12 Aug 2017 10:12 PM | Daren (Administrator)

"Hey, will you spot for me?"  How many times have we said it or heard it?  How many times have we had misunderstandings or conflicts on the flight line and wondered "what was that spotter looking at or communicating to the pilot?" 

The following is an article I came across a couple years ago.  As I've attended quite a few events since then and talked to many pilots who have also attended large and small events I thought it was a good idea to write this blog and open up the conversation for review.  When you are at an event or at your field when several airplanes get in the sky please remember clear, effective communication on the flight line is critical to assure safe operations.  At the field your club policies dictate, at an event the CD or his/ her designee has the responsibility to make sure all individuals on the flight line understand their responsibilities.  Take a few minutes to look over the following and feel free to comment and discuss the topic with your fellow modelers.  Fly often and fly safe.

Pilot Spotter's Responsibility  by Bob Ackerman
While at the field recently I was asked, “What does a pilot spotter do?” I quickly told him, “spot for the pilot.” I thought about my response for a few minutes and I realized that was not a good answer. Do you know what the responsibility of the pilot spotter is? I asked a few pilots and I got the same answer from most, “spot for the pilot.” So, what does that mean?  The pilot spotter, or just spotter, is a safety person for the pilot. The pilot and spotter should be a team working together for the safety of the pilot, the spotter, the aircraft, and all parties at or near the field. Whereas the pilot has the responsibility of flying his/her aircraft in a safe manner, the spotter has many other responsibilities, which include:
• Relay messages from the flightline and safety personnel to the pilot about landing aircraft, aircraft emergencies, or dead-stick landings by other aircraft on the field, and other information important to the pilot flying the aircraft. The pilot may be concentrating on the aircraft in flight and may not hear or pay attention to background messages on the field.
• Relay messages from the pilot to the flightline and/or safety personnel about the pilot’s landing, emergency, or dead-stick landings, and other information that needs to be passed from the pilot to others.
• Be the eyes of the pilot away from the aircraft. Watch the flightline and inform your pilot of aircraft taxiing in front of the pilot, people on the runway line, obstacles on the ground if the pilot walks around while flying, or other safety issues that your pilot should be aware of.
• Watch the other aircraft in flight and inform your pilot of aircraft that may cross the flight path of his or her aircraft. Changes in pattern direction or aircraft in different flight types (aerobatic vs. pattern flight) crossing your pilot’s flight path should be reported.
• Keep the pilot advised of the type of aircraft (slow foamie or high speed jet) that are being started for flight. Some pilots may be flying the pattern and if a 3-D aerobatic aircraft is getting ready to fly, the pilot may decide to fly at a different altitude or land the aircraft.
• Minimize the distractions to the pilot in flight. The spotter is the eyes and ears for the pilot. Anything that could distract the attention of the pilot should be explained so that the pilot can keep his/her eyes on the aircraft and not look at the distraction.
• A pilot spotter/ caller may also assist the pilot at contests, such as a pattern/ IMAC contest, by providing information to the pilot about the next maneuver at key points of the flight.
This is not a complete list of responsibilities that the spotter has.

Some pilots will have specific instructions for their spotters as to what to do, what to watch for, and what to explain. Each pilot and spotter should discuss these responsibilities before each flight.
Every field has different rules for the use of a pilot spotter during flight operations. Most fields do not require a spotter when no organized event is scheduled, or the number of pilots flying is low. Other fields require a spotter on all flight activities. Most fields require the use of a pilot spotter during all scheduled events. Do check with your club or field rules about the use of a spotter.
The ultimate purpose of a pilot spotter is to increase safety for all. So be a good spotter and help keep our field, and our pilots, safe. 

Thank you for operating the safest you can.

Daren Hudson

District 1 AVP

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