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  On Final by David Miller Judgment or Experience BWecoming a Great Pilot e have all grown up with truisms. Those memo- rable sayings that are obviously true. Like, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Or, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” How about, “The more hours in your logbook, the better pilot you are.” I am not so sure about that last one. In my f lying career, I grew up thinking that any airline pilot was better than any private pilot simply because of the thousands of hours of additional experience. And, on any given Sunday, that is probably true. But there are always exceptions, such as the 20,000-hour retired jet captain who hops in a single-engine airplane and crashes while scud running. Those kinds of ac- cidents keep me awake at night. So, what’s the difference between a dangerous pilot and a great one? Is it physical coordination, good judgment, experience? Which one is more important? I set out to find some answers from my logbook. Jolley Byrd (yes, that is his real name) was always the life of the party. He drove his Cadillac fast and lived like there was no tomorrow. He was my father’s business partner and in the early 1970s, with a few hundred hours in his logbook, he purchased his first airplane – a V-tailed Bonanza. At the time, I was a 21-year-old private pilot with less than 100 hours, and I jumped at the offer to ride in the back seat of his powerful flying machine while he practiced his newly learned skills with an “instructor.” It was a beautiful day for flying and I felt like I was in heaven. Then, in an instant, I almost went there. Jolley, with coaching from the guy in the right seat, spun the V-tail, spiraling vertically multiple times without warning. This particular model, however, was not certified for intentional spins. I literally thought we were going to die. To my astonish- ment, we recovered. I tried to breathe again. And then Jolley spun the airplane again. This guy is crazy, I said to myself. After we landed, I got out of the airplane and never flew with Jolley again. About a year later, he forgot to extend the gear and made a very expensive landing. Then in 1974, he departed Dallas Love (KDAL) in awful weather headed for west Texas. He lost con- trol during an instrument approach to Abilene (KABI) with a 100-foot ceiling and visibility of less than a mile and perished. Those of us who knew him were not surprised. Jolley lacked both experience and good judgment. On the other end of the spectrum, meet Jim Harrod. I met Jim in 2007, right after I purchased my brand-new Citation Mustang, serial number 8. I was in the first type rating class at Flight- Safety and the Mustang was new to everyone – sim instructors, mechanics, even pilots. Jim was my mentor for five days after I took delivery and we flew all over the country exploring every- thing about the airplane. Jim knew little more than I did about the Garmin G1000 avionics and its intricacies, but he had just retired from a career flying packages around the world in a 747. On a moonless night, flying across the Florida panhandle at FL400, I heard a strange noise, “bee-boo, bee-boo, bee-boo.” The autopilot had disconnected and a red “pitch trim” light appeared on the PFD (primarily flight display). Now hand- flying the airplane at 40,000 feet, my mind began racing. I must advise ATC, descend out of RVSM airspace, find the abnormal checklist, and fix the problem. To my surprise, the checklist didnotaddresstheissue. Notaword.Thisparticularfailure was simply not anticipated. I was not in a happy place. Then, in his deliberate, calm and reassuring voice, Jim said, “Dave, do you think there might be a circuit breaker some- where?” I looked and found one marked AFCS (autopilot flight control system). We reset it, and sure enough, the computer system rebooted itself and came back to life. Cessna later revised the checklist to address the issue. Jim had the experience and more importantly, the good judgment that I lacked that night. But you don’t have to have 20,000 hours to have good judgment. Meet Larry King. Larry is the proud owner of a beautiful Citation M2. With a little over 1,500 hours logged, Larry thinks my 6,000 hours  November 2019 / TWIN & TURBINE • 47 

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