The production T-37 “Tweet” serves up an enduring mystery

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In very early 1952, I was an undergraduate working part time in Cessna’s Flight Test, Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design Group when a request for proposal for the TX came in from the Air Force. The TX was to be the first, that is the primary, trainer in a series of three new trainers which would finish with the TZ, a supersonic one.

The sorry state of weather training

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It’s become fashionable to complain about the lack of stick and rudder training today–just tune into our long-running debate about stall training if you don’t believe me. But before we run off and mandate 100 hours of taildragger training for every pilot, we should look at the numbers.

Go or No Go: home for the holidays

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It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and your mission today is critical for staying married: you’ll be flying with your wife from your home outside San Francisco to visit the in-laws in Seattle for turkey day. Your flight is scheduled to depart in an hour. Read the weather briefing here, then decide if you’re flying or driving.

Geraldine Mock and the Spirit of Columbus

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Ask the average person on the street, “Who was the first woman to fly around the world solo?” and you’ll likely hear, “Amelia Earhart.” Of course, they would be wrong. Ask that same question of a pilot and you’ll get a blank stare. That’s because most pilots know that someone must have done it, but they aren’t sure who.

Flight Reviews: is there a better way?

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I sometimes wonder about the value of a 30-year pilot demonstrating his skills to a 200-hour airline wannabe and, hopefully, with due humility, I sometimes feel that there has to be a better way to ensure the competence of our pilot population than a one-size-fits-all mandatory biennial flight review.

Aviation mentorship

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Most of us can look back and identify at least one person who took us under their wing and helped out. They probably didn’t have the official title of “mentor” and it wasn’t under a formal program, but they certainly contributed to our overall success. Knowing how powerful this can be for someone that is on the outside looking in, how do we go about doing it?

Losing pilots

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New pilots have been declining for a while, this is nothing new. But why… well if we knew that as pilots we’d change it, wouldn’t we! Here are some ideas though and perhaps that will spark someone else into an idea how to solve it.

The Great Debate: are straight-in approaches OK?

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The vast majority of airports in the United States (some 20,000) have no control tower, a fact that shocks many non-pilots. But the traffic pattern at these airports usually operates quite smoothly, with pilots flying prescribed routes and announcing their positions on CTAF. But do you have to fly the classic four leg pattern?

Cub love: is simpler really better?

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Hang around pilots long, and you’re sure to see someone get all teary-eyed about the J-3 Cub, Piper’s venerable taildragger that turns 75 this year. That yellow color, the open door, the grass in the tailwheel–it’s all part of the mystique. But for a while, I just didn’t get it.

Threat and Error Management: a primer

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Brent Owens, a new Air Facts writer, offers an introduction to Threat and Error Management–“defensive driving for pilots.” He says it’s not just for airline pilots, and that through anticipation, recognition and recovery, pilots can improve safety. Read on to learn what it’s all about.

Go or No Go: Florida build-ups

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Today’s flight is a quick one, from the Atlantic coast of Florida (West Palm Beach, PBI) to the Gulf Coast (Tampa, TPA). The weather doesn’t look too bad as you drive to the airport around noon, but the afternoon is yet to come. In Florida, you’ve learned to expect the unexpected, as conditions change quickly. Read the weather report below, then decide if you’re going or not going.

ATC: friend or foe?

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Like most of us, I always regarded ATC as my best friend, always there to help and guide me, a calm and trusted resource. As you will see, that all changed one spring day in Oregon. Now I am more likely to think of them as the Air Traffic Cops and, sadly, I don’t think of them anymore as my friends.

Defining the Cessna 310

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The author played a key role in designing and testing the ground-breaking Cessna 310. In this one-of-a-kind article, he shares some of the struggles that went on behind the scenes, including issues with stability and performance. He also shares his suspicions, untold for over 50 years, about a unsigned drawing he discovered.

The big bucks: a reason for the declining pilot population?

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From the comments on our series about the declining pilot population, there is no question that a lot of people think that the cost of flying is driving old people away and scaring away new people. I said that I though cost was an excuse, not a reason, and some of you took issue with that. Having been an active pilot and observer of the scene since 1951, I will try to put some of this in context.

Your comments on the declining pilot population

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Last week, we launched a special report called Mayday! The declining pilot population. Five authors shared their thoughts on how things got so bad and how to turn them around, each with a unique perspective and interesting suggestions. As always at Air Facts, our readers really drive the conversation, and over 300 comments were written during the week.