Updated: Oct 13, 2022
FlyWire takes a look at the accidents Bonanzas had in the US last year. The idea is to learn from the mistakes of others, not to criticize the pilots that experienced the mishaps. We all get better when we learn from each other. There isn't enough time to make all the mistakes ourselves!
The video is here: https://youtu.be/gfUfi3LhlSU. or it is at the bottom this post. I don't want to cover the same ground I did in the video, so please check it out. I want to expand on a few of the ideas here.
The trend items I see are Forced Landings off-airport with the gear down, Takeoff into IMC, Loss of Directional Control on Takeoff or Landing and fuel un-porting.
Certainly, there are circumstances when using the gear is a good idea. But there are so many other situations where it is patently NOT a good idea. It's all about energy dissipation. Unless the ground is a hard surface the wheels used on most GA airplanes are too small to roll easily on soft surfaces. When the gear digs into the ground the airplane slows down very fast, in very short distances. That means the deceleration rates you can experience can be enormous. The human body starts to come apart when experiencing sudden accelerations of 26 G or more, so its probably a good idea to avoid those! The airplane itself will likely deform, or break as well. When you land gear up you slide better on a soft surface and come to a stop more gradually, and that is key. the airplanes sole job is to get you and your passengers back on the ground in one piece, preferably uninjured!
This is a Rule of Thumb, which means it doesn't work in all situations. That's where your judgement comes into play. Choose wisely!
Takeoff into IMC:
As I say in the video, this is the one thing about flying in clouds that really scares me. That doesn't mean I don't do it. It means I do as much as I can to minimize the risks. One of the ways I do that is to set minimums for the Takeoff. For me these days it is usually the mins for a non-precision approach, if I don't have that ceiling then I cool my heels in the lounge for awhile longer. I also setup every detail prior to taking the runway. All nav points that I need (for at least the first 30-45 minutes). All the radio freqs, the heading, squawk and just about everything else I can think of is ready to go. I do this to minimize distractions. When I takeoff, just after raising the gear I transition to instruments and narrow my focus. Minimize distractions, concentrate! These are the keys to staying oriented and keeping the right side up!
Loss of Directional Control:
My first instructor made sure, through much repetition that I had "Fly the Airplane, Don't let the Airplane Fly You!" ingrained into my memory. Anticipation is key for some of the accidents in this category, but mostly the pilot stopped flying the airplane. Constantly evaluate yourself, none of us are perfect, but its a good idea to try to be and learn from the times you are not! Bob Hoover was famous for saying 'fly the aircraft as far into the accident as possible.' Barring an accident, fly the airplane until it is shut down.
In the Bonanza the POH gives you a Warning to not takeoff with less than 13 gallons in a fuel tank. This is to avoid unporting the fuel pickup line. My nickel on the grass is that this is just as important for landing. I've read and heard of too many instances of an airplane engine stopping and the pilot being unable to get it running again with low levels of fuel in the tank. I manage my fuel with that in mind and keep at least one hour of gas reserved for landing in one tank. If I'm going to switch tanks just prior to landing I'll do it at the top of descent to make sure the fuel flow is uninterrupted. This technique is probably a little 'unconventional' in that the POH doesn't address it specifically, but it is a real thing and I've experinced it. Manage your fuel wisely, don't trust to luck!
thanks for reading,