Go or No Go: heading home on Friday afternoon

At the end of a long week of work with a customer in northwest Arkansas, it’s time to fly home for a relaxing weekend with the family. The skies are cloudy as you drive to the airport, but the weather looks good overall. Read the weather reports below, then tell us if you would fly this trip.

Accident report roundup: time in type

in spite of the well-meaning advice, total time is still the measuring stick for pilots. A pilot with thousands of hours is assumed to be safe, and both his insurance premium and his reputation around the airport will probably reflect that assumption.

But read through NTSB accident reports and you’ll quickly notice another measure of pilot proficiency is more important: time in type.

Go or No Go: home from Michigan?

Summer is coming to an end, which means your annual family vacation to northern Michigan is coming to an end as well. Today is go-home day – if the weather cooperates – so it’s time to look at ForeFlight. The goal is to get from Traverse City, Michigan (TVC), to your home in Columbus, Ohio (OSU). Read the weather report below and decide what you would do.

Thunderstorms and ATC – how to get from A to B when direct isn’t an option

The good news is technology like datalink weather has made it a lot easier to manage convective weather. With ADS-B on my iPad or SiriusXM on my panel, it’s fairly simple to avoid the worst weather; it just takes patience and discipline to go all the way around it. Since most of my cross country flights are IFR, those long deviations require a lot of coordination with Air Traffic Control.

Nine things I know about flying in Ohio

In the second installment of our new series, John Zimmerman shares nine things to know about flying in Ohio. Yes, it’s the birthplace of aviation, but there are other facts to know, including why there is an airport in almost every county, where to find some great island airports in Lake Erie, and where to find a free lunch every Saturday.

Go or No Go: summertime storms in Mississippi

After a weekend of training in Gulfport, Mississippi, it’s time to head home to Memphis, Tennessee, in your Cessna 182. The weather map is cluttered with storms, and it’s forecast to stay that way most of the week. Read the details, then tell us if you would make the flight (proposed at 1800Z), which should take just under two hours.

The unspoken words between fathers and sons in the cockpit

Flying, something we both love to do, is much more than just a weekend hobby. It’s our version of playing catch in the back yard, a shared experience laden with meaning. Of course we do talk when we fly, but I’ve realized the most important words between father and son are unspoken.

Go or No Go: beating the storms?

It’s your regular business trip: Cincinnati, Ohio (I69), to Atlanta, Georgia (PDK) for an overnight visit. It’s an easy two hour flight in your Cirrus SR22, and you’re familiar with the route, but the weather map is colorful today. As you open ForeFlight just before noon local time, here are the weather maps you see. Read the briefing below and decide whether you would make the flight.

Why I love it, why I hate it: Cessna 210

Every airplane model has a personality; some even have a stereotype. So when a friend recently asked what I thought of the Cessna 210 Centurion, I hesitated. I felt qualified to offer an opinion since I flew one for about five years in the early 2000s, but I also felt obligated to go beyond cliches. I have very fond memories of the 210, but it is a love it/hate it type of airplane – its strengths are unique, and its weaknesses are maddening.

What I learned from Richard Collins

One year ago, aviation lost a legend. Richard Collins left behind such a huge volume of writing over his 60+ year career that pilots will find rich rewards from re-reading his work. In general, the lessons he reminds me of seem to center around four main ideas: building margins, managing weather, respecting technology, and flying for transportation.

Go or No Go: flying to The Masters

The big week is finally here – you and a longtime friend are flying to see The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. As is often the case in spring, the radar is colorful. Are there enough holes in the storms to make the flight? Read the weather reports below, then tell us if you would fly the trip or cancel. 

5 good things about general aviation in 2019

I like to pause every few years and consider what’s going right in aviation. Call me a naive optimist if you like, but I still see a lot to appreciate, from the thousands of airports in the US to the relative openness of our airspace to the strong experimental aircraft movement. These trends are old news; five newer ones caught my attention at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in last week, and I think they bode well for pilots.

Do we need a basic instrument rating?

Would more pilots fly IFR if it were easier to get an instrument rating? Would it improve aviation safety if they did? A recent proposal by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to create a “basic instrument rating” should have pilots asking those exact questions, and not just in Europe.

Go or No Go: Rocky Mountain mess

After 20 years of living in Colorado, you know that March weather in the Rockies means anything from blizzards to warm, spring-like days. Unfortunately the weather is closer to the first extreme for your planned trip tonight, a 1:30 flight from your home in Denver (BJC) to Provo, Utah (PVU), to visit your son in college.

From now on, I’ll always…

Airlines spend a lot of time crafting standard operating procedures (SOPs), which describe in exquisite detail how each part of a flight should be conducted. For the average private pilot, such formal SOPs are probably overkill and remove some of the flexibility that makes general aviation so rewarding. Instead, a few simple habits can prevent embarrassment – or worse.

Go or No Go: winter warm front

“Messy aviation weather today.” That’s what the forecaster wrote in the forecast discussion this morning and a look at the TV screen in the FBO at the Elkinds-Randolph County Airport (EKN) confirms that. The radar images shows lots of rain in the area and the forecast is for things to get worse. That’s mildly annoying, as you’d really like to get back home, a 1:15 flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Accident report roundup: controlled flight into wires

Many pilots worry about colliding with another airplane in flight, but not nearly as many worry about power lines. According to FAA numbers, that’s a mistake. There are roughly 75 accidents every year involving wires and while many of them involve helicopters, not all of them do. As the three accidents below show, airplane pilots regularly find ways to turn a fun flight into a fatal mistake.

What’s wrong with Robinson R44 pilots?

Robinson R44 helicopters are death traps, right up there with Mitsubishi MU-2s and Cirrus SR22s – at least that’s according to a lot of articles you read online. But does it tell the whole story? In the spirit of Richard Collins’s very popular “What’s wrong with Cirrus/Mooney/Bonanza pilots” series of articles, I’d like to offer a more nuanced perspective.

Go or No Go: how do you define scud running?

After a long Christmas break, it’s time to return to your home south of Seattle, Washington. The flight from Ocean Shores Airport (W04) to Pierce County Airport (PLU) is an easy 30-minute flight in your Cirrus SR22 – much better than a two and a half hour drive. But as always, the weather may spoil your plans.

A Christmas book list for pilots: 18 top picks

As social media and cable TV deteriorate into ill-informed shouting matches, I find myself reading more and more books. And as a book lover, Christmas means making my list and distributing it to family and friends. So in the spirit of the holidays I’ll offer my list of great aviation books.