Fatal Gyro Accident in Putnam County, Fl

Resasi

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Being with a big group at Henstridge with lots of students, only one instructor, and a limit on wind conditions, I spent years instead of weeks getting my licence. It was invaluable time being around a large gyro group soaking up knowledge and others experiences.

I am sure that all of us at some stage have over-controlled in some situation or another, I certainly know I have, and embarrassingly not so long ago. When I have done so I find that I have unconsciously reverted to a death grip on the control column or in this last case the spade grip.

By releasing and obliging myself to go back to a light three fingered grip, I find that I revert back to smoother lighter manipulation of the controls and reducing my over-controlling.
 
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WaspAir

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Many gliding clubs [well UK anyway] have a old bus in the centre of the field and a variety of club members man the winch, get the gliders out, make the tea, strap in, attach the tow rope, man the radio, someone might even fly the tug aircraft etc - all day. The prize is maybe they get the odd circuit in a club glider.

That spirit helps a) getting people interacting and exchanging views b) it makes you think about flying often. You don't just wake up think "hmmm I'd like to do gyroplane flying... " then for some the next thing they do is spend $100k on one and then only after that do they even consider having to fly it!

Its utterly nuts. Where is the arm around the shoulder, the engagement?

Most glider clubs in the U.S. are very much like that. There is an interdependence, because a typical (nonmotorized) glider needs a tow plane and pilot, a winger runner, etc., to fly at all. It provides lots of camaraderie and many opportunities for both formal and informal mentoring. Commonly, the club will own two-seaters and instruction for members will be provided by other members who are CFIs, including check-outs for the club-owned single seaters. Individuals usually own single place ships, but still want and need the club support (and use the two place ships for flight reviews, annual recurrency, giving rides to friends, and so on). I've spent a fair bit of the last two weeks creating a new pre-solo written test for our club, and it has produced some really valuable discussions among our CFIs for standardization and improvement.

In contrast, the gyro world contains many more loners, some by choice and some by virtue of large physical separation in a big country. It is possible to operate all by yourself, and many do, sometimes because it is necessary.
 

fara

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Mr. Fara, you you have taken my words way to literally.
100k 100hp....okay 100+hp.....better?
The guy who had the gusset lock had some severe manouevres just after take off as he tried to figure out why he couldn't turn left. In his attempts to analyse the problem, he let the bird get away from him.(sorry, he allowed the nose to porpoise)
As for the FAA or NTSB issues, it was my experience that as it was an Experimental, they were mostly interested in filing a quick report and moving on. The investigation was not quite up to the level of scrutiny for Pan Ams flight 103 in Lockerbie.
Do I think every student should learn how to hand pat up a set of rotors on a no wind day?

You bet your sweet ass!

Cause by the time the lightbulb goes off you will NEVER misunderstand "rotor management" again.

I was not suggesting that a youtube video was saying PIO looked good.
I was questioning if there was an exterior facet to their training/understanding that might NOT have been overtly obvious in their schooling.

I can see why you have taken my thoughts on this personally, maybe even proffesionally but just because you might not like my line of thinking doesn't make me wrong.
Flying a gyro safely is not as simple and easy as some would have us believe, the accident rate shows this.
As a friend once told me about getting into bomb disposal as a career, "It ain't like the poster!"

I will leave this subject and this thread alone. Nothing I say will make any difference to anyone here anyways.
Again my condolences to the family.

the problem is you asking we should all learn hand starting a rotor did not prove to do much for accident rates when they were hand starting the rotors on singles. So there is nothing that shows that when that was being done the rotors were not being unloaded and accidents were not happening.

I think training in type (tandem with 912/914 or tandem with high power 915 or side by side config with 912/914 and with high power like with 915) is more important than things like hand starting rotors. That is what seems obvious to me and pilots regardless of experience actually voluntarily seeking that training because rules right now do not require it. I won’t be calling any CFI who has people hand starting rotors any names mind you. But I do not believe PIO have much to do with hand starting rotors. No one wants to do PIOs but it’s lack of feel and control on the part of the pilot who is not by choice putting exaggerated inputs in and is behind the aircraft. We can all relate to that when we fly a new aircraft. And this isn’t just a gyro thing.
 
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DavePA11

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So for those gyro pilots who want to try spinning up rotors from low rpms to replicate hand spinning after reading these posts to be careful of runway and wind conditions so not to get into situation where you have a flap that can potentially cause unwanted damage. For example, hitting deep tire tracks frozen across grass runways with low rotor RPMs can cause flap.

I wouldn’t recommend trying to replicate the old days of hand turning the rotor. Not worth the expense to fix result of it if not done in ideal conditions.
 

Philbennett

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Its a big shame people don't embrace the training side a little more. Personally it was always great fun and one great thing about it is that you have a fine excuse for the wife. "Oh I'm just off flying sweetheart... Its a very important lesson today we are doing [insert XYZ lesson here]" Then you can poke off all day and return and blame the instructor and his time keeping, the weather, the plan, briefing etc for being all day away and doing flying... plus of course its all justifiable because "Hey its important stuff, you want me to stay safe..."

Plus in to the bargain you get some war stories, do flying, make some interesting trips and learn things that have taken decades for others to learn the hard way! When you think about it the premium charged for the instructor - what is it? $100/hr? Its peanuts really. Then you get to do it all next week and the week after.

You get a licence and now you can't blame the lateness, you are on your own most of the time because who is keen to go flying with a zero time PPL full of enthusiasm and a grin but empty on all else.... Funny old world and I feel sorry for the kids who likely won't even be able to do the flying I did because airfields are closing and you go to the average UK airfield and the average age must be 60+++
 

DavePA11

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I flew probably close to 100 kids with the Young Eagles program in fixed wing aircraft, and ran into about 4 or so later that said they went off and got their pilots license after flying with me. I didn’t remember them, but they remembered me and my yellow Cub.

I stopped flying with Young Eagles when everything started to be politically correct. I found most kids would rather be texting or playing video games. Very few want any hands on experience with mechanical things. I could always tell right away when the kids had no interest in flying, but sometimes would spur there interest once in the air letting them do some flying and pointing out landmarks they are interested in such as their home, school or even friends home...
 

Tyger

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Dave, your point is well-taken about kids being mesmerized (captivated?) by portable "entertainment", but what do you mean, exactly, about being "politically correct" as far as Young Eagles? It seems a shame that you have given it up after doing it successfully for so long.
I think part of the issue with younger folk is they expect instant answers and, especially, results, in large part because of technology. My own son can be very impatient in this way, despite actually having the mental attitude and fortitude to have become an electrical engineer.
But nor are we "olders" immune to this ourselves these days...
 

DavePA11

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Tyger - Young Eagles now require background checks and training on dealing with kids similar to requirement of coaches with sports. Just felt like I was being treated as a criminal helping kids with my time and money. Just not worth it for me. I still offer to take people (adults or kids) flying if they show interest, but not part of Young Eagles where often it is advertised as free flights rather than intro flights for kids wanting to experience flying.
 

schmoe90

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I think the background checks are an insurance requirement, rather than an EAA requirement.

I've done a couple of Young Eagle events with the gyroplane, and kids seem wary of the "funny little red helicopter" at the beginning of the day, but I usually end up missing lunch because there's a line of kids wanting to fly in the gyros - it seems actually seeing the thing flying whets the appetite to fly in it. We have twin girls who specifically ask to fly in the gyros now, and they get there early in the morning to do it - I've flown both of them, and was supposed to do it again in April in the before times.

One of my Young Eagles went on to get her PPL in a Ray scholarship, and is studying aeronautics at Embry Riddle right now - we went at the end of the day so had more time to go and have fun, and she said the gyro was the most fun she'd had flying. Earlier in the day she'd been in an RV-8 :)
 

Resasi

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did not prove to do much for accident rates when they were hand starting the rotors on singles. So there is nothing that shows that when that was being done the rotors were not being unloaded and accidents were not happening.
I wouldn’t recommend trying to replicate the old days of hand turning the rotor. Not worth the expense to fix result of it if not done in ideal conditions.

A digression from the thread, but disagree with both the above statements.

Fara, that statement is without any means to substantiate. Yes accidents were happening but whose to say those accidents were with pilots who had or had not hand started rotors.

Have you ever hand patted a rotor?

And Dave that sounds as though you never did it. Hand patting any of the bigger two seaters is either not possible or practical, and likewise in some singles with taller masts.

I had the good fortune to start single seat on a Bensen without a pre-rotator, and where the rotor was easy to reach, together with a group of students in various machines who all did have pre-rotators. I sincerely believe this forced me to have a greater appreciation of rotor management earlier than them as we were training in a group and would be taken to the runway in groups.

It was a huge airfield with wide runways and taxiways. We were taken in a line and were set off one after the other on the various exercises by the Instructor and assistants. While the other students could simply sit and wait their turn, I could only either use the engine slip stream of the one ahead to keep my rotor turning, the prevailing wind... or break out of line to do a small quick taxii excursion to speed up the rotor then get back into my spot

An early exercise for me was in the chocked machine with the engine off, and facing the wind, with an more experienced pilot standing beside me to start the rotors, then use the wind to speed up and slow down the rotors. I learned that in high enough winds one could get rotor flap without even having the gyro move, simply be allowing too much air in under the disc if the blades were too slow.

These points I think gave me a very important early practical appreciation of how rotors work, that I feel the others training with me may have missed out on, by having the ability to prerotate.

This is not to say that they did not comprehend, or learn about rotor management, simply that I may have learned earlier, quicker and possibly, to a slightly deeper extent.
 
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loftus

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Disagree with both these.

Fara that statement is without any means to substantiate. Have you ever hand patted a rotor?

And Dave that sounds as though you never did it. Hand patting any of the bigger two seaters is either not possible or practical, and likewise in some singles with taller masts.

I had the good fortune to start single seat on a Bensen without a pre-rotator, and where the rotor was easy to reach, together with a group of students in various machines who all did have pre-rotators. I sincerely believe this forced me to have a greater appreciation of rotor management earlier than them as we were training in a group and would be taken to the runway in groups.

It was a huge airfield with wide runways and taxiways. We were taken in a line and were set off one after the other on the various exercises by the Instructor and assistants. While the other students could simply sit and wait their turn, I could only either use the engine slip stream of the one ahead to keep my rotor turning, the prevailing wind... or break out of line to do a small quick taxii excursion to speed up the rotor then get back into my spot

An early exercise for me was in the chocked machine with the engine off, and facing the wind, with an more experienced pilot standing beside me to start the rotors, then use the wind to speed up and slow down the rotors. I learned that in high enough winds one could get rotor flap without even having the gyro move, simply be allowing too much air in under the disc if the blades were too slow.

These points I think gave me a very important early practical appreciation of how rotors work, that I feel the others training with me may have missed out on, by having the ability to prerotate.
This is why I believe the practice of playing with aircraft speed, RRPM, stick position, and nose lightness on a long runway is a valuable exercise. Never having patted a rotor to get started myself - as you say almost impossible in newer tandem gyros - it would seem one could learn much of the same practical appreciation of how rotors work.
 

anthom

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This is why I believe the practice of playing with aircraft speed, RRPM, stick position, and nose lightness on a long runway is a valuable exercise. Never having patted a rotor to get started myself - as you say almost impossible in newer tandem gyros - it would seem one could learn much of the same practical appreciation of how rotors work.
The only thing I am not clear about is how do you experience sustained "nose lightness" practicing on a long runway? Does the nose wheel lift off occasionally or make contact with the runway, or does it stay planted? Does one experience "nose dart" if rudder is applied in a linked nosewheel? How is it different from taxying fast with the blades spinning? Even the FAA Gyroplane Handbook explains the "balancing on the mains" as part of a normal take off.

In every take off at some point the nose wheel will lift off before the mains do.

Could you give me the name of the CFI that taught you this method? I'd like to have a discussion with him/her regarding this just to understand maintaining this "nose lightness" along the length of the runway better. How is keeping the nose wheel actually up and balancing on the mains without contacting the runway not a safer technique?
 

StanFoster

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I was on a cross country in my SparrowHawk...and went to prerotate...and the.cable broke. To get home, I had to pat the blades standing outside the cabin. Not easy, but I pointed it into the wind and I almost got the rotors to self excite themselves the first attempt...but no go. So...I patted them up even faster, and jumped into the cabin much quicker and started a slow take off roll. This time the rotor caught....and I was soon airborne and on my way home.
 

fara

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A digression from the thread, but disagree with both the above statements.

Fara, that statement is without any means to substantiate. Yes accidents were happening but whose to say those accidents were with pilots who had or had not hand started rotors.

Have you ever hand patted a rotor?

And Dave that sounds as though you never did it. Hand patting any of the bigger two seaters is either not possible or practical, and likewise in some singles with taller masts.

I had the good fortune to start single seat on a Bensen without a pre-rotator, and where the rotor was easy to reach, together with a group of students in various machines who all did have pre-rotators. I sincerely believe this forced me to have a greater appreciation of rotor management earlier than them as we were training in a group and would be taken to the runway in groups.

It was a huge airfield with wide runways and taxiways. We were taken in a line and were set off one after the other on the various exercises by the Instructor and assistants. While the other students could simply sit and wait their turn, I could only either use the engine slip stream of the one ahead to keep my rotor turning, the prevailing wind... or break out of line to do a small quick taxii excursion to speed up the rotor then get back into my spot

An early exercise for me was in the chocked machine with the engine off, and facing the wind, with an more experienced pilot standing beside me to start the rotors, then use the wind to speed up and slow down the rotors. I learned that in high enough winds one could get rotor flap without even having the gyro move, simply be allowing too much air in under the disc if the blades were too slow.

These points I think gave me a very important early practical appreciation of how rotors work, that I feel the others training with me may have missed out on, by having the ability to prerotate.

This is not to say that they did not comprehend, or learn about rotor management, simply that I may have learned earlier, quicker and possibly, to a slightly deeper extent.

this is a logical fallacy. There is no substantiation that people having the accidents at that time did not do hand starting at some point. I will in fact say it’s unlikely because during that time many were Bensen plans or kits and accidents were plenty. They did not have powerful prerotators.

Barry Ford who now lives in the UK with his partner had to hand start the rotors on AR-1 when his belt one time gave way for some reason in Lakeland. They had to have one stand on back seat and face the wi d and do it and then use the long taxi way to develop rotor RPM and finally takeoff. Anyway in most two seaters it’s impractical with one person. It’s not likely to happen. We know retreating blade goes down to increase its AOA to equalize lift. If you have too much forward speed compared to rotor RPM you will flap. That is the most common regimen of blade flap on takeoff I have seen. To manage that we now have rotor RPM gauges that a pilot can see what the RPM is and does not have guess about the ‘blur’ or the sound any more. Obviously they need to start with recommended minimum pre-rotation RPM before moving stick back and start moving slowly and watch to see that rotor RPM are increasing otherwise stop and put stick forward and abort takeoff because something isn’t right and likely the wind has shifted. Making a shotgun of applying throttle right after ore-rotation is not the best idea. It only works with Pre-rotators that can take you to 300 rotor RPM.
As I said I would not be calling out any CFI who does teach pre-rotation by hand because it can only add and help the student as long as it’s done in a spare machine that CFI has put aside just fit that purpose which is practical to do this in. More power to them if they do. Never against an additional exercise that gives you a practical for the concept so you can imagine what is happening.
regardless I still don’t understand what that has to do with current accidents.
best regards
 

DavePA11

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Resasi - I agree with Fara. If the student/pilot or instructor have a spare machine for teaching hand patting for this exercise than it would be great experience. For those that don’t have an extra gyro then I will caution them to make sure it’s done on a good runaway without bumps and wind conditions that support it. Also know how to recognize a flap and how to stop it as soon as possible.

For those that want to try it in their expensive gyros it may be a good learning experience to see if your rotor can hit the top of your rudder too. I guess it would be good experience too on how much it costs to replace rotors after they hit your tail and how to fix everything.... Joking of course.

I know others that have tried starting with really low rotor RPMs and slowly building up forward speed to spin up rotors to replicate hand spinning and for some worked fine and others did not with flap cause rotor to hit tail. My point is make sure runway and winds conditions support it. I wouldn’t recommend it on the more expensive machines.

I also would not try this on grass runway where you could run over tire tracks from an idiot who drove a pickup across the runway twice when it was muddy causing deep impressions in the runway as it froze evenly spaced ideal to cause a flap as a gyro accelerated down the runway.
 

Vance

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I don’t know what caused N11TG to go down in San Mateo, Florida.

It appears to me the only commonality with N261MD in Heber, Utah is they were both American Ranger gyroplanes and both the pilots are deceased.

At this time it appears to me neither was a takeoff accident.

I don’t know if poor aviation decision making was a direct cause of accident N11TG.

In my opinion taking off in in mist with three miles visibility for an hour and half flight is poor aviation decision making that increases the likelihood of a poor outcome for the flight. It is legal but perhaps not smart.

As pilot in command I am responsible to gather all the available information I can on the flight.

In my opinion based on my experience aviation weather changes over time and distance. It may be visual flight rules (VFR) at Santa Maria and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at Lompoc just fourteen miles to the south.

I may take off from Lompoc with Santa Maria’s weather being VFR and by the time I arrive there ten minutes later it may be IMC.

I have seen similar conditions flying and driving around Florida.

Flying at low altitude over a swamp with cypress trees limits the chance of a successful emergency landing.

To me these are both poor aviation decisions regardless of their relation to the accident and have little to do with the type of aircraft being flown.

Continued VFR flight into IMC is one of the leading causes of fixed wing fatalities.
 

DavePA11

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Vance - It appears the UT accident was due to pilot induced oscillation causing rotor to hit tail based on forum feedback after reviewing the video posted, but of course this is based on opinions. Seems this one is related to weather. I don’t think either are specific to the gyro model, but hopefully know more overtime.

I agree about not continuing VFR into IMC conditions. Certainly if poor weather conditions exist upon takeoff as it appears in this case in Florida?

There are weather situations that are not forecasted where thick fog can form around you along coast even during warm sunny summer afternoons with the right cold fronts. So if the fog forms in minutes and is too thick to go inland since it’s below tree top and just as thick behind do you land on a beach, keep going just above ocean with coast line in sight or try to climb above it (without attitude indicator)?
 
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fara

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I don’t know what caused N11TG to go down in San Mateo, Florida.

It appears to me the only commonality with N261MD in Heber, Utah is they were both American Ranger gyroplanes and both the pilots are deceased.

At this time it appears to me neither was a takeoff accident.

I don’t know if poor aviation decision making was a direct cause of accident N11TG.

In my opinion taking off in in mist with three miles visibility for an hour and half flight is poor aviation decision making that increases the likelihood of a poor outcome for the flight. It is legal but perhaps not smart.

As pilot in command I am responsible to gather all the available information I can on the flight.

In my opinion based on my experience aviation weather changes over time and distance. It may be visual flight rules (VFR) at Santa Maria and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at Lompoc just fourteen miles to the south.

I may take off from Lompoc with Santa Maria’s weather being VFR and by the time I arrive there ten minutes later it may be IMC.

I have seen similar conditions flying and driving around Florida.

Flying at low altitude over a swamp with cypress trees limits the chance of a successful emergency landing.

To me these are both poor aviation decisions regardless of their relation to the accident and have little to do with the type of aircraft being flown.

Continued VFR flight into IMC is one of the leading causes of fixed wing fatalities.

Even though both gyroplanes are AR-1 but there are differences that are significant between the two.
The one in Florida is AR-1 configuration (open cockpit without canopy) and with Rotax 914UL being flown by a single occupant who weighs 235 pounds in the front seat. So a much heavier guy with less HP and no canopy. AR-1 open cockpit is the easiest to manage and you can almost put your feet down on the floor if you have the correct tension in the rudder cables 40 to 45 pounds and do absolutely nothing with the rudder except may be a little right pressure on takeoff. It also is a 2019 production model which means it has the old rudder and tail with no balance horn on it.

The red one in Utah is 2020 production and has 915 engine and a canopy (AR-1C configuration) and rudder with balance horn that came out in mid 2020 being flown by a light weight pilot. The minimum weight in front seat with 915iS is 144 pounds and pilot in Utah was 154 pounds. That's about the same weight as me. The POH update for AR-1 with 915 says the following

2.7.3 Minimum Flight Crew and Crew Weight
At least one pilot in the front seat is required to operate the aircraft. Minimum pilot
weight is 144 pounds (65 kg) in the front seat.
Maximum power at minimum takeoff weight can cause an abrupt climb rate in standard conditions
that, if not corrected, may cause climb angles of greater than the placarded maximum specially
with 915iS engine.
Approximately 80% of maximum take-off power is considered comfortable for a minimum weight
takeoff. Take off distance will be extended at reduced power.

WARNING
Always operate the aircraft from the front seat when flying solo.

The blue one in Florida we know via ADSB report had already flown about 1.5 hours and was 43 miles from home base. The Utah one was first flight and less than 40 seconds in the air with the particular machine though he did fly it with Davey 2 hours on the weekend prior to become familiar with its systems. Davey had gone over cutting the power and not needing all that power with light weight in winter and balancing on mains for a bit during takeoff roll etc.

So there are significant differences between the two accidents. In Florida, the pilot had flown off Phase-I hours and had done numerous 50 to 100 mile cross country flights before the accident and had shown no tendency to overcontrol etc. I had personally transitioned him to AR-1 after his add-on with primary training in an ELA G08 (?) which is similar enough that within 2 hours he was safe enough in AR-1and we spent 1 last hour doing emergency engine outs etc. Both pilots were airplane instrument rated pilots (which means absolutely nothing when flying a gyroplane). I have yet to even see a picture of the wreckage for Florida accident so I do not want to jump to conclusions but I have provided the investigators all the resources I can think of for reading flight log, exploded view diagrams of control system etc. and names and contacts of Rotax techs and service station in Florida so they can utilize them and have offered our services under their supervision to inspect the wreckage that I am told is in Jacksonville, FL currently under NTSB control and am told is relatively surprisingly intact given what happened
 
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Vance

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I agree about not continuing VFR into IMC conditions. Certainly if poor weather conditions exist upon takeoff as it appears in this case in Florida?

There are weather situations that are not forecasted where thick fog can form around you along coast even during warm sunny summer afternoons with the right cold fronts. So if the fog forms in minutes and is too thick to go inland since it’s below tree top and just as thick behind do you land on a beach, keep going just above ocean with coast line in sight or try to climb above it (without attitude indicator)?
Those are big questions Dave that does not have a simple answer.

Before any flight I call flight services to get a weather briefing being careful to understand what the weather is doing and how it is trending. If I am not satisfied I call back with more questions.

I also carefully look at the satellite picture and study the winds.

Like most places; where I fly there are local weather systems so there is no guarantee that going inland will be better.

If the temperature-dew point spread is below four degrees C anywhere along my route I don’t leave.

I feel everyone should have their own personal limits for temperature-dew point spread, visibility and wind based on their experience with local weather.

I have yet to be caught without an airport that is VFR nearby.

If I inadvertently fly into a cloud I make a 180 degree turn in the hope I will get back out. I will have been watching trends so I know if lower will work.

In the area I fly there are lots of fields where I can land. I plan my route so I have places to land and fly higher if the landing opportunities are further apart.

I don’t fly when or where I can’t see the ground.

I have turned around and landed for weather when visibility was reported to be seven miles because I missed two visual waypoints.

In the Serra foot hills because of the trees I fly from clearing to clearing rather than direct.

I have a low fear threshold and ask myself what is my compelling reason to fly.

I want to be clear that I understand three miles visibility is legal VFR according to the FAA, in my opinion it is just not good aviation decision making based on the intended flight.
 
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