Aviators, the world over will tell you that there are two types of people in this world. Those who desire to fly and those that do not. If you are in the former category then you have more than likely had the desire since early childhood. Why not just do it?

Redstone Arsenal Flying Activity has northern Alabama’s premier Flying Club where those individuals lucky enough to be in the authorized patron category can learn to fly or take their already hard earned rating to a higher level.

Redstone Arsenal Flying Activity offers safe, low cost flying lessons, professional Certified Flight Instructors, pilot related equipment and services to our patrons. The Redstone Arsenal Flying Activity is located on Redstone Arsenal adjacent to Huntsville/Madison Alabama. We have for our use a very low traffic 7300 feet runway and a manned control tower (daylight hours).

Our goal is to be our patron’s First Choice, and to continue our journey to becoming a world class Flying Club. We train the best pilots out there by providing them the best instructors, facilities and aircraft in one of the best training environments in the world. We ensure our graduates possess the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to fly and compete in the demanding and ever changing world of aviation.

In general, TAA’s are aircraft in which the pilot interfaces with one or more computers in order to:

  • Aviate – Autopilot, moving map
  • Navigate – GPS positional awareness, navigational databases of fixes, airports, approaches and terrain, fuel and time management
  • Communicate. – Communications databases that allows selecting, preloading or automatically accessing and loading frequencies)

When most pilots hear the term Technically Advance Aircraft (TAA) they picture a Glass Cockpit in a Cirrus SR22. However, There are actually three categories of TAA:

  • New Design, New Aircraft, fully integrated “glass panels”
  • New Classic Aircraft (i.e. C172 or 182) with fully integrated “glass panels”
  • Existing aircraft with traditional “six-pack instrumentation, retrofitted with modern autopilots, and combined GPS/Communications

Depending on how you view the issue of “Integration” Redstone Flying Activity has at least 8 aircraft that meet the minimum definition above:

  • Three C172s
  • Two Piper Arrows
  • One Cessna 182 and One 182R which includes MFD and Stormscope

The capabilities of these systems have enhanced flight safety in many ways, reducing pilot workload, providing accurate navigation, and reducing loss of control accidents.  These benefits have been demonstrated through accident data for several years.  However there have also had some unexpected negative side effects on flight safety. Some of these issues are:

  • Failures of pilots to completely understand in detail how the autopilot operates and how to recognize performance deviations and override them.
  • Programming the navigator (GPS) consuming too large a part of the  pilots mental bandwidth, causing him to lose situational awareness and get behind the aircraft
  • Loss of “hand flying” skills. The extensive use of an autopilot for aircraft control causes a deterioration of pilot maneuver skills.

These negatives are not limited to Part 91 general aviation operations but have been evident in “Big Iron”  Part 121 segment as well as Part 135 operators.

As a general rule, if you don’t know how to use the systems in your aircraft that automate functions, such as autopilots, Navigators (GPS), or programmable communications, you should not rely on them.

If You really want to increase your use of automation, first study the users manual. The document tab on the club home page website includes copies of the manuals for the autopilots in our aircraft.  Then check the approved flight copy stored in the airplane for specific details on the actual installation. Learn how to use the autopilot in its most basic functions, Wing leveler and heading mode. These two modes provide the greatest safety advantage to you in the event of situations such as loss of control during marginal VFR, inadvertent VMC into IMC, or night flying.  Be sure to understand possible failure modes and how to disconnect the system. Remember to preflight the unit as specified in the user manual.  Fly using the basics for several flights until you are confident in your knowledge of its performance.

But remember, if you don’t understand what is happening disconnect it and resume hand flying!

Ten Commandments of Flying

December 26, 2014

The following ten commandments were published in the May, 1939 issue of Aviation (which later became Aviation Week & Space Technology). How many are still relevant to pilots today? DON’T SHOW OFF. Zooming over your girl’s house, or turning to wave good-bye to her on a take-off is an easy way to terminate your romance [...]

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More On Pilot Deviations

November 11, 2014

Members are reminded to be “situationally” aware of possible “Pilot Deviations” during ground and airborne operations in our local airspace. The FAA has issued a “Safety Enhancement Topic” (September 2014) with additional information on the subject that we should give some thought to during preflight planning and flight operations. Here are a few additional points [...]

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Safety Meeting Thursday, December 11 at 5:30pm

October 1, 2014

Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL Building 3711 Driving directions:  Patton Rd south thru gate 10 – First traffic light turn left and immediately left again.

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More About Cessna 172 s

August 26, 2014

At the June Safety Meeting you heard some details on uncertainty associated with the maximum range performance in the Cessna 172R and S models. Here are some additional details to refresh your knowledge of information in the AFM/POH for both the C172R and S and also the C172N. All models of the C172 are covered [...]

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July 10, 2014

For several years there has been a consensus that current Pilot Test Standard (PTS) have experienced growth through inclusion of more material, increased understanding of risk, technology and modification of expected maneuver skills. Examples of this include the growth of the “Special Emphasis” topics in all the current standards. An additional issue has been the [...]

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Safety Meeting Thursday, September 18 at 5:30pm

July 1, 2014

Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL Building 3711 Driving directions:  Patton Rd south thru gate 10 – First traffic light turn left and immediately left again.

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FLIGHT CONTROL MALFUNCTION/FAILURE: Asymmetrical Flap failure (Ref: Airplane Flying Handbook)

June 1, 2014

What?   Flight control failures are a rare event in well maintained Redstone aircraft, but are usually catastrophic. Has your flight training or proficient training covered the consequences such events? Most of us have been exposed to emergencies such as loss of power and flaps, but what about an asymmetric flap extension or sudden retraction. [...]

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Safety Meeting Thursday, June 19 at 5:30pm

May 26, 2014

Topic for the June 2014 meeting is “Fuel Management” Location:  Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL Building 3711 Driving directions:  Patton Rd south thru gate 10 – First traffic light turn left and immediately left again.

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