Altered States, Altered Minds

Altered States, Altered Minds

Thanks for Kevin Dingman’s August article “Altered States.” Because of his ability to synthesize cogent and entertaining articles from eclectic information, From the Flight Deck is always my “first read” in Twin & Turbine, but his guidance on fatigue hit particularly close to home.

As an engineering consultant who flies his company’s plane on business trips, I’m always trying to become a better pilot. Last April I found myself flying home tired late-at-night over the lonely eastern deserts of California, and entering the Owens Valley during strong “Sierra Wave” conditions. I fought the “good fight” for a few minutes, and then noticed that the STUPID light inside my head had begun to glow. For the first time in my 14 years of flying, I made a “normal procedural decision” to commit an ugly descending 180-degree turn in moderate turbulence, make a brief call to Joshua Approach and a diversion to KIYK to land short and “get a room.”

Murphy’s Law makes everything harder when you’re fatigued: the best runway for winds was closed for resurfacing, and blowing sand, four-foot tumbleweeds, and a suicidal jackrabbit all crossed the runway in my lights during an uncomfortably firm “caveman” crosswind landing.

Because I had written to Mr. Dingman in 2014, asking him to write about fatigue after some experiences that I had survived, it would have been ironic for me to succumb to a poor decision to continue flight beyond my fatigued “Neanderthal” abilities. But that correspondence kept the subject of fatigue fresh in my mind, so the life that Kevin’s writing saved that night was mine – even though he had yet to write “Altered States.”

The work done by Twin & Turbine, its editors, and authors, is specifically relevant to our safety as pilots, and can be profound in the lives of those its pages reach. 

Gratefully,

Michael House

Bishop, CA

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