Going flying? Be sure to check FSS for TFRs

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If you check the FAA’s Temporary Flight Restriction website, are you covered? Maybe not, as this Florida pilot found out. His story clearly demonstrates that checking assumed “authoritative” sites, like NOTAMs and the FAA TFR pages, is not enough to guarantee pilots have current, comprehensive, accurate information regarding Temporary Flight Restrictions.

Friday Photo: land on the orange dot

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Dick O’Reilly flew over 1500 miles in his 1942 Interstate Cadet to attend the world’s greatest aviation celebration. He was celebrating the 75th anniversary of his airplane with over a dozen other owners, and this picture perfectly captures the magic of arriving at OSH by air. “Land on the orange dot; welcome to Oshkosh.”

Six Degrees of Separation: A Young Pilot Meets a DC-3

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Soon I found myself on the ramp with Ron, walking around the DC-3. Having never before flown anything larger than an Aztec, I was overwhelmed with the airplane. It was daunting, yet familiar, like one’s first approach to an ancient Roman edifice theretofore known only from picture books. Even the fabric-covered control surfaces were massive and substantial. The DC-3 was regal in form and formidable in character, and I approached it with awe bordering on reverence.

More comfortable in the air: an Adirondack odyssey

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My first long-distance flight in a single-engine aircraft began exactly like every other mission we’ve ever flown: with my worrying about the weather and Dad squinting at the radar image on his iPad, assuring me that we would be fine as long as we got in the air within an hour. I call our trips missions because we rarely fly without a purpose.

A lasting impression: the power of spatial disorientation

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Sam was wise beyond his years and decided to show me what it’s like to fly over the Florida Everglades, at night. We departed our east coast airport in a cozy 152 and headed west toward our normal practice area. So far, so good. As the saying goes I was fat, dumb, and happy enjoying the smooth night air when suddenly all sense of relative motion was lost. I felt as if we were hanging by a string in a dark closet.

Friday Photo: Partial Panel ILS

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This is the moment of truth for instrument pilots – seeing the runway lights as you hit minimums on an approach. For instrument student Sandro Salgueiro, it was especially rewarding to see the lights on the ILS to runway 11 at Bedford, Massachusetts. He was finishing up his last lesson before his instrument checkride, and you’ll notice the gyros are covered.

A glider encounter with a wind shear and gradient

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My routine flight only became noteworthy as I approached the field for a landing. The club strip is grass, oriented roughly north/south and about 2500 ft. in length. As I entered the pattern at 1,000 ft. and began a downwind leg for a left hand pattern to the south, I began to note the windsocks sticking straight out to the East and realized the landing was going to be fun with the crosswind at or above the club’s operation limits.

Is pilot interest in weather waning?

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I am convinced that screens full of information are not a key to operating an airplane safely. The most important picture of all is not on a screen, it has to be in the pilot’s mind. A mental picture of where you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there simply can’t be replaced by a picture on a screen. Nor will a screen show the churning inside a cumulonimbus.

Planes, puns, and politics – who has a right to the Wrights?

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This article should have been a joke. My goal was to write a satire piece that would make a mountain out of what I had anticipated was a mole hill. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve been beaten to the punch by none other than three state governments, a federal government, and some New Zealanders. I had naively believed that at most this first flight thing would be a minor kerfuffle. I was wrong. It’s a major kerfuffle.

Friday Photo: Statue of Liberty tour

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This photo is a great way to get in the spirit for the upcoming July 4 holiday. The Statue of Liberty stands proudly in New York Harbor, just off the sleek wing of Dominick Amorosso’s Diamond DA-40. It’s also a great reminder that this flight can be made without any special approval or training, just a pilot certificate and some pre-flight planning.

The area forecast is going away – here’s why that’s bad news

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Rumors have swirled for years, but now it’s really happening: the text-based Area Forecast (FA) will officially disappear on October 10, 2017, to be replaced by the Graphical Forecast for Aviation (GFA). On the surface, this seems like an inevitable step in the transition from coded text products to graphical, interactive weather maps. But before we relegate the FA to the dustbin of history, we should consider a few important details. This transition may not be quite so innocuous.

General aviation isn’t a hobby, it’s a family

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People often ask me about my interest in commercial aviation, and in return, I explain my lack of interest in commercial aviation. I explain my love for general aviation, which is more than a hobby, it’s a family. My aviation journey started when I was just 10 years old, a week after meeting a flight instructor at the Lynchburg Regional Air Show.

What to do when the panel goes dark

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Just after Hollister had passed under the left wing, the transponder flashed an error message, and went from their assigned squawk code to 1200. “Huh?” says the instructor, “What’s up with that?” The instructor tried to enter the assigned squawk code a couple more times, with the same result. That was exactly when the wheels fell off the cart, electrically speaking.

Friday Photo: Blue Ridge Mountain sunrise

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This week’s Friday Photo pretty well sums up why you became a pilot. Fitzwilliam King snapped this amazing photo from the cockpit of his PA-11 Cub, just as the sun peeked over the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Greenville, South Carolina. The rolling hills, the lingering valley fog, the warm colors of the sun, and the yellow fabric of the airplane – it’s recreational aviation at its very finest.

Saying goodbye to a beloved airplane

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The flight was supposed to be pretty much a routine trip, though not really a happy one. I was relocating my turbocharged 1984 Cessna TU206G amphibian from West Palm Beach, Florida, to St. Cloud, Minnesota. Economics had demanded that I sell the marvelous ship, and I was delivering it to the buyer.

The hunter and the door

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Night. Rain. Extremely high surface winds. Low visibility. Mountains. Less gas then I would have liked. Now I couldn’t get the lights to the runway at Martin Campbell Field (1A3) to come on. “This is how people kill themselves in small planes,” I thought to myself as I passed the final approach fix and decided to go missed. I thought back to the start of the trip, The Hunter and The Door.

Ice, acorns and blind hogs

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Flying out of El Paso earlier this week I picked up a little airframe ice. It would have been a non-event for a more capable airplane, but the anti-ice equipment on 32A (pitot heat and windscreen defrost) just wasn’t up to the task.

Friday Photo: downwind for Sedona Airport

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Sedona is one of the more unusual airports in the US. With a field elevation of nearly 5,000 feet, the runway sits on top of a mesa, some 500 feet above the surrounding terrain. It’s a wonderful fly-in destination, but the conditions can be turbulent. This photo from Mike Landis shows the rolling terrain on short final.

When the margins get thin

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Richard Collins once summed up risk management, a subject that now elicits PhD-level jargon, in four simple words: “it’s all about margins.” Shave the margins too close and you’re one bit of bad luck away from an accident. The importance of those margins was driven home for me on a recent flight in a Pilatus PC-12, when I allowed schedule pressure to reduce them just a little too much, but not in the usual way.