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ONLINE VIEWING ONLY American Flight 587 The Importance of VA
Think that flying at or below VA will eliminate your chances of doing structural damage to your airplane? Think again.
Date and Time:
Saturday, April 4, 2020, starting at 12:00 Pacific Daylight Time Download Calendar File
Michel Vidal-Naquet
Brief Description:

Available for Online Viewing only. 

San Carlos Flight Center is temporarily moving its seminars from in-person attendance to online viewing due to the public health risk from the Coronovirus.   As a courtesy the center is making this streaming service free to the public at https://sancarlosflight.com/covid-19/seminars

Sometimes we think certain things would never happen, until they do.  For the majority of us pilots, we try to always prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

San Carlos Flight Center invites Advanced Ground Instructor Michel Vidal-Naquet to talk about the investigation of American Airlines Flight 587 that crashed into a suburban neighborhood in New York in 2001.  The NTSB determined that after encountering the wake turbulence of a preceding 747, the first officer applied a series of full alternating rudder inputs that led to structural failure and the separation of the vertical stabilizer.  The aircraft was traveling at approximately 250 knots, that is 20 knots below VA for the Airbus A300 “What?  But I thought flying below VA protected against structural damage?”  This accident started to reveal a general misconception of the term VA within the pilot community. Is flying at or below VA always “guarantee” protection?

In this presentation, we will go over the accident and describe different contributing factors to the crash, as identified by the NTSB.  We will then examine the concept of maneuvering speed and take a look at how VA is intricately defined by the regulations. Finally, we will review implications for GA pilots. We recommend all pilots to attend as we learn from this seminar and improve our safety in flight in the future.


Michel Vidal-Naquet is an advanced ground instructor and an instrument rated private pilot with about 680 flight hours.  He started flying in 2013 after settling in the Bay area to work as a computer scientist and engineer.  His passion for aviation began during his early childhood when his family first took him on international flights.  He brings a scientific point of view to his flying, and is always learning.


Select Number:
Location of Seminar:
San Carlos Flight Center
655 Skyway Road
San Carlos, CA 94070
Directions to Venue:

Pilots who fly in should park in transient parking on the opposite side of the field and expect to walk about 10 minutes (.5 mile) to the Flight Center. Suite 215 is upstairs in the northwest corner. On occasion, rides may be prearranged through San Carlos Aviation and Supply.

Fly-in Seminar?:
150 seats at the facility, 92 remaining for online registration.
Registration Information:
Seminar has passed.
Sponsoring Division:
Contact Information:
Brandan Dadoun
Phone: 650-483-0715
Additional Event Information & Acknowledgement of Industry Sponsor(s):

San Carlos Flight Center (SCFC) is the SF Bay area’s most dynamic flying club, committed to building general aviation thought safety, community, and adventure.  AOPA has consistently recognized SCFC in their Best Flight School survey, most recently in 2018 as the best flight school in the West.

SCFC is committed to promoting safety in general aviation through our regular safety seminar and guest speaker programs.  Space is often limited so it is important to sign up early.  SCFC members may choose to watch the seminar live over the web at home, or recorded at a later date.  Contact a SCFC member service rep at (650) 946-1700 for more information about online access.

For more information about this and any of our weekly seminars, please visit https://sancarlosflight.com/covid-19/seminars


Equal Access Information:
The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) is committed to providing equal access to this meeting/event for all participants. If you need alternative formats or services because of a disability, please communicate your request as soon as possible with the person in the “Contact Information” area of the meeting/event notice. Note that two weeks is usually required to arrange services.
Credit Applicability:
1 Credit for Basic Knowledge Topic 3
FAASTeam Project Information:
National Project:
Any other Airworthiness task not covered in the NPP
Additional Event Documents: