The Nepal STOL Flying Video (STOL – Short Take Off and Landing).

New: The video teaser is out on Vimeo, see where you will find a 3 minutes long teaser. You can also read more on the front page and log in from there.

The full video is 1.05 hour long and can be bought or rented for a small contribution. We hope to cover the production cost. We are also working on doing the same at YouTube.

The flying we did in the eighties on the STOL airports in Nepal was documented on video in VHS format. A video was produced, but the technology at the time ended in poor quality. It was used in some lectures and presentations, and well received by aviation enthusiasts, copies could not be made. We have recently gotten access to professional equipment and converted the original master tapes into digital format. The result is very promising as you can see in the teaser on the front page. We are working hard to have a finished video 15th of September. It is indeed time consuming as every digital second of the first video has to be marked and put in order before we produce it. It is however great to go down the memory line like that. I can assure you that I would not have been capable of flying like that today. The video will not only be about flying on all the great airports in Nepal. We where there for to serve the people of Nepal by improving their STOL operations as the remote airports where of vital importance in the infrastructure. The alternative to fly could be more than a week of trekking. We also served the Aid Organizations from all over the World and the Nepali authorities in their quest for serving the Nepali people. We hence flew equipment, people and food to the most remote areas in the Nepal part of Himalaya. Each and every airport had a story to tell!

«To Think it – Wish It – Even Want It – But to Do It!

Those words do not come an aviator, but from the theater play «Per Gynt» by the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen. It is about anything we want to achieve. We need to do it, and do it right! It is that simple and that difficult. In flight it has to be done right, every time. That is not for dreamers but for doers to achieve. Flying is in the end measured by what we do and only that!  To do things right we need proper training and continuous repetitions to maintain the skills needed to operate an aircraft, also when things are not going right. The necessary time and efforts to train and maintain normal an abnormal handling of the aircraft must be in place if one shall «do it» properly. The trend of trying to eliminate pilotage with technology has been dangerous and it seems like the industry has learned their lessons and are reverting to train pilots in basic airmanship skills.

Mistakes is Human!

The following proverb is mentioned earlier:

«Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.»

This should be understood with a human factor view. As human beings we are not error proof, hence errors will occur. As errors cannot be eliminated we need to take them into account. The only way to handle errors is to try as best we can to reduce the numbers and consequences to a minimum within an acceptable outcome.

The understanding of human error and to mitigate is old. Marcus Tullius Cicero, the famous Roman politician, lawyer, speaker and author, gave us the following proverbs more than 2000 years ago:

«Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.»

”The Safety of the people shall be the highest law.”

”The more law, the less justice”

But Cicero was not the first to comment human error as Confucius, the Chinese teacher philosopher said more than 400 years before Cicero, the following:

«If you don’t correct your mistake, you really make a mistake.» 


Learning to fly, i.e. to Operate an Aircraft 2

«The objective of all true learning is behavioral changes» was a written in the manual when I learned to be a flight instructor. This is at least true when it comes to learning physical skills like piloting an aircraft.

There are 3 stages in the learning process: Raw coordination – Fine coordination – Automation. The last step is the goal which is that the correct behavior is just performed without conscious thinking. We do this when riding a bike or driving a car.  It is detrimental that the correct behavior is practiced from the start. To achieve that it is not important that the performance limitations are within the desired parameters as long as “the right thing” is done. For example, that the student is not capable of maintaining the desired maximum deviations from heading and altitude in straight and level flight is not important as long as the student is doing the correct corrections when deviating. Being within the required limitations will come in the fine coordination. Sometimes acceptance of wrong performance is accepted in the process to save time or achieve student satisfaction. That is wrong and will only delay the student´s progress. One need to go back to “square one” by first de-learning the wrong behavior and then start learning the correct behavior. “The shortcut is longer” is a good reminder to that extent!

Learning «to Fly» or Rather to Operate an Aircraft

As mentioned earlier man cannot learn to fly. That is reserved for the 3 B´s, i.e. Birds, Bats and Bugs. Not all of the B´s can fly either. Man can only learn to operate an aircraft. It is detrimental that safety is first priority from the very beginning, or else one might not even survive long enough to become a pilot. There are many things to be learned with regard to knowledge and skills, which will take time. Based on these basics, good judgment and attitude have to be built, simultaneously. This might be a problem depending on what type of aviation activity we are learning. Hang Gliding (HG) and even more Paragliding (PG) are skill wise relatively easy to learn with regard to the basics, i.e. getting airborne and to land. Hence a common mistake is that the students are left to themselves to early and they are not being prepared for the equipment, site or flight conditions they meet. The dangers of the beginner syndrome are hence more critical than in any other activities.

In the early eighties, I wrote the training program SAFE PRO for HG, which was a stepwise approach to mitigate the consequences. It became the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) standard and implemented in many member states Worldwide. The accident rate was reduced drastically, which lead to some awards, first from FAI and many years later also from the Norwegian CAA and the National Aero Club. However, nothing was more awarding than the words of the speaker when receiving the last awards which was “Your program has saved many lives”.

It´s simply to highlight how important it is to have a systematic approach when learning to operate an aircraft needs a systematic progress which does not leave any holes in the process. I still remember that I showed a SAFE PRO draft to an English instructor who at this early stage was more or less self-trained. He was also more or less shocked over the detailed contents and stated that it was way to comprehensive. I handed him a copy and asked him to mark every bit of required knowledge and skill, which was unnecessary, and to present it the next day. It was no surprise when he came back and stated: “nothing”!

Later FAI adopted SAFE PRO into Paragliding and called the system PARA PRO and honored me as the creator. It was a bit surreal when I dropped by a Paraglider school in Pokhara Nepal to check out if I could get a tandem flight, I inquired of course about safety and their training and their pilots, and they replied they used the international FAI standard PARA PRO. They were equally surprised when I said I was the person written on the first page of the manual. I was indeed impressed and happy with their standards and dedication to safety. The site is fantastic and if you want to fly with Eagles along the Himalayas. Pokhara is a fantastic alternative. My friends at Phoenix Paragliding, will take good care of you.