Our airports look like prisons

Almost every airport these days–regardless of size or location–is locked up, treated like a dangerous weapon instead of a community asset. As licensed pilots, many of us probably don’t even notice this anymore, but the message our airports are sending out is clear: stay away.

The Great Debate: is the LSA rule a failure?

The Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) rule is coming up on its 8th birthday, and that seems as good a time as any to reflect on the successes and failures of LSAs and the Sport Pilot license. Has it worked? Share your opinion in our latest debate.

Is scud-running ever OK?

In the last 20 years, we’ve conducted a war on scud-running, placing this technique in the same league as smoking and drunk driving. While the latter two deserve their bad reputations, I think we’ve gone too far with scud-running. A recent trip in a helicopter shows why.

Washington report: the future of 100LL

The future of avgas has been a hot topic for decades, with predictions of “the end of 100LL” coming every few years. But lately there has been a renewed urgency about the subject, especially as environmental groups and the EPA have turned up the heat.

Go or No Go: Oshkosh!

All pilots can be divided into two groups: those for whom the thought of flying into Wittman Regional Airport during AirVenture excites and challenges them and those who think you’re nuts to be in the air within 50 nm of Oshkosh that week. Which are you?

Washington Report: written testing changes proposed

In 2011, a rash of Knowledge Test (“the written” to long-time pilots) failures at numerous flight schools caused a bit of a stir, and the FAA admitted that they had added a number of new questions to the test question database without notifying test prep providers or flight instructors. In response, an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was formed by the FAA to study the issue of Knowledge Tests in general.

8 things I love about Oshkosh

Oshkosh. Have you ever met an aviation enthusiast who didn’t know exactly what that word meant? The annual EAA gathering in Wisconsin, officially called AirVenture, is a common thread in an aviation community that is remarkable for its diversity. Some pilots like homebuilts and some like certified airplanes; some like glass cockpits and some hate them. But everyone likes Oshkosh.

The coming currency crisis

Are you flying enough these days? Based on the pilots I talk to, the answer for most people is a resounding “no!” This goes far beyond the old joke that there’s no such thing as too much flying. Below a certain level of activity, both pilot proficiency and airplane reliability suffer, leading to thinner safety margins and a whole lot less fun.

The Great Debate: the worst FAA regulation is…

How do we tell the good FARs from the bad FARs? Specifically, what is the right balance between safety and the utility we all want from our airplanes? And what do you think is the worst FAR of all? Join this lively debate and add your comments.

What’s an LP approach?

You’re a current instrument pilot and you even have one of those fancy WAAS GPSs in your panel. After some practice, you’ve just about figured out this whole LNAV vs. LPV approach deal. But what’s this new LP approach that’s showing up on some approach plates? Have the rules changed?

Is flying safe? Wrong question.

The real takeaway here–for student pilots and old pros alike–is simple: flying is as safe as you want to make it. You as the pilot in command control how safe you are, not the airplane (nor anyone else, for that matter). Unlike driving, drunks and 16 year-olds can’t kill you in the air by swerving into you. That’s a good thing if used properly.

Go or No Go: a tough flight home

This Go or No Go is a little different. The scenario I’ll present is an actual flight I had planned, and I was faced with a tough decision. I’ll show the weather conditions that were forecast and my plan, then I’ll let you decide if you would have flown the trip. Later, I’ll share whether I decided go or no go.

The Great Debate: are UAVs a threat?

New legislation raises numerous questions about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), most of which are unanswered at this point. How will UAVs “see and avoid” piloted airplanes? What type of airspace will drones be flying in? What is ATC’s role? What are the limitations on who can operate a UAV? Add your opinion.

Go or no go: down the front

Manchester, NH (MHT) to Pittsburgh, PA (AGC) is the goal today so you can deliver your Piper Lance to the avionics shop for a new panel. The trip has been on the calendar for weeks and you’re excited to see a glass panel go in your airplane, but Mother Nature isn’t going to make it easy on you.

I really felt like a pilot when…

The 172 touched down at I69, just another Cessna making a landing at this busy flight training airport. But this flight was different, and this Cessna hadn’t come from the practice area. In fact, as I taxied N51766 to the ramp, I felt a sense of accomplishment I had never experienced before. This was the end of a 1600 mile journey from California to Cincinnati–and I really felt like a pilot.

The Great Debate: pilots are just backup

The CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation recently remarked, “Five years ago we passed the point where automation was there to back up pilots… Clearly, today, the pilot is there to be the backup to the automation… This is simply a realistic assessment of the world today.” It’s a bold statement–do you agree? Add your comments.

Go or no go: how strong is the front?

A weekend flying trip is on the calendar today, as you’re scheduled to attend a family reunion in Springfield, MO. Your flight will depart from Olive Branch Airport (OLV), just outside of Memphis, TN and arrive at the Springfield Branson Airport (SGF). Your proposed departure time is 1630Z. It’s time to make the go/no go call.

Do you cancel too many flights?

Some instrument pilots apparently are uncomfortable in anything less than clear skies and unlimited visibility. It raises the question: do you cancel too many flights? Has the aviation community beaten everyone over the head with the risk management stick so much that they’re gun shy? From what I read and hear, I think it’s quite possible.

The Great Debate: dangerous pilots

There has been a lively discussion among Air Facts readers about unsafe pilots and what our responsibility is to stop them. But this begs the question: what exactly does it mean to be “unsafe?” In particular, what is the single most dangerous personality trait in a pilot?

Go or no go: California IFR trip

Business calls today, and you need to get from your home base in Santa Barbara, California (KSBA) to San Francisco (KSFO) for an important meeting. There’s a bit of fog on the coast of California, but you are instrument-rated and current. Do you make the trip?