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S-Tec 55X autopilot

The case for automation

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Lately there has been a lot of focus on over-reliance on automation in the cockpit – both in general aviation and the Part 121 world. Most of us can agree that as our avionics and aircraft become more sophisticated and automation becomes more affordable, this is a very real problem. But what about those of us who insist on flying with too little automation?

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traffic_alert_screenshot

Dogfighting with ADS-B traffic over Pennsylvania

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It was an unremarkable flight so far, but suddenly the large letters “TRAFFIC” plastered across my screen with corresponding alert. Three hundred feet below and slightly behind was an airplane, approaching fast. I banked left and right in my low wing craft, looking for the guy, who must be right below me, now 200 feet. On a collision course.

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Alaska sunset

Friday Photo: Alaska sunset

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This week’s Friday photo comes to us from Alaska, where Rob Murray snapped this picture of a beautiful sunset off Baranof Island. The only thing better than the sunset is the classic airplane in the foreground: a 1952 DeHavilland Beaver.

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Full cockpit of aviation authors

10 pilots in a 4-seat Cessna

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I am so lucky. Every flight, I am accompanied by nine extraordinary pilots, looking over my shoulder and whispering in my ear. They have made my flying safer, more enjoyable and less expensive. They’ll go with you, too. All you have to do is ask.

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Foggy runway

IFR departures: the forgotten procedure

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Instrument pilots obsess about approaches: if you can keep those needles crossed all the way down to 200 ft, you must be a good pilot. While shooting an ILS to minimums is an important skill, this all presupposes you managed to depart safely. Unfortunately, NTSB reports prove that’s a big assumption – each year, a few pilots tragically learn that IFR departures aren’t as simple as they seem.

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Boeing wing iced over

Airplanes vs. blizzards: a few war stories

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As the blizzard of 2016 was raging on January 23rd I looked at the video of stranded motorists, stuck cars, cars in ditches, and traffic snarls and wondered what in the world possessed those people to make them try to go somewhere. Then I scratched my head and remembered what possessed me when I used to challenge snowstorms in little airplanes. I was big on running the traps as scheduled and a blizzard was no excuse for not being there.

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Dick's Blog

Opinion and analysis from Richard Collins
Boeing wing iced over

Airplanes vs. blizzards: a few war stories

By

As the blizzard of 2016 was raging on January 23rd I looked at the video of stranded motorists, stuck cars, cars in ditches, and traffic snarls and wondered what in the world possessed those people to make them try to go somewhere. Then I scratched my head and remembered what possessed me when I used to challenge snowstorms in little airplanes. I was big on running the traps as scheduled and a blizzard was no excuse for not being there.

Cirrus autopilot

Killer autopilots? It is all in the eye of the beholder

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It is my opinion that the debate over basic airmanship v. high-tech has become confused. Advances in information technology have done wonders for all forms of aviation and should be embraced by all. I think the jury is still out on some forms of automation though autopilots have gotten a lot better. They can still be deadly in the hands of a pilot who doesn’t fully understand the system.

John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
iPad in cockpit

More than just a gadget – how the iPad is making flying safer

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For all their cynicism, pilots have adopted tablets and apps like eager teenagers. Just five years ago, no one had ever heard of an “Electronic Flight Bag app.” Today, the majority of general aviation pilots – and a whole bunch of airline and military pilots too – are flying with one. How many other tools are used by Air Force tanker pilots and J-3 Cub drivers alike?

At Air Facts, readers are pilot in command. Share your story: editor@airfactsjournal.com

I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Baron

Cutting corners as a freight pilot – and regretting it

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Forcing myself to stay calm, I faced the embarrassing possibility that a wheels-up landing might be the only way out. I was angry with myself for being such an idiot because failure to secure the freight was not only a clear breach of the regulations, but worse still, an example of poor airmanship. I vowed that never again would I be pressured into potentially dangerous situations by fears of job security.

T-34

Out of CG, overweight, at night and in turbulence

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For the first time in my flying life, I could feel the blood drain from my face and be nearly consumed by pure fear – because as I pulled the throttle back the nosed pitched up. As I tried to slow down, even with the stick nearly pushed all the way forward against the stop, the nose would start pitch up. And when it did, you could feel the onset of the stall start. There was no mistaking it and I knew that a stall would be unrecoverable.

Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit
Alaska sunset

Friday Photo: Alaska sunset

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This week’s Friday photo comes to us from Alaska, where Rob Murray snapped this picture of a beautiful sunset off Baranof Island. The only thing better than the sunset is the classic airplane in the foreground: a 1952 DeHavilland Beaver.

Sweden runway 600

Friday Photo: runway in Sweden

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This week’s Friday Photo has an international flavor. Dmitrij Karpenko snapped this photo of Vaesteras airport, outside Stockholm, from his Glasair Sportsman just before turning final. The sun is lighting up the water in the distance, while another airplane prepares to land.