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ILS approach at night

Head games: getting IFR current with a big trip

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After a few more minutes of discussing the round dials and radios, my wife began to ask about the clouds in front of us. I did my best to be nonchalant about the approaching wall of smooth, white clouds, but in the back of my mind was the thought that this was the first time in over 10 years that I would be in actual “hard” IFR. I could feel that my smile lacked some sincerity when I joked about the weather.

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Mooney over rainbow small

Friday Photo: Monday over the rainbow

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Wow. That’s about the only reaction that seems appropriate after seeing this week’s Friday Photo. Ethan Levi’s wife snapped this photo of a beautiful rainbow just off the wing of their Mooney as they were vectored for the ILS 13R approach into Hillsboro, Oregon. Hopefully good weather and light winds were at the end of this rainbow.

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Hoover quote

Stayin alive – 16 favorite aviation quotes

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Sometimes a simple phrase can sum up the essence of flying better than a chapter in a textbook. Here, experienced pilot Dan Littmann shares 16 of his favorite aviation quotes. From Wolfgang Langewiesche to Bob Hoover, well-known pilots share words that are funny but lessons that are serious. Read his list, then add your own.

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GNG radar route

Go or No Go: afternoon buildups

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The goal today is to get to Tallahassee, Florida, so you can be at a meeting first thing tomorrow morning. On paper, this is an ideal trip for you and your Piper Arrow. It should take just over an hour and a half, and a colleague will be waiting to pick you up in Florida. Of course the only question now is the weather. Let’s look at what your iPad has to say, then decide whether it’s a go or a no go.

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Instrument approach from cockpit

Confessions of a timid pilot

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Would it be VFR by the time I got there? Maybe… maybe not. Sure I’m instrument current, but is that good enough? Maybe… maybe not. It’s legal, but legal isn’t always smart. So, with full tanks I taxied back to the hangar and, after some light ribbing from my flip-flop-wearing buddy who questioned my judgment on such a perfect day, we heaved her back into the hangar.

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BlueCutFire

Friday Photo: Blue Cut Fire

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Peter Hudson (photographer) and I happened to witness Mother Nature in all her fury as the “Blue Cut Fire” raged on day one. The awe of the strength of a wildfire like this is quickly tempered by the enormous consequences it has to everyone and anything in its path.

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Scud left

How to fly safely when you’re low and slow

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You don’t have to fly IFR at 10,000 feet to travel efficiently by general aviation. I was reminded of this fact after logging 15 enjoyable hours over the past month – all at 500 feet and 100 knots in VFR-only aircraft.
That doesn’t mean it was boring. Over the course of two long trips, I had a few speed bumps, and in the process I re-learned some important lessons about weather, decision-making and technology.

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P-51

Merlin’s magic: unintended fireworks from a P-51

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I lined up on the centerline and advanced the throttle. The aircraft accelerated rapidly and broke ground. This was my fifth solo takeoff in this aircraft, a North American P-51D Mustang. I raised the landing gear, and the climb speed reached about 175 knots. Approaching the airport boundary, the engine began shuddering and vibrating.

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Dick's Blog

Opinion and analysis from Richard Collins
Cirrus SR22

What’s right with Cirrus pilots?

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In 2012 I posted an article about what might be wrong with Cirrus pilots. That attracted a lot of attention and is third on the list of most-read AIR FACTS posts. A lot has changed since 2012, the Cirrus safety record has improved dramatically, and what has happened seems directly related to the great debate about flying through computers v. basic flying.

Cessna 172

What’s wrong with Cessna 172 pilots?

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The 172 is the most built airplane in history at 43,000 copies. It is probably still safe to say there are more 172s flying in the U. S. than anything else and though production rates today are relatively low, that will remain true for a long time to come. That makes it a true benchmark airplane in a lot of ways, including that good safety record.

V35 crash

Airframe failure: not just V-tails

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A recent accident involving a vacuum failure in a V35B Bonanza and subsequent loss of control and airframe failure made me recall that this was a really substantial problem in the 1980s and early 90s. It also made me recall one of the better private flying war stories – from a pilot who survived an airframe failure.

John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Scud left

How to fly safely when you’re low and slow

By

You don’t have to fly IFR at 10,000 feet to travel efficiently by general aviation. I was reminded of this fact after logging 15 enjoyable hours over the past month – all at 500 feet and 100 knots in VFR-only aircraft.
That doesn’t mean it was boring. Over the course of two long trips, I had a few speed bumps, and in the process I re-learned some important lessons about weather, decision-making and technology.

Doolittle crew by airplane

The pilot brotherhood – only as good as your next action

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I think we get carried away with this brotherhood talk. Sure, pilots can be accepting and caring folks, and the common bond of aviation often does bring wildly different people together. That hardly means such behavior is guaranteed, though. Pilots are still human beings who often bring their own powerful emotions, biases and agendas to any situation.

decision right and wrong

To go or not to go? That is the (wrong) question

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We falsely view most aviation decisions as binary. The language of decision-making subtly reinforces this, with exhortations to “keep it simple” or “be confident.” What we end up with is a hopelessly unrealistic set of answers: yes or no, black or white. We should know better. Flying is all about subtle clues, 50/50 decisions and shades of gray.

At Air Facts, readers are pilot in command. Share your story: editor@airfactsjournal.com

I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Lenticular cloud

I never should have left the ground

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I felt I needed to expedite, because there was another Southwest 737 eyeballing me from across the runway, also holding short, and waiting for the little puddle jumper to get out of his way, so they could depart. I rolled out on the runway, and went to full throttle… and with a lot of right aileron and rudder. We lifted off and WHAM, we were 30 degrees to the runway. Yeah, I’d say there was a bit of wind shift!

Geneva airports

A pilot in command abdication

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It was a dark and clear winter night, somewhere between 1979 and 1980. I walked up to the Piper Archer with my three other buddies, in full fighter pilot swag, full of myself and the false confidence only a 20-year old can have. I had earned my Private in just 54 hours and now, with a whole 61 hours logged, I was flying my buddies to the Playboy Club Resort at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit
Mooney over rainbow small

Friday Photo: Monday over the rainbow

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Wow. That’s about the only reaction that seems appropriate after seeing this week’s Friday Photo. Ethan Levi’s wife snapped this photo of a beautiful rainbow just off the wing of their Mooney as they were vectored for the ILS 13R approach into Hillsboro, Oregon. Hopefully good weather and light winds were at the end of this rainbow.

BlueCutFire

Friday Photo: Blue Cut Fire

By

Peter Hudson (photographer) and I happened to witness Mother Nature in all her fury as the “Blue Cut Fire” raged on day one. The awe of the strength of a wildfire like this is quickly tempered by the enormous consequences it has to everyone and anything in its path.

Diamond on top

Friday Photo: Diamond Twinstar on top

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The final entry in our Friday Photo Weekend is from Ryan Biziorek. He describes this beautiful shot as, “Serenity and sunshine above cloud tops on a late winter day in March perfectly framed by the dash and glare shield. A great reward for a newly minted multi-engine and instrument rated pilot. This is what the ratings are for.”