They Called It Pilot Error: True Stories Behind General Aviation Accidents (Anglais) Broché – 1 janvier 1994
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On the night oxygen issue -- I was confused at first too, because the book doesn't really explain this point. Why would we want to use oxygen at a lower altitude at night? My most recent Jeppesen private pilot textbook indicates that oxygen should be used over 5,000 MSL at night and 12,500 during the day, but doesn't say why. A little research reveals the probable answer:
The very first organ to be affected by hypoxia is the eye. It can be affected as low as 5,000 MSL. Your night vision deteriorates under hypoxia. During the day, the effect is not so noticable because there is so much light entering your eye. At night your eye is dark-adapted and must be much more efficient with the light that enters it. Hypoxia inhibits the light-gathering efficiency of your eyes, particularly in low-light conditions.
So there are multiple effects of Hypoxia. There are judgement-altering effects, vision effects, and others. They combine to produce a pretty bad situation.
The fictional accounts certain put the fear of god into you, as they should. Flying is as safe as you make it.
In future books of this type I'd like to see considerably more statistical detail. It's a bit too anecdotal for my taste. Because of the book's focus on hypoxia, extended medical information on the condition should absolutely be present, and is missing. Editing errors abound (including simple grammatical errors - ouch), but I'd say that, overall, it's a page-turner and a make-you-thinker.
Wish I hadn't wasted the $20! This book has several key problems. First, it is a work of fiction. The author claims that the accounts of pilot error are 'based on fact' and are 'carefully' researched, but since no real names, locations, (or facts?) are given, it is impossible to determine how much of the book is really fiction. The author also claims to have 6,400 hours under his belt, but his aviation terminology and basic aeronautical knowledge are so deficient that I have serious doubts as to the veracity of that claim. Furthermore, to the best of my knowlege, the author never really provides his credentials; is he a commercial pilot? CFI? Pilots are skeptical people by nature; our lives depend on it. I have my doubts about the legitimacy of Robert S. Cohn, master pilot.
Cohn thinks that "oxygen concentration levels" (?) are lower at night, and that this contributes to hypoxia. Clearly, Cohn is not familiar with the Aeronautical Information Manual, which is a basic bible for every pilot -- ranging from student to a commercial, instrument-rated pilot. Ironically, Cohn attacks the FAA for not requiring pilot applicants to more thoroughly demonstrate a knowledge of day/night oxygen requirements/recommendations and how to combat hypoxia on their checkrides. Cohn consistently refers to the attitude indicator (artificial horizon) as the "HSI" in one amusing passage. No aviation editor could have missed these glaringly erroneous references, which leads me to believe that Cohn wrote and edited his own book. That is suspicious in and of itself. Cohn also likens stall entries to 'intentionally slamming the brakes on in your car,' as though it were a dangerous and useless exercise; yet, later in the book, in a fictionalized tale wherein a private pilot stalls his ice-laden aircraft, his 'automatic response to release back pressure on the yoke' probably saved his (imaginary) life. Is this guy really a pilot? I have a hard time believing it.
This book is a platform for some of the author's ill-conceived notions that the FAA should allow ATC to supercede the Pilot-In-Command's authority in the aircraft. Both ATC and pilots are well aware of their responsibilities, and the system produces millions of safe flights per year. Perfect? No, but the real problems are not where the author is pointing his fingers - the problems are technology and congestion, not bumbling pilots running amok in the skies.
A student pilot could poke this book full of so many holes that it would never be airworthy. As a work of pure fiction it is mildly entertaining; as a soapbox for anti-general aviation propaganda, it is a) poorly researched, b) embarassingly inaccurate on basic facts, and c) unconvincing at best.
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