by Nate "Buster" Jaros
So there I was… It was a night mission over Iraq in the F-16. It was the summer of 2008 and I was with my unit the 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams” conducting two-ship flight operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Little did I know it on this night, I was about to have another lesson on how to aviate, navigate, and communicate to increase flying safety.
On this particular night we were busy, and the weather was bad. I was leading a two ship over Baghdad and we were tasked with searching some specific city roads with our Sniper Pods. We were looking for “hot spots” and anything that could have been an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), and anything that was simply out of place along US occupied roads.
The weather was all around us as we orbited above the well-lit city below. I remember being in and out of some clouds, and having to constantly coordinate with our airspace controllers to get to a higher block of airspace, or a lower block to be able to see the roads below. We were staying busy just avoiding the weather in effort to see the ground below with our Pods.
During one of these coordination efforts, we were suddenly given a new piece of airspace to proceed to, as well as a new altitude to maintain. At that moment my wingman called “Joker,” and the weather at the tanker track had just been reported worse and the tankers were moving over 100nm farther away to improve their situation. They too wanted better airspace. As I was scribbling most of this stuff down, in the dark cockpit, with little aid from my finger lights and the semi-adequate green “indexer lights” the Viper cockpit provides…I dropped my pencil. “Are you friggin kidding me?! Sonofa!” No one else was in the jet to hear my exclamations.
To summarize what just occurred nearly instantly in my cockpit, I received new airspace and altitude to go to and maintain. That required finding the new airspace and programming its points and borders into the navigation system. I had to climb my two-ship to the newly assigned altitude and level off or risk hitting other airborne assets in the vicinity. My wingman declared Joker fuel meaning he had to depart to the tankers NOW or he’d potentially be too low on fuel to continue the mission.
Additionally, the tankers had decided to move farther away from us, necessitating a new fuel calculation for when we needed to depart and head toward them, and that also made my wingman’s fuel state even more critical. And to top it all off, fumbling in the dark cockpit with my checklists and trusty kneeboard of knowledge, I had dropped my pencil. This furthered my increasing problems with obvious implications for note-taking, as well as some minor safety concerns for the ejection seat.
It was a classic SNAFU situation, and I had a mess on my hands.
Solving the Problem
As pilots, we’ve all been in situations where we’ve been overloaded and task saturated. It’s uncomfortable, and it can be dangerous. How do we deal with these situations when they arise? How do we continue to fly and operate safely, and clean up the proverbial mess?
The main coping method we were taught in the USAF when dealing with these task overloaded situations was a tool called prioritization. If you’ve got a few hours under your belt in any aircraft, you’ve probably had a CFI or another pilot talk to you at least once about task prioritization. Task prioritization is the weapon (or tactic) in your belt for dealing with an overload.
But what exactly is cockpit and task prioritization and how exactly do you do that, step-by-step in your cockpit?
Aviate, Navigate, Communicate
Maybe you’ve heard this mantra before, maybe not. It’s simple! Aviate, navigate, communicate, in that order. That’s it.
In it’s essence, it is the simplest and most broken down way to use your prioritization tactic. Here’s how it works.
First… Aviate. Seems obvious right? But you have to fly the plane first and foremost. You have to. There is no way to get around this. I’m sure you’ve heard of the stories where competent pilots got distracted, or went heads down in the cockpit to do some kind of task and flew right into a mountain or the ground. Typically this is called CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) and annually it’s reported that about 34% of all aviation accidents are CFIT. Globally, for larger jet and transport aircraft “CFIT was the second most frequent category of fatal accident representing 31 fatal accidents or 36 percent of total fatal accidents with sufficient information for classification” from 2010 through 2014.
Pretty sad actually, but proof that you have to fly the plane first, and keep flying it all the way through your difficult cockpit event. If you are spatially disoriented and upside down in clouds, you need to fly first and get on the round dials and recover FIRST before any attempt is made to navigate or talk on the radios. It seems simple, but sometime pilots forget this.
Second…Navigate. Once you are flying and are continuing to keep the plane safely flying, now you can move on to the next tier of items, of which I lump under the “navigate” category. For me, “navigate” means anything from re-orienting myself spatially or getting un-lost, to adjusting anything in the cockpit like maps, dials, GPS pages, and even radios. Anything that is one step past basic “stick and rudder” flying that now assists me in the art of flying better, for me, is lumped into the navigate step. The “navigate” step doesn’t have to be a hard and fast traditional navigation, or map reading. It is all things that make your job in the cockpit easier, and allow you to effectively transit through the airspace, safely.
Lastly…Communicate. Communicate is the last step, and least important. This is smart for many reasons. Technically, talking on the radios is the least important thing we can do as aviators when faced with serious task prioritization problems in-cockpit. Never forget that plenty of aircraft fly around the US every day without ANY radios on board, and guess what…they survive. It may be tempting to talk on the radio or answer that call from ATC, but if you are seriously struggling in the cockpit, just let them sit at their zero knot, one-G station a little longer while you get your feces consolidated. They may get a little angry at you for not replying, but I’d rather have an angry controller (that I can call later and chat with) than be spatially disoriented, or lost and trying to recover my airplane.
Besides, who hasn’t heard the center controller desperately trying to reach some random airplane on his frequency without avail? The controller usually gets some heavies in on the action and has someone relay voice communications to the mute pilot. Eventually the sleepy pilot pipes up and answers on the radio, and nothing big typically ever comes of it.
Communications are important, but in the massively huge act of flying an airplane, they’re the least important, for sure.
That’s pretty much it. If you Aviate, Navigate, and Communicate…in that order, always, you should forever have a solid tool to help you get out of a jam and safely prioritize the cockpit tasks you are dealing with. Learning to aviate, navigate, and communicate will increase your flying safety.
So how did I get out of that situation in Iraq with my task overloaded two-ship? Well I thought you’d never ask!
First, I decided to forget the pencil, it was gone into the bowels of the dark cockpit. I could accept the risk of it jamming up the ejection seat for now, and statistically that was a rarity anyway. So it was gone, and I had a pen I could use instead.
Second. I aviated. I immediately started climbing my two-ship, knowing altitude in the Viper means more fuel efficiency. I also told my wingman to “out climb” me to the top of our newly assigned block of airspace. I think we were told to “Elevator block 25 to 29” (FL 250 – FL 290) and I coordinated with him to go straight to Angels 29, and I would go to Angels 28 thus ensuring deconfliction in the dark night and a fuel saving strategy was immediately happening.
If you’re wondering why I ‘communicated” with my wingman right here, because communication comes after navigation…right? Well in the Viper we always had a dedicated second radio frequency, called interflight that we would only use to communicate to the flight members. Part of maneuvering (aviating) and navigating the 2-ship was communications. So I made a two second call on interflight to clue my wingman in on what was happening. “Ninja Two, set Angels 29.” That’s it. And besides, we always fly with contracts so when he saw me climbing, he knew that staying above me and deconflicting with me was his primary duty anyway. I could have maintained radio silence had I chosen to. Making the two second radio transmission certainly helped our overall effectiveness and navigational well being. It was an administrative call that aided his situational awareness.
Moving on. Third (thirdly?), after the new heading and our climbs begun, I started programming my new airspace assignment into the navigation system so I could see the outlines of my fragged area in my poor excuse for a moving map in the Viper. This also ensured that we were safely deconflicted from all other friendly air traffic nearby as we sorted out the situation. Frequent glances at the fire control radar screen also proved that nothing was off the nose anywhere near us anyway. Good.
Fourth and lastly, and only after I had both of us safely aviating (deconflicted) and navigating the right direction, I began to communicate with ATC. What must have seemed like hours to the poor ATC controller, I eventually piped up on the ATC radio and confirmed with him that we were moving to the new altitude and airspace. In addition I also begun coordination for a climb even higher (the fuel saving plan again) and a tanker plan I was concocting.
What I ended up telling the controller was a new strategy for getting gas faster. Due to our assigned tankers moving farther away because of the weather, we were going to request for them to fly toward us while we flew toward them at the same time. This would allow for us to all meet roughly halfway from the normal transit distance, where we could link up, get gas, and have them “drag us” to wherever they needed to go as we refueled. It was a pretty common technique and the trusty tanker guys were always willing to accommodate thirsty fighter guys who were down on their luck a little by “meeting us halfway.”
Off the boom, the rest of the sortie was smooth and easy as we patrolled our assigned areas looking for trouble. As we flew and slipped through the night sky peacefully, I unknowingly learned another lesson in how to aviate, navigate, communicate to increase flying safety.
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
Originally published on Fightersweep, October 2016, By Nate Jaros
You are basically put into a small coffin. It swings a little as you enter, reminiscent of how a gondola swings on its wire, or how a Ferris wheel car wobbles as you climb aboard at the local carnival.
Except this is no carnival ride. If it were, it would be the worst carnival ride known to man.
You are about to feel pain like never before…in the USAF centrifuge.
The centrifuge seat is unlike an ejection seat and feels a bit odd. Immediately there is a sense of claustrophobia in this tight pod-like device. There are no windows in this ride but there is a faint smell of vomit, and sweat…or is that just fear? A worker comes to the hatch and makes sure you are strapped in, goes over a few reminders on safety, and gives a not-very-reassuring “have fun” before sealing you in the dark pod.
Alone and Unafraid Before The Ride
The door clangs shut with a loud and metallic clank. It’s immediately dark and warm. You notice a pocket on the side wall with a strategically placed and unused barf bag in it.
The inside of this coffin is metal. There is a side stick like in the F-16 and a TV screen in front of you. After a few minutes, you notice a row of small lights, positioned horizontally above the screen, as well as the camera staring back at you. The one dim light in the pod reveals a lot of Squadron stickers and “zaps” inside the pod from previous carnival riders who have had the experience. There is also a large LED readout panel. It currently reads “1.0” as this is your current G level.
Soon a voice is heard from the controller calmly asking if you are ready. You respond yes, but you’re also not quite sure about that. Since there are no windows, you cannot discern motion or movement outside your “death bobsled.” This is when the fun begins.
There is a faint hum, and suddenly you feel really dizzy. Your eyes ping left and right, in rapid-fire movement. It is apparent that you are now spinning in this pod, but without visual cues from the outside world, it just feels weird.
The dizziness is an uncontrollable reaction to your inner ear, telling your body that you are spinning when your visual world is not. After a few minutes, the dizziness goes away as vision and movement stabilize at this pre-determined RPM. Unbeknownst to you, the centrifuge is actually hurtling around a room at 45 MPH, with the pod attached to the end of a long mechanical arm. The gauge up front reads “1.1” (G’s).
The thought crosses your mind: to fly fighters, you have to pass this test.
The voice asks again if you are ready. This first run is one of five needed to complete the training. Thankfully, this first run is a warm-up. You will only be pulling about seven Gs and must hold that for 30 seconds. Not a problem, right?
A computerized F-14 Tomcat appears on the screen and it looks like a video game. In this simulation, you are chasing the F-14 and the goal is to follow him. The harder he turns, the more you are supposed to pull on the stick. Pulling on the stick instantly increases the speed of your spinning pod to nearly 90 MPH but also increases the Gs. This means you are in direct control of the speed of the centrifuge AND the pain.
Double checking your G suit, you remember the G straining maneuver. This involves clenching every muscle in your body…from your toes to your chest. The goal is to physically hold blood in your brain and keep from passing out, or G-LOCing. G-LOC (G induced Loss of Consciousness) in the centrifuge is under a safe and controlled environment, but in a fighter it can be deadly. Passing out is not an option today if you want to fly fighters.
The Pain Train Begins
Your answer to the voice is a determined “Ready!”
Breath, clench, ready….Fights on, fights on!
The Tomcat takes off and you pull the stick as far as it will go to keep him on the computer screen. Immediately it feels like a hammer on your chest. The pod accelerates to the sensation of warp speeds. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning.
The speed stabilizes and the G meter reads 7.0. You continue the G strain, but your body is in pain. Not only does it feel like being smothered by really heavy weights, but every inch of your body feels as if it is under a vise. The pain is overbearing, but you have to hang on.
Your face begins to droop as if your cheeks are being stretched down to your shoulders. You’re just three to four seconds in now, but here is where the ride gets harder.
At this point, the body’s natural tolerance for G’s diminish. Your body wants to quit and pass out as all the blood is now draining from your head. It’s nearly impossible to breathe, but this is imperative to survive. Your pulse skyrockets as your heart attempts to keep blood pumping upstairs.
As your tolerance diminishes just three to four seconds into the pull, you distinctly notice that everything turns black and white. Color drains from the visual world and it is like watching a Black & White copy of Top Gun—except it’s not as funny. You continue to strain and push and breathe in short, succinct breaths in an effort to hold back the monster on your chest and in your head. What happens next is even scarier.
After everything goes black and white, the tunnel vision begins. A dark circle encroaches your vision, starting in the periphery, and slowly constricting what you can see. The lights on the end of the horizontal light bar above the screen entirely disappear. The circle begins to shrink further and further until everything is black, except for a little computerized F-14 on the now black and white screen in front of you.
The fight is even harder now. The black hole is beginning to swallow you…and you don’t want to fail. Getting all of your muscles to perform the G strain maneuver is your only hope. Exacting every bit of energy from every last muscle and timing your breathing in three second bursts is the only hope. The dark circle slowly begins to expand. It’s working! You continue to sustain the massive weight of G and most importantly continue to fight.
After what seems like minutes, the 30 second warmup run is complete and the centrifuge rapidly decelerates. The centrifuge slams you forward in the seat straps a little, and thankfully this round is over. There is a brief bit of dizziness with the velocity change in your sensory-robbed pod, but life, and color, and vision all return to normal. You are breathing like a prize fighter after round one but you made it.
The good news: there are only four more of these to go! And for those lucky enough to have been selected for an F-16, you will be rewarded with at least one 9 G profile today! A-10 selectees do a few more 7 and 7.5 G profiles, and Eagle pilot wannabees get an 8.5 G run or two.
After the last run, you are exhausted. So exhausted that when this nasty carnival ride stops, the staff un-bolts the door and assists you out of the seat. They gingerly walk you to a chair to sit in because walking on your own is nearly impossible. You might as well be a baby deer, or elk taking its first steps. No joke.
Some guys and gals lay flat on the ground, some sit in the chair for 20 to 30 minutes. Some vomit. There are well placed garbage cans everywhere. Everyone drinks water. But everyone is glad it’s done.
Another fun side effect is something we call “G-easles.” Like Measles, but with a letter G. They look like a case of Measles, but only appear on the underside parts of your body, where all the blood vessels and capillaries have burst under the massive strain.
You relax and sip water. Every so often the centrifuge whirrs up to speed and then spins back down again. This happens repeatedly as more classmates are going through this difficult crucible. Sometimes it stops entirely, and they haul out the next victim. Other times it stops and no one gets out immediately…another G-LOC occurred.
Unfortunately, that trainee gets to do it all over again tomorrow…or go home. No fighter jet for you.
I don’t know what would be worse, losing an opportunity to fly a fighter, or facing another five rounds against that ugly beast…the centrifuge.
Top Photo Credit: Youtube Peter Ehrnstrom
You Tube video: Alexandre Fernandes de Silva channel
If you haven't heard the big news, we had a save! I am humbled and honored that a pilot has read some of my teachings and it allowed them a measure of success, during an extremely difficult time in their cockpit.
While I certainly can not claim a majority of the credit, as we all know training and preparation will be what saves your bacon during ANY inflight emergency, I am again humbled to have helped out in some small way.
Have a look HERE to read the story verbatim, as it was sent to me and see some of the photos after an oil pressure line failed this Bonanza owner 4,500 feet over Northern Texas.
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
The year was 1989, and I had just logged about 15 hours in the local Cessna 150. My first 15 hours in any aircraft actually. I was flying out of a hole-in-the-wall airport in Hackettstown, New Jersey. The runway was just a 2,200 foot strip of asphalt, with a huge crest in the middle, and grass all around. Derelict planes lined the grassy sides of the runway, with weeds and such reaching up and gently brushing the old bellies of these sad beauties. I was nearing my first solo in what could have been the first Cessna 150 ever built (not really, but it sure looked the part) and I kept wondering to myself…what are the safety procedures in an aircraft?
My instructor’s name was Bruce. He seemed like an “older” gentleman, with a bit of a swagger and a beer gut too. I was just 17 years old, so to me Bruce seemed like he could have been in World War II but I bet his age back then was just in the mid-forties. Bruce was a competent and encouraging instructor pilot and CFI. I’ll never forget some of his early comments and tips as I learned the art of no-flap landings, steep turns, and turns about a point.
What was odd to me however was the lack of any mention of real safety procedures. I mean, I’m just here to learn to fly and get to solo right? Get those 15 hours and let her rip! But what if a wing falls off Bruce, what if we catch on fire rumbling along at a blistering 90 knots!?
This isn’t to say that Bruce was negligent, but back then there really wasn’t any syllabi or even any Pilot Practical Test Standards…that I knew of. We were deep into the backwaters of New Jersey (if there is such a thing). Oh sure, we did a few engine loss scenarios where he would pull the power and I’d find glide speed and we’d search for a field or road or something. But that was about it as far as safety procedures in this aircraft went for his instruction, and my learning.
Safety procedures in an aircraft, in any aircraft, are a huge deal these days. Again, I’m not saying it wasn’t important back then, but today even the mainstream media and your Average Joe knows quite a bit about safety procedures in various aircraft. Ask anyone about the Miracle on the Hudson, or MH370, or that Asiana flight that crashed on approach into San Francisco a few years back. That Average Joe today knows a heck of a lot more than most about aircraft safety and safety procedures.
Let’s also not forget our friendly local news which counts every bumpy landing at the local airpark as an “aircraft disaster.” Live at ten PM!
Developing Your Safety Procedures
One of the things I quite frequently reflect on from my past is just how much the USAF and our USAF training focuses on safety, and procedural safety knowledge. Safety knowledge and rote memorization of certain failure situations is paramount in military aircraft. We had to memorize multiple checklist procedures and were required to perform them flawlessly in the simulator every year as part of our check ride. It was no-joke, permanent record kind of stuff.
Sadly, until recently, I have not seen this level of commitment and concern in General Aviation. The training I have had over the years in GA with regard to safety procedures has been minimal. There was some training in-flight, but it generally involved an engine-out glide, and that was about it. No emergency checklist discussions, no fire in the cockpit procedures, no emergency divert, or low fuel discussions or reviews. It just didn’t happen.
I will give kudos however to some major players in GA today. Cirrus aircraft and their sharp recurring emergency training syllabi as well as the American Bonanza Society and its BPPP (Beech Pilot Proficiency Program) are both top shelf academic programs, and I bet you they have more than once saved someone’s life. Both are excellent approaches to flying safety and procedural safety knowledge, and are modeled after military and airline training programs. And I know there are some outstanding CFI's out there as well.
So what are your safety procedures in your aircraft? Do you have any?
Well of course you do, your POH has some checklists, and those are a great place to start. I even re-copied mine and made them into a laminated “quick sheet” in my kneeboard. I’d recommend you start there. Grab your POH and make up a Smart Card, or Quick Reference sheet, whatever suits you. You’ll be on your way to better procedures, and safer for it.
Have you heard of CAPS? No, not the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (although it’s definitely a cool feature). CAPS in professional aviation stands for Critical Action Procedures. They are the memory items for certain critical emergencies that you have to have memorized, period.
We have CAPS in the military and the major airlines have and use them too. I’d highly recommend you memorize a few of your critical emergencies in your aircraft’s procedures and train to them, as well as practice them on paper or with verbal repetition as part of your pre-takeoff checks. It’s pretty simple, but if you memorize a few checklist procedures, and practice them, it can help you perform them when you come under real pressure. It’s the same stuff the military and the majors do.
Lastly, if you’re looking for additional ideas for some safety procedures, here’s a pitch for my book. I’ve outlined a great set of engine failure CAPS that can be memorized and transported to just about any single-engine GA aircraft. They involve establishing a glide, switching fuel tanks, checking (and sweeping) the mixture, and checking the magnetos. Pretty typical stuff actually. But you need to have them memorized and practice them (even sitting on the ramp, engine off, use your cockpit like a simulator). Trust me, it helps.
Please consider your safety procedures for the aircraft you fly and be familiar with them. It’s more than just a checklist, and way more than good ole’ Bruce would teach. Make safety procedures in your aircraft available and clear. You never know when you might need them.
Originally published on Fightersweep.com, August 2016, by Nate Jaros
It was a cold winter night over Iraq. It was 2003 and OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) was in full swing and US fighter aircraft were getting used to their regular un-impeded patrols over the country. Operation Southern Watch and Operation Northern Watch had recently ended and “Shock-and-Awe” was completed earlier that March as well.
All of Iraq was our playground.
At the time, just two fighters, and a tanker were the only things airborne, 24/7 over the war-stricken country. And maybe a few UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) too. Air operations were slow actually, and modern airpower was more of a presence than an active participant…
We were with the 510th Fighter Squadron, out of Aviano, Italy. The Balkan Buzzards as we were sometimes called, but more commonly known in the Viper community as just “The Buzzards.”
Our whole squadron and 20+ jets were deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and was supporting OIF as well as OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) with daily and nightly two-ship sorties. A squadron of F-15E Strike Eagles was also with us, and we each alternated VUL (vulnerability) times over Iraq to maintain this 24/7 coverage.
Every four or five hours, a two-ship of Vipers or Mud Hens would launch from “The Deid,” head north along the Persian Gulf. The flight (two-ship) would get gas entering Iraq and proceed to their assigned tasking, while also relieving the other squadron that was finishing their business over the country after a five hour long sortie.
We typically had missiles (both long and short range) on board as well as an assortment of 500 pound LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and GPS guided JDAMs (Joint Directed Attack Munition). We were a Block 40 F-16 squadron and also carried our primary “tool” the LANTIRN Targeting Pod. The Targeting Pod was an Infra-Red telescope basically that was cockpit controllable, and had a laser designator for LGBs.
On this night, I was the flight lead with my young but combat-proven wingman “Chaos” on the wing. Chaos and I were paired by the squadron leadership, and enjoyed flying together every other night or so.
Leadership kept most flight leads and wingman paired over the course of the four month deployment to help build solid and reliable two-ship teams. Keeping guys paired together really helped reduce errors and develop a sense of camaraderie as well as professional in-flight synergy. Chaos knew what to expect out of me, and I knew what to expect out of him.
On a typical mission we would have three or four taskings across Iraq. We would maybe have an hour with a JTAC (Joint Terminal Air Controller) providing high cover for ground forces doing building searches. We would then move on to oil and gas pipeline patrols, or maybe an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) road scanning tasking, or even Army convoy support. We typically had lots to do in one mission.
The Threat of IED’s
During this timeframe the IED’s were getting so bad across Iraq that they were an expected daily threat. Finding “bad guys” digging along road sides was quite common. “In August and September 2003, IEDs were responsible for more U.S. combat fatalities than the combined totals for direct fire weapons (small arms and rocket-propelled grenades [RPGs]) and indirect fire, the methods that had, historically, caused the majority of battle casualties” (Smith, 2011).
Chaos and I had come off the tanker and were proceeding to North-Central Iraq. It was just a 15 to 20 minute transition as the tanker was orbiting nearby. Below us was a heavy cloud deck and seeing anything on the ground with our eyes, NVGs, or the “pod” was impossible. As we passed over various cities this dark night, glowing amber-yellow city lights lit up the low clouds below us and cast an odd eerie feel to the solid cloud deck.
We were assigned to convoy support for a line of Army vehicles near Bayji and Tikrit traveling south toward Samarra along the major North-South road that went from Mosul in Northern Iraq to Baghdad.
Army Convoy in Trouble
I recall checking in with the convoy commander on time, on the designated freq as they began their slow and nervous drive south. We reported that we couldn’t see them for the weather, but would support in any way possible from high above. We had their coordinates and with updates we could track their position and be ready to assist if needed.
We circled above their position, like buzzards, in the dark and cold night with nothing to look at but softly-lit orange clouds below.
I don’t remember any hostilities initially, but the convoy commander soon became loud and concerned about something. His voice changed a few octaves and we heard him halt the convoy. We heard him coordinating a lot of actions and activity as well. Something was happening below us.
It was typical for IEDs to be rigged for timed detonation, while others would detonate actively when a ‘bad guy’ typically hidden somewhere pressed his detonator switch at the appropriate time. Some IEDs could detonate automatically when they sensed a vehicle or a large movement, or noise…but those were rarer as they required more technology. In 2003 the enemy was just looking for ways to easily disrupt or kill our ground forces, and they were good at it.
The convoy commander indicated over the radio that they had some suspicious activity and personnel ahead, as well as intelligence reports that IED planters and enemy were all along this route near them, placing their deadly weapons and waiting. He informed Chaos and I that they had reason to believe there were IEDs a few miles ahead, due to the skeptical roadside activity they were witnessing.
Calling us in for immediate weapons effects was not typical.
With no way to truly know if the people in the fields and roadside ahead were friendly civilians, kids playing, or bad guys, and no way to tell if that box on the side of the road was a bomb or just junk—there wasn’t much we could do at times. We could spend weeks bombing along roadsides and just waste a lot of weapons. Use of force was atypical for this type of problem.
The Show-of-Force Tactic
The preferred tactic was called a Show-of-Force (SoF). The Show-of-Force was akin to a shot across the bow, as they say. Basically it was one step before the use of actual force, and it was appropriate near certain high collateral damage areas.
In any fighter, a SoF equalled “be as loud, visible, and aggressively postured as possible.” A low pass with the ear shattering afterburner engaged was the preferred method. Additionally, intelligence reports told us that most enemy combatants would drop their weapons, detonate their IEDs, and simply run in the presence of any US aircraft. We used that fact to our advantage.
The commander requested a SoF from our two-ship, north to south, a single pass each. Somehow Chaos and I got below the weather and I remember emerging from the soup at about two or three thousand feet above the dark desert, with a clear, serpentine, well-lit road carving through the desert visible to the East…and on it were the tiny dots of a convoy, holding its position.
Getting low in a combat situation has the effect of heightening the senses. Not only was it dark and the unforgiving desert a real threat (from hitting it), but they had people down there that liked to shoot back. Anything below about 5,000 feet above ground level really got you on edge. Above that, there were no threats. Speed (and lights off) was life down low. NVGs kept you sane because at least you could see.
With clearance from the commander, we reported five miles to the north for the SoF. I went in first with Chaos offset and about two miles in trail. I lowered the nose toward the road as I aligned, and offset a bit to the right, on the west side. I would take the road down my left side, as fast as I could.
Accelerating through 300 knots, now lower, then 400 knots… I came overtop the convoy and plugged in the afterburner. The jet lurched forward as if kicked in the ass and I watched the fuel flow climb through 40,000 pph (pounds per hour) while the airspeed slipped past 500 knots. The road and earth was not far below me and screaming past at an incredible rate.
Then I saw the flashes.
Were they shooting? No those flashes were too big and bright. Did Chaos get hit I thought? No I could see his burner plume back there, following me and repeating my flightpath on the other side of the road.
Those were IEDs going off! One flash, two flash, then another!
Huge explosions flashed in the night, lighting up the atmosphere and casting strange flashbulb effects on the low clouds above us. Yet we could hear nothing. It was quiet in the cockpit, nothing to hear but the sound of cooling air flowing and the visual spectacle of the serpentine lit road passing extremely fast below. But down below, it must have looked like the 4th of July to the troops in the convoy.
We terminated afterburner approaching the Mach and became instantly invisible again. Over the inter-flight radio freq I told Chaos I was climbing back into the weather and headed for clear air. He followed and we quickly rejoined up above the weather, slowing our fire-breathing machines in the relative safety of altitude.
Our time was up and by now gas was getting low as well. “That ought to do it” the convoy Commander’s voice crackled on the radio, clear happiness and relief audible in his voice.
We were set for one more tanker and then the long drive home down the Gulf back to Al Udeid. We checked out with the convoy commander and he had a few words of praise and thanks. It seemed that our SoF scared off enough bad guys and caused a few others to hit their detonators and run back into the deserts and towns nearby. Those Army boys would be safe tonight on their long slow drive. Pretty cool.
We reflected on the sortie as the pink sun rose over the dusty gulf on our way back home. I still can’t imagine the courage it would take to drive a vehicle in a war zone, knowing that any second it could just explode.
We were glad to have helped, if even just a little… and with all our weapons still on board.
Here's a free look at the opening for my book!
"I learned the discipline of flying in order to have the freedom of flight....Discipline prevents crashes."
- Captain John Cook, British Airways, Concorde Pilot
General Aviation (GA) aircraft accidents kill hundreds of people every year. These crashes and fatalities have always been a source of much discussion, and a source of much study. Amidst all of the statistic and analysis, engine power loss and mechanical failure mishaps continue to be a leading cause of fatal accidents in General Aviation. In fact, engine loss accidents are the number one cause of crashes not later deemed as “pilot error.”
How can we better prepare pilots for these types of failures, the types of failures that are out of their control and in which no one can see coming? With this book, and some training, I aim to help you become a more informed and safer pilot. You will be armed with the tactics to defeat the engine loss situation in your single engine aircraft, and survive.
A fact sheet issued by the FAA in 2014 stated that powerplant system component failure was the third leading cause for all General Aviation fatalities for the decade 2001 – 2011 (FAA Fact Sheet, 30 Jul 2014). Only loss of control inflight and controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) have a higher fatality rate.
Why are engine loss accidents and fatality rates so high? Are not all pilots well trained and well versed in handling emergencies, especially with an emergency as significant as losing an engine? Loss of an engine inflight is a significant event, a serious emergency, especially for a single engine airplane. Interestingly enough, while not totally avoidable, and certainly unpredictable, this emergency is one that can have a catastrophic outcome or a totally safe outcome. There are people who have lost their engine in General Aviation single engine aircraft, and are still here to talk about it. Yet there are also incredible statistics of fatalities for the same. Why are there such polar opposites regarding this particular emergency procedure?
According to the FAA, an Advisory Circular issued 15 Jun 1998 on reciprocating engine power-loss accident prevention and trend monitoring disclosed that the overall trend of engine loss accidents had basically remained the same as that of the 1960s. Of 1,007 engine related accidents reviewed from 1994 through 1996 “518 or 51% of the accidents were attributed to pilot error, such as poor [engine] preflight planning, inspection, or improper use of engine controls. 302 accidents or 30% were attributed to mechanical failure such as valve or cylinder failure, and the remaining 187 accidents or 19% were attributed to improper [engine] maintenance and/or inspection of the aircraft” (FAA AC 20-105B, Jun 1998). I’d also like to emphasize here that the above 51% includes fuel starvation and fuel mismanagement incidents as well.
Let me reiterate the above quotation. In over 1,000 engine failure accidents in a three year timeframe, every one of them resulted in some kind of engine-out situation and possibly subsequent bending of metal or bruising of egos!
I’d like to think that I (or you) as professional and conscientious pilots could eliminate just about all of those accident variables by fueling correctly, preflighting correctly, and having excellent engine maintenance and care of any airplane we fly. Obviously, all of these dangers are not totally escapable or avoidable, especially for the rental fleet. However I would like to think that they are, and that I personally could catch and stop an imminent engine emergency by conducting better preflighting and fueling operations. Additionally, with some of today’s engine analyzers and avionics, it is quite possible to catch “telltale” signs of impending engine trouble, or at least the trends in engine performance if one is diligent with his or her engine data downloads. There are tools and methods available to today’s pilot that can increase one’s engine health knowledge a fair amount. Theoretically, engine loss events could be a thing of the past. This is plausible, yet engine failures and accidents continue to occur every day.
Are pilots becoming safer? The Air Safety Institute reported in 2014 that total General Aviation accidents (of all types) in 2013 fell “by an unprecedented 18% from the year before, dropping below 1,000 for the first time. This improvement continued with a further 3% decrease to an all-time low of 923 in 2014” (ASI Scorecard, 2014). They also confirmed that these rates were not due to a decrease in flight activity.
So things might be improving from the “dark days” of the late-nineties. We also find that recently, 2011 was one of the safest years on record. “Documented mechanical failures or errors in aircraft maintenance caused 12% of all non-commercial fixed-wing accidents in 2011, including 7% of the fatal accidents. Both figures were at or near historic lows: The total of 147 [aircraft mechanical failures] was the smallest in the modern era, while 15 fatal accidents is just one more than the record [low] of 14 set in 2005” (Nall Report, 2011).
Are things trending toward recovery for overall GA safety? Perhaps. The fact still remains that pilots can unexpectedly lose their engine inflight, and there is nothing anyone can do about that. Historical statistics say that about 25-30% of the engine related accidents were just pure mechanical failures. Or as we sometimes like to say “the hatch just blew!” Of that 25-30% pure mechanical failure rate, there is nothing that you, or a CFI, or even Bob Hoover could have done about it had they been in the air that day. It just wasn’t their day and the engine was going to fail no matter what was done in the preflight, fueling, or the maintenance beforehand. That is a pretty scary statistic if you ask me.
A recent independent study done by Cirrus Aircraft enthusiast and operator Mr. Joe Kirby looked at just Cirrus SR-22 and Bonanza A/G36 accidents from January 2010 through December 2014. He carefully went through the NTSB database and created his own incredible spreadsheet (available on the Engine Out webpage) which detailed every SR-22 and Bonanza 36 accident and its cause during that four year span. For these two specific airframes, over the specified timeframe, Mr. Kirby found that the number of engine mechanical failures were similar for both aircraft. He discovered that for each aircraft about 20% of the accidents were caused by pure mechanical engine failure (personal communication, March 2016). Interestingly, he also found nearly identical results to the above FAA Fact Sheet with regards to pilot loss of control and impact into terrain.
Of note, Mr. Kirby found fuel mismanagement statistics were markedly higher in Bonanza aircraft and accounted for nearly 24% of accidents, while Cirrus fuel mismanagement statistics accounted for just 4% of accidents for that aircraft. Generally speaking, fuel mismanagement accident statistics have decreased across the fleet from 8% of all GA accidents in 2002, to 5% of all accident caused in 2012 (Nall Reports, 2013 & 2003).
But enough statistics for now, let us change gears for a minute and talk about something related, the engine out emergency.
If you are like most pilots, you have received what you probably perceive as an adequate level of engine out training in your GA single engine aircraft. In my opinion, this engine loss training as well as the level of understanding for a majority of GA pilots and CFIs is severely lacking. Why do I say that?
It wasn’t until I completed USAF pilot training and attained over 2,000 hours in fighters and fighter-type aircraft that I realized the extreme difference between GA and the military with regards to emergency training and specifically, engine out training. I am not saying that all CFIs are cowboys and cavalier about this type of schooling. I’m also not implying that all GA pilots are unskilled in this area. Many GA pilots are highly competent, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Airplanes continue to lose engines and people still lose lives every week due to crashes following engine power loss. I know that most CFIs do happen to teach some kind of engine out training, however, I will offer that this training is grossly inadequate, and the average GA pilot’s currency (i.e., practice) in engine out training is just as equally underwhelming.
Most of my GA engine out training (back in the day!) was simply the CFI pulling my throttle to idle and then instructing me on how to find a landing spot and what was the best glide speed for whatever aircraft we were training in that day. Seldom did we ever address restarts, checklists procedures, Critical Action Procedures (CAPs), or the more advanced thoughts on energy management, drag management, sight pictures and touchdown planning. I believe the average GA student and certainly the private or commercial single engine pilot needs to know some of these key concepts.
Additionally, when was the last time your CFI asked you to go practice engine out procedures? Most of mine never really did, or do. If you are practicing engine out procedures today, good on ya! If you are a CFI, are you teaching these advanced concepts? Or are you just pulling the throttle, announcing “engine failure” and then doing a simple glide to some point on the earth with little or no further discussion with your student?
What about this, does the following drill sound familiar? Maybe you had a CFI “kill your engine” on a recent BFR or a checkout of some kind. “Now pick a landing site,” he or she said. You diligently found a field or some road during the “procedure” and executed a glide to it with a go around as you neared the open field. You managed to make it to the field and execute a go around. You felt pretty good about that actually. Success! you think to yourself; you have been trained in engine out procedures! Easy as lemon pie right?
Well, no not really, I am being sarcastic. What I hope to impart upon you is not the inadequacies of your CFI and the training you received, but instead point out where some of that training has fallen short, and what all GA pilots need to be prepared for while instilling a further sense of the knowledge and factors that all contribute to a successful engine out scenario and a successful recovery. Unfortunately, most GA engine out training is deficient and lacking some of the basics that every pilot needs. Simply pulling the throttle to idle and holding best glide speed will not be ample practice for most GA pilots, especially new or inexperienced pilots, and maybe for some of our more seasoned flyers too. There is so much more to engine loss training.
As an ex-military fighter pilot, I recall the incredible amount of training I went through in my single engine airplane to prepare me for all kinds of emergencies, and especially the engine out situation. Not only did we learn and prepare for losing our one-and-only engine in the aircraft, but we regularly continued to train for losing that engine as well. And we even had an “ace up our sleeve” ...the ejection seat! If things really got bad, well the ole ejection seat was always there to save us from certain doom...right? Even so, we trained heavily for the engine out situation and even had to demonstrate one all the way to the landing flare during our recurring check rides.
In fighters, we also maintained a currency for practice engine out scenarios. One a month minimum to be exact, or twelve a year was the minimum number to have logged “in the books.” We also had a 90-day currency. What that means is that every pilot was required to go out and actually practice an engine out profile at those intervals. Failure to do so or to meet that required currency would lead to additional training with an instructor pilot and could also even ground the individual if he or she was significantly overdue. We took engine out practice very seriously...and the USAF did as well. These currencies and training rules were heavily documented and described in various regulations and paper guidance that we were required to follow.
This book is designed from a fighter pilot’s view of engine out training. I am not attempting to offer a military-like training regimen for GA pilots, nor am I suggesting that all GA pilots “fit into the mold” of a military style training course. Nor do I “know it all” or pretend to know it all. My hope, for this book is simply to attempt to impart upon you, the GA pilot, some of the ways in which we trained for emergencies (specifically the engine out scenario) in the military in hopes that you can follow a similar course for your own training, and ultimately make all GA pilots well-versed and thus safer when it comes to engine loss in flight. This book will give you a new bag of tricks and tactics, all designed to help you overcome an engine out situation, but the willingness and desire to go practice this stuff...is up to you.
You will not become Chuck Yeager after reading this book. However, after reading this book you will probably know way more than your average GA pilot about engine loss scenarios and recoveries, maybe even more than your CFI. If you are a CFI, you will be able to add even more realism and relevance to your teachings.
My desires are that you take your time to digest this book and then go out and apply and practice some of these techniques in your single engine aircraft of choice. Quite possibly (and hopefully) this writing will teach you some new techniques, and optimistically it can become a good source of reference for you as you continue to advance your pilot skill sets. By reading this book and taking measures to address your own training for emergencies and engine out situations, you have taken the first step to becoming a safer GA pilot. I applaud you!
Lastly, while this book is designed for the General Aviation pilot in any single engine airplane, we will be focusing our studies, charts, and procedures on one specific aircraft, the Beech Bonanza. Even though some of these examples and procedures are Bonanza specific, please realize that all of the following procedures may be used in any single engine aircraft. While glide ratios and speeds and so forth might be different than in your particular aircraft of choice, the concepts and facts all still apply. Some minor adjustments to your procedures and numbers will of course be needed, however we will generally focus on the Bonanza to keep things simple. I will also do my best to keep this book “math free.” If you are like me, math is a challenge, even at one G and zero knots! Where applicable, I’ll have the math accomplished and illustrated for you to review.
So I will conclude by answering one of my above questions. When I stated ‘There are people who have lost their engine in General Aviation single engine aircraft, and are still here to talk about it. Yet there are also incredible statistics of fatalities for the same. Why are there such polar opposites regarding this particular emergency procedure?’
I believe the answer is training and knowledge. Training and knowledge are what will save you from an engine loss situation (and any emergency actually). If you are a pilot, or a CFI, looking to expand your engine out knowledge and training repertoire, this book is for you.
I hope you enjoy it, and I sincerely hope you learn from it!
Originally published on Fightersweep.com, December 2016, by Nate Jaros
It was August of 2008 and my Squadron, the 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams” were deployed to Balad Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The heat was unbearable that summer, and regular temperatures over 120 degrees F were not uncommon. Temperatures on the ramp were even hotter, as shimmering heat reflected off the hard concrete, metal “start carts” and maintenance stuff, as well as our heavily loaded Vipers. Metal things literally burn you if you touch them at 120 degrees F in the sun.
For some amount of time during this six month deployment, I was on “mids.” Mids was after “day shift” but before “night shift” and typically we arrived at work around 1 or 2 PM, launched for a combat sortie in the late afternoon or early evening, and recovered six hours later just in time for midnight chow. Mids was a good time to do combat ops as you typically had some amount of daytime flying, and could also do some night stuff too when things cooled off and the “bad guys” started getting a little “wiley.”
But man was it hot. Just walking to the squadron from the crew car was miserable. The sun was relentless and the heat and humidity zapped the energy and fluids from you in minutes. I have never before felt that kind of heat.
When we “stepped” to go fly, remember that we had on many layers of clothing. Normal shirts and flight suits of course, but on top of that we had a thick G-suit, a survival vest loaded with goodies and a handgun, gloves, and a helmet bag full of smart packs, papers, digital transfer cartridges, flashlights, NVGs, food, water…oh, and a helmet too. It wasn’t uncommon to have ten to fifteen pounds of gear on, plus another small suitcase of stuff to carry to the jet.
We also went everywhere with bottles of water. A one-liter bottle was common and most guys and gals took at least one with them for a five to six hour sortie.
When it was time to go, you were already sweating like a stuck pig by the time you stepped out of the squadron and into the moderately cool van that would take you to your aircraft.
When you arrived at your jet, it was like stepping out of a warm room and into an inferno. We’d greet our crew chief (who was already on his fourth or fifth one liter bottle of water as he’d been out at the jet prepping it for two hours, in the baking sun). A typical quick handshake ensued, followed by checking the forms on the jet, and then performing a standard five minute walk around of the aircraft checking tires, fluid levels, weapons configurations and so forth. Needless to say, by the time you were ready to climb in, you were already soaked through in sweat and maybe down halfway on your one liter bottle of water. The heavy gear and G-suit didn’t help much for cooling either.
On this particular day I remember climbing in, strapping in, and starting the engine. I was already feeling pretty exhausted and dehydrated and I consumed another few gulps of my water taking my bottle to about half full. I was soaked to the bone, there wasn’t anything dry on my body and the sweat poured from my brows under the heavy and hot helmet.
During the start sequence we had a problem. Something was wrong in the hydraulic system and the crew chief alerted me to the issue. After a minute or so, we determined that the aircraft was a no-go due to the hydraulics and I would need to go to the spare aircraft.
We’ve all had to go to the spare before… but on this day… in this heat… those were the words I just didn’t want to hear.
After shutting down the engine, it was time to collect my nest of carefully placed documents, bags, bottles, papers, smartpacks, NVGs and batteries and all the stuff required to do a combat sortie in a single seat fighter. I was also a literal hot mess by this point and even more sweat-soaked, and really feeling the effects of the heat with all the gear on. I cannot adequately describe how the heat feels, with all that gear layered on you.
I remember stepping to the spare aircraft, feeling like a lost survivor roaming the deserts of the Sahara, I eventually arrived, red-faced, soaked, and miserable at the spare Viper.
I greeted my new crew chief, re-nested and stowed my gear, and did my second walkaround of the day. I finished my now luke-warm one liter bottle of water and strapped in. By this time I had been in the 120 degree heat for nearly 34 minutes and was about tapped. The heat and excess clothing, gear, and weight had about done me in. I looked and felt like Rocky Balboa after ten rounds with The Champ.
We were always instructed and permitted to call “knock-it-off” for safety at any time. If the situation dictated due to human limits, or some other safety related incident, we could “make the call” and stop everything. I distinctly remember strapping into the spare jet, ten pounds lighter than when I left the squadron building telling myself “if this jet doesn’t start, and I have to go to another spare, I am done for the day.” I was completely overheated, and weary.
About 45 minutes after departing the squadron building, less one big bottle of water and gallons of sweat, the new jet started up nicely and I closed the canopy totally excited about the cool air now filling the cramped space around me. It was heaven and I knew that I’d be okay for continuing the combat sortie. Had it not worked, I to this day, feel that I would have had some kind of heat stroke or other heat-related injury.
It was that hot.
I remember tapping into my reserve water supply, my “if you have to eject water” as we taxied out and eventually launched to go fight the fight that day, but certainly, for me…that was the hottest I’ve ever been, and closest to a heat related failure that I’ve ever known.
I’m proud that I was able to continue on that day and fly the mission, but I won’t lie about being seconds from “calling uncle” and going back into the building, head hung in shame for the heat if that second jet had failed me.
About four hours later in that sortie, as nightfall arrived for my two-ship over Iraq, I oddly remember finally feeling dry and comfortable. Just another day over Iraq.
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is deadly, period. It's odorless and colorless. While flying along, you might feel a little headache coming on, maybe some confusion or tiredness...and before you know it you and your passengers are incapacitated. It's a real threat in today's aging (and new) GA fleet. It's an insidious killer.
Our friends at Bold Method have an outstanding article here if you want to know more. But I'm sure you already know the dangers of CO poisoning, and if you're thinking those little paper colored disks are going to help you...think again. I've found some research and user testimonials that say they don't, or don't work so well. They also lose effectiveness over time sitting in your hot cockpit.
One of the best features of this little device is...it's little! I love it, and the fact that it can sit on my panel where I can see it easily. It doesn't take up much real estate, but it's effective in doing it's job well despite that size.
What's also interesting is that the Pocket CO detector will trigger an alarm at three different intervals depending on what levels of CO it detects. These trigger at 50, 125, and 400 ppm with 50 ppm being the maximum permissible OSHA workplace CO exposure level. Smart. I "ops check" mine every so often by placing it near my car exhaust, and it goes bonkers! Ops check good!
I know it's a little pricey, but your health and safety are worth it, aren't they?...at least that's how I justified it to my wife :-) But honestly, if you're into safety like me, you can't put a price on that.
If you're looking for a simple and effective CO detector for your cockpit, the Pocket CO is a great way to go, and I think it's the best!
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
I keep seeing threads and discussions asking "what is the best product to help remove scratches from my aircraft plexiglass?" I even had a hangar neighbor ask me this very question the other day. It seems that folks just don't know what products are safe as well as effective.
Well the BEST stuff in my opinion is this goo called NOVUS. I have been using it for years on my Bonanza's plexi and even wingtip lenses. Any plexiglass really!
I need to get some before and after photos, and put them on this blog section, but the stuff really works. I've heard of a few guys getting crazy with the stuff and orbital or machine polishers, and damaging their aircraft windows. Obviously, any kind of mechanical polisher can do damage, regardless of the product you use on it...so just be smart, and careful. I did my old hazy, and scratched windows by hand. It took some time, but the results were worth it.
It's a 3-step process (kinda like coarse sand paper, medium grit sand paper, and fine sand paper.) And it really works! Give it a try, you can't damage anything if you do it by hand and use some elbow grease. I think one of the below kits has some cloths that come with it, but any cotton cloth will suffice, just make sure it's clean and dirt-free.
I used this stuff on my windows as well as some tinted G&D window inserts that reside in my plane. Man did it all work great! The Novus products really got rid of the coarse scratches and the medium and fine stuff too, while also just cleaning up years of dirt and grime and wear. I'd even go so far as to say that some of the haziness that is really common in the old plexi was removed. The milky-ness too.
I hope you'll give this Novus a shot next time you need to revitalize your plexiglass, or work out any scratches. I think you'll be impressed.
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
Here's the scenario: You're at 10,000 MSL and your engine fails. You are at the black dot in the center of the picture, on glide speed, and exactly 17 nm from two airports. Airport A is to the North, and Airport Z is to the South. Both airports are at Sea Level. Winds are from the North at 10 KIAS, and constant throughout all altitudes. We also are presuming a perfectly held glide speed for best L/D MAX for entire profile. Yes this is a hypothetical situation, but it brings about a good discussion and some good key points to remember and train for.
For those that don't know, the Bonanza glide ratio in feet per nm is 1.7/1,000 feet. That is a nominal clean Bonanza, on speed will glide 1.7 nm for every 1,000 feet of altitude.
So in the case above, IF THERE WAS NO WIND, theoretically, the engine out airplane could make it to either airport. But as with real life, we have winds to contend with.
Given our scenario, and winds... Which airport to do you choose?
Knowing our glide performance and ratios, you might be tempted to pick Airport A, that headwind might help you "float" or stay aloft longer. Maybe??
Well, this is simply not true. The gliding airplane will perform the same throughout the glide profile and and airmass, and the headwind component will simply slow your ground speed and you will land short of Airport A. Your TIME in the glide will remain the SAME as if you were in a no wind situation. With headwinds, your ground speed will suffer, and you will not reach Airport A.
By the way, how far short would you land if you went to Airport A?
That's easy! 1.7 nm
Remember, that for every 10 KIAS of wind through 10,000 feet of altitude will reduce your glide RANGE by a factor of your glide ratio per nautical mile. So for the Bonanza at 1.7nm/1,000' ... you will land precisely 1.7 nm short. This of course assumes a perfectly held indicated airspeed for the weight of the aircraft, and perfect 10 KIAS of headwind all the way down. Not very realistic, but an interesting relationship none-the-less.
So that leaves us with Airport Z.
Airport Z is your best option. The wind will "push" you there faster and theoretically you would arrive 1.7nm "early" due to our above math relationship. That equates to 1,000 feet of altitude in the Bonanza. Perfect to set up your energy for a Low Key or Base Key downwind entry for a 180 degree turn back to the north and a nice touchdown. So you'll arrive overhead Airfield Z at 1,000 AGL. Make sense?
Key takeaway: Always consider ALL available surfaces to land, keeping in mind that all surfaces that reside in a "downwind cone" from your present position will be better options than ones that force you into fighting headwinds through the glide. When touching down (engine out), if at all possible, it's always advisable to land into the wind to slow that groundspeed and reduce impact forces.
See more discussions like this one in Engine Out Survival Tactics, available in paperback or eBook.
Nate "Buster" Jaros
What is Engine Out? Relevant aviation topics, key safety techniques, war stories, and pilot tips from Fightersweep writer and the author of Engine Out Survival Tactics, Fighter Pilot Tactics for GA Engine Loss Emergencies.
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