A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this
I launched an
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in 1987 (how’s that
for an opening line?).
I was a Minuteman launch crew commander firing from Vandenberg
Air Force Base, near Santa Barbara, California, down the Pacific
test range to a very small target about 7500 miles away.
What’s that got to do with anything? Our launch was
delayed briefly by an unauthorized lightplane entry into the
Controlled Firing Area (CFA) associated with the airspace near
CFAs are not charted, and you won’t hear or read about
them in Notices to Aviators (NOTAMs).
CFAs may be activated in any airspace when live firing exercises
are underway -- mainly artillery or missile tests or training. Part
of the military’s mission involves secrecy, which is why it
won’t advertise launch locations or times.
- Controlled Firing Areas contain activities which, if not
conducted in a controlled environment, could be hazardous to
nonparticipating aircraft (you don’t want to take a Maverick
or a Minuteman through the wing).
- CFAs may or may not be fully contained within Restricted
Airspace or Military Operations Areas (MOAs).
- The difference between CFAs and other Special Use Airspace is
that the military must suspend activity when a spotter aircraft,
radar or ground lookout position indicates an aircraft might be
approaching the area. The intruding airplane will be permitted to
transit the area (or be chased away by black helicopters).
And how’d the Minuteman launch go? If I told you I’d
have to shoot you.
Aero-Tip of the day: Watch for really unusual
activity in or near MOAs, or near restricted airspace. Luckily,
when the missiles fly the military will be avoiding you.