Editor’s Note: We are pleased to have former F-16 pilot Nate “Buster” Jaros join us for a discussion on how fighter pilot tactics can help general aviation (GA) pilots. He has written a book called Engine Out Survival Tactics. Below is the first part of a two part series. We hope you enjoy.
I think it was the day after Christmas, 2015 when an acquaintance of mine lost his engine when flying in the weather in his A36 Bonanza. He was climbing through 6,000 feet MSL over Gary, IN when his engine decided to quit. He was able to glide in through the weather and make it to an airfield, emerge from a low deck of clouds, and land.
He and his wife barely survived. His name is Matt Anker and his story is featured in Engine Out Survival Tactics: Fighter Pilot Tactics for General Aviation Engine Loss Emergencies.
How does a pilot of a single engine airplane survive such and ordeal? For a GA pilot without an ejection seat, is an engine loss event a death sentence?
Certainly not! Using advanced techniques and ‘tactics’ that are taught and practiced every day by professional military pilots, a pilot of any single engine airplane can survive! But you have to know what to do, you have to be trained, and you have to be proficient…just like in the military.
Matt Anker was not a military trained pilot, but when his engine quit, he applied sound techniques and procedures that he was trained to do. These tactics are no different from what the military fighter pilots are using, but there are definitely some advanced concepts that military pilots use that are NOT taught to the GA world. Matt relied on the advanced skills he already had acquired. Are the skills you currently have enough to protect you?
One thing he knew and understood was his aircraft Glide Ratio. Sure, it’s a simple concept of course.
Glide Ratio is how far forward an airplane in a glide will travel divided by the amount of altitude it takes to travel that forward distance. When flying a glide, fighter pilots often refer to this subsequent view of the earth outside as a ‘sight picture.’ Knowing and understanding this sight picture and what it should look like when gliding is paramount to a successful engine out recovery. Knowing the correct sight picture can be difference between making it in a glide to a suitable landing surface…or not.
What about a term we also like to use called ‘the wire?’ Have you heard of that before?
The term ‘wire’ is a basic fighter term for a glide path. This wire is a simple and effective way to envision the glide path that the airplane needs to fly. Sometimes a glide path is a simple three degree instrument landing approach, but often, for the fighter pilot the glide path is a 30 or 45 degree nose-low diving weapons delivery pass.
When we talk about gliding, it’s the same thing. The aircraft follows a set glide path or wire from where it loses its engine to a point of impact on the earth. The wire is simply an easy way to visualize this line in the sky. Knowing that your airplane has multiple wires that it can fly when gliding, and training to those wires during your engine out practice is another advanced tactic that you will need for your engine loss skills.
Engine Out Survival Tactics will give you, the single engine GA pilot the tools and training you never received in your General Aviation training, and help you to be ready and trained on what to do, should your single engine bird lose its engine someday. I hope you check it out.
Visit Buster’s website here.
All photos courtesy Nate Jaros
Nate “Buster” Jaros is a retired USAF fighter pilot with over 2,000 hours in F-16 C/D/CM and T-38A/C aircraft and over 500 hours in General Aviation aircraft. He is currently a Test Pilot and Instructor Pilot with Lockheed Martin Skunkworks. He has a Bachelor of Science degree as well as a Master of Business Administration and owns, operates, and maintains a 1969 V-tail Bonanza. Buster currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada and is a long-time member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as well as the American Bonanza Society. You can view his webpage at: http://engineout.weebly.com