Recently there was a long discussion on the whatsapp about flying in marginal conditions that the spring time gives us:
We are taking a moment to reach out to you today on the subject of Spring flying and our ultimate goal of helping you to enjoy free flying over the decades. Each year, we all dust off our flying equipment and spread our wings. It’s a joyous time and nothing quite compares to getting back in the air after a hiatus.
Thankfully, we have our instructors and our community to help us to get re-current. Reserve repacks, cautionary posts on social media, and friends helping friends to exercise restraint get juxtaposed against our starry-eyed and sometimes misguided ambition for personal bests.
Of course, free flying is a ruthless judge. The pursuit challenges us to avoid common pitfalls, to exercise restraint and to make sure that our shortcomings don’t define us. Yet there lies the heart of our current challenge. It’s springtime and the usual scenarios are unfolding across the country. Pilots are showing up at their sites, and in many cases flying in conditions that are too strong. Thankfully, other pilots chime in with their opinions about the flyability of the day and caution others to stand down. In most cases, admonished pilots will indeed stand down and thank whoever had seen fit to help them stay out of harm’s way. It’s a beautiful gesture, and it is a cornerstone of our free flying community.
Here’s the crux. In several recent cases, pilots have chosen to fly despite the good advice of their fellow pilots. In several recent and specific cases, the results have been bad, even tragic.
We urge you to please be selective about the air you fly in, revisit the operating limitations for your rating, confer with your local mentors when assessing conditions, and when someone goes out of their way to try and help you avoid making a bad decision, please listen, take heed and stand down. Asking a fellow pilot to stand down is probably the kindest thing that a person can do for another. If you see someone about to make a bad decision, say something.
Thank you in advance for factoring this into your decision-making. We encourage you to share this message and we welcome your feedback on the subject. Realizing that accidents do happen, we still feel that the only acceptable goal is an accident free season. We would like to challenge every member to assess their decisions on a moment to moment basis.
Chris Santacroce & Mitch Shipley
USHPA Accident Review Committee Co-Chairs