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St. George airport

Farewell to an old friend – another airport fades away

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I said goodbye to an old friend today. My friend won’t actually be gone until January 13, but I had to make a special trip to pay my respects. Lots of pilots in the West know my friend, some with tender feelings, others not. My friend was one that challenged the skill, or nerve, of every pilot who came along. I was lucky enough to learn from my friend, and in fact love that dear airport.

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Indy 500 race

Flying dad to the Indy 500 – with a few stops

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It would be the longest VFR cross country for me by far, with precious cargo across Tornado Alley in springtime to the “Greatest Spectacle in Sports.” But I was 26; what the hell did I know? It was before the internet, weather channel, online anything. No TFRs or alphabet soup of airspace.

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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.

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marine layer SF

Friday Photo: marine layer over San Francisco

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Private pilot John Belnap was flying to Salinas, California for some weekend work when he snapped this amazing photo. A familiar sight for California pilots, it shows the marine layer rolling in around San Francisco. The low sun, reflected off the high wing of the Cessna, illuminates a beautiful scene.

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Monroe airport

My dubious start to a flying career: anatomy of a checkride bust

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As I sat outside the examiner’s office, nursing my ego and doing some cursory flight planning for my return hop home, I heard him call my instructor over at KBFI, who undoubtedly was waiting to hear a glowing review of what an outstanding job I had done. As soon as the examiner started detailing the reason for my bust, however, I could hear my CFI’s shrill voice over the phone and through the closed door.

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Instrument approach G1000

Masters of the magenta – the real story

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Today, those seeking private pilot training have choices. There is now a fork in the road created by the introduction of TAA. Take the left fork to good old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants, look-out-the-window, finger-on-the-map flight training. Veer to the right and enter a world where bright lights, buttons and knobs take center stage.

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Short final at JFK

Visual or instrument approach? This one is both

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There are a number of places in the world where, for one operational reason or another, the standard mold just doesn’t fit. The river visual approach to 18 at DCA comes to mind, as does the Expressway visual to 31 at LGA. But the approach most people are at least mildly familiar with is the famous Canarsie approach at JFK.

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Mt Cook 600px

Friday Photo: Mt. Cook in New Zealand

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Mt. Cook is one of the most beautiful places on earth and a must-fly place for every pilot. What an adventure flying through the valleys of this mesmerizing scenery of glades, glaciers, fjords, off shore islands and mountains. Combine beautiful scenery and wonderfully warm, friendly, people and you have my most memorable flight experience in 39 years.

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Dick's Blog

Opinion and analysis from Richard Collins
Cessna 172

What’s wrong with Cessna 172 pilots?

By

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.

Memorial Day cemetery

A Memorial Day salute – please join in

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I usually write about private aviation but this starts out with an accident involving a military airplane – a long time ago… On November 22, 1952 a USAF C-124 crashed into Colony Glacier on Mount Garrett, 40 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska, where the airplane was supposed to land. The weather was awful and a distress call was received by a Northwest Orient passenger flight.

John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
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.

Aero Friedrichshafen show

General aviation in Europe is both inspiring and frightening

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For a crass American, AERO is a very civilized show, held in a beautiful convention center with great coffee and lively beer gardens. Oshkosh this isn’t. Beyond these mundane differences, though, the show offers a fascinating lesson for US pilots. If all you’ve heard is how awful things are for private pilots in Europe, let me offer a more complete – although not entirely rosy – portrait.

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
marine layer SF

Friday Photo: marine layer over San Francisco

By

Private pilot John Belnap was flying to Salinas, California for some weekend work when he snapped this amazing photo. A familiar sight for California pilots, it shows the marine layer rolling in around San Francisco. The low sun, reflected off the high wing of the Cessna, illuminates a beautiful scene.

Mt Cook 600px

Friday Photo: Mt. Cook in New Zealand

By

Mt. Cook is one of the most beautiful places on earth and a must-fly place for every pilot. What an adventure flying through the valleys of this mesmerizing scenery of glades, glaciers, fjords, off shore islands and mountains. Combine beautiful scenery and wonderfully warm, friendly, people and you have my most memorable flight experience in 39 years.