Dr. Ed Wischmeyer

ATP/CFII, Safety Researcher, Engineer, Speaker

Ed Wischmeyer has been passionate about aviation throughout his life, as an airport kid, pilot, flight instructor, engineer, safety researcher, professor, and journalist.

After leaving MIT with a Ph.D. and commercial/instrument, his aviation career continued professionally – at SRI International, studying low level wind shear effects on jet transports; Apple Computer, designing a maintenance control system for United Airlines; NASA ASRS Office and then Honeywell, lead engineer on advanced FOQA systems; Boeing, fundamental research showing that unstable approaches do not reliably predict bad landing outcomes; and also studying runway incursions; Gulfstream, helping develop an advanced instrument landing system and generating numerous patents, many on cockpit instrumentation. He also taught aviation safety courses in grad school for two years.

Avocationally, he continued to accrue ratings, including CFI/I/ME, ATP/AMELS, commercial ASELS/glider, and ground instructor. Along the way, aviation journalism opportunities arose, a side benefit of which was logging time in 200 makes and models of aircraft. He has owned an RV-4, Cessna 175, AirCam, RV-8, RV-8A, and currently, an RV-9A.

The recent EAA Founder’s Innovation Prize contest reignited interest in flight safety. Using the RV-9A and its digital flight data recording capability, new concepts were explored and developed. A significant outcome was the Expanded Envelope Exercises®, helping pilots expand their comfort zones by experiencing sight pictures and sensations instead of flying to completion standards. After all, pilots don’t lose control in their comfort zones.

A derivative of the Expanded Envelope Exercises® was documenting that base to final accidents can be botched steep turns, not just stall spins. Surprisingly, base to final turns, including stall/spins, appear to share a psychological cause — fear of overshoot – and this fear is easily dispelled with just one demonstration of a deliberate overshoot with a gentle recovery. If demonstrated pre-solo, the law of primacy will help pilots avoid base to final accidents throughout their career. 

Most recent was research on angle of attack, documenting that, contrary to most books, AOA can be easily observed in phugoids. Another discovery was that pitch leads AOA in gentle maneuvering, but the reverse is true when there is any g load on the airplane. Poor AOA readability in even moderate gusts was documented. Further work observed that almost all AOA enthusiasm for general aviation is based on best case scenarios, ignoring real world conditions.

Now retired, his activities focus on completing the CFI Guide to the Expanded Envelope Exercises® and handing off the safety research results to the general aviation community and to the next generation of pilot and CFIs. He still offers free rides in Savannah in the RV-9A to demonstrate the Expanded Envelope Exercises®, especially base to final scenarios and the remedy.