airline pilots

When pilots have too much experience

7 instrument approaches you have to see to believe

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On final

That radio is there for communication: a close call

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All went well, I reported final on 07, and was getting ready to perform a smooth touch down right past the threshold. Then, about one minute before touch down, I heard somebody saying something like, “LZPT taking off runway 25.” I was not sure I heard right. I mean, I just reported my final about a minute ago. Surely anybody on the frequency, let alone a pilot sitting in his aircraft about to take off, must have heard me?

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Mooney 201

The magical Mooney

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Richard Collins often told me that the Mooney was a cult airplane. And he was right. While all pilots would brag about how fast their airplane was, and how much it could carry, and how fast it climbed, and how far it went on full tanks, Mooney owners focused on one thing. How fast they flew on so little fuel.

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Friday Photo: early evening in a Cub

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This photo was taken on the return leg of a day trip to Osceola, Wisconsin, from the Twin Cities, where there is still a grass runway to play on with this fun little taildragger. After a few landings with the wire and cork gas gauge telling us it was time to take a break, we took the courtesy car into the beautiful old town area for a look at Cascade Falls and lunch. Back to the airport for some gas, a few more times around the patch for good measure and then back home to finish off a perfect day of aviating.

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Walking to airplane

Flying out of the pandemic

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With the honorable exception of the freighters, fighting the pandemic directly and covering for most of the belly cargo network lost due to the lack of passenger flights, pretty much everyone else in aviation has been flying less, perhaps not at all, during the last couple months. That is not healthy, either for humans or machines.

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18X on ramp

Beast on Paris Mountain: racing a thunderstorm

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We banked north and both of us saw what had been developing while we were engrossed in our pattern work. There was a beast sitting on top of Paris Mountain and it seemed intent on eating airplanes. KGMU was in front of us at around one thousand feet of elevation. Paris Mountain was only four nautical miles north, extending another thousand feet above that. The beast stood a few thousand feet over Paris—close and imposing.

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Cirrus jet

Threat and Error Management for the GA Pilot

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“Threat and Error Management” has become synonymous with the airline industry and particularly within the major carriers who, due to the sheer scale of operations, require structured solutions to risk. This does not mean we are risk adverse as an industry; it can’t by the very nature of what we do. But it does mean we have to manage risk in a way that always keeps us in the middle of the envelope.

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Friday Photo: Lake Champlain

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Lake Champlain, lying north to south and bordered by the Adirondacks to the west and Green Mountains to the east, represents one of the beautiful natural environments to fly. Even when life feels overwhelming, flying is a reminder of a sense of calm and distraction and the good fortune of being a pilot.

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Autothrottle

Automated flight—are you ready?

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Only a few years ago, a fully integrated automatic flight control system (AFCS) with an autothrottle was the sole domain of the air transport aircraft and heavy iron business jets. However, today’s AFCS with autothrottle (AT) are becoming common on single engine turboprops. Are you ready?

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Cub

What will general aviation look like after COVID-19?

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Making predictions about COVID-19 is a fool’s errand right now, with a year’s worth of news happening in a week. But that doesn’t mean we can’t think in broad outlines about the future of flying. I’m obviously biased because I love light airplanes and the freedom they offer, but I genuinely believe general aviation will come out of this crisis stronger. This isn’t just wishful thinking; there are reasons to be optimistic.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Sunset

Why is it so dark? An important lesson learned

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About an hour into that leg, I noticed something disconcerting. It was getting dark, and it was only 7:30. All my questions about why this was happening didn’t stop it from happening, and by 8:00 PM, it was totally dark. It had never dawned on me that I lived on the western side of the central time zone, and that on the eastern side of that time zone, things were quite a bit different.

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Gray clouds

Your eyes have the deciding vote—my thunderstorm encounter

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I observed a huge gray mass of clouds directly in front of me. As a relatively new instrument rated pilot with minimal actual IMC time, it looked pretty intimidating to me. So I called ATC and asked if they were painting any weather along my route back to PDK. ATC advised that there was no significant weather between me and PDK. That gave me considerable comfort.

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Stellar Airpark

Don’t take things for granted

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was a traffic watch pilot in Phoenix, Arizona. Radio station KTAR provided the on-air reporter and the FBO at Deer Valley provided the Grumman AA-1C aircraft and pilots. The AA-1C certainly wasn’t the ideal aircraft for the task. It didn’t perform well in high density altitude operations. On a hot day with full fuel it would barely make it to 5500 feet.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Cirrus jet

Threat and Error Management for the GA Pilot

by

“Threat and Error Management” has become synonymous with the airline industry and particularly within the major carriers who, due to the sheer scale of operations, require structured solutions to risk. This does not mean we are risk adverse as an industry; it can’t by the very nature of what we do. But it does mean we have to manage risk in a way that always keeps us in the middle of the envelope.

Read More
Autothrottle

Automated flight—are you ready?

by

Only a few years ago, a fully integrated automatic flight control system (AFCS) with an autothrottle was the sole domain of the air transport aircraft and heavy iron business jets. However, today’s AFCS with autothrottle (AT) are becoming common on single engine turboprops. Are you ready?

Read More
172 on final approach

What to practice with limited flying time

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No matter what you fly or why, you’re certainly doing less flying now as the country tries to survive the Covid-19 virus. So how can we get the most effective practice and proficiency retention out of the limited flying we can do? Practicing landing is important, for sure, but I think there are some other maneuvers that can test and refine your skills more effectively in less flying time.

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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
Chandler and dad

Pilot in command

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The fuel gauges were now bouncing between below a quarter tank and below half a tank. I knew we had enough fuel, but what was up ahead was not looking good. There was a thin layer of wispy, white clouds below us that allowed us to see the ground, so we continued. This lured us into a false sense of security that it was going to stay that way.

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Richard L. Collins

The second annual Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

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The Richard Collins family has once again partnered with Sporty’s to offer The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. To qualify, the writer must be a pilot (including student pilot) who is 24 years of age or younger. The article must be original, not previously published, and no longer than 1,500 words. The topic should be an event that changed or shaped the author’s flying.

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Ben Siepser

Into the fog: a kid’s view of IFR flying

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“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave,” my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding.” No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude,” my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: early evening in a Cub

by

This photo was taken on the return leg of a day trip to Osceola, Wisconsin, from the Twin Cities, where there is still a grass runway to play on with this fun little taildragger. After a few landings with the wire and cork gas gauge telling us it was time to take a break, we took the courtesy car into the beautiful old town area for a look at Cascade Falls and lunch. Back to the airport for some gas, a few more times around the patch for good measure and then back home to finish off a perfect day of aviating.

Read More

Friday Photo: Lake Champlain

by

Lake Champlain, lying north to south and bordered by the Adirondacks to the west and Green Mountains to the east, represents one of the beautiful natural environments to fly. Even when life feels overwhelming, flying is a reminder of a sense of calm and distraction and the good fortune of being a pilot.

Read More

Friday Photo: Cheyenne Bottoms

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The ecological significance of Cheyenne Bottoms is impressive. It is estimated that 45% of the North American shorebird population stops at the Bottoms during spring migration. It was a beautifully calm morning in Kansas and it was a true joy to see the area from above. Flying brings us so many different perspectives!

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