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Aviation Safety


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor


Good Bye


After twenty-five years and I don’t know how many newsletter articles, this is the final one.  Probably.  The future is a weird thing, and predicting it is a bit iffy.  However, I have taken a position flying CJ3s (which I love) in Scottsdale, AZ (which I also love), so the chance of re-activating my West Valley membership is pretty low.


BTW, I’ve heard rumors that I was retiring.  I LOVE what I do, and will retire when I fail the FAA physical, which doesn’t look likely in the near future (by which I mean the next 10 years).  But I’ve digressed (again).


My relationship with West Valley has been an interesting one.  It actually began in 1979 when I first joined the club.  It was so long ago that my membership number was just a smidge larger than 1000 – I can’t find the original number, because they weren’t computerized back then.  My membership lasted a week.  After getting checked out, I attempted to rent a plane to take my wife and son up for a flight.  During the pre-flight, I found the plane didn’t have a POH, so I refused to rent it.  The Chief Pilot told me that the plane didn’t need one, and that I should have my own copy of a C-172 POH. I resigned my membership immediately, figuring that a club that was that far off base wasn’t where I belonged.


Flying with the Moffett Navy Flying Club from 1984 to 1994 (when it closed its doors) I added several ratings, gained a lot of experience as an instructor, and in general became a better pilot.  When the Moffett club disappeared, I started looking around, and everyone I respected was joining West Valley.  Figuring that things and clubs can change over the years, I joined again and found that, yes, they had gotten better.


In 2000, and again in 2010, the club was in financial difficulty, to put it mildly.  The Board saw fit to bring me in to right the ship both times, and I was able (with a lot of help) to do so.  However, in both cases, once things got on an even keel, I found I’d rather fly than manage the club day-to-day.  The managers that took over the first time got the club back in trouble.  Steve Blonstein, on the other hand, has done a magnificent job managing the club – far better than I would have done.


So, what if anything, would I pass on to everyone (aside from many a “thank you” – so many, in fact that it would go for pages)? From a safety story perspective, very little that I haven’t said before in all of these newsletter articles.


Maybe just a few observations.


1.  West Valley is a member-owned, member-run club in which not enough members are involved. Far too many members treat the club as if it were just another flight club/school.  It isn’t: it’s something special if you let it be.


2.  West Valley has some of the most skilled, experienced, competent instructors anywhere. It has been my honor to fly with many of them, train a few, and learn from all of them with whom I’ve talked or flown.  We have a HUGE reservoir of knowledge, skill, and expertise that a pilot could tap into if he or she wanted to become better.  And that should be the goal of every pilot


3.  OK, so perhaps there is one thing, and it drives my continuing efforts for my own improvement.  “If you think you’re ‘good enough’, you may want to reconsider your standards.”  Just think about it.  I have yet to have a perfect flight, and over the course of over 16,000 hours of flight time, have done a lot of quality flying.  And some pretty stupid things (none of which involved the NTSB, certificate action, medical personnel or mortuaries – which doesn’t set the bar all that high).  But I have done enough stupid things before, during, and after getting into a plane that you will never see a “DAMN I’M GOOD” bumper sticker on my car. As a result, after EVERY flight, I find (it’s not really a challenge if you think about it) at least one thing I could have done better, and make a conscious plan to work on that point the next time.  On occasion, I’ve felt a bit like the Whack-a-Mole, where you solve one problem just to see another one pop up.  Sometimes it’s the same one I looked at 2 flights ago.  The result of this process is that MOST of my flights are pretty good, if I may modestly say so.  I could rest on that level of skill, touch, precision, and expertise, but I’m still striving for the perfect flight.  It’s fun. It’s a challenge.  It’s a never-ending quest.  You should try it.


4.  Good bye, my friends.