The approach plate olympics – more crazy charts

Everybody loves a good approach plate. At least Air Facts readers do. After we shared seven bizarre instrument approach charts last year, we had hundreds of positive comments and numerous requests for more. As we like to say here, the readers are PIC, so here we will indulge your desire for more torturous procedures.

Night flying: out of our element

As much as we romanticize night flight, it’s not something most pilots do very often. It’s foreign territory, and the poor accident records backs this up. So what can we do to fly safer at night? Let’s consider terrain, spatial disorientation, weather, fuel and fatigue.

Go or no go – en route decision

Richard Collins has famously said there’s really no such thing as a single go/no go decision. Rather, weather flying can be seen as a series of “continue flying or land short” decisions. Tonight is a perfect example. After a long weekend with friends in Hilton Head, SC (HXD), you’re headed home to suburban Atlanta (RYY).

Have we won the safety battle?

Here’s a number that should be on the front page of every major newspaper: 224. That’s how many people died–worldwide–in airline crashes last year. Around 3 billion people flew on airlines last year, which makes 224 a simply incredible number.

The truth about learning to fly

As a community, pilots do a pretty good job of getting kids interested in flying. But I think we do ourselves a great disservice when we tell prospective pilots that learning to fly is all fun and excitement. It’s not, and we know it’s not.

Debate: do you have to be an enthusiast to be a good pilot?

A pilot complained: “It used to be, pilots were real aviation enthusiasts. But this new breed of pilots, especially the guys who learn to fly in a Cirrus, they don’t care about the joy of flying. They just use their airplanes to travel.” The obvious question is: so what?

One pilot’s Christmas wish list

A non-pilot friend recently asked me, “what do pilots want for Christmas this year?” Since he knows I work at Sporty’s, I think he was really looking for the hot aviation gadgets of 2013. But as I thought about what would make pilots happy in the year ahead, some much bigger wishes came to mind.

To grandmother’s house we go or no go?

Ah, the holidays. A fun time for relaxing with family, right? Maybe, but first you have to get to grandmother’s house for the big turkey dinner. And by looking out the window, it’s clear that the weather stinks. Are you flying your Baron or staying home?

Have pilots lost their sense of adventure?

Almost everyone today, pilots included, is less spontaneous and less accepting of risk. That’s probably a good thing overall (we’re living longer), but it’s less than ideal for getting the most out of a pilot’s license.

Continental Motors – betting big on diesel

Any discussion of general aviation’s future must include light airplane engines and the fuel they burn. While avionics get a lot of press, it’s the engine technology that really determines how reliable, affordable and useful an airplane is. And trouble is brewing.

7 instrument approaches you have to see to believe

In spite of what new instrument students might think, not all IFR approaches are straight-in ILSs to 200 and 1/2. Some airports just don’t lend themselves to an approach. But one look at the examples in this article shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Thunderstorm flying in the age of datalink weather

Datalink radar or onboard radar? XM or ADS-B? Panel mount display or iPad? The options for receiving and viewing in-flight weather have never been greater, with a proliferation of affordable and capable avionics. Which one is best? And what’s the right way to use each tool?

Drones: the good, the bad and the ugly

There’s a lot of talk about drones recently, some of it reasoned but most of it not. Which side is right? Probably both. If we look close enough, there may be a silver lining to this cloud–but the forecast is still cloudy.

Angle of Attack isn’t a miracle cure

Hop on the bandwagon–Angle of Attack (AoA) is the new must-have aviation accessory. This year’s Oshkosh fly-in was just the latest evidence, with a number of new product introductions, safety seminars and ad campaigns all proclaiming the life-saving potential of AoA instruments.

The Hungry Pilot: Sky Galley, Cincinnati

The Sky Galley is an institution in the Midwest, having welcomed pilots and local diners for decades. It’s located right inside the beautiful old terminal building at Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport, so the location is a strong point. In addition to the history of the art deco building, the Sky Galley features a large outdoor patio that looks right onto the ramp.

FAA wants your data – will you give it to them?

In the wake of disturbing stories about pilots being tracked and detained for no reason, the FAA is considering a new data-monitoring program for pilots. “Big data” may help the GA safety record–but only if pilots give up their data. Right now, that’s a tough sell.

The new “killer items” for IFR pilots

Many pilots learn the “killer items” checklist during their flight training–fuel, flaps and trim. But for instrument pilots, GPS receivers and WAAS approaches have brought new traps to be aware of. Here is an IFR “killer items” checklist to consider before shooting your next approach.