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Welcome to John Brandon's 'Fly Safe!' tutorials

Page revision 10b — the content of this page was last changed 12 January 2014

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These tutorials and guides are dedicated to the memory of
Wing Commander A.M. (Mick) Parer RAAF
'An operator who had a passion
for flight and a passion to teach'

1935 — 2005

The intent of the tutorials and guides is to improve the underpinning knowledge and thus the situational awareness, airmanship and ultimately, the safety of sport and recreational pilots (whether novice or experienced) and their passengers. The documents are generally written on the premise that no pilot of a sport and recreational aviation aircraft can know too much about aerodynamics and safe flight; so the more information provided, the better the result. Most tutorials provide much more detail than is necessary for novice pilots to understand to achieve certification. The tutorials are meant for all persons who wish to expand their knowledge without getting into the mathematics.

Formal flight training is chiefly about establishing skills (learning how) and acquiring knowledge of the rules contained in the aviation regulations and the RAAO manuals — the latter also contain job descriptions, training syllabi and procedures. Flight education is chiefly a self-help activity where information (in the fields of aerodynamics or atmospheric dynamics, for example) is gathered so that you can learn why. These documents currently contain more than 500 000 words of text, plus illustrations. If the tutorials were published in standard textbook format the total page count would be around 950 pages. Unfortunately there are no print or PDF format versions available.

Self-education is most important. Martin Dolan, the Chief Commissioner and CEO of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau wrote (May 17, 2013 in answer to a query concerning boating accidents): 'In many cases they reflect what we see with smaller aircraft: the same accidents happening over and over. The best way to tackle these problems would seem to involve clear, targeted safety education [JB's emphasis] about how accidents can be avoided – as many of them are easily avoidable.'

Aeronautics and aerodynamics are very complex subjects. Since the initial 2000–2001 publication of the various modules on the AUF/RA-Aus website there has been (and continues to be) considerable feedback from readers requesting increased coverage or seeking additional explanation of various aspects. In addition — as with other aviation categories — the causes of accidents in world-wide sport and recreational aviation remain distressingly familiar, which has contributed to a probable excessive laboring over some matters.

On May 16, 2013 Chief Commissioner Dolan also wrote: 'As we've been saying for some time, there are many accidents in general aviation that have known and avoidable causes and where the most effective safety action is education [JB's emphasis] rather than investigation.'

A word of caution. I have found that some fallacies or misconceptions are often repeated from work to work. Be wary of the person who is adamant that there is only one correct concept and that all others should be ignored. The atmosphere you fly in, and the aircraft you fly, are not bound by the opinions of mere humans.

Please note: the documents are designed for consistent online reading, requiring the reader to select a display resolution and font size which produce a display of 60-70 characters or 12-14 words per line. As in a book, this is recognised as near the maximum number of words per line for good readability. It is also important that there is a wide, clear border to the left and right of the text so that the eye can't be distracted by any extraneous material outside the border (such as a sidebar); and page overflow to the right is a no-no. The sans serif font used provides better display readability. There are no advertisements.

Please read the notice regarding copyright protection of the tutorials.


Fly Safe! content

The following links will take you to the content box – on this page – for each tutorial or service.

   1. Joining sport and recreational aviation. The Australian sport and recreational field includes lighter-than-air, heavier-than-air, power-driven and non-power-driven aircraft — intended for pleasure, diversion, adventure, competitive sport, technical flying, experimental or personal educational/developmental purposes. Generally as long as you are in reasonable physical and mental condition — equivalent to that needed to hold (and maintain) an Australian private vehicle driver licence — you can become a member of a sport and recreational aviation association and learn to fly a sport and recreational aircraft. This guide is an outline of how to go about becoming involved in this broad and expanding sector of Australian aviation.

   2. Aviation meteorology in Australia   A summarised but reasonably comprehensive examination — oriented towards Australian conditions — of the atmospheric structure, the physical laws and the forces which together produce the atmospheric phenomena referred to as 'weather'; a good understanding of which is essential to safe soaring and safe aerial navigation.

   3. Flight theory   The intent of this tutorial is to improve the underpinning knowledge and thus the situational awareness, airmanship and — ultimately — the safety of sport and recreational pilots and their passengers. The tutorial is written on the premise that no pilot can know too much about aerodynamics and flight; so the more information provided, the better the result.

   4. Flight planning and navigation   A summarised, overall view of adequate and safe flight planning and navigation techniques that are applicable to sport and recreational aviation operations under the visual flight rules, in visual meteorological conditions and within the current Australian regulations for flight operations outside controlled airspace.

*These six modules were completely re-written during October–November 2012

   5. VHF radiocommunications   An outline of Australian aircraft transceiver licensing and radio operator qualification plus the VHF radiotelephony techniques and procedures to be used during VFR flight operations outside controlled airspace. Radiotelephony emergency/distress procedures are included, plus the usage of transponders and satellite-compatible distress beacons and the operations of the Australian Search and Rescue organisation.

   6. Decreasing your exposure to aerodynamic risk   This tutorial is a series of safety briefings that aim to encompass the flight dynamics associated with some common events that sometimes lead to destruction — thus extending your underpinning knowledge so that such disastrous outcomes are readily avoided, even if readily encountered. The series generally explores the flight envelope (flight loading limits and gust loading limits), plus angle of attack management and energy management. It does not cover other accident causal factors such as fuel system mismanagement, flight planning mismanagement, wire strikes or flight into non-day VFR conditions. Articles discussing those causal factors can be found at: 'Airmanship and safety: other online reading'.

   7. Coping with emergencies   The proliferation of heavier and faster sport and recreational aircraft travelling long distances, and equipped with engines of much greater reliability, has given rise to the situation where the perception of pilots and possibly instructors (in regard to the likelihood of a forced landing) has changed greatly, and indeed many pilots now have no practical experience of handling real forced landings — and the aircraft they fly are inherently more difficult to put down in a restricted area. The nosewheel, with which many are now equipped, adds to the problems once the aircraft has touched down in rough or soft conditions. This tutorial provides an outline of the knowledge needed to prepare for an engine-out emergency landing and to deal with the aftermath.

   8. Airmanship and safety tour   The prime aim of these web tutorials is to provide knowledge to those who are willing to absorb it. The more you know about the physics of flight, the flight environment, your aircraft structure and its systems, flight planning and flight operations and so on, the more aware you will be of your own limitations — and the safer you and your passengers will be. The airmanship and safety tour takes you through those sub-sections of the tutorials that are particularly pertinent to safety. The sections are generally highlighted with the same background tone and are sequenced using a textual link — at the end of each sub-section — to access the next sub-section in the sequence.

   9. Builders guide to safe aircraft materials   A reasonably comprehensive guide — for those interested in building their own aircraft — to the properties and usage of materials that are considered appropriate.


10. Airmanship and safety: other online reading   A categorised index (covering the period from 1998 to date) of selected articles available in the online version of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's bi-monthly magazine Flight Safety Australia. The articles listed are all pertinent to recreational and sport aviation under the day visual flight rules and are recommended reading. They expand on, or complement, material contained in these tutorials. Pertinent publications from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are also provided.

   11. Powered recreational aviation legislation, CASA advisories and the enabling exemption orders. It is essential to have some familiarity with the aviation legislation applicable to your sport and recreational aviation sector and also to know where to find it.

  •   The exemption CAOs applicable to sport and recreational aviation.The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and its predecessors, have done much to foster and encourage sport and recreational aviation by delegating administration of that aviation sector to the various recreational aviation associations and by the issue of Civil Aviation Orders (CAOs) allowing conditional exemption from compliance with some provisions of the Civil Aviation Regulations. The following are the 2011 issues of the documents.

    CAO 95.4     GFA sailplanes, power-assisted sailplanes and powered sailplanes.

    CAO 95.8     HGFA hang gliders and paragliders plus the powered variants.

    CAO 95.10     HGFA/RA-Aus low-momentum ultralight aeroplanes — three-axis and weight-shift control.

    CAO 95.12     ASRA single-place gyroplanes.

    CAO 95.12.1     ASRA two-place and single-place gyroplanes certificated as light sport aircraft.

    CAO 95.14     Parasails and gyrogliders.

    CAO 95.32     HGFA/RA-Aus weight shift controlled aeroplanes and powered parachutes.

    CAO 95.54     ABF manned balloons and hot air airships — private operations.

    CAO 95.55     RA-Aus three-axis control aeroplanes

Pilot services provided by the Australian national authorities – AsA, CASA and the BoM

    12. Airservices Australia's online information services
  • Airservices Australia [AsA] provides the NAIPS Internet Service [NIS], 'a multi-function, computerised, aeronautical information system. It processes and stores meteorological and NOTAM information as well as enabling the provision of briefing products and services to pilots and the Australian Air traffic Control platform'. NIS is accessed through the internet with any web browser or access is integrated within some flight planning software. The Bureau of Meteorology provides all the weather products to the NIS.

    You must register with AsA before you can access the NIS. You are required to create a 'user name' and a password. If you don't have an ARN or Pilot Licence Number leave that field blank, don't use your RA-Aus or other sport and recreational organisation membership number, it may conflict with someone's Aviation Reference Number. Download the NIS user documentation

    When registered, you can log in; enter user name and password, and then click the required link. If you choose 'Area Briefing' you can select up to five briefing areas by clicking on the map or by entering the required areas in the entry boxes, and then click on the 'Submit Request' button.

  • Airservices online store
    You can purchase aeronautical charts and other navigation material, books and manuals via this site.

  • Airservices online publications
    This site features a number of essential documents downloadable in PDF format, free of charge, including the Aeronautical Information Package [AIP] — the AIP Book, the AIP supplements [AIP SUP], the Aeronautical Information Circulars [AIC] and the Enroute Supplement Australia [ERSA].

    13. Civil Aviation Safety Authority handbooks, guides and videos
  • CASA's 'Visual Flight Rules Guide' (version 4) is now only available in pdf format, downloadable in six sections totalling 14 MB.

  • The five 'Visual Pilot Guides' are pdf format guides to VFR operations near Australia's major cities. The main purpose is to facilitate route planning into or from the six Class D general aviation aerodromes — which is not of much interest to most RA-Aus pilots. However the guides also help familiarise recreational aviators with the recommended VFR routes, altitudes and VHF frequencies that provide safe navigation around and under the Class C and Class D airspace steps, military control zones and restricted areas.

  • 'OnTrack' is an online, interactive, guide to VFR operations near Australia's major cities. The main purpose is to provide guides on how to fly inbound and outbound tracks into the six Class D general aviation aerodromes. OnTrack features interactive maps with added visual terminal chart (VTC) information utilising video, audio, pop-up alerts and text. OnTrack is not of much interest to most RA-Aus pilots because, unlike the Visual Pilot Guides, the Class C and Class D bypass routes don't seem to be included (yet?).

  • CASA has developed an online eLearning program providing detailed information relating to the June 3, 2010 changes to operations at and in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes. Each tutorial topic takes 5–10 minutes to complete and the whole tutorial can be completed at your own pace. In addition the eLearning program offers another tutorial on the Class D airspace procedures that came into effect June 3, 2010.

  • Also a new booklet plus DVD titled 'Operations at non-towered aerodromes' is now available. The CASA Safety Promotions department has kindly offered to post a copy directly to RA-Aus members if they supply their name and postal details via email to safetyproducts@casa.gov.au. Otherwise the booklet/DVD is available from the CASA online shop product code SP86.

  • CASA has established a YouTube channel called CASABriefing at www.youtube.com/user/casabriefing containing safety-related videos.

14. Australian Bureau of Meteorology weather services
  • The BoM's aviation weather services. The latest synoptic surface analysis charts and national forecast charts; area forecasts, TAFs, aviation warnings, wind and temperature forecast charts for 5000 feet (FL050) and 10 000 feet (FL100) and a great deal of other information is available from this page.

  • Plain English weather briefing
    Ian Boag has produced an excellent, freely available, online, plain English conversion of current ARFOR, METAR and TAF for all Australian ARFOR areas. The encoded version is also shown.However pilots must still get the NOTAM from the Airservices site.

  • The telephone numbers of BoM's automatic weather stations [AWS] that make up BoM's Aerodrome Weather Information Service [AWIS] can be found by entering the 'Location information' page and downloading the pdf for the relevant state. For an example of the service from the automatic weather stations [AWS] call 08 8091 5549 to hear the current AWS aerodrome weather at Wilcannia, NSW.

  • Images from the BOM's weather radar displays. 'Snapshots' of radar images (precipitation location and intensity), from about 50 weather watch radars, are taken at 10 minute intervals. The images cover an area of 256 km radius from the radar. The last four snapshots from each radar may be looped to provide a good indication of current storm development and intensity plus direction and rate of movement.

USA Federal Aviation Administration handbooks
15. Technical handbooks
16. Pilot handbooks

Copyright © 2000–2014 tutorials author John Brandon     [contact information]