Video tip: circle-to-land instrument approaches

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Circling approaches are pretty rare these days, but at some airports they are the only option. While flying the approach to minimums is the same as a straight-in approach, what happens next leaves no room for error. This video breaks down the circling approach, including when it’s required, how close to stay to the runway, and what to do if you lose sight of the airport.

Denver to Norway in a Pilatus PC-12

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In early 2016, my family was ready to see something new and beautiful. The past year had been tough — we nearly lost Dad to a stroke – then, during his recovery from the stroke, we determined that he needed a heart valve replacement, his second such surgery. By February, with a fresh reminder of life’s fragility and brevity, we began laying the groundwork for an August adventure to Iceland and Norway.

A pilot struggles with bladder control

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Cecil was checking with the pilots to see if they needed anything. As he did several times a summer, he stuck his head in my Cub and asked, “Do you have a bottle to pee in?” Everyone but me carried a bottle. I guess it was a young guy thing. He liked to kid me about it. “Nah, I can hold it.”

Pilots make a deal with the devil

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As an industry, we know how to essentially eliminate fatal accidents. As pilots flying for our own reasons we can learn how the big boys did that, and adapt as many of the lessons as we can afford, or decide are worth the required tradeoffs. We still must make our own deal with the dark side to fly our own airplanes for our own reasons by ourselves, but I hope we are making the best and most informed deal we can.

Go or No Go: home from Michigan?

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Summer is coming to an end, which means your annual family vacation to northern Michigan is coming to an end as well. Today is go-home day – if the weather cooperates – so it’s time to look at ForeFlight. The goal is to get from Traverse City, Michigan (TVC), to your home in Columbus, Ohio (OSU). Read the weather report below and decide what you would do.

Always read the fine print

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It was pretty obvious that some folks hadn’t cracked open their respective book(s) in a long time. Those who had studied their documents, tended to be familiar with the BIG PRINT stuff, like their Normal Procedures sections and Emergency checklists, but were not so well-versed when it came to the various Notes, Warnings, and Cautions found throughout. There’s a lot of free, but hard-earned, wisdom in that fine print, all intended to protect life and limb.

Friday Photo: sunset over a grass strip

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Words cannot express the feeling that comes over you as you leave the earth and look around at God’s creation. As the sun begins to disappear on the horizon, and the shadows begin to stretch across the ground, for the moment, the earth seems to be calm and peaceful.

Thunderstorms and ATC – how to get from A to B when direct isn’t an option

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The good news is technology like datalink weather has made it a lot easier to manage convective weather. With ADS-B on my iPad or SiriusXM on my panel, it’s fairly simple to avoid the worst weather; it just takes patience and discipline to go all the way around it. Since most of my cross country flights are IFR, those long deviations require a lot of coordination with Air Traffic Control.

Six things I know about flying in New York

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This is the latest article in our series about flying in different states and countries. Sal Marinello says New York may be famous for the Big Apple, but there’s a lot more to it than just cities. He explores the active GA community on Long Island and the gliders of the Adirondacks. Plus, see why he thinks New York controllers are the best.

Two on the runway – what would you do?

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Within a few seconds of my announcement, a scenario that my former instructor and I had talked through several times became real right before my eyes – a pilot on the ground announced that he was departing runway 20. I saw him move from the hold short line onto the runway, and I announced that I was about to execute a go-around. He immediately responded, “Don’t go around! You’ve got plenty of room to land!”

Friday Photo: pancake ice formation

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Goetz A. Giessler captured a unique perspective from the cockpit of his Zlin Savage Cub as he did some ground reference maneuvers above the Rappbodetalsperre in the Harz Mountain Range, Germany. He remembers “the fine lines of pancake ice crust formation in a freshwater lake, painted in contrasting colors and shadows beneath cool calm air.”

Snakebite and other associated conditions

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To begin with, this is not an actual bite inflicted by a slithering, legless reptile. The other kind of snakebite is a sailing term among owners and crew of small yachts that probably originated in Southern California. It means that thing you’re looking for is right in front of you.

Cub Crafters Sport Cub vs. Air Force One

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My plan for the day was to spend two hours practicing three point and wheel landings at several area grass strips. Well, that was the plan until I heard the distinctive whine of jet engines and noticed a large shadow envelop my car as I made my way to the Cub’s home. There she was… VC-25A… almost low enough that it seemed I could reach out and touch her. It was that moment that my flight plan changed.

From the archives: how valuable are check rides?

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In this trip through the Air Facts archives, we pause in 1967 for a thought-provoking article by Richard Collins. He explores the value of a check ride, and considers whether any evaluation can really improve safety over the long term. His comments on what an instrument rating can do are particularly insightful: “without really working at keeping it current, the instrument rating is worth about the value of the ink on the piece of paper.”

Night flight in an A4B Skyhawk

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I suited up, gave the A4B a pre-flight check, fired up the turbine, received Air Traffic Control clearance for my first leg, and departed Los Alamitos in a dense brown smog blanketing LA. I broke through the haze at 5,000 feet and was vectored to a northwesterly course, skirting the California coast.

Friday Photo: Badlands off the wingtip

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As a corporate pilot, Duane Mader is usually working when he’s in the cockpit. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy the view from the left seat. In this stunning photo, he shares the view over the left wing of his CJ2, with the Badlands of South Dakota under some puffy clouds. The light didn’t last long, but it’s saved forever in his memorable shot.

Seven things I know about flying in Illinois

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I “grew up” in my aviation career in Illinois, and I think it was a fantastic place to learn. One reason is that the weather changes often and has quite a bit of variability. As a pilot learning, it’s good to learn that weather conditions can be partly cloudy with light winds when you depart, and by the time you get to the practice area, a thunderstorm could have popped up.

Memory flights – sometimes you just know

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Every pilot has what I call “memory” flights; flights which were remarkable, special. The thing about these “memory” flights is that often we don’t know we’re experiencing them, that they’re shaping us, until we reminisce some time later. You don’t always have to look back, though. Sometimes you just know that you are flying one of those “memory” flights.