50 years ago in Air Facts: Double Trouble?

In this groundbreaking article, first published in the July 1965 edition of Air Facts, Richard Collins raised the question–heretical at the time–of whether twin engine airplanes really were any safer than singles. His cogent, well-researched argument started a debate that rages to this day.

Technique Geek: crosswind landings

Crosswind landings are a real challenge and making a perfect one is every bit as satisfying as a flawless ILS to minimums or a graceful eight-point roll. As a student I had a hard time learning to do them and later, as an instructor, I had a hard time teaching them. You simply can’t talk as fast as you have to think when landing in a gusty crosswind.

The Weather Geek: hello low

Let’s get the geek business out of the way first. If a person who has an abiding interest in weather, especially as it relates to flight operations, is a geek, then I am a weather geek. Highs and lows are what make the weather engine go. Highs aren’t exciting, lows can be full of thrills. I was reminded of this when we had that October snowstorm in the northeast.

The Great Debate: can we “make” flying safer?

The question relates to whether or not you think we should throw the loose cannons under the bus, accept the current safety record, and fly on with our remaining freedoms intact? Or, should we make changes that might rein in the loose cannons but that would likely swap a lot of freedom for the chance of a better record?

Dick’s blog: a solo or a new beginning

I am writing this on October 25, 2011. On October 25, 1951 I, a rebellious 17-year old juvenile delinquent, walked into the flight school office at Harrell Field in Camden, Arkansas, to take a flying lesson. My instructor, Rudy Peace, a wonderful person and pilot and later a fine friend, awaited. Also waiting was Aeronca Champ (7AC) N1154E.

Dick’s blog: is any airplane “safe?”

When the Ercoupe came out in the 1940s, everybody thought it would set a new standard for both simple flying and safety. It was stall-resistant and spin-proof and the controls were interconnected. There were no rudder pedals, just a wheel and throttle to use in controlling the airplane. When the dust settled, the Ercoupe had a worse safety record than contemporary two-place airplanes.

Dick’s blog: teachin’ or learnin’

I have been a flight instructor since August 24, 1953. A lot of water has passed under the bridge in that time and the current emphasis on better instruction and training safer pilots has made me ponder many things. Let’s talk about some of them for a bit and then see what you think.

Dick’s blog: spotlight on air racing

Air tragedies are a lot like thunderstorms. There’s lightning and it is always followed by thunder. After the accident in Reno the general news media started having a field day soon after the crash, devoting both ink and air time to the subject. Some of the comments were knowledgeable, most were not.

Dick’s blog: F-15 v. Cherokee

The Labor Day weekend was a busy one over our house. Back in the good old days, when the traffic pattern at the Frederick (Maryland) airport was perpetually full, general aviation airplanes filled the sky overhead. With air traffic down, that is no longer true. This Labor Day there was a lot going on but it involved F-15s, probably from some state’s Air Guard. Because of the proximity to 9/11, and because the President was at Camp David, they had air cover like I haven’t seen in a long while.

The Great Debate: autopilot addiction?

The loss of control of an Airbus A330 over the Atlantic has led to calls for more hands on (as opposed to autopilot) training for airline crews. This subject has recently gotten a lot of attention in the press. Much ado about nothing or a real problem?

The Great Debate: stall training

This is the first in a series of questions we’ll be posing to our readers. We’d like to hear your opinions on various aviation topics, so write away. Just enter your comments below–there’s no need to sign up.

Question: Most inadvertent stalls that result in serious accidents occur at an altitude too low for a recovery. Do you think this means that practicing stalls at altitude is a waste of time?

Opinion: NTSB’s ten most wanted list

“Improve general aviation safety” is on a recently issued National Transportation Safety Board list of ten things that it wants to do. Funny they should mention that. It was on my father’s list when he started Air Facts in 1938, it has been on my list since I joined him in 1958, and I guess you would now say that it is on my bucket list.

Wanted: Basic Flying Skills

The final report on the Airbus A330 Rio to Paris Air France 447 accident is not out yet but preliminary information provides a lot of food for thought. It is a safe bet that many thousands of words will be written about this. They will come from all points of view and represent a multitude of opinions. Here is mine.

Opinion: Making the Headlines

The general media does a great job of keeping us abreast of what is going on with fast-breaking events. Take away the tsunamis, tornados, executions and weddings, though, and it seems like the media wanders aimlessly while looking for something to attract viewers or readers.

Feature: Personal Air Transportation in the Good Old Days

Note to the reader: This is the first chapter of a book that I started but will probably never finish. It was to be about the history of general aviation as seen through the eyes of two Collins boys, Richard and Leighton. Richard wasn’t born in the time covered by this first chapter but I have my father’s logs and papers to use in covering this slice of the good old days.