Re: cavu????

Posted by Kurt Maurer on Mar 24, 2005

I was kinda hoping someone would ask, actually. have a background in aviation, and you better believe it stands me in excellent stead when it comes to kayaking. Just one little boo-boo can ruin your whole day, y' know...

We use some descriptive terms in flying, here are a couple:

Wx CAVU: Weather conditions clear; ceiling and visibility unlimited.

Smoking Hole: This what you might leave in the ground as a result of a little boo-boo (like forgetting to remove the elevator lock, switching the fuel selector to the correct tank, etc., etc., etc.).

And here's one that applies to Yours Truly...

600-hour pilot: The most dangerous of all fliers. This guy has enough confidence to think he's a real hot-shot, but has not yet gained enough experience to flesh out his judgement. And Judgement is what prevents aviators from making smoking holes.

Here's a stark example of a classic 600-hour Pilot/Smoking Hole incident: JFK jr. flew his perfectly sound, smooth-running airplane into the ocean off Cape Cod a few years ago, killing all aboard. Every pilot in the country recognized what happened as soon as the first details rolled in. He had 6- or 7 hundred hours, and was instrument rated, meaning he had been trained and certified to fly into visibility-zero weather conditions. Unfortunately for him and all on board, he got his first taste of the well-known phenomenom called "spatial disorientation" on that flight, a condition where the inner ear becomes wholly confused due to a lack of visible horizon outside the windows (fog, in this case), and begins sending the brain erroneous information regarding which was is up, and which way ain't. Varying G-forces ocurring inside the cabin as a result of the airplane's motion in three dimensions at speed, makes something as simple as dangling a weight, as an indicator, unreliable. In short, without an outside reference (horizon), his brain told him everything was hunky-dory... then SPLAT.

Aggravating circumstances to this type of accident are often the gotta-get-there-now syndrome, or the pilot being pressured to make the flight for whatever reason.

Or, as Tony suggests, his IFR rating (Instrument Flight Rules) ironically enough made him more dangerous in the final reality, whereas he would NOT have attempted the flight had he LESS training; or that he might simply have waited for better weather, or recruited a qualified copilot, if he had more experience (judgement).

Any aviator worth his avgas studies accident reports with intense gusto; after all, a smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise one learns from others' mistakes. All too often, when operating in elements hostile to human life, you are allowed only one mistake.

Pilots NEVER second-guess a deceased pilot's level of intelligence, etc., unless they're so ego-ridden as to be rendered just plain stupid. That isn't what it's about. The reason we investigate accidents is so that the same awful tragedy might be prevented in the future, and the dead thus shall not have died in vain.

Tony said a lot of good things in his letter, and I'll repeat one more of 'em: learning rolls, braces, and rescue skills means NOTHING unless they are demonstrated to be reliable in rougher conditions than you plan to paddle in. Rolling in a swimming pool, and rolling a mile offshore on a rough day, are two different things altogether.

I love LeeG's dark matter theory! LOL!! I have always said that "God looks after fools and drunks", so He pulls double duty on me...:-)

Finally, learning and practicing these skills is FUN FUN FUN!!! Try, try, try to at least SEE somebody doing it! As for me, I don't do all this stuff because I HAVE to, but because I WANT to. It is purest form of cheap thrill I know of!

Cheers, Kurt

In Response to: cavu???? by Ken Leffert on Mar 23, 2005