What has the FAA done for (to) you?

I was challenged to write something like this a while back and spent time looking at blank screens before finally formulating an idea. The challenge was to write about the good, but I feel compelled to write about some of the good and the bad.

Ice: gotcha… Where is the ice?

Where? Simple. Ice is where you find it. As pilots we have to accept the fact that ice will be forecast when it is cold and there are clouds but if we are to get any utility out of our airplanes in the wintertime, we have to develop the weather wisdom to recognize the times when ice is likely and when it is not.

Ice: gotcha… in a heartbeat

Dick Collins spent decades flying through ice in piston airplanes, and says he had “only a few truly memorable ice encounters.” In this fascinating and educational article, he shares the lessons he learned–and some advice you won’t read in any textbook.

Are slow airplanes practical transportation?

In a posting about the future and the relationship between present and past costs, I referred to transportation airplanes as those cruising at 140 knots or more. At least one reader questioned this and noted the value of slower airplanes for transportation, at least over shorter distances. Was he right?

11 keys to safer instrument flights

Let’s look at some of the things we can do to minimize the chances of hurt while instrument flying. All along the way, remember that an important part of the operation is to continually ask yourself what comes next and what comes after that, and on and on.

Crash course: lessons to be learned

To show that things do happen in threes, there have been two more high-profile accidents on visual approaches since the Asiana crash. These accidents are equally thought-provoking and offer more lessons to learn.

President Paul – 1921 to 2013

Paul Poberezny, the legendary founder of EAA and the father of the Oshkosh airshow, died last week at 91. Here, Richard Collins–who knew Paul for over 45 years–reflects on his accomplishments in aviation and the legacy he leaves behind.

Nose or tail? Wheel that is

One thing about tailwheels that is not true is that you aren’t a “real” pilot until you have mastered a tailwheel. It’s not what you fly but the care and precision with which you fly that makes you a “real” pilot. It can even be done in an Ercoupe or a Tri-Pacer.

Wrecks and recession: is there a connection?

The question I have relates to serious accident activity in general aviation. We all know that the accident rate does not vary by much so the number of fatal accidents tells us a lot about flying activity. What has happened here during the economic collapse and rebound and the general aviation collapse without a rebound?

The Asiana crash: rampant speculation?

The fact of the matter is that the airplane crashed on a beautiful day, there was apparently no mechanical failure, and the public feels entitled to all the speculation that anyone cares to offer. That is just the way things work. From what is known, the crew just turned in a truly lousy job of flying.

A flight well flown: you be the judge

After every landing we’d all like to hear that it was a flight well flown, even if the pronouncement comes from self. In the past, I have written articles about self-grading of all flights and have always thought that a pilot can be a great judge of himself—if he is objective.

The weight – and the balance

The video of the 747 crashing after takeoff from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is hard to watch. As pilots will do, after watching the video I came up with an idea on what I thought might have happened.

The dream v. the reality: it’s a tough world

It might also be true in other areas, but it has always seemed to me that general aviation is littered with more broken dreams than any other field. As an observer for about 60 years, the length of the list of failed projects amazed me when I wrote down the ones that I remember.

The perfect copilot–of many years

I took Ann for her first ever airplane ride on May 30, 1956, in my Piper Pacer. I had been flying for five years then. A couple of years later we got married and she had really signed on. I took her for her final airplane ride on August 19, 2007.

What’s in a name?

Names for various airplanes have always been interesting to me. After WWII, Beech came up with the hands-down best name ever for an airplane: Bonanza. It flies on 67 years later and is, and has always been, a survivor. That is probably because the airplane is as good as the name. My second choice in the name game is Gulfstream.

Move the wheel and wiggle the pedals

When we let the electronic systems fly the airplane, we are still flying, if by proxy. That means that a big part of the pilot’s job is to fully understand the computers we use to tell the autopilot what to do. That puts the operation of the flight control system squarely in the “airmanship” category.