Saturday, January 12, 2013

Finish follies

It is tempting to describe the behavior of the pilots in the vicinity of the Finish Ring as amusing, if it weren't so dangerous.

In my previous post on the topic, I left out the "other" penalty to which pilots are subjected when all they want to do is to get on the ground, get out of the way, and relax for the first time in five or six hours.

I am referring to the "hazardous flying" penalty imposed for crossing the airport boundary at a height of less than 15 meters above the ground. The airfield abuts a busy highway, and it makes sense that you want to have some clearance between you and the cars and trucks passing by.

Two days ago, a pilot was praised for performing a low-altitude 180° turn to a field landing short of the road. Think about that for a moment: Last minute decision. Low altitude turn. Field landing. Praise.

It happened again today. I heard that four gliders wound up in that field. Tomorrow, the pilots will probably also receive praise for being "safety conscious." In my opinion, they were conscious more of their score than matters of safety.

I also heard that another pilot received both finish penalties: for finishing too low and for crossing the road too low.

So let me get this straight:  the pilot who makes a desperate final glide to a safe landing in a familiar place gets two penalties, while the ones who make similar desperate glides that end in a dangerous maneuver to a sudden arrival in an unprepared place are the heroes.

Got it.

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