SEE AND AVOID

Published by: monty stone on 24th Feb 2017 | View all blogs by monty stone

as i drove my van along one of those very long and straight roads, the other day, in bright sunshine, here in phoenix, az, i realized the VERY bright red flashing light i had been seeing ahead was a tiny led on back of a bicycle, very visible for several 'furlongs'. it got me a'thinking, about the one common 'ailment' all pilots suffer from, 'in-flight-a-phobia', and, how to deal with it. i'm sure that anyone who has 'slipped the surly bonds' (copy) can relate his personal 'near miss', or more correctly 'near hits'. my own two recent ones, eliciting 'oh fu..k'!  involved a 'twin' passing under me at 2k here in the az desert, and a very distinctive low wing mono with struts above the wing, a la pawnee. he appeared from my left, same altitude i yanked the trike as hard right as i could and didn't see him again till he landed at ' our local airstrip'. i asked him had he seen me, he said he had not.  here in az i'm 5miles from a busy towered muni, my 'practice' area under a lot of it's aproach traffic mostly at 1-2k ft, but a lot of lower 'chopper' traffic, some of whom 'bounce' accross our rooftops. our trike 'contraptions' are very stealthy, hard to see, especially from the cockpit of a 200mph bonanza, while the pilot is fiddleing with his radio, which pilots of 'real' aircraft do a lot. how do you guys deal with this threat? my own 'limited' arsenal is mainly assuming HE doesn't see me, and keep this scrawny old neck swivelling around and trying NOT to focus on the horizon only, you'll miss the' hun in the sun' if you don't vary your focal point  , i give way to ALL traffic, from pidgeons to school buses, my strobes are on ALL the time, (i hope they are as visible as the bicycles were!), my  wing leading edges are black and yellow bands like a coral snake, though this won't help much from being rear-ended by that bonanza! , who thought i was a bug on his windshield. what's YOUR magic pill you take to ensure you aren't late for dinner! see and avoid is easy to say not always easy to do, most of the answers will be deemed 'common sense', but sometimes 'sense' ain't always 'common'.                                                                                                                                                                                                     freazier nutszoff

Comments

10 Comments

  • PHILIP QUANTRILL
    by PHILIP QUANTRILL 9 months ago
    Like you I have my pretty little flashy flashy things on each mudguard and I've just invested in a pair of forward facing 1500lm led spots that have high/ dipped beam and you guessed it flash flashy. With the two pointing out to the side and two pointing out to the front there leaves but the rear. So if it comes from there I won't see it and just hope it's quick. That and the fact that my sh*t spread all over his/her windshield might him/her think twice.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 9 months ago
    Being an slsa I can't just hang lights as I would like. My trike is on it's way to the manufacturer to get wigwag, landing lights, and perhaps one of those bicycle LED's for my stern. I already sport a set of Aveo power bursts for the wings so hopefully I'm covered.

    Next might be a transponder
  • Bill Magness
    by Bill Magness 9 months ago
    For me I have wing tips and one in the rear. The worst for seeing is right into the sun.
  • wexford air
    by wexford air 9 months ago
    Im the same as you frezier! I keep my head on a swivel, especially so when im heading into the sun. sometimes I grab the front strut and pull myself around to have a good look. Im more paranoid (or is it the opposite cos I think everyone aint lookin at me??) when im over a beach or near the coast as thats where a lot of aircraft fly. The advantage we have is being able to manouver easily and sometimes I will do a high bank turn to show my wing to another aircraft. I have a Zaon in the press at home that I really should use again as It spotted traffic a few times when I didnt. I also have very bright LED strobes (HAL 09 type) on my spats and a 55w landing light on the front that I sometimes use in the pattern if there are visitors coming in. We have a busy regional airport a few miles away so I sometimes go to a listening watch on their freq to see if there is much activity about and I also am familiar with their approaches and pan handles out either end of the runway. A good lookout though and as you say varying the focal point is number one!
  • jeff trike
    by jeff trike 9 months ago
    One of the benefits of flying 50 ft AGL or lower is that no one else (except for another trike or two) is down there. Just watch out for powerlines.
  • monty stone
    by monty stone 9 months ago
    and giraffes !
  • PHILIP QUANTRILL
    by PHILIP QUANTRILL 9 months ago
    Wexford. I never realised I continually turned my head like an owl till I tried a helmet camera. The resulting footage made my head spin when trying to watching it. Totally rubbish as a video it never stays still.
  • John Smith
    by John Smith 9 months ago
    If in a high traffic areas, I try to "hide" in the aerial "shadows" of mountains, down below the tops. Not feasible in strong wind, of course, but I never fly in strong wind.

    I'd also like to know the model of that bicycle strobe you saw.
  • John Glynn
    by John Glynn 9 months ago
    I fly in a beautiful area with plenty of trafffic at times. I operate out of a non-towered field. A few general aviation locals regularly fly and are good about using radio (I use mine as well). We do have business jets on a regular basis so head on a swivel and good radio helps. I operate with two strobes, one top and one bottom (visible from rear) and my white/green/and red LED lights as well. Trike is bright yellow. When I flew a slower powered paraglide out of the same field I used a 1 watt LED Trek bicycle white light mounted on my helmet. If I saw any approaching traffic in my area I would point my head at them and flash them with my light. I also flew hang gliders out of this field. Back then I attached small "3 - 4" diameter mirrored "disco balls" to my glider. The sun really reflects great off them and can catch your eye from miles away. We have also flown with rotating halogen beacons. Extremely bright and the local pilots loved me using it on one of my old trikes. Visible for 6-8 miles. Flashes at a different and quicker rate than the strobes on the surrounding cell and radio towers. In addition I added some reflective tape allowing the "hot spot" of the rotating light to land on the tape. The triple flash effect was so effective on my first flight the local police checked up on me to make sure I got the fire out on the bottom of my trike. Citation jets saw me from 8 miles out. Best thing I do now is check with flight service and inquire about the local military activity. If especially hot during those rare times that happen, I stay on ground, open a beer and enjoy the dogfighting jets in the distance. They are too focused on their missions to keep an eye out for me. Lights on, radio on, and does anyone have a decent price on a transponder I can get this summer? That is my Oshkosh goal this year to be safer.
  • reb wallace
    by reb wallace 9 months ago
    I put jackey awesome led flashers to the rear on my slsa and the helicopters around here in boulder city see me very well the light is only 20 bucks a great safety feature
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