August 29, 2010

Preflight Briefing: Preparing for a Safe Flight

My first Certified Flight Instructor had just completed her own training at the Delta Connection Academy when we started flying together. In retrospect I really benefited from her advanced training. One of the first things she taught me was how to provide a thorough preflight briefing. The practice of giving a briefing before every flight is one I have practiced ever since.

During the Chicago Air & Water Show I had the honor to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels in their C-130 known as Fat Albert. Major Brendan Burks gave the most impressive preflight briefing I have ever experienced before our flight, setting the bar high for all my future preflight briefings (see video below). Prior to the flight he addressed the crew and explained in detail the current conditions, planned maneuvers and how the crew would address any emergency should it arise. It was clear to everyone involved what to expect during the flight and who would be responsible for various aspects of the flight, mission accomplished.

We don't all have the privilege to fly a four-fanned C-130 supporting the Blue Angels, but we can strive to bring that level of forethought, professionalism and preparedness to each of our flights. Whether you are flying with other pilots, passengers or flying solo I think it is extremely valuable to verbally walk through aspects of your upcoming flight including emergency procedures.

I am fairly particular about who I choose to fly with and one immediate turn-off is when another pilot neglects to provide a preflight briefing. On the flip side, I am immediately put at ease when I share a cockpit with someone who takes time to conduct a proper briefing like Major Burks of the Blue Angels or as was the case with Rod Rakic of myTransponder last summer.

I think the video below will inspire you to work on your preflight briefing routine before your next flight. Looking for some additional tips? Check out Paul's post on Ask a Flight Instructor for some sample scripts. Also, Jason Miller of FinerPoints published a podcast several years back that gives some tips on giving an effective preflight briefing.


Posted at 5:22 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson, Ground School | Comments (13) | Save & Share This Story

August 12, 2010

Enjoying Aerobatics with Chuck Aaron and the Red Bull Helicopter

chuckaaron.jpgHe may not be "The Most Interesting Man in the World", but he's up there. Handlebar mustache wearing, daredevil pilot Chuck Aaron is the only pilot licensed by the FAA to perform aerobatics in a helicopter.

Until four-years ago helicopters had traditionally played minor roles in airshow, unable to perform the awe-inspiring aerobatic feats of their fixed wing counterparts. That changed when aviation enthusiast and Red Bull founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, convinced Chuck Aaron to find a way to perform aerobatics in a helicopter. After a few years of tinkering to extremely modify a BO-105 Bölkow Helicopter a one-of-a-kind aircraft emerged. The Red Bull Helicopter is able to perform the Roll, Split-S, Immelman, Half Cuban Eight, Back Flips and Chuck's very own Chuckcilvak. The helicopter can support great forces including 3.1 Gs and negative 1.0 Gs.

Aaron is making his second appearance at the Chicago Air & Water Show this weekend. Last year he mesmerized the crowd with his aerobatics. Although, everyone along the lakeshore will be fixing their attention on him during his performance he won't even notice they are there. Aaron explains "I go into severe focus mode, paying attention to altitude, air speed, where the sky and ground are. I don't pay attention to the crowd-that's a deal breaker".

I had the opportunity to take flight with him prior to the show (video below). It was wild that on my first flight in a helicopter, I got inverted. Aaron put the Bull Cow through a series of Rolls, Loops and a Split-S, putting 2.4 Gs on the craft in the process.

Oddly enough the maneuvers did not feel much different then they do in a fixed wing aircraft. The fact that it wasn't a plane but a helicopter makes this man one of the most interesting in the world. Stay inverted my friends.



Posted at 10:37 PM | Post Category: Chicago Air and Water Show | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

August 9, 2010

Vince Vaughn to Skydive Into Chicago Air & Water Show

Vince Vaughn will team up with the U.S. Army Golden Knights to kick-off the 52nd Annual Chicago Air & Water Show. Saturday, August 14th at 11:00am Vaughn will descend towards North Avenue Beach in a tandem skydive with the Golden Knights.

Vaughn will experience the exhilaration of a jump from 12,500 feet and a free fall with speeds exceeding 120 MPH. He will be in good hands as the Golden Knights have performed tandem jumps with other celebrities and dignitaries including Bill Murray, two years ago in Chicago, and George H.W. Bush.

Vaughn who is spotted often in Chicago has been in town most recently filming Ron Howard's The Dilemma.

August 5, 2010

New Treats at the Chicago Air & Water Show

seantucker_chicago.jpgEach year the Mayor's office tries to offer something new or special at the Annual Chicago Air & Water Show. In addition to the standard excitement the airshow brings there are a few new additions that have me excited.

First off Chicagoans will get a chance to be one of the first airshow audiences to see Sean D. Tucker's newest airplane the Challenger III biplane. Sean began performing in this new airplane in late-June and this will be just the fifth airshow in this new airplane. According to Sean the plane is "30% better" (sounds like a laundry detergent commercial) and as a result he can perform maneuvers beyond what his previous Challenger II was capable of. Airshow fans can expect to see new maneuvers including somersaults and multiple cartwheels. Sean has always pleased the fans at the Chicago Air & Water Show, this new aircraft will ensure many will walk away saying his act was their favorite.

Interested in learning more about the Challenger III biplane? Take a listen to Brian Norris, Operations coordinator for Team Oracle, discuss all the new features on the AVWeb Podcast.

billstein.jpgNew this year will be an appearance by Bill Stein in his Zivko Edge 540. Stein was a member of the famous Red Baron Stearman Squadron that used to be a regular act at the Chicago Air & Water Show. Bill's plane which has been referred to as his "Tumble Machine" will be sure to earn some cheers from the crowd as he shares his extreme aerobatic maneuvers. Something unique about his performance is that his aircraft uses cutting edge paint technology that allows the plane to continuously change colors based on varying angles between his aircraft and the spectators.

We also have learned that Actor & Pilot Treat Williams will be attending the 52nd Annual Chicago Air & Water Show. To many he may be best known for his leading role in the WB's Everwood. Pilots know that he is a passionate aviator who is a multiengine instrument rated commercial pilot with rotorcraft, CFI and Citation type ratings. PilotMag ran a feature story about Treat in their May/June issue.

According to the Mayor's office, Williams will be a special guest for Friday's practice show in which he will guest announce the first part of the show with Air Show Announcer Herb Hunter.

Stay tuned to MyFlightBlog.com for ongoing updates on the Chicago Air & Water Show. Please be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to the Chicago Air & Water Show including our Chicago Air & Water Show Viewing Guide highlighting the best places to watch the show.