cockpit of a 777 as it is making approaches. As Captain Aimer states, it is very impressive how professional the crew of these aircraft tend to be:

    We spent the whole day with the producer and the camera crew of Today Show who came to my house and later in a simulator.
    Most of my emphases was on how well my old pal the 777 stood up in this horrific crash. Further, I gave praise to the professionalism and courage of Asiana Flight Attendants who saved all those lives while endangering their own. I also repeated the testimony of my United friend Chris “Doc” Halliday who witnessed the approach and subsequently the crash from his 747-400 cockpit we see in some of the videos. Doc’s flight was # one for take off behind the landing 777 on taxiway “F” leading to runway 28L in KSFO. He and his aircraft, passengers and crew came within striking distance of the out of control 777 sliding by and shedding parts. He told me about the professionalism and fantastic job of his Flight Attendants, calming and taking care of their passengers who watched in horror the crash unfolding and came dangerously close to being part of this disaster themselves.
    Below is a few scenes that survived the video editors:

    Captain Ross “Rusty” Aimer
    (UAL Ret.)
    Aero Consulting Experts (ACE)

  • Asiana 777 Crash: Viewpoint of a standards captain

    A standards captain is someone whose job it is to sit in the cockpit with both new and experienced pilots and observe them as they perform a myriad of operations in order to ensure that they are performing up to par. These guys have 10’s of thousands of hours in the seat already, and really know their stuff.

    Here are the thoughts of one such captain, a retired UAL pilot:

    Date: Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 11:43 PM
    Subject: Low-down on Korean pilots

    Mon Jul 8, 2013 2:42 pm (PDT) .

    After I retired from UAL as a Standards Captain on the –400, I got a job as a simulator instructor working for Alteon (a Boeing subsidiary) at Asiana. When I first got there, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. It is not a normal situation with normal progression from new hire, right seat, left seat taking a decade or two. One big difference is that ex-Military pilots are given super-seniority and progress to the left seat much faster. Compared to the US, they also upgrade fairly rapidly because of the phenomenal growth by all Asian air carriers. By the way, after about six months at Asiana, I was moved over to KAL and found them to be identical. The only difference was the color of the uniforms and airplanes. I worked in Korea for 5 long years and although I found most of the people to be very pleasant, it’s a minefield of a work environment … for them and for us expats.One of the first things I learned was that the pilots kept a web-site and reported on every training session. I don’t think this was officially sanctioned by the company, but after one or two simulator periods, a database was building on me (and everyone else) that told them exactly how I ran the sessions, what to expect on checks, and what to look out for. For example; I used to open an aft cargo door at 100 knots to get them to initiate an RTO and I would brief them on it during the briefing. This was on the B-737 NG and many of the captains were coming off the 777 or B744 and they were used to the Master Caution System being inhibited at 80 kts. Well, for the first few days after I started that, EVERYONE rejected the takeoff. Then, all of a sudden they all “got it” and continued the takeoff (in accordance with their manuals). The word had gotten out. I figured it was an overall PLUS for the training program.We expat instructors were forced upon them after the amount of fatal accidents (most of the them totally avoidable) over a decade began to be noticed by the outside world. They were basically given an ultimatum by the FAA, Transport Canada, and the EU to totally rebuild and rethink their training program or face being banned from the skies all over the world. They hired Boeing and Airbus to staff the training centers. KAL has one center and Asiana has another. When I was there (2003-2008) we had about 60 expats conducting training KAL and about 40 at Asiana. Most instructors were from the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand with a few stuffed in from Europe and Asia. Boeing also operated training centers in Singapore and China so they did hire some instructors from there.

    This solution has only been partially successful but still faces ingrained resistance from the Koreans. I lost track of the number of highly qualified instructors I worked with who were fired because they tried to enforce “normal” standards of performance. By normal standards, I would include being able to master basic tasks like successfully shoot a visual approach with 10 kt crosswind and the weather CAVOK. I am not kidding when I tell you that requiring them to shoot a visual approach struck fear in their hearts … with good reason. Like this Asiana crew, it didnt’ compute that you needed to be a 1000’ AGL at 3 miles and your sink rate should be 600-800 Ft/Min. But, after 5 years, they finally nailed me. I still had to sign my name to their training and sometimes if I just couldn’t pass someone on a check, I had no choice but to fail them. I usually busted about 3-5 crews a year and the resistance against me built. I finally failed an extremely incompetent crew and it turned out he was the a high-ranking captain who was the Chief Line Check pilot on the fleet I was teaching on. I found out on my next monthly trip home that KAL was not going to renew my Visa. The crew I failed was given another check and continued a fly while talking about how unfair Captain Brown was.

    Any of you Boeing glass-cockpit guys will know what I mean when I describe these events. I gave them a VOR approach with an 15 mile arc from the IAF. By the way, KAL dictated the profiles for all sessions and we just administered them. He requested two turns in holding at the IAF to get set up for the approach. When he finally got his nerve up, he requested “Radar Vectors” to final. He could have just said he was ready for the approach and I would have cleared him to the IAF and then “Cleared for the approach” and he could have selected “Exit Hold” and been on his way. He was already in LNAV/VNAV PATH. So, I gave him vectors to final with a 30 degree intercept. Of course, he failed to “Extend the FAF” and he couldn’t understand why it would not intercept the LNAV magenta line when he punched LNAV and VNAV. He made three approaches and missed approaches before he figured out that his active waypoint was “Hold at XYZ.” Every time he punched LNAV, it would try to go back to the IAF … just like it was supposed to do. Since it was a check, I was not allowed (by their own rules) to offer him any help. That was just one of about half dozen major errors I documented in his UNSAT paperwork. He also failed to put in ANY aileron on takeoff with a 30-knot direct crosswind (again, the weather was dictated by KAL).

    This Asiana SFO accident makes me sick and while I am surprised there are not more, I expect that there will be many more of the same type accidents in the future unless some drastic steps are taken. They are already required to hire a certain percentage of expats to try to ingrain more flying expertise in them, but more likely, they will eventually be fired too. One of the best trainees I ever had was a Korean/American (he grew up and went to school in the USA) who flew C-141’s in the USAF. When he got out, he moved back to Korea and got hired by KAL. I met him when I gave him some training and a check on the B-737 and of course, he breezed through the training. I give him annual PCs for a few years and he was always a good pilot. Then, he got involved with trying to start a pilots union and when they tired to enforce some sort of duty rigs on international flights, he was fired after being arrested and JAILED!

    The Koreans are very very bright and smart so I was puzzled by their inability to fly an airplane well. They would show up on Day 1 of training (an hour before the scheduled briefing time, in a 3-piece suit, and shined shoes) with the entire contents of the FCOM and Flight Manual totally memorized. But, putting that information to actual use was many times impossible. Crosswind landings are also an unsolvable puzzle for most of them. I never did figure it out completely, but I think I did uncover a few clues. Here is my best guess. First off, their educational system emphasizes ROTE memorization from the first day of school as little kids. As you know, that is the lowest form of learning and they act like robots. They are also taught to NEVER challenge authority and in spite of the flight training heavily emphasizing CRM/CLR, it still exists either on the surface or very subtly. You just can’t change 3000 years of culture.

    The other thing that I think plays an important role is the fact that there is virtually NO civil aircraft flying in Korea. It’s actually illegal to own a Cessna-152 and just go learn to fly. Ultra-lights and Powered Hang Gliders are Ok. I guess they don’t trust the people to not start WW III by flying 35 miles north of Inchon into North Korea. But, they don’t get the kids who grew up flying (and thinking for themselves) and hanging around airports. They do recruit some kids from college and send then to the US or Australia and get them their tickets. Generally, I had better experience with them than with the ex-Military pilots. This was a surprise to me as I spent years as a Naval Aviator flying fighters after getting my private in light airplanes. I would get experienced F-4, F-5, F-15, and F-16 pilots who were actually terrible pilots if they had to hand fly the airplane. What a shock!

    Finally, I’ll get off my box and talk about the total flight hours they claim. I do accept that there are a few talented and free-thinking pilots that I met and trained in Korea. Some are still in contact and I consider them friends. They were a joy! But, they were few and far between and certainly not the norm.

    Actually, this is a worldwide problem involving automation and the auto-flight concept. Take one of these new first officers that got his ratings in the US or Australia and came to KAL or Asiana with 225 flight hours. After takeoff, in accordance with their SOP, he calls for the autopilot to be engaged at 250’ after takeoff. How much actual flight time is that? Hardly one minute. Then he might fly for hours on the autopilot and finally disengage it (MAYBE?) below 800’ after the gear was down, flaps extended and on airspeed (autothrottle). Then he might bring it in to land. Again, how much real “flight time” or real experience did he get. Minutes! Of course, on the 777 or 747, it’s the same only they get more inflated logbooks.

    So, when I hear that a 10,000 hour Korean captain was vectored in for a 17-mile final and cleared for a visual approach in CAVOK weather, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.


    Pretty interesting stuff there. Starts to paint a pretty good picture of what may have been happening during the final moments of that crash, namely utter confusion combined with that Oh Shit moment when the pilots realized that they were completely screwed.

  • Asiana 777 crash: Initial thoughts from those in the field

    So, I have friends who are pretty up-and-up when it comes to the airline business, and I get some pretty interesting commentary from them. In this case, concerning the Asiana crash of a Boeing 777 at SFO:

    From Dutch and Micro:

    …Here is the deal guys. He was on an IOE. Initial operating experience. The way we train is you get your FAA type rating the simulator, you never touch the real airplane. After you leave simulator training they put you in the real airplane, with passengers, with a Line Check Airman, a Captain with a minimum of 300 hours in type who has been observed by the national authority (FAA inspector) acting as a LCA. The LCA is the PIC despite the fact he may occupy the right seat. It is the LCA’s job to keep the operation straight. In this case, the LCA should have first suggested flight path adjustment, if not satisfactory, then he should have took control of the airplane before things got out of hand.

    Rustydog depends on the 747 model. From a 747-200 to a 777, yeah big difference. From a -400 to a 777 not so much.

    By the way, I found out the PAPI had not been moved to reflect the new threshold point. BFU by SFO. I also found out the nav data base in the FMS did not reflect the new threshold. Two FU’s over which the pilot’s had no control. Now you add the traditional SFO slam dunk approach, an IOE going on, the crew being controlled by a second language, from controller’s talking a mile a minute. I can see some chaos there and things getting out of hand real fast. My guess is no one is going to get out of this with clean hands. SFO airport, the FAA for approving construction out of the data base cycle, Asiana for scheduling an IOE into this airport, Asiana Flight Standards for subpar LCA performance. I suspect the citizens of San Francisco are going to be throwing in some coin on the settlements.

    And then we have an email from a United crewmember holding short of of the runway as the Asiana flight approached:

    On July 6, 2013 at approximately 1827Z I was the 747-400 relief F/O on flt 885, ID326/06 SFO-KIX. I was a witness to the Asiana Flt 214 accident. We had taxied to hold short of runway 28L at SFO on taxiway F, and were waiting to rectify a HAZMAT cargo issue as well as our final weights before we could run our before takeoff checklist and depart. As we waited on taxiway F heading East, just prior to the perpendicular holding area, all three pilots took notice of the Asiana 777 on short final. I noticed the aircraft looked low on glidepath and had a very high deck angle compared to what seemed “normal”. I then noticed at the apparent descent rate and closure to the runway environment the aircraft looked as though it was going to impact the approach lights mounted on piers in the SF Bay. The aircraft made a fairly drastic looking pull up in the last few feet and it appeared and sounded as if they had applied maximum thrust. However the descent path they were on continued and the thrust applied didn’t appear to come soon enough to prevent impact. The tail cone and empennage of the 777 impacted the bulkhead seawall and departed the airplane and the main landing gear sheared off instantly. This created a long debris field along the arrival end of 28L, mostly along the right side of 28L. We saw the fuselage, largely intact, slide down the runway and out of view of our cockpit. We heard much confusion and quick instructions from SFO Tower and a few moments later heard an aircraft go around over the runway 28 complex. We realized within a few moments that we were apparently unharmed so I got on the PA and instructed everyone to remain seated and that we were safe.

    We all acknowledged if we had been located between Runways 28R and 28L on taxiway F we would have likely suffered damage to the right side aft section of our aircraft from the 777.

    Approximately two minutes later I was looking out the left side cockpit windows and noticed movement on the right side of Runway 28L. Two survivors were stumbling but moving abeam the Runway “28L” marking on the North side of the runway. I saw one survivor stand up, walk a few feet, then appear to squat down. The other appeared to be a woman and was walking, then fell off to her side and remained on the ground until rescue personnel arrived. The Captain was on the radio and I told him to tell tower what I had seen, but I ended up taking the microphone instead of relaying through him. I told SFO tower that there appeared to be survivors on the right side of the runway and they needed to send assistance immediately. It seemed to take a very long time for vehicles and assistance to arrive for these victims. The survivors I saw were approximately 1000-1500′ away from the fuselage and had apparently been ejected from the fuselage.

    We made numerous PAs to the passengers telling them any information we had, which we acknowledged was going to change rapidly, and I left the cockpit to check on the flight attendants and the overall mood of the passengers, as I was the third pilot and not in a control seat. A couple of our flight attendants were shaken up but ALL were doing an outstanding and extremely professional job of handling the passenger’s needs and providing calm comfort to them. One of the flight attendants contacted unaccompanied minors’ parents to ensure them their children were safe and would be taken care of by our crew. Their demeanor and professionalism during this horrific event was noteworthy. I went to each cabin and spoke to the passengers asking if everyone was OK and if they needed any assistance, and gave them information personally, to include telling them what I saw from the cockpit. I also provided encouragement that we would be OK, we’d tell them everything we learn and to please relax and be patient and expect this is going to be a long wait. The passenger mood was concerned but generally calm. A few individuals were emotional as nearly every passenger on the left side of the aircraft saw the fuselage and debris field going over 100 knots past our aircraft only 300′ away. By this point everyone had looked out the windows and could see the smoke plume from the 777. A number of passengers also noticed what I had seen with the survivors out near the end of 28L expressing concern that the rescue effort appeared slow for those individuals that had been separated from the airplane wreckage.

    We ultimately had a tug come out and tow us back to the gate, doing a 3 point turn in the hold short area of 28L. We were towed to gate 101 where the passengers deplaned. Captain Jim Abel met us at the aircraft and gave us information he had and asked if we needed any assistance or hotel rooms for the evening. Captain Herlihy and F/O Ishikawa went to hotels and I went to my home an hour away in the East Bay.

    Really, some pretty incredible stuff coming from people who have been properly trained and know what is going on in the industry.

  • Blaser Awards Announced

    The Blaser Award was recently announced here in Gainesville. The Blaser award is gvein in memory of Russ and Carol Blaser, who died in an airplane crash off the coast of Cedar Key in 2002. The award is given to the best aeronautics related project at the Alachua County Science Fair, for both junior and senior divisions.

    The winners were:

    • Junior division: Gavin Gamble, for his project entitled “How Does Added Cargo Weight on a Model Rocket Affect Its Altitude?”
    • Senior division: Christopher Fregly and Brandon Kim, for their project “Improving the Effectiveness of Squat Exercise on the International Space Station”

    A bit of history: Russ Blaser was a pharmacy manager at Ayers Medical Center in downtown Gainesville and a past president of the Alachua County Pharmaceutical Association. He was born in New Jersey in 1944. He attended the University of Florida where he received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1976. A veteran of the Vietnam war, Russ also served as the commander of the Gainesville Composite Squadron of the United States Air Force Civil Air Patrol.

    Carol Blaser was also born in New Jersey, and earned her degree in political science in 1989 at the University of Florida. She worked for Gainesville Regional Utilities and later for the City of Gainesville as a purchasing manager for the finance department.

    The full details of the crash are on the aircrashed.com website.

  • Quality Cadet Unit Award

    So, apparently my squadron won the quality cadet unit award this year. I looked at the qualifiers for the award, and I guess I can see how we might have won the award, though I do wonder.

    Regardless, a great bravo-zulu should go out to the cadets… they are the ones that made this award possible.

  • Dos Mama’s Eastside Eatery

    So, this past weekend, after I had participated (OK, it was more a witnessing… my Civil Air Patrol cadets did the participation part) in the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Forest Meadows cemetery, a group of us went to Dos Mama’s Eastside Eatery here in Gainesville.


    The food there was quite good. I didn’t take any pictures, and I am starting to refrain from doing so when I go out to eat these days because it has become so… gauche… to do so.

    The fare there is classic American… hamburgers and stuff. I had a simple steak and cheese sandwich, but it turned out to be huge! It was put on two nice hot dog bun like pieces of bread, and it was simply too much for me to eat in one seating. I took half of it home, and for those of you that have met me, you know that me doing something like that is rare. I saw the hamburgers that were delivered to some of the others at the table, and the hamburgers were also of high quality, with meat patties that were nice and think and covering the bun. They looked quite good as well (I just wanted a steak and cheese sandwich for once, darn it!)

    I spoke with the co-owner (they were both there… obviously this is a business that has only just started up in the last year and is still working on getting clientele) and she was very enthusiastic about getting more business. The business gets a strong turnout during the lunch period in the week because of all of the light industrial businesses in that area, and also a good showing for breakfast, but apparently supper time is very light for them (face it, workers at the end of the day just want to go home…) so she is looking for ways to increase the business during that time of day. One thing she is doing is getting groups to hold meetings and stuff there, where they can grab a bite to eat while talking.

    So, my recommendation for Dos Mama’s Eastside Eatery is certainly a thumbs up! Go there!

  • Font issues

    So, I am in the Civil Air Patrol (hence the category in this case of CAP), which is the Auxiliary to the United States Air Force, at least when we are performing missions for the Air Force. As such, we hold true to a very large portion of the rigmarole that occurs in the Air Force, including the creation of Memos. Lots and lots of memos get created and pushed around in the Air Force, and also in CAP.

    My issue in this case is a recent memo that came from our Wing Commander, concerning term limits for group and squadron commanders. No big deal with the content… heck, it had to be stated somewhere, and now we have it written down from on high that it will be a specific amount of time, and then you have to give it up to someone else. Fine, no problem, makes sense. My issue is with the bloody font he used in the memo… not sure of the exact font name, but it is a Gothic style font, and neigh unreadable. Well, yes, you can read it, but it is bloody annoying.

    I never thought I would be one to whine and complain about a font that someone is using… until now. There is a reason why most word processors default to one of two different fonts, either Times New Roman or a Courier… because they are easy to read and do not have weird spacing!