Why do pilots hate recurrent training?

Regular training increases safety and confidence. It’s good for you, right up there with eating more vegetables and exercising daily. But while all pilots know these facts, very few of us practice what we preach. Instead, we treat proficiency flights like a trip to the dentist: something we do only as often as we’re required to, and even then we dread it.

Hungry Pilot: Piccadilly Lilly Airport Diner

Our latest stop in the search for the perfect $100 hamburger takes us to Wisconsin. The Piccadilly Lilly claims it offers home cooking and “the best biscuits and gravy around.” The airport is also close to an interesting architectural landmark, making it a fun excursion for pilots.

Air Facts turns 4 (or 76) – what we’ve learned about pilots

The original Air Facts magazine was founded 76 years ago last month by Leighton Collins, and we relaunched as an online-only magazine four years ago this month. Over this time period, we’ve debated hot topics, shared great flying stories and revisited some of the unique articles from our history. In reviewing many of these articles, a few trends stand out.

Go or No Go: VFR under the ice?

Today you’re not the one flying the trip – a friend who is a relatively low time pilot has called and asked for your advice. You pull out your iPad and review the weather below. What’s your advice for your friend – go or no go?

Accident report: aviate, navigate, communicate

The phrase is so overused that it’s become a cliche: aviate, navigate, communicate. The clear suggestion is that flying the airplane is much more important than messing with the GPS or telling Air Traffic Control about your problems. But while all pilots hear this advice from day one of flight training, the accident record shows that it’s hard to do when something goes wrong.

Aviation’s doomsday preppers

Roughly 20% of Americans think the world will end in their lifetime. That seems awfully pessimistic, but these doomsday preppers have nothing on pilots. Based on a number of recent conversations and comments from readers here at Air Facts, a solid majority believe general aviation will end in their lifetimes. Not get weaker – cease to exist.

10 questions for AOPA’s George Perry

The new leader of AOPA’s Air Safety Institute, George Perry, comes to the job with a diverse aviation background, including 20 years as a US Navy fighter pilot. He’s no stranger to general aviation though, from learning to fly as a teenager to owning a Mooney. We spoke to Perry about his approach to safety and his hopes for general aviation’s future.

Using historical weather data to learn

As pilots, we spend a lot of time reviewing the weather before a flight–you might even say some pilots obsess about it. But very few pilots spend any time looking at the weather after a flight. That’s a shame, because there’s much to learn from a post-flight analysis and there are some new tools that make it quite easy.

Is the ADS-B glass half full?

Over the past 25 years, pilots have complained about three different transponder rules: Mode C, then Mode S and now ADS-B. Is the FAA really this incompetent or do pilots just like to gripe? As usual, the answer is a little bit of both. I say the ADS-B glass is half full.

Go or No Go: fall cold front

As you stare at your iPad in the pilots’ lounge at Rochester, New York, you find yourself wishing for the warm days of summer. Your plan tonight is to fly from your business meeting in Rochester (ROC) to your home outside Columbus, Ohio (OSU). Will the weather cooperate?

Part of the team – what it means to be a pilot

It’s one of the great pleasures of being a pilot–we get to play on the same field as the greats. Very few sandlot baseball players get to pitch at Fenway Park, but as brand new private pilots we can fly from Washington Dulles to New York LaGuardia in a 172. That’s an honor we shouldn’t take lightly.

Security theater – 5 things pilots shouldn’t have to live with

It’s worth reviewing some of the wasteful and ineffective security programs we put up with. That’s not because we should forget what happened that day, but because bad security measures hurt everyone: they cost taxpayers lots of money, they discourage pilots from using their hard-earned certificates and they distract security organizations from doing real work.

Accident report: failure to climb

It sounds so simple: full power, pitch up and climb. What could possibly go wrong on takeoff, assuming the engine keeps running? The truth is, an awful lot, as a Cirrus accident from 2013 makes clear. We are at our most vulnerable just after takeoff, with little altitude or airspeed but lots to do in the cockpit. Throw in bad weather or dark skies and things can get overwhelming in a hurry.

Go or No Go: a legal alternate?

You’ve been looking forward to this trip for months, as you and some buddies are headed to beautiful Bandon, Oregon for a long weekend of golf. But coastal Oregon is famous for two things when it comes to weather: overcast skies and gusty winds. Can you make the flight legally? How about safely?

The emergency procedure nobody practices

Upon reviewing accidents from the past few years, it’s clear there is a disturbing trend in modern cockpits: pilots struggle to control the airplane after the autopilot quits flying. Now before you start bemoaning the state of stick and rudder skills and urging all pilots to start flight training in a Cub, let’s consider another (more nuanced) option.

USA Today, with help from trial lawyers, gets it exactly wrong

The headline is so over the top that it looks like a parody. The front page of the USA Today screams “Safety last: lies and coverups mask roots of small-plane carnage.” Words like lies and carnage are a dead giveaway that the article to follow will be a hatchet job, not serious journalism, and Thomas Frank’s three-part “investigation” doesn’t disappoint.

Dad is my copilot – Father’s Day flying thoughts

I’ve been flying with my dad for literally my entire life, growing up in the back of different airplanes while he flew me and my three brothers around the country. 2000+ hours later, I can’t imagine life without aviation in it. More importantly, I can’t imagine my relationship with my dad without flying.