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I like the metaphor of being "ahead of the jet." as a term for mastery. I know that feeling exactly sometimes.

When I was learning to fly complex high-performance single-engine aircraft, my instructor took me aside after one of our first flights and said, "Good news, Markham, you won't have to worry about being in a wreck in this airplane"


"Yep. You're so far behind the plane that you won't show up to the accident until ten minutes after it happens"


It's a great phrase. I think flying is absolutely the best hobby anybody can have. I could read stories like OP all day long.

There is a plane called a Beech Bonanza that is nicknamed "The doctor killer."

It gets this name because it's a single engine plane, which attracts wealthy hobbyist pilots (like doctors) but it's fast. Much much faster than what these hobbyist pilots are used to. This causes "the plane to get in front of them", and for them to crash.

In fairness, the other part of the killer reputation has to do with apparent design instabilities as a result of the V-tail on the x35 models. Both these and the x36 models really are beautiful planes.

Another airplane with the killer epithet because of its on average high power to wisdom of pilot ratio is the Piper Malibu and its later brother the Mirage. Again, a beautiful, fast, well-designed plane that gets out in front of you if you let it.

Growing up, my father flew thousands of hours in both of these planes with me in the right seat, and he was always careful to warn me about having respect for the plane's power lest it get away from you. In a way, I think he was reminding himself as much as me.

And of course, there's the classic Lockheed Widowmaker, the F-104 Starfighter -- in the "G" variant, purchased by the Luftwaffe, who ordered this high-speed fair weather interceptor with a whole bunch of bells and whistles bolted on, to turn it into a low-level all-weather fighter-bomber:


"Luftwaffe losses totaled 110 pilots" -- production run: 1,122 F-104G airframes.

A downward firing ejector seat is certainly an interesting feature of a plane you intend to fly at treetop height

Would you please explain what is meant by "get out in front of you"? I have very limited flying experience and am not familiar with what this means, in pilot terms: i.e. what would you experience as a pilot, and what would be happening to the airplane. Google didn't help in this matter.

The aircraft is flying faster than it is taking you to process the changes that are occurring during the flight.

There are a number of things you need to process as you fly, from radios to maps to situational awareness. For less experienced pilots, or when you have passengers than are pointing out all sorts of shit, this can take time. During all this time the aircraft is moving and the condition is changing.

You need to not only know where you are now, but where you will be in the future. If you lose this, you find the aircraft getting to places faster than you can prepare for, and that can be nasty.

To relate, it's very similar to driving a car for the first time. There seems to be so much more to check, from mirrors to gauges to the road. The reaction for new drivers is to slow down to give yourself time to catch up.

Another analogy would be sports. If you play a team sport with those that have played for years, you can find yourself reacting to things after they have happened. This isn't because you don't know what to do, but more so because by the time you've figured it out and acted, the event has already occurred.

Or for a geekier analogy, it's like StarCraft. When you first play, your APM is low, so you build things slowly, collect fewer minerals, and produce fewer troops. Then your opponent shows up on your doorstep with a much bigger force, micros them well, and before you can even control your dudes, they're all gone. And then you're like "Hey, what happened to my base? AAAAH I'm dead. GG."

As you gain experience, you can spend much less cognitive attention paying attention to what's going on in the game. So actions become reflexes, and suddenly you're catching up. And then you run up against an opponent who's like you were a couple months ago, and pwnage commences.

If your OODA Loop iteration falls behind the changing conditions, you're in trouble.


When you're flying, your constantly planning what you're about to do before it happens. So like, when I get to this point on the map, I'm going to turn that direction. WHen I get to this point on the map, I'm going to take this altitude. When I get to that position relative to the runway, I need to make a 90 degree turn. When I get to this airspeed and this position I'm going to apply flaps.

And so on. Everything when you're flying is checklists.

Letting the plane get ahead of you means that things are happening before you're ready for them. This problem is made much worse in fast planes (like the bonanza) because things happen much more quickly.

I fly the right seat in a Bonanza pretty regularly too. A V-tail, no less D-:

I worries me a little, but we're not doing anything nuts in the thing.

Here's the scoop... In turbulance slow down to "manovering" speed. Don't fly in IFR conditions unless you must. Stay VFR. The airplane is designed for VFR. You say, this is not true... how many backup instruments does it have? A turn and bank? How many "partial panel" non-prcision approaches has the pilot flown in the last six months... I will anwser. NONE! Can you do a timed turn using only the wet compass? NO! Can you fly an approach using only the altimeter, VSI and wet compass? NO! Remember... only one engine and one set of primary instruments without a standby horizon and power supply. It is just common sense.

Not really. It is an advanced design for a civilian airplane. Most Cessnas are capable of only 4g's at cruise speed. The Bonanza is capable of 11 or 12 g's. It has the potential to destroy itself due to the dynamic energy it has available at cruise speed. The V tail is very well designed. As airspeed increases the pull on the yoke is less rather than more for increased G. One design flaw was to increase the tail cord length starting with the C model without moving the front spar. This created a dynamic twisting which, under G load, causes the aircraft G load to increase without pilot input. The fix was to tie down the leading edge of the stabilizer. I have owned a Bonanza for 28 years and love it. It is an aircraft designed about fifty years ahead of itself. It is very, very safe when flown by pilots aware of the design. Unfortunately the FAA does not require owners to be trained in the capabilities of the design. Whose fault is that? I love the airplane.

It means you know where the plane is going to be before it gets there, if you didn't already know. As in, you're planning ahead, rather than reacting to what's happening. Which I would imagine takes a lot of experience at 1900 knots.

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