The scan: why instrument flying is an art, not a science

Ask a native English speaker what their strategy is for writing a sentence and you’ll probably get a blank stare. After all, most of us don’t read a textbook and come up with a methodical approach to grammar before we write an email. So why do we insist on this same robotic approach when teaching instrument flying?

Eight life lessons you learn as a pilot

Becoming a pilot changes who you are, even if you don’t realize it at first. Sure, there are the practical lessons about math, physics, and engineering you don’t encounter in everyday life. But as a recent trip through my logbook proved, aviation offers courses in the humanities as well as the hard sciences.

Caption contest #5

Welcome to our latest Caption Contest at Air Facts. Once a month, we post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our most recent one below and if an amusing or clever caption comes to mind, just post it as a comment. In two weeks, we’ll cut off this contest and the staff of Air Facts will choose their favorite caption.

Quiz: instrument approach plate challenge

How much do you know about instrument approach plates? There’s an amazing amount of information packed into one page, and some of it is confusing. Take our 9-question quiz and find out how good your instrument knowledge is. You’ll learn the finer points of MSAs, FAFs, MDAs and more.

No fast hands in the cockpit – why patience is a virtue

In our 24/7 world, some promoters of aviation have tried to sell flying as an extreme sport, packed with thrills and constant action. This is misleading, but it’s also an unhelpful mindset for the cockpit. As a recent training flight proved, sometimes you have to be comfortable doing nothing.

Caption Contest #4

Welcome to our latest monthly feature at Air Facts – our Caption Contest. Once a month, we post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our most recent one below and if an amusing or clever caption comes to mind, just post it as a comment.

Two cheers for the FAA: why recent reforms should be welcomed

Everyone likes to complain about the Federal Aviation Administration, and often it’s richly deserved. But for an open-minded pilot who’s willing to ignore the typical pilot talk, there are some encouraging developments in aviation policy right now. If you can find it in your heart, the folks in Washington might even deserve our thanks.

Video Tip: LPV approaches

In this month’s tip, Jason Miller of The Finer Points of Flying explores the LPV approach, a type of WAAS approach that acts like a precision approach but technically is not. So how do you fly an LPV approach? How do you know when you can fly one? What indications should you look for on your GPS navigator? Watch this six minute video tip for some practical advice.

Caption contest #3

Welcome to our latest monthly feature at Air Facts – our Caption Contest. Once a month, we post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our most recent one below and if an amusing or clever caption comes to mind, just post it as a comment.

Debate: are drones good or bad for general aviation?

Drones are certainly one of the hottest news stories of 2016, with everyone from Disney World to the Department of Defense adopting them for a variety of missions. While drones still have a lot to figure out, it’s clear that they are here to stay – and that could have serious implications for pilots. Are those implications good or bad?

Video Tip: weather radar 101

We see radar all the time, but how does it really work and what does it show? In this video tip, meteorologist Scott Dimmich dives into the details of NEXRAD, including: the difference between base and composite reflectivity, how to use echo tops, and what signs indicate severe weather.

What the artificial intelligence boom means for aviation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the hot technology of 2016, finding its way into research papers and cocktail party conversations alike. As usual, most talk is either hopelessly optimistic or relentlessly negative (you know a trend is mainstream when you start reading headlines like, “Is fashion ready for the AI revolution?”). Cut through all the hype, though, and pilots can find a lot of reasons to be enthusiastic about AI.

Caption Contest #2

We recently launched a new monthly feature in Air Facts – our Caption Contest. Once a month, we’ll post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our most recent one and add a witty caption. The best one wins an autographed Dick Collins book!

Air Facts video tip: understanding airframe ice

Fall flying weather is here, with shorter days and cooler temperatures. That means airframe icing will start to become a threat again for many pilots. This month’s tip is a great way to knock the rust off and refresh your memory of in-flight icing basics. Where do you find the most ice? What’s the difference between clear and rime ice? What are some avoidance strategies?

The end of FAA charts as we know them?

The summer of 2016 may be viewed as the beginning of the end of standard FAA charts. It sounds foolish to make such a bold prediction, but there are some very good reasons to believe a decade-long trend away from traditional sectionals and approach plates has accelerated recently. Technology plays a significant role, but so do changes by the FAA.

Introducing the Air Facts Caption Contest

Today we launch a new monthly feature in Air Facts – our Caption Contest. Once a month, we’ll post a photo and call on our very talented readers to provide a caption for that photo. Check out our first one below and if an amusing or clever caption comes to mind, just post it as a comment. We want everyone to be able to enjoy all the entries, not just us.

What controversy? 5 debates new pilots don’t understand

Pilots love a good debate. This may be the only thing that isn’t controversial in aviation. Enthusiasm for debates doesn’t necessarily make aviation unique; after all, sports fans are famous for their spirited arguments too. What is different is our need to debate the same issues, year after year, sometimes decades after the facts are settled. Two recent examples are particularly long-running – to the point of being frustrating.

Go or No Go: afternoon buildups

The goal today is to get to Tallahassee, Florida, so you can be at a meeting first thing tomorrow morning. On paper, this is an ideal trip for you and your Piper Arrow. It should take just over an hour and a half, and a colleague will be waiting to pick you up in Florida. Of course the only question now is the weather. Let’s look at what your iPad has to say, then decide whether it’s a go or a no go.

How to fly safely when you’re low and slow

You don’t have to fly IFR at 10,000 feet to travel efficiently by general aviation. I was reminded of this fact after logging 15 enjoyable hours over the past month – all at 500 feet and 100 knots in VFR-only aircraft. That doesn’t mean it was boring. Over the course of two long trips, I had a few speed bumps, and in the process I re-learned some important lessons about weather, decision-making and technology.