To the many of you who participated in our recent RAF Safety Survey, THANK YOU!  Over 16% of you completed the survey, a huge response rate as these things go.

We thought all RAF members would appreciate hearing some of the main takeaways from our survey as they relate to our kind of flying.  We also think you will appreciate receiving a safety checklist that in part grew out of your many member comments.  But first, the results.

Main Observations

The survey asked members to describe their comfort level around a series of recreational flying challenges.  Which techniques and flying missions held the least comfort, for members, and so serve as excellent opportunities for training and practice?

The ‘least comfortable’ tasks identified by you in the survey were:

  • Developing a full flight plan into an unimproved airstrip and runway, including the airfield’s local conditions
  • Determining lift vs. sink when, as we often need to do, we’re flying at low altitudes on an approach into or departure from a recreational airfield
  • Being fully prepared for an off-airport landing including communications and the immediate care of your passengers

You were also asked to identify those issues you would find most beneficial to address in order to advance your own recreational flying skills.  In large numbers, here are your top answers:

  • Evaluating a runway and the general landing zone when little published info exists (not federally registered, not on AirNav, etc.)
  • Estimating your aircraft’s performance when there is little detail provided by the manufacturer or Pilot’s Operating Handbook
  • Preparing adequately for an emergency, including an off-airport landing
  • When planning a flight into an airstrip with little published info, the most common resources used by members are Google Earth, maps, on-line searches and seeking out local pilots and/or those who have been there

And here’s an interesting question to ask yourself.  Most members said they felt relatively comfortable flying their aircraft at minimum controllable airspeed at gross weight and near CG limits.  BUT only a minority of those responding admitted to practicing under those conditions during the last 6 months.  When is the last time you loaded up your plane (not just you and the instructor with partial fuel) and practiced minimum airspeed maneuvers, including turns?  Since we fly close to the ground and at lower speeds, often with a loaded plane, this seems an especially relevant maneuver to practice at altitude with some frequency.

The Survey has, to date, produced two important tools for us:

ASI Safety Briefing Guide

The RAF partnered with AOPA’s Air Safety Institute – GA’s safety experts – in the design of the Safety Survey and also the evaluation of the survey results.  After reviewing the survey results and also drawing from their own references, ASI has produced a ‘Safety Briefing Guide’ for us that you can keep in and use from your own cockpit.  This checklist’s content is aligned with the safety survey our fellow members took, which seems another good reason for us to review it when planning our flights into the recreational venues we all enjoy.  (The checklist is linked here and also attached below).

Flight Review Tool

The survey also raised another interesting question for all of us:  The one time when ALL of us have our airmanship examined professionally by a fellow pilot is during a Flight Review.  Wouldn’t it be helpful, one of our members asked, if we could offer a Flight Review tool that is designed especially for our type of flying, and could be used both by us in our own currency flights and also by the CFI who joins us for a Flight Review.  Well, that tool has been designed and is currently being vetted by its author and fellow RAF member, Christine Mortine.  Christine is a CFII and DPE – and also our Ohio Liaison – and she’ll be introducing it to all RAF members in the near future, so keep a sharp eye out for another great way to stay safe & current.

Your RAF Safety & Education Committee

Submitted on February 26, 2018

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