Christian Aviation Network

Guiding Aviators and Aircrews through life's storms

Dear Fellow Christian Aviators,

We would like to wish you a blessed Christmas and new year, full of God's goodness, provision and grace.

As you go on holiday to far-off destinations, please be very careful about recurring flying traps, some of which may be fatal, i.e. 


(a) Starting problems - The effects may include fuel pump cavitation and/or vapour locks in the fuel lines of piston engines; with the propensity of engines to flood and/or to cause back-firing and veld fires during starting. In piston helicopters the engine has been known to 'flood' when power is suddenly applied. 

(b) Runway over-runs - Pilots in light planes may base their estimation of take-off and landing distances on habit, or past experience. Many do not compensate for the higher True Airspeed for the same Indicated Airspeed in higher ambient temperatures and hence, higher ground speeds on landing or take-off - in turn diminishing effective runway distance available.

(c) Reduced climb performance - The loss is about five percent per 1000 ft. DA.  This effectively reduces lift on lift-producing surfaces and propellers, even if the engine is turbo-charged. 

(d) Effective overload - This is hazardous in mountainous terrain, especially with helicopters. Having a picnic on a ledge overlooking a valley is often begun early in the morning when ambient temperatures are low. Upon the return the temperature could have soared, with effective loss of performance and carrying capacity. For fixed wing aircraft the obstacle clearance height may be inadequate. In twins this is often only discovered when an engine is lost on take-off.

[These High DA effects are merely to prompt your memory and are by no means limited to those mentioned above].


(a) Up- and downdrafts act differently upwind and downwind. Beware of the rotors closest to the cliffs and the Venturi Effects causing a loss of overall lift in ravines or narrow confines.

(b) Always cross a ridge at 45 deg. angle with ample height to spare. This would leave an "out" or escape plan in case of an unexpected down current or wind rotor.

(c) Virga - This is rain not reaching the ground. Severe down-drafts and even micro-bursts may occur in the vicinity due to the acceleration effect of super-could air in contrast to the immediate environment.


(a) Straight-in approaches are bad as these deprive you of making the necessary observations and precautions before landing (even if everyone's bladder may be bursting!) and quite often lead to gear-up landings. So, beware!

(b) Straight-in approaches often lead to collisions with free roaming game or vehicles at game lodges.

(c) Straight-in approaches are often flat, resulting in too fast round-out and hold-off phases during the landing and hence, over-runs.

(d) Straight-in approaches often do not compensate for the effects of wind-shear and loss of indicated airspeed at low height, just before touch-down. [Keep the same angle of approach, regardless].


(a) The need to thrill has cost many lives, especially of those nearest and dearest. Extreme flying antics often result in collisions with high-tension wires, especially the thin horizontal strands above the main lines, or the diagonal supporting wires near masts and towers.

(b) THE BYE-BYE BEAT-UP - The stalling speed goes up exponentially with increased load factor and so does the propensity for auto-rotation. Many experienced pilots have lost their lives this way through the desire to show-off. The beat-up can be carried out out upon arrival to alert the lodge-keepers. An inadvertent stall or in-flight break-up is often preceded by a dive, a pull-up and a 'teardrop' manoeuvre to the right, as the pilot sits 'on top' on the turn for comfort and better visibility. The outer wing stalls first and the aircraft 'flips' with no height to recover.

(c) RIVER FLYING - The dangers are vast and the most beautiful places are often riddled with power lines and other unseen obstacles. 

(d) BIRD-STRIKES - The correlation between bird-strikes and low-level flying is frightening. You might think you'd be able to handle it, but it's virtually impossible with the wind screaming through a shattered perspex window and with your one eyeball hanging out! Low-level flying over bird colonies should be criminalized. 


(a) "Press-on-itis" is often weather related. Pressure external to the cockpit, e.g. reservations, school terms, business commitments, etc. often cause pilots to press on despite better judgment. Some get trapped in the "wedge" between rising terrain and lowering cloud bases. Don't become part of the annual statistics! 

Remember, rather a day late in this world than a second too soon in the next!

The above mentioned fatal flying traps are by no means exhaustive, but are intended to prompt you to THINK AND ACT instead of just reacting to your impulses and instincts, and on getting you and your loved ones back safely.




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Become a better, wiser and safer pilot. Special rates from this website for air safety books if ordered in quantities of 10 or more: 

Avoiding Fatal Flying 

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For a quote:


  'Ask Cecile'   

Bible based replies to tough situations in the aviation industry


Write to us 

Christian Aviation Network

P.O. Box 1847

Hermanus, 7200

Western Cape


Dear Visitor,   

The Healing and Redemptive power of the Lord Jesus are not only for people with "normal" lives outside the aviation industry who can regularly attend church, etc.


As aviation participant you might experience a sense of disconnection and alienation. This is perhaps more typical than you might think. Remember, God has never given up on you!

Cecile and I have been associated with aviation for quite a while. We realize people in the industry are subject to a myriad of influences and pressures found nowhere else. Aviation people cannot 'come clean' with problems for fear of repercussions.

We hope this forum may help you realize the Holy Spirit can fill the void. We do not presume to have all the answers, but know that God cares about YOU specifically more deeply than you might think.

Johan Lottering - Editor




 Christians in Aviation  

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  • Angels in Mustangs

Lighter side of flying

  • New - Late for lunch... and other Miracles

Aviation's Lighter Side' library

  • How 'Sergeant Pan' got his name
  • Charter pilot's most embarrassing moment
  • Salesman 'taken for a ride'
  • Silencing the Lambs
  • 'Bird Strike'
  • Sir Douglas' close encounter


Air safety book -  'Avoiding Fatal Flying Traps'   

General Aviation wake-up call   


Flight Training & Safety

  • Air safety and 'group dynamics'
  •  Selecting a Flying School
  •  New look at 'old lessons'


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