Safety and Training
I learned a lot about stall behavior in heavy jets from this article. As a light GA pilot, it's easy to criticize the pilots of AF 447, who managed to stall an aircraft all the way from 30,000 feet to the ocean. But imagine that you are in IMC, at night, in a storm, your airspeed indicator is giving erroneous indications, and---this is the best part---your aircraft requires 30 seconds of dive to fully-recover from a stall. Yeah, a 30 second stall recovery. If it took your Cessna more than 3 seconds to recover from a stall, you had no reference to the horizon and no airspeed indicator, you'd freak out too. It takes some nerve to keep the nose down that long in that situation. This is why Alaska is investing big bucks in getting its pilots stall recovery training that's meaningful to heavy jets.
I don't like to talk about how badly written a lot of the FAA regulations are, because people take that to mean that the rules are wrong or dumb or whathaveyou. The rules are pretty sensible. As a lawyer, I just find them to be badly drafted.
For example, FAR 91.151(a)(1) prohibits a person from beginning “a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing; and, assuming normal cruising speed—(1) During the day, to fly after that for at least 30 minutes.”
Clear, that's not what they meant. It should have said "no person may begin or continue a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the next point of intended landing; and, assuming normal cruising speed—(1) During the day, to fly after that for at least 30 minutes.” But that's not what the rule says, and to make the rule work, we now have inconsistent interpretations of whether a touch-n-go is a landing. (What are you supposed to do if you find yourself with 30 minutes of fuel? Discontinue the flight or declare an emergency, which gives you the authority to deviate from a rule.)
When we talk about "taking the hard road," we are often referring to a choice to accept a known bad outcome rather than risk the possibility of terrible outcome. That is precautionary landing in a nutshell. I don't know what would happen if I landed one of my flying club's aircraft in a field because I was low on fuel. I think I'd probably be looking for a new job, which is a terrible incentive structure. I don't know. Maybe I'd just get a few hours of counseling on fuel management. I'm going to ask...
I've talked to a lot of pilots who don't file VFR flight plans, because they're worried they'll forget to close them. You've already heard the lecture about how if you crash and don't have a VFR flight plan, no one is going to come looking until it's much too late, so I won't belabor the point. The point I do want to make is that (a) you can give an ETA with a few hours of buffer so you have time to remember to close it, and (b) if you forget to close it and you get a call from Flight Service, it's not a big deal. "Oh, hey, yes. I'm on the ground. Thanks for calling." And you're done. Flight service also now sends notices by text message, so if you forget to close your flight plan, you'll get a text message reminder before they start calling. Your excuses for not using VFR flight plans are getting few and far between...