The disappearance of two Congressmen in Alaska

The disappearance of two Congressmen in Alaska

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Friday Photo: beach campfire by a seaplane
Whirlygig: the troubled life of the J-2 autogyro
What’s wrong with experimental pilots?

What’s wrong with experimental pilots?

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One chance to get it right: inadvertent IFR flying
Friday Photo: putting the plane away

Friday Photo: putting the plane away

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How to interpret radar in the cockpit

How to interpret radar in the cockpit

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Video tip: avoiding turbulence

Video tip: avoiding turbulence

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7 instrument approaches you have to see to believe

Beech Bonanza model 35

What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots?

New Articles

Our most recent posts

The disappearance of two Congressmen in Alaska

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Anniversaries of important events are times for remembering and other things good and bad, including reminding oneself of the dangers of misplaced trust and overconfidence. Forty-five years ago, October 16, 1972, two Congressmen on the campaign trail were lost somewhere in Alaska. They had trusted their pilot to get them from Anchorage to Juneau.

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Autogyro on ramp

Whirlygig: the troubled life of the J-2 autogyro

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By the mid-1960s general aviation was booming, but airplanes and pilots were still regularly coming to grief in stall-spin accidents. Robert McCulloch sought to revitalize the autogyro concept for the mass GA market. Surely there must be demand for a stall-proof, slow-speed-capable flying machine that was both easier to fly and less complex than a helicopter.

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RV-7 in flight

What’s wrong with experimental pilots?

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The higher incidence of accidents in E-AB aircraft is just as logical as the fact that the fatal accident rate in private (general) aviation is almost infinitely higher than it is in airline flying. When more freedom is granted by reducing regulations and eliminating stifling procedures then the risk goes up.

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Friday Photo: putting the plane away

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Great aviation pictures don’t always happen in the air. This week’s Friday Photo shares the simple pleasure of a family flight, and the joy of introducing young people to flying. Reuben Keim captured this memorable shot of his son Luke and his two cousins as they pushed the airplane back in the hangar after a flight. Airplanes and family – a perfect combination.

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ADS-B radar

How to interpret radar in the cockpit

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Radar seems so simple at first: red is bad, green is good. What else is there to know? As any pilot with more than a few cross countries in the logbook knows, quite a lot. While a lot of the problems with radar operation have been solved by datalink weather, few of the problems with radar interpretation have been solved.

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Dick's Blog

Opinion and analysis from Richard Collins
RV-7 in flight

What’s wrong with experimental pilots?

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The higher incidence of accidents in E-AB aircraft is just as logical as the fact that the fatal accident rate in private (general) aviation is almost infinitely higher than it is in airline flying. When more freedom is granted by reducing regulations and eliminating stifling procedures then the risk goes up.

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Cirrus SR22

What it takes to be one sharp pilot, part four: realistic

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In this off-again on-again series I have touched on awareness, intelligence and coordination. Those are all important. Being realistic also sounds like part of a plan for flying. The first thing that comes to mind is the extremely tired old saw about knowing your (or your airplane’s) limitations. In fact, that has been said with evangelical zeal so many times that, with this mention, I am going to leave it behind.

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Sugarbush airport

Flying on edge – getting down to the nitty-gritty

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Margins are a basic in safer flying. Maybe that’s just another way of saying to always cut yourself a little slack, and what it means is to stay away from the edges of the envelope. Where this often becomes critical is when the airplane is being asked to do something it either won’t do, or will just barely do. That is when precise flying is required and to use an old term, it often has to be done by the seat of your pants.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
ADS-B radar

How to interpret radar in the cockpit

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Radar seems so simple at first: red is bad, green is good. What else is there to know? As any pilot with more than a few cross countries in the logbook knows, quite a lot. While a lot of the problems with radar operation have been solved by datalink weather, few of the problems with radar interpretation have been solved.

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General aviation trends in 12 charts

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What’s the state of the general aviation industry? That’s a question we hear at lot at Air Facts, sometimes by prophets of doom looking for confirmation, sometimes by new pilots trying to get a handle on the community they have just joined, and sometimes by outsiders who genuinely don’t know. Unfortunately there’s no simple answer, but these 12 graphs offer a partial answer.

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Clouds from cockpit

We all need to be weather geeks now

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While apps like ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot can simplify the flight planning process, if we’re not careful they can also make it confusing. We are all our own Flight Service Stations now, forced to assemble weather information, evaluate it, and make a plan. Which sources can be trusted? What do they all mean? How much weather information is enough? To answer questions like these, pilots need more than just a passing acquaintance with Aviation Weather.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Super Cub

One chance to get it right: inadvertent IFR flying

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I immediately knew that my current situation was extremely serious. I was currently flying at 4000 feet and was trapped between two layers of cloud in a wide band of clear air. This “meat in the sandwich” scenario at the end of the day, in a low speed, basically instrumented aircraft with a relatively low-time pilot was about as bad as it could get.

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Citabria

An awful sensation – lost above Brazil with no alternator

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I was totally by myself. I aligned the plane with the 04 runway, with no one in sight, since it was the middle of the week. I took off and decided to test the new plane with some basic maneuvers and a lazy flight. It’s important to say that I was totally unfamiliar with the area, as I was used on flying my Cubs from another airfield some miles away. But the fates decided it was a good time to put me to the test.

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Clouds above airport tower

Stumbling into IMC without a plan

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I believe this is where things go bad for well-trained pilots. It’s not that we can’t improvise and come up with new plans, but when we’re a little lost and our original plan isn’t working out, we need a few moments to compose a new one. I was in the pattern in IMC, trying to descend well below pattern altitude to get below the scattered clouds while trying to do what I told the tower I would be doing – and also not get in trouble with ATC.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Flight instructor in cockpit

Talking at non-towered airports

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During the last several months, I traveled around the country presenting an AOPA safety seminar on non-towered airport operations. I had some pretty interesting encounters/discussions with other pilots during my seminars. This subject seemed to inflame the passion in a lot of folks. I’d like to share some of my observations with you.

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Class B airspace

What is a Class B airspace excursion?

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Security makes getting a Center, TRACON or tower tour increasingly difficult, but I have done it several times dating back to my first tower visit (VNY) in 1965, and I think it is worth the effort. It is fun, educational, and can enhance safety by allowing you to spend time in the shoes of the guy or gal on the other side of the frequency. My Denver TRACON visit was no different: I learned stuff, had a great time, met some wonderful people… and got an interesting safety lesson that I would like to relate here.

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Florida at night

A lasting impression: the power of spatial disorientation

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Sam was wise beyond his years and decided to show me what it’s like to fly over the Florida Everglades, at night. We departed our east coast airport in a cozy 152 and headed west toward our normal practice area. So far, so good. As the saying goes I was fat, dumb, and happy enjoying the smooth night air when suddenly all sense of relative motion was lost. I felt as if we were hanging by a string in a dark closet.

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Weather Geek

Understanding Mother Nature
GFA cloud top map

The area forecast is going away – here’s why that’s bad news

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Rumors have swirled for years, but now it’s really happening: the text-based Area Forecast (FA) will officially disappear on October 10, 2017, to be replaced by the Graphical Forecast for Aviation (GFA). On the surface, this seems like an inevitable step in the transition from coded text products to graphical, interactive weather maps. But before we relegate the FA to the dustbin of history, we should consider a few important details. This transition may not be quite so innocuous.

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Fog around approach lights

Deep dark weather secrets about fog are really no mystery

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It’s not accurate to say that Mother Nature keeps secrets. However, it is spot on to say that Mother Nature harbors all manner of surprises for pilots who fly on without making an effort to develop some personal weather wisdom. One key is in understanding that what you see and feel is what you get, regardless of what is forecast.

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Surface analysis chart

Weather forecasts – there’s more to it than just charts

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On two recent occasions, I have spent my day staring down FAR 121.613. Both cases required a more in-depth study of the day’s weather than a simple scan of the TAF. Regardless of which part of the FARs you are operating under, the area forecast discussions put out by local forecasters are incredibly valuable when preparing for a day’s flying. They will give you the feel of a personal briefing.

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Young Pilots

Stories from the next generation
Liftoff of Cessna

I had the sky to myself: my first solo at 16

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My takeoff was great and my landing was spectacular; “a greaser” as Dan would say. “Two more like that,” said Dan, “and I’ll let you fly solo!” My heart pounded. I knew I was close to my first solo, but now, with both parents right there with me? To say I was excited would have been a terrible understatement.

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Kids at airport

Aviation’s future: a young pilot’s perspective

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“We need more young pilots, like you,” is a statement that I find myself hearing quite often. I typically hear this coming from older pilots and I completely agree with them. But a lot of the older pilots that I know got into aviation because they were either in the military, or they grew up around an airport. Today, these are not usually the top reasons why people get involved in aviation.

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Cessna in hangar

More comfortable in the air: an Adirondack odyssey

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My first long-distance flight in a single-engine aircraft began exactly like every other mission we’ve ever flown: with my worrying about the weather and Dad squinting at the radar image on his iPad, assuring me that we would be fine as long as we got in the air within an hour. I call our trips missions because we rarely fly without a purpose.

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: beach campfire by a seaplane

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With seaplanes, it’s not just about the journey – sometimes the destination is pretty good too. This Friday Photo from Scott Magie will have you wishing you could jump into the picture. A campfire on the beach in front of a Beaver. What’s not to like?

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Friday Photo: putting the plane away

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Great aviation pictures don’t always happen in the air. This week’s Friday Photo shares the simple pleasure of a family flight, and the joy of introducing young people to flying. Reuben Keim captured this memorable shot of his son Luke and his two cousins as they pushed the airplane back in the hangar after a flight. Airplanes and family – a perfect combination.

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Friday Photo: Sydney Harbour from an Archer

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Sydney, Australia, has one of the world’s most photogenic harbors, from the famous opera house to the historic bridge. The view is even better from the air, as David Grabham shows in this week’s Friday Photo. He gave a couple of friends the scenic tour in his Piper Archer and snapped this beautiful photo.

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