From high to low, look out below

From high to low, look out below

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An ode to flying – and why it’s different from piloting
Was it really pilot error – or was it something else?
Eight life lessons you learn as a pilot

Eight life lessons you learn as a pilot

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Video tip: angle of attack

Video tip: angle of attack

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Friday Photo: Grand Island Mansion

Dan and grandfather

Dad, I really have to go!

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Our most recent posts

Friday Photo: Grand Island Mansion

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California pilot Rick Torres shares this week’s cockpit photo, and it’s a unique place. The Grand Island Mansion was once a celebrity destination in California. Today, the lush grounds take you back in a time portal to the speakeasy days of the 1930s. You can just imagine the famous guests arriving by paddle boat for an extravagant weekend.

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Dan and grandfather

Dad, I really have to go!

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Those are not the words you want to hear at 4,500 feet, right around sunset in unfamiliar territory. They came from my nine year old son, Dan, back in mid-May of 1978. We were on our way in a Cessna 172 from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Hanscom Field, just outside of Boston.

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Altimeter

From high to low, look out below

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They elected to make the first pass quite dramatic by keeping their speed high as they approached from the north. Ray leveled out at exactly 8,200 feet and aimed straight at the peak; Chug’s camera was rolling. In what they both said was a very sudden, terrifying moment, the airplane kicked to the left in a yaw condition then hit some moderate turbulence, and then they were looking only yards ahead at the radio tower on the peak of Highwood Baldy, well above their altitude.

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Friday Photo: Glass House Mountains, Australia

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The Sunshine Coast in Australia is a beautiful place to fly, and Gerard Merchant captures the scenery beautifully in this Friday Photo, taken from the cockpit of his Cessna 172. The Glass House Mountains, a group of hills that pop up from the coastal plains of Queensland, are draped in shadow as the early morning sun breaks through the clouds.

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Cessna crash

Was it really pilot error – or was it something else?

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The oft-quoted statistic is that about 85-percent of the accidents in private aviation are caused by pilot error. I always had the nagging suspicion that what that really means is that in 15-percent of the accidents they can find cause with something other than the pilot so that just naturally means that the rest get blamed on the pilot instead of on some failure or fault in the training and regulatory system.

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Gulfstream in flight

Eight life lessons you learn as a pilot

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Becoming a pilot changes who you are, even if you don’t realize it at first. Sure, there are the practical lessons about math, physics, and engineering you don’t encounter in everyday life. But as a recent trip through my logbook proved, aviation offers courses in the humanities as well as the hard sciences.

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Video tip: angle of attack

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Angle of attack is a hot topic in aviation right now, with the FAA promoting new indicators and flight instructors offering courses on how to fly it. But what does this phrase really mean? In this month’s video tip, we explore the essentials of AOA, from the aerodynamics to the avionics.

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F-4C Phantom on ramp

Shot down over North Vietnam

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Without any electronic gear onboard to warn us of active SAM sites, there was no way for us to know that at that very moment a Soviet-built SA-2 missile was streaking its way towards our Phantom from directly behind us, “Dead 6 o’clock,” in fighter pilot lingo. Just as the original lead aircraft rolled back to a wings-level position a mile to our left and reacquired us visually, the SAM struck our F-4 too late to shout a warning.

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Dick's Blog

Opinion and analysis from Richard Collins
Cessna crash

Was it really pilot error – or was it something else?

by

The oft-quoted statistic is that about 85-percent of the accidents in private aviation are caused by pilot error. I always had the nagging suspicion that what that really means is that in 15-percent of the accidents they can find cause with something other than the pilot so that just naturally means that the rest get blamed on the pilot instead of on some failure or fault in the training and regulatory system.

Read More
Instrument approach from cockpit

The complex art of finding the IFR Sweet Spot

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There’s a big difference between finding the VFR and the IFR sweet spot on an arrival. Weather doesn’t play much of a role when it’s really VFR and it plays a humongous role when it is IFR. In fact, weather determines the location of the IFR sweet spot. Sweetest of all would be when the runway pops into view at minimums with the airplane speed and configuration in perfect order.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Gulfstream in flight

Eight life lessons you learn as a pilot

by

Becoming a pilot changes who you are, even if you don’t realize it at first. Sure, there are the practical lessons about math, physics, and engineering you don’t encounter in everyday life. But as a recent trip through my logbook proved, aviation offers courses in the humanities as well as the hard sciences.

Read More

I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Luscombe

Miracle at Mojave: surviving an airplane crash

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At an altitude of about 50 feet, the airplane stalled and Gus lost control. Given our present situation, a team of engineers, analyzing every available factor, would be hard pressed to come up with a set of circumstances that would make this event survivable. I closed my eyes just before the lights went out.

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VFR on top of clouds

VFR on top… for a long time

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Slowly but surely, my outs — the airports that I intended to be able to land at if need be, began to close up. First was Baton Rouge, as the overcast quickly engulfed the airport to IFR. I also noticed that the TAF had been amended to include IFR conditions for most of the remaining day. Next was New Orleans. Now the gravity of the situation began to take hold in my mind. What if everything closes up?

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: Grand Island Mansion

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California pilot Rick Torres shares this week’s cockpit photo, and it’s a unique place. The Grand Island Mansion was once a celebrity destination in California. Today, the lush grounds take you back in a time portal to the speakeasy days of the 1930s. You can just imagine the famous guests arriving by paddle boat for an extravagant weekend.

Read More

Friday Photo: Glass House Mountains, Australia

by

The Sunshine Coast in Australia is a beautiful place to fly, and Gerard Merchant captures the scenery beautifully in this Friday Photo, taken from the cockpit of his Cessna 172. The Glass House Mountains, a group of hills that pop up from the coastal plains of Queensland, are draped in shadow as the early morning sun breaks through the clouds.

Read More

Friday Photo: sunset on a first flight

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Taking a son or daughter for a first flight in a general aviation airplane is enough to make a flight memorable. For pilot Eric Villiger, though, his sunset flight in his Cessna 150 was even better because his daughter shot this beautiful picture on final for runway 25 at Indy Regional Airport. The lights of the runway contrast against the warm colors of the sunset to make a gorgeous view.

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