Hutchinson grandfather by Cirrus

The old man in the plane

DC-3 red and white

Flying beyond a doubt: an epic DC-3 journey

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Friday Photo: snowy Teton

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Grand Teton National Park never disappoints, with soaring peaks and a flat valley floor below. Even better is when the mountains are draped in snow. That’s the view Charlie Tillett had from his Piper Meridian recently, as he shares in this Friday Photo. From 20,000 feet it looks peaceful and majestic. From the ground it might look cold.

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Lake at sunset

Fifteen minutes at dusk

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N5434A accelerated in her usual manner and soon I was checking airspeed looking for my 75-knot rotation point. Then, in the landing light, my heart seemed to explode as I saw a full line of deer spread across the runway from edge to edge and beyond. The turbo governor had already stabilized at full throttle travel, so with no additional throttle left, it was ground effect or nothing.

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Hackneys

On becoming an old, new pilot

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We’ve all got our stories as to how we got into general aviation. This is mine. I just started a bit later. OK – a LOT later than most. OK – virtually later than all other folks I have since met who fly. I was 56 when I started my flying instruction and 57 when I passed my licensing check ride. The key is, it doesn’t matter when or how you started – what matters is that you stuck with it and finished.

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Snowy field

Whiteout in a Cub

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My plane had no instruments for flying in the clouds, and no radio for communication. Visual Flight Rules were the only option, and that didn’t look too promising. The time of go or no-go was approaching rapidly. The low ceiling would not be a problem if it held. Young and foolish? Yes, but the decision was made.

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Friday Photo: wilderness camping

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Flying is usually about the journey, not the destination, but this Friday Photo might be an exception. Jim Mateski shares a photo of his campsite at the Shearer wilderness airstrip in Idaho, complete with a hammock and a Piper Super Cruiser. As he says, the plan was, “Solitude, hammock sleeping, a good book, and great native cutthroat fly fishing.”

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Lakes by Grove

Medical crisis on a solo cross-country

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I had just taken off from Aurora, Missouri (2H2) heading toward Grove, Oklahoma (KGMJ), flying at an altitude of 4,500 feet. I was a student pilot, and this was my first solo cross-country experience. Everything seemed to be a pretty standard day; the weather was nice. The one big mistake I made I had no way of knowing or preparing for, but it happened all the same.

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Scott Crossfield picture

Erasing four decades of regret, and remembering a friend

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A short message… “If this is the Jay Miller who was Ray Tenhoff’s friend, would you please call me?” A phone number followed. Thus began – unknowingly for me at that moment – a closure that I had considered unattainable for just over 40 years. Four decades of regret were about to be erased absolutely and unequivocally by the kindness of a person I had never known.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Richard L. Collins

What I learned from Richard Collins

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One year ago, aviation lost a legend. Richard Collins left behind such a huge volume of writing over his 60+ year career that pilots will find rich rewards from re-reading his work. In general, the lessons he reminds me of seem to center around four main ideas: building margins, managing weather, respecting technology, and flying for transportation.

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Triple Tree fly-in

5 good things about general aviation in 2019

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I like to pause every few years and consider what’s going right in aviation. Call me a naive optimist if you like, but I still see a lot to appreciate, from the thousands of airports in the US to the relative openness of our airspace to the strong experimental aircraft movement. These trends are old news; five newer ones caught my attention at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in last week, and I think they bode well for pilots.

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Instrument flight

Do we need a basic instrument rating?

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Would more pilots fly IFR if it were easier to get an instrument rating? Would it improve aviation safety if they did? A recent proposal by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to create a “basic instrument rating” should have pilots asking those exact questions, and not just in Europe.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Snowy field

Whiteout in a Cub

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My plane had no instruments for flying in the clouds, and no radio for communication. Visual Flight Rules were the only option, and that didn’t look too promising. The time of go or no-go was approaching rapidly. The low ceiling would not be a problem if it held. Young and foolish? Yes, but the decision was made.

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Windsock

I can’t believe I did that… and that… and that

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I was distracted by early arrival of a passenger while adding a quart of oil, and closed the cowl without replacing the oil filler cap. That meant that a short while later, at 5000 ft on a thank-God CAVU day, I saw a trickle of oil on the cowl, and the oil pressure needle at the bottom of the green and headed down.

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Wingtip damage

One of those days I should have stayed home

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In a ten-day span pockmarked by GA incidents and accidents, a WWII era T-6 wound up engulfed in flames on the Southern California 101 Freeway; other aircraft landed on city streets and highways without incident and wound up on the local evening news. Yours truly joined the ranks of those involved in a GA mishap.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Static cone 737

What is that dragging behind the Boeing 737 MAX in TV news video?

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I’m sure you’ve seen video of a Boeing 737 lifting off as yet another news reader drones on about the MCAS troubles in the MAX version of the world’s most popular airliner. If you watched closely, you have seen what looks like a wire or tube with a cone on the end trailing from the top of the rudder.What the heck is that thing, and why is the 737 dragging it through the air?

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Weather Geek

Understanding Mother Nature
Radar map

The two rules of weather flying

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It’s when you start to plan longer trips, over several hours or several days, that you develop a deeper understanding of how to navigate the atmosphere. And for me there are two principles that guide my thinking on these journeys: the weather will always change; and, it’s always scarier on the computer screen!

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500mb chart

How dynamics and thermodynamics create weather

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As a pilot, you know that the atmosphere is constantly evolving. The changes in precipitation, cloud types, and hazards you see all link back to changes in temperature, pressure, and forces. Understanding weather means understanding the two main meteorological processes behind weather changes: dynamics and thermodynamics.

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How to use a Skew-T Log-P diagram

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Whether you’re a high or low altitude pilot, you can see how the temperature and amount of moisture in the air changes as you rise and descend through the atmosphere. How can we better understand these vertical changes to improve weather safety and awareness? Let’s get acquainted with a meteorological diagram called a Skew-T Log-P.

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Young Pilots

Stories from the next generation
Lakes by Grove

Medical crisis on a solo cross-country

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I had just taken off from Aurora, Missouri (2H2) heading toward Grove, Oklahoma (KGMJ), flying at an altitude of 4,500 feet. I was a student pilot, and this was my first solo cross-country experience. Everything seemed to be a pretty standard day; the weather was nice. The one big mistake I made I had no way of knowing or preparing for, but it happened all the same.

Read More
Hutchinson grandfather by Cirrus

The old man in the plane

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This article was the winning entry in the inaugural Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. Over 60 young pilots sent in articles for consideration, and after reading them all our distinguished panel of judges (including Richard’s son) selected Emma Hutchinson as the winner of the $2,500 award. We hope you’ll agree that this moving article is a fine tribute to a great writer and pilot.

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Trueblood in airplane

What draws us skyward?

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Obviously there are exceptions, but I would say that most of us either had the aviation bug since we were kids or we took a ride in an airplane that forever had us looking up. For me I just always had the bug. As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to fly.

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: snowy Teton

by

Grand Teton National Park never disappoints, with soaring peaks and a flat valley floor below. Even better is when the mountains are draped in snow. That’s the view Charlie Tillett had from his Piper Meridian recently, as he shares in this Friday Photo. From 20,000 feet it looks peaceful and majestic. From the ground it might look cold.

Read More

Friday Photo: wilderness camping

by

Flying is usually about the journey, not the destination, but this Friday Photo might be an exception. Jim Mateski shares a photo of his campsite at the Shearer wilderness airstrip in Idaho, complete with a hammock and a Piper Super Cruiser. As he says, the plan was, “Solitude, hammock sleeping, a good book, and great native cutthroat fly fishing.”

Read More

Friday Photo: Ohio sunset from a 172

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I am so fortunate to be able to see and do things like this. When I took this picture the only thing I could think about was that the people I am flying above right now will probably never see what my two eyes are seeing right now at this very moment. It is such an honor and a privilege to be able to see views like this from an airplane.

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