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Flying with no “out” – between a rock and a hard place

Flying with no “out” – between a rock and a hard place

I know that there are purists who will sanctimoniously say that there is no excuse for ever flying without options or an “out.” Realistically that is not possible if we use our airplanes to fly where we want to fly when we want to fly.

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Debate: when are you “established” in the hold?

Debate: when are you “established” in the hold?

Upon passing the VOR I called the Center controller to inform him that we were entering the hold at Sea Isle and was immediately called on the carpet by my pilot friend with me. He informed me that the controller told us to call him when we were “established” in the hold – not when we were passing the VOR.

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The best hour in my logbook: why some flights are unforgettable

The best hour in my logbook: why some flights are unforgettable

Why do some flights stand out? John Zimmerman reflects on the best hour in his logbook, a short but memorable helicopter flight around the mountains of east Tennessee. He also considers the factors that make some logbook entries unforgettable.

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Could you land a 737? I had to find out

Could you land a 737? I had to find out

A call goes out to ask if there are any pilots on board, and a guy in the back responds “I’m a pilot… well, single engine!” Admit it….how many of you thought, if only for a moment, “I bet I could have landed it!”

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A good idea at the time: scud running in the mountains of Papua New Guinea

A good idea at the time: scud running in the mountains of Papua New Guinea

This story starts at the picturesque port of Madang on the northern coast of New Guinea. I was flying an RAAF Hawker Siddeley HS748 on a two week tour around New Britain and New Ireland, culminating with the training of a new squadron pilot in the finer points of Highland operations in central Papua.

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Electrical failure: time to improvise, adapt and overcome

Electrical failure: time to improvise, adapt and overcome

I had all four seats filled as we were winging our way westward to Santa Fe, New Mexico, at 8000 feet on top of a cloud deck. It was then that I noticed the ammeter needle flicking back and forth between “discharge” and neutral in a steady rhythm. This did not look right. We needed to get on the ground fast.

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Go or No Go: is there any way through this line?

Go or No Go: is there any way through this line?

Your 1981 Piper Aztec and you have been through a lot in 10 years and 3000 hours, including plenty of single pilot IFR trips. But today is going to be a test for both of you – your proposed trip home from Shreveport, Louisiana to Amarillo, Texas is filled with rain, low ceilings and some convective activity.

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Home is where the hangar is

Home is where the hangar is

Every pilot has more than one home. There’s the place where we sleep, eat, and get our mail (at least most of the time). Then there is another place where we have our being and that’s the airport. In my case, for 17 years, it was Hangar 2 at Fitchburg Municipal Airport.

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How to land an airliner with only 7 runway lights

How to land an airliner with only 7 runway lights

Pilots are taught to use their initiative and to expect surprises. There was certainly a surprise in store for me one dark and stormy night a little over 35 years ago, but the use of initiative came in a most unorthodox way ― and not from the crew on the aircraft, but from a quick-acting van driver.

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Suicide by airplane: a dark subject indeed

Suicide by airplane: a dark subject indeed

Inevitably, the tragedy of the airline pilot killing himself, the rest of the crew, and the passengers, prompted articles in the general media about suicides using private aircraft. There is actually no similarity because one is a murder/suicide, which usually has a motive, and the other is a matter of a person taking his own life. Still, the question was raised and to be honest I wasn’t too sure I wanted to explore this dark subject.

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Electric airplanes – is the tipping point upon us?

Electric airplanes – is the tipping point upon us?

Just like a Chicago Cubs appearance in the World Series, predictions about the coming electric aircraft boom seem to pop up every year, only to be crushed by reality. But four recent developments should be intriguing, if not revolutionary, for general aviation pilots.

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What you can’t see can’t touch you

What you can’t see can’t touch you

I was flying the daily mail run in a saddle-worn Cessna 402 out of Abingdon, Virginia, on a very cloudy, turbulent, rainy, miserable night in mid-March. We had just leveled out at 5000 feet when the radar approach controller in Roanoke called to inform me that I appeared to be turning toward the north.

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From the archives: Leighton Collins on angle of attack, 1965

From the archives: Leighton Collins on angle of attack, 1965

This article, originally published in the May 1965 issue of Air Facts, is a companion to Richard Collins’s recent article on “The three keys to flying safely.” Here, Richard’s father considers the history of angle of attack as both a concept and an instrument, which offers important lessons for pilots of any airplane. This is not a new debate.

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The three keys to flying safely

The three keys to flying safely

In this important new article, Richard Collins sums up over 50 years of aviation safety writing with three key concepts – “the things that a pilot really needs to know to stay alive.” It turns out safe flying has a lot more to do with mindset than fancy maneuvers.

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All runways are the same (sort of)

All runways are the same (sort of)

The biggest problem I used to have as a pilot was landing at different airports. I used to say, “I hate this airport; the runways are different…” Strange but I never have problems parking my car in a different lot, with spaces that face a different direction than my normal office lot. I still have to put the car in the middle and pointed straight!

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