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Chuck Tippett photo

Friday Photo: how many souls on board?

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They don’t get much better than this Friday Photo. Pilot Chuck Tippett took his first selfie on the way to the beach with his two grandsons and the family dog. A 45-minute flight certainly beats a two hour drive, and the memories will last a lifetime. Rarely has the cockpit of a J-3 Cub looked better.

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Glider in field

A glider flyer named Skysailor finds the earth

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The day inevitably arrives. The weather is nice, there are cumulus clouds, soaring birds, other sailplanes are climbing, and I am beyond a final glide to the airfield. Suddenly, I’m not finding lift anymore, the trusty 1-26 is sinking as my heart rate is climbing. I’ve been taught off field landings, I have helped bring gliders back from off landings, and I’m about to have an off field landing.

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Memorial Day cemetery

A Memorial Day salute – please join in

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I usually write about private aviation but this starts out with an accident involving a military airplane – a long time ago… On November 22, 1952 a USAF C-124 crashed into Colony Glacier on Mount Garrett, 40 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska, where the airplane was supposed to land. The weather was awful and a distress call was received by a Northwest Orient passenger flight.

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Viscount

Emergency formation flying with a Viscount

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We called ATC and advised that we were not sure of our altitude or speed and declared PAN PAN. We then read up the drills in the QRH and the DC-9 manual but they had no effect on the instruments so we realized we had a serious problem. How to get safely down when the weather was poor and even our alternate in North Dakota had solid overcast?

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5NM from Class D

What every VFR pilot needs to know about arriving IFR traffic

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VFR pilots operate in the same airspace as commercial IFR jet aircraft without having to ever hit the push-to-talk button. Most of the time things go just fine and the two operate without running into each other. Not having a requirement to talk to anyone doesn’t alleviate your responsibility as a small airplane driver to understand the airspace around you, though.

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Pilot talking on radio in Cessna

5 things every VFR pilot should say

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Radio communication is always one of the hardest things to learn for many pilots. It actually seems to make flying harder sometimes: you’re already busy flying the airplane when ATC gives you a call so fast all you catch is your tail number. Other pilots in CTAF areas can make it even worse. Let me give you the top five things I’ve learned to say over the years that have made flying easier and safer.

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Takeoff by Cessna

Takeoff: the riskiest three minutes

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There has been a rash of takeoff accidents featured in the news. That cabin-class Cessna hitting the trees in Alabama was dramatic, as was the footage of the Beech Duchess in a yard in Florida. There have been a lot others and when I read of these I think about how unforgiving airplanes can be if you fly away without the old ducks all in a row.

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San Francisco moonrise

Friday Photo: San Francisco moonrise

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San Francisco Bay is a unique place to fly, and Paul De Zan captures a lot of the activity in this week’s Friday Photo. From the dark water to the shining city lights to the airliners landing at SFO, it’s all visible from the cockpit of a Cessna 172. Off in the distance, a warm moon rises from the horizon.

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Dick's Blog

Opinion and analysis from Richard Collins
Memorial Day cemetery

A Memorial Day salute – please join in

By

I usually write about private aviation but this starts out with an accident involving a military airplane – a long time ago… On November 22, 1952 a USAF C-124 crashed into Colony Glacier on Mount Garrett, 40 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska, where the airplane was supposed to land. The weather was awful and a distress call was received by a Northwest Orient passenger flight.

Takeoff by Cessna

Takeoff: the riskiest three minutes

By

There has been a rash of takeoff accidents featured in the news. That cabin-class Cessna hitting the trees in Alabama was dramatic, as was the footage of the Beech Duchess in a yard in Florida. There have been a lot others and when I read of these I think about how unforgiving airplanes can be if you fly away without the old ducks all in a row.

Citation factory line

Airplane certification: be careful what you wish for…

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What most pilots don’t realize is that certifying that exciting new design is but a small part of the picture. There’s financing, engineering, production and sales and, in the end, profit. If the latter isn’t possible all the rest can be for naught. This is why I, for one, take the proposed rewrite of Part 23 certification standards not with a grain, but with a round blue cardboard container of salt.

John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
decision right and wrong

To go or not to go? That is the (wrong) question

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We falsely view most aviation decisions as binary. The language of decision-making subtly reinforces this, with exhortations to “keep it simple” or “be confident.” What we end up with is a hopelessly unrealistic set of answers: yes or no, black or white. We should know better. Flying is all about subtle clues, 50/50 decisions and shades of gray.

Aero Friedrichshafen show

General aviation in Europe is both inspiring and frightening

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For a crass American, AERO is a very civilized show, held in a beautiful convention center with great coffee and lively beer gardens. Oshkosh this isn’t. Beyond these mundane differences, though, the show offers a fascinating lesson for US pilots. If all you’ve heard is how awful things are for private pilots in Europe, let me offer a more complete – although not entirely rosy – portrait.

Flight Design C4

Why you should care about the new Part 23 proposal

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There has been a lot of talk lately (perhaps too much?) about aviation issues in Washington: Air Traffic Control privatization, the third class medical, and user fees to name just three. Somewhat obscured by these Capitol Hill battles is a more complicated but also arguably more important legislative issue: aircraft certification reform.

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
Light gun in tower

Flying it home for the first time

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A beautiful October afternoon in 1976 at El Mirage Field, California, saw my daughter and me taking off in our newly-bought old airplane en route to Palo Alto Airport (PAO). We were beyond excited and distracted, so I didn’t recognize clues that we were bound for more excitement than expected. Put another way, this was to become an unfunny, unsafe, head-up-and-locked comedy of errors.

Wildfire smoke

Flying through fire and ice

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I noticed a narrow, dark column of black smoke rising from the valley floor, directly in our flight path a few miles ahead. Being both young and ignorant, I thought to myself, “I’m instrument rated; we’ll pop out of the back of that thing in an instant and it will be fun.” So I aimed for the smoke column.

Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit
Chuck Tippett photo

Friday Photo: how many souls on board?

By

They don’t get much better than this Friday Photo. Pilot Chuck Tippett took his first selfie on the way to the beach with his two grandsons and the family dog. A 45-minute flight certainly beats a two hour drive, and the memories will last a lifetime. Rarely has the cockpit of a J-3 Cub looked better.

Knoxville sunset

Friday Photo: sunset on a first flight lesson

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Sunsets are always better from the cockpit, and a thin overcast makes them a little more interesting. Daniel McPartland got to see one of these, but it was even more special because he was on his first flight lesson. Taking in the scenery while sitting in the left seat for the first time is this week’s Friday Photo.

San Francisco moonrise

Friday Photo: San Francisco moonrise

By

San Francisco Bay is a unique place to fly, and Paul De Zan captures a lot of the activity in this week’s Friday Photo. From the dark water to the shining city lights to the airliners landing at SFO, it’s all visible from the cockpit of a Cessna 172. Off in the distance, a warm moon rises from the horizon.