Loss of Control
By Pat Veillette, Ph.D.
We’ve all been there. If you have more than a few hours of solo time under your belt, then I know you’ve felt the rush of life-saving adrenaline and the instinctive pull of survival savvy. You’ve probably also made a few promises and plea bargains under these periods of duress. After all, many of us choose to fly for that ultimate feeling of reality, testing our skills and reaffirming our will to live. Our flight instructors first plant this seed of survival instinct, teaching us such items as basic stalls and takeoff/landing recovery procedures. Typically, most everyone is serious enough about safety to satisfy their instructors and examiners and receive their PPL. But to some, these basics aren’t enough and represent only the beginning. Ph.D. and Aviation Safety columnist Patrick Veillette boasts more than simply an impressive education and a respected name. His logbook is inscribed with more than 15,000 hours of personal experience in over 90 types of aircraft including war birds, military aircraft, aerobatic sportsters, airliners, and business jets. Loss of Control is the product of that personal experience entwined with the latest research from NASA and thousands of NTSB reports. Veillette first tackles the meaning of that ambiguous yet ever-threatening phrase, “loss of control,” using decades of experience as a flight instructor to add realism to the cold research on paper. What is meant by “loss of control,” and why do the same accidents happen to military pilots with thousands of hours as to the fresh-out-of-flight-school, fly-on-the-weekends recreational pilots? Several grim photographs of almost nonexistent wreckages are sobering images, but serve as a reminder to constantly learn from the experiences of our fellow pilots.
Flipping through the pages of “Loss of Control” is like spending hangar time with a fighter pilot, picking up morsels of lifesaving techniques and sage advice. Each chapter is independent, enabling the reader to pick and choose subjects as he goes, although depending on how much value you place on your life, you’ll probably find it difficult to read just one or two chapters. After the first chapter defines the most common categories of accidents, Chapter Two plunges into crosswind landings, followed by overruns and undershoots. Chapter Four continues into the world of landings gone wrong by examining bounces, balloons, and porpoises, and then introduces stalls, ground loops, and five chapters of common takeoff issues. Two chapters are rightfully awarded to spins, and the remaining space covers turbulence, spatial disorientation, vacuum and pitot-static failures, and icing.
Topics such as these don’t leave much room for imaginative prose and is rightfully nonexistent in a book that sets out to quite possibly save your life. Veillette gets straight to the point and is able to present the technical in a clear and organized manner, a difficult yet necessary task when attempting to place something so physical into text format. With all the credits that Veillette has, though, I am surprised that “Loss of Control” was not snatched up by a larger publisher than Book Surge. As methodical as Veillette’s text is, it would have been nice to see a slightly more organized book format, as it lacks both a table of contents and an index. However, for the wisdom contained within, I can’t complain. I would recommend it to any pilots, new or experienced, whether they fly an airbus or a cropduster, whether their routine is point A to point B or aerobatics. It may even save my life someday.
By Brigit Hartop; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.