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My Experience With Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

My Experience With Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


February 4, 2020

I am writing this article to share my experience and to help give pilots a real life perspective of how fast carbon monoxide poisoning can creep up on you. I went up on a flight with my IFR student, Ken in his Dakota to do some hood work.

The winds were strong and gusty and it was turbulent out. Every now and then there would be a strong gust of wind that would push exhaust fumes into the plane which is not uncommon with wind like this. It wasn’t a strong, overwhelming smell and it was nothing out of the ordinary from what I have experienced in over 28 years of flying. There was a carbon monoxide detector on the instrument panel in plain view, so we could always keep an eye on that just in case.

On the way to the practice area I noticed a breeze in the plane that I didn’t notice the last time we flew a few days earlier. I asked Ken if he had a vent open and he said no. I checked the door, baggage door and the vents and they were all closed. I don’t remember it being as cold in the plane the last time but didn’t think any more about it.

About 20 miles west of the airport we began multi-tasking drills, which included many turns and varying aircraft configurations. Because of all the turning and reading during this lesson, students tend to get dizzy. When it is turbulent outside, it tends to make things worse. Ken mentioned that he was a little dizzy and asked if he could take the hood off and take a break. I said, of course. He apologized and said he usually doesn’t get motion sickness.  I told him it was common with this lesson and the turbulence isn’t helping.

Part of me wondered if it was possibly carbon monoxide, even though there wasn’t a strong smell of exhaust and the detector showed everything was good. I was thinking it would probably be better to head back just in case. I opened the window and the overhead vent and said that we should go back and we can just do it another day when things are more calm. I said I am actually starting to feel a little dizzy too from being bounced around so much. This was about 30 minutes into the flight.

On the way back to airport, I asked if he was ok to land or if he wanted me to do it and he asked if I would mind doing it because he was still feeling off and he was struggling to find the runway. On the way back, we both checked out the carbon monoxide detector which was brand new and showed no change. My head didn’t really feel much different than it would on a turbulent day but I did feel a little dizzy too. We didn’t really have any sense of danger at this time.

I landed the airplane, perfect as usual! As I taxied off the runway, I felt more dizziness. I said to Ken that I am dizzier now and it doesn’t feel like the dizziness from turbulence. I said that I think we may have carbon monoxide poisoning, even though the carbon monoxide detector isn’t showing any. I said that this just feels different. Ken taxied back to his hangar where we shut down. He kept apologizing and saying he usually doesn’t get sick and I said again, that I don’t think it’s him.

I got out of the plane, zipped up my coat and as I was turning toward Ken, he stumbled a bit getting off the wing. I asked if he was ok, and he said he still felt a little off. He started to take the tow bar out and I told him to just stay put for a bit and take a few deep breaths.

Walking to the front of the plane, we hooked up the tow bar. As he was walking to the wing, he didn’t look right. I put down the bar and went up to him and asked if he was ok. He then started wobbling and I caught him and kept him from falling. I laid him on his back and his body started to lightly shake. I kept my hand under his head. You could tell he was about to pass out by the look in his eyes.

One of the airport staff happened to be in the village hangar next to us. I know him well and did his instrument training too but suddenly I couldn’t think of his name, so I just yelled out HEY! He popped his head out and I said to call an ambulance. He asked what was wrong and I said carbon monoxide poisoning. I knew it had to be because I felt off too.

Ken snapped out of it about 30 seconds or so later. He sat up. I said to just sit for a bit but he said he was fine now and stood up. 20 seconds later he went back down. I told him the ambulance was on the way. 2 more times he stood up with the same result. The fourth time, I was a little more demanding and told him that I am getting dizzy just keeping his 237 pound body from falling and that if he gets up again, we are both going to be on the ground. He stayed sitting on the ground with me.

About 2 minutes later the ambulance had arrived. I explained what happened & told them I would like to be checked too, just in case. Walking to the ambulance, I noticed symptoms that I didn’t notice until that moment. My feet were numb from the ankles down and my hands and lips felt the same. My hands were shaking similar to Ken, this lasted for about 3 hours. A headache soon followed which lasted all night.

The ambulance guys said that with anything over 12% carbon monoxide, it is recommended that you go into an oxygen chamber. Neither of us wanted to sit in a tent for 24 hours. They said we would still be fine but it may take a day or two to get back to normal levels. Kens carbon monoxide level was at 26% and mine was at 19.8%. Maybe Ken was breathing heavier, because of training, I don’t know. If I was only 6% less and he lost it only a couple minutes after getting out of the plane, I am sure I would have soon followed. I thank God that I had enough mental function to get us back safely. Ken later told me that he was struggling to understand the instruments on the way back and that’s why he asked me to fly. He also didn’t remember taxing back or shutting down.

This wasn’t so easy to notice, especially with a brand new carbon monoxide detector saying that we were safe. My advice is to spend the $160 on one of the portable electric detectors because they are much more sensitive and accurate than the cheap $10 one that could have killed us. If you smell fumes and you are dizzy, get back to the airport. It literally took 15 minutes from the time the dizziness started, which appeared as motion sickness, to the point where one of us couldn’t function.

Another 10 minutes, and we would have both been unconscious on our way back to the airport. Ken was going to travel with his family this weekend. The effects of what we experienced on a small child or a woman could have been much worse and no one would have noticed since most kids commonly fall asleep while traveling. Someone was looking out for us and his family.

Joe Standley – Pilot Flight Training Courses

Disadvantages of accelerated IFR training at home vs away from home

An organized IFR course with a good flow is important

The thought of having someone travel to you for your training seems appealing at the surface, but there are some disadvantages. One of the disadvantages of having an instructor come to you for your training is organization. In order to have an organized course, the instructor should be familiar with the area where the training will be done.

We are familiar with our area and have put together a program with a flow that works best for your training and will allow you to get the most value for each flight. Everything is close, allowing you to practice all different types of approaches in various different types of airspace. It would be more difficult for an instructor to work out a good flow for your training in an unfamiliar area, creating a less efficient training program for you.

Instructor availability to finish your training

Another disadvantage to an instructor flying to you for your training is flexibility. If there is a delay in training due to a day or two of bad weather preventing you from finishing in 10 days, your instructor may end up having to reschedule a time to come back to finish, deserting you before you finish, costing you more money and an additional airline ticket for the return flight.

By training here at our location, it gives us more flexibility. We don’t have to worry about catching a flight home, or finding another flight home or charging you more money for waiting. We are already home and can do other things while waiting out the weather. We can start up again right away and get you finished without stretching out your training longer than needed. Since we are able to do other things and are not tied to a hotel room waiting, the weather delays don’t cost you money.

Examiner flexibility is important to finishing quickly

Examiner availability is important too. If you have a Checkride scheduled and it turns out there is a delay due to needing an extra day or two, or because of weather, how flexible will an examiner at your location be? What if your examiner is already booked for the next week or two? Getting an examiner that doesn’t know us or get steady work from us to be flexible enough to give you priority will be difficult. You’re a one time student to them and you will get rescheduled when they can get to you.

Our examiner understands you are coming from out of state and that you are on a tight schedule. Our examiner is willing to make you a priority when it comes to scheduling to get you finished as fast as possible.

Additional costs for training at your location

Cost is a factor also. When you have a instructor come to you, the cost of the hotel and transportation fall on you. In addition to that, you will usually pay more for the training due to tying up the instructors time completely. If they are able to stay longer due to weather delays, it will cost you more for their time also.

You will have hotel costs for yourself if you come here but you will be in the middle of town with every type of store available within walking distance so you could save on the rental car if needed. We can also pick you up from the hotel and drop you off when we are done. You will also save on the additional costs of training or delays.

A distraction free environment is important

One of the most important reasons to do your training away from home is that you are putting yourself in a distraction free environment. By staying in a hotel, you will be more likely to keep on track and study and prepare for your next day of training. Without outside distractions you will accomplish more and get more rest, improving your chances of success.

Instrument Rating Airman Certification Standards vs PTS

The new instrument rating ACS and how it will affect your IFR training

If you’re considering an accelerated IFR training program, we suggest you do it before June 2016 because that is when the new Instrument Airman Certification Standards are supposed to replace the instrument Practical Test Standards. The problem we see with this, is that it lists many more things for the examiner to cover on your Checkride. Subjects that may have never been brought up are now written out, opening another door for the examiner to take you into.

Of course, we will keep up with all the current regulations in our training but the fact remains that since there are more things listed in the new Instrument ACS, there will be more things to cover during training. More things to cover will take more time and if you are taking an accelerated instrument training course which is typically a 10 day course, this means longer days, more studying and more to remember in the same short time. When you add this to an already busy program, you will have your hands full.

Below are examples of the PTS and the new ACS format:

PTS –  Cross Country Flight Planning Example

Task C: Cross-Country Flight Planning

To determine that the applicant:

1. Exhibits adequate knowledge of the elements by presenting and explaining a preplanned cross-country flight, as previously assigned by the examiner (preplanning is at examiner’s discretion). It should be planned using actual weather reports/forecasts and conform to the regulatory requirements for instrument flight rules within the airspace in which the flight will be conducted.

2. Exhibits adequate knowledge of the aircraft’s performance capabilities by calculating the estimated time en route and total fuel requirement based upon factors, such as—
a. power settings.
b. operating altitude or flight level.
c. wind.
d. fuel reserve requirements.
e. weight and balance limitations.

3. Selects and correctly interprets the current and applicable en route charts, instrument departure procedures (DPs), RNAV, STAR, and Standard Instrument Approach Procedure Charts (IAP).

4. Obtains and correctly interprets applicable NOTAM information.

5. Determines the calculated performance is within the aircraft’s capability and operating limitations.

6. Completes and files a flight plan in a manner that accurately reflects the conditions of the proposed flight. (This flight plan is not required to be filed with ATC.)

7. Demonstrates adequate knowledge of GPS and RAIM capability, when aircraft is so equipped.

8. Demonstrates the ability to recognize wing contamination due to airframe icing.

9. Demonstrates adequate knowledge of the adverse effects of airframe icing during pre-takeoff, takeoff, cruise, and landing phases of flight and corrective actions.

10. Demonstrates familiarity with any icing procedures and/or information published by the manufacturer that is specific to the aircraft used on the practical test.

ACS –  Cross Country Flight Planning Example

Task C: Cross-Country Flight Planning

To determine the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, skills, and risk management associated with planning and filing an IFR cross-country flight.

The applicant demonstrates understanding of:
1. How to compute fuel reserves.

2. Definitions of minimum or emergency fuel.

3. Conditions conducive to icing, wind shear, microbursts, and turbulence.

4. Symbology found on IFR en route and approach charts and diagrams.

5. Where to locate and how to apply preferred IFR routing.

6. Elements and operational requirements of an IFR flight plan

7. Procedures for activating and closing an IFR flight plan in controlled and non-controlled airspace.

8. Oxygen requirements.

9. Altitude and course requirements

10. Preflight requirements

11. Airspace, cloud clearance, and visibility requirements

12. Selection of an alternate airport.

The applicant demonstrates the ability to:

1. Recalculate fuel reserves based on a scenario provided by the evaluator.

2. Create and file an IFR flight plan for a route assigned by the evaluator.

3. Interpret departure, en route, arrival, and instrument approach procedures.

4. Divert to a suitable alternate.

5. Calculate time en route and fuel.

Risk Management
The applicant demonstrates the ability to identify, assess and mitigate risks, encompassing:

1. Appropriate IFR altitudes.

2. Dynamic weather.

3. Inadvertent icing encounters.

4. Limitations of ATC radar advisories.

5. Fuel reserves and situations that would merit increasing minimum fuel reserves.

6. Minimum or emergency fuel conditions.

7. A route involving significant environmental influences, mountains, and large bodies of water.

8. Human factors that may impact making an initial no-go decision, and the decision, continuing the flight ongoing evaluation of the flight.

9. Areas unsuitable for landing or below personal weather minimums.


The difference between the Instrument rating PTS and ACS


Is there a big difference between the PTS and the ACS?

The information is pretty much the same. Both versions contain the same information, but the ACS is designed to test your knowledge at a deeper level, adding Risk Management into each subject area. We have always made this part of our training process anyway, but the new format which adds specifics that may have never been brought up or really make a difference, makes it more difficult and time consuming to cover all the information, which will certainly result in a longer oral exam.

Ultimately, you will learn the same information whether you train now or later, but if you want to make it less stressful, we suggest you get it done before the change takes place in June 2016. If you have your own plane and have considered a 10 Day IFR course, then check out our program. We have great testimonials as to the quality of our instruction. Our goal is to be better than the rest and from what we’ve seen and heard, we are on the right path.

Pros and Cons of accelerated instrument training

Accelerated instrument training advantages & disadvantages

Accelerated flight training courses have been around for years, but they are not for everyone. Every flight training method has good and bad things to consider when deciding what method is best for you. Below we will discuss some of the advantages of accelerated training, followed by the disadvantages. We will conclude with ways you can minimize disadvantages to make your training easier.

Pros of accelerated instrument training

Takes just over a week

Total immersion every day

Free from outside distractions

Constant review and reinforcement

You will learn a lot of information fast

Cons of accelerated instrument training

Additional pressure of having to finish in just over a week

Total immersion can be overwhelming

No social life for over a week

Information overload

Quality of instruction can suffer

Turning the disadvantages of accelerated flight training into advantages


Additional pressure of having to finish in just over a week

This is really not as bad as you may think. You have to remember that you are totally immersed in training all day long, each day until your instrument Checkride. If you are used to the typical training route, then it is hard to imagine being able to finish in such a short period of time. This isn’t typical training and you are getting 5 times the training you normally get.

By the time you get to the end of your training, you would have reviewed everything so many times and so frequently, that you will know it. If it takes an extra day then it’s only an extra day. No one is going to force you to take your Checkride if you’re not ready. In a worse case scenario, if you absolutely had to get home and didn’t have an extra day to spare, then at least you’d be 99% of the way through your training and you could easily finish up in a couple of flights at a local school. We had a student come to us to finish when he ran out of time and in just a couple of flights, we signed him off and he passed.

Total immersion can be overwhelming

It’s only overwhelming if you haven’t studied and you put things off. Before you start your training you will be required to have your written test done. In order to pass your written you will need to know just about everything you need to know about instrument flying. You will know regulations, how to read charts and approach plates, etc. When you start training you will be constantly reminded of what you already know, so it won’t be as bad as you expect.

The problem comes when you don’t study or remember anything and are trying to learn everything all over again. You need to keep studying after your written so you don’t forget what you’ve learned. When you find a weak area, then study it. Any details will be filled in with your training with scenarios and real life flying in the system. Yes you will be busy, but if you follow our advice, it won’t be so bad.

No social life for over a week

No social life during your accelerated training gives you a break from outside pressures that typically interfere with your study time, flight training time and sleep. Giving up a social life for a little over a week will keep your head in the game and you’ll not only learn faster, you will get more sleep and be more rested and alert.

Information overload

This is similar to being overwhelmed as we discussed earlier. Yes, you will be tired at the end of the day but as long as you know a lot of the facts before you start your training and keep studying the rest of the material each night, then it’s not going to be new information that you are trying to remember, it will just be review. You won’t remember everything and may not understand everything but don’t worry, it will come when you are using it in the IFR system.

Quality of instruction can suffer

This is certainly possible with some places and it is really hard to tell where you will get good instruction. The best thing to do is ask questions before you sign up. We can promise you that our goal is to teach you in as much detail as we can to be sure that you totally understand everything  and know when to use what you know in any situation that may come your way. We won’t leave questions unanswered. We won’t leave you confused and will review as much as needed to make you the best that you can be. Give us a chance to prove it, you won’t be disappointed.

Accelerated instrument training in Illinois

10 Day instrument rating course in the Chicago area

For those of you that are centrally located and are looking for an accelerated IFR training program in your airplane, you no longer have to travel far to get it done. We are centrally located in Northern Illinois and perfectly positioned to offer accelerated instrument training to pilots from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan that want to stay close to home. If you live and fly in the central United States, why not train here for your instrument rating?

Thousands of hours of dual given

If you want an experienced instructor that is not afraid of flying in actual IMC and will make sure that you get actual whenever possible, then our course is for you. To learn how to fly in the IFR system, you have to use it! We don’t teach you to just pass your Checkride; we teach you to become a safe, confident IFR pilot that can stay ahead of the airplane while handling a high workload with ease. You will hear your instructors voice in your head for years to come, because we know how to make the information you will be learning stick for recall whenever you need it. That is only possible with a professional and experienced instructor.

We have a structured program so you always know what’s next

Many programs claim to be organized but leave you wondering what is next. With our accelerated instrument rating course you will always know exactly what we are going to talk about each day so you can be ready for it. You will have access to the training schedule and we will review each subject area in detail. During each lesson there will be time for questions and clarification of previously covered material so you are never left not knowing. If you’re confused about something, write it down and we will review it.

There are many popular accelerated IFR programs out there that just care about getting your money and getting you out the door as fast as possible. They skimp on proper training and send you to the wolves unprepared for your Checkride and when you fail, you end up on your own trying to finish. Our goal is your success. We make safe, knowledgeable instrument pilots that make good decisions and feel confident with their ability to fly in IMC. We will not sign you off until you are ready. When you are signed off, you can be confident that you will pass. We hope to work with you soon!

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