Editor’s Briefing: Where’s Your Protected Airspace?

Editor’s Briefing: Where’s Your Protected Airspace?

As expected, my recurrency training wasn’t going smoothly. The instructor was complaining of vertigo, no doubt brought on by my ceaseless bracketing of the course leading toward my clearance limit, where I was expected to enter a hold. Naturally, the depicted hold was oriented away from my entry heading, necessitating a course reversal, and, as part of my briefing, I noted that it was non-standard, requiring left turns around the racetrack.
Okie-dokie; I speared the fix, swung out and around to come back for the first full lap of the holding pattern, and found the fix again, adroitly swinging right, just like I would at home base. “Uh, Leroy,” sez Instructor Jim, “where’s your protected airspace?”
“East of the fix,” I responded, “where I did my course reversal. Now I’m heading back outbound in the hold.” “So why’d you turn right, to the west?” intoned the Voice of Doom. Before he could say “Drop and give me twenty” I muttered “No excuse, Sir!” and cranked hard left, toward the fix and safe airspace.
Many times, we get so involved in our course-holding and checklisting that we ignore positional awareness. That happens in life, as well as in aviation. Habitual procedures can overlay and render obscure important minutia like a “No procedure turn” note or that the DME distance shown is from an offsite facility. Or perhaps we forgot to check in with the folks at home before the last re-scheduled launch, to let them know we’d be late for dinner, again. Protected airspace comes in many forms, not all of it around the airplane.
One of the things I like about aviation is that fosters a good, clean-living, dead-honest attitude, applicable to many of our other endeavors. Protected airspace is a concept we must always bear in mind, to know where we can turn for a safe haven, a place free of intruding rocks and steel. And when we’re on the ground, we also need to maintain our posterior protection. In the case of non-aviation activities, our fail-safe planning keeps us from overdrawing a bank account, parking in a tow-away zone or pursuing a conversation with a closed-minded individual. Know when to back away to “protected airspace”, and know instinctively where it can be found.
I couldn’t blame my training instructor for setting me up for this turn toward the Dark Side; the true path to protected airspace was clearly shown, I had espoused my intentions more than once, and yet I let the routine press of business interfere with my thinking at a critical juncture. Fortunately, I got another chance – this time – and learned to keep protected airspace uppermost in my mind.
In This Issue
Ever wonder what it would be like to fly a P-51 Mustang? Our Citation and Stearman owners, Adam Alpert and his wife Gisela, journeyed to Stallion 51’s famous Mustang academy in Kissimmee, Florida to experience the World War II fighter and now share their findings with us. Tom Turner gives sage advice about hurriedly feathering in Twin Proficiency, John Loughmiller advises on how to successfully cope with the vision portion of the medical exam, and David Miller shows how expected good weather can turn into a challenge. Everyone can learn from this issue.

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