Hutchinson grandfather by Cirrus

The old man in the plane

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Don’t ruin a flying vacation with weather worries

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Friday Photo: two unique airplanes in one shot

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Here’s a pair of airplanes you don’t often see in the same picture: the giant Antonov AN-124 and the even rarer Boeing 747 Dreamlifter. Ernie Borjon was in the right place at the right time to see the Russian freighter take off while its smaller (not by much) rival sat on the ramp. The combined weight of these two heavy haulers is over 1.5 million pounds!

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Spitfire in flight

Flying the Spitfire—a real bucket list experience

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“Once-in-a-lifetime. Bucket list. Wish list.” Terms we often use to describe an out of the ordinary, incredible experience. While we toss these terms around quite frequently, how often do we actually experience something that deserves the moniker “once-in-a-lifetime?” I’m sure you’ll agree it’s pretty rare. Recently I participated in a genuine bucket list experience.

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A personal Go or No Go scenario – grade my decision

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I was trying to fly home to Cincinnati, Ohio, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the end of 2019, and the weather wasn’t great. The screenshots here are the actual ones I was looking at as I sat in the lobby in Pittsburgh, making my go/no-go decision. I’ll share the weather briefing, then ask you to add your comment about what you would do. Then, at the end, I’ll reveal what my decision was and what my thought process was.

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Upset

Why upset training just doesn’t work

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During my 45 years of observing and writing about aviation, pilot upset training is a topic that has waxed and waned. For the past few years the idea of learning how to recover from an extreme attitude is in ascendance. But the reason upset training emphasis falls in and out of favor is because it just doesn’t work.

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Friday Photo: a Diamond over Detroit

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Composite wings are good for a lot of things. While low drag is first on the list, they also do a great job of reflecting the colors of the sky, as this photo from Tim Crawford shows. The pinks and oranges from the sun are visible above, while the glowing lights of Detroit are visible below. Even better? This photo was taken on Tim’s wife’s first general aviation flight.

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DC-3 landing

The Ace Team: having a little fun in a DC-3

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I was taught to look ahead towards the end of the runway in the flare. Joe didn’t flare at all. He cut the power and the plane fell, the main gear with its large rubber tires hitting hard and bouncing 15 or 20 feet in the air. Joe pushed the yoke forward and we hit again, ballooning higher this time. “Go around power, Joe!” I yelled. But, no. Joe ignored me.

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Spitfire

Even Routine Flights Can Have Surprises in Store

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Not long after I had checked the weather on the club computer, I heard something through the open door. I rushed outside and saw a magnificent Spitfire passing by the tower, at high speed and low altitude. I was told that warbirds would be returning from an airshow that had taken place south of Paris, and that some of them would land in Le Touquet before getting back to their home base in the UK.

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Video tip: flying procedure turns

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Around major airports, vectors to final on an instrument approach are the norm. But outside radar coverage it’s common to fly a procedure turn to start an approach. This video tip reviews the basics of this maneuver, including when it’s required, what shape these turns take, and why the winds aloft matter. It’s a great 3-minute review for any instrument pilot.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Clouds off wing

The discipline to say no

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The most famous decision pilots make happens before we even get airborne: to go or not to go? But after a busy summer of flying, I have learned that this is actually one of the easiest decisions in aviation. Saying “no” may be stressful when you’re on the ground, desperate to fly, but it’s much harder once you’re in the air. Call it plan continuation bias or get-there-itis; whatever the name, it is a worthy opponent.

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ADS-B deviation

Thunderstorms and ATC – how to get from A to B when direct isn’t an option

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The good news is technology like datalink weather has made it a lot easier to manage convective weather. With ADS-B on my iPad or SiriusXM on my panel, it’s fairly simple to avoid the worst weather; it just takes patience and discipline to go all the way around it. Since most of my cross country flights are IFR, those long deviations require a lot of coordination with Air Traffic Control.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Snow and fog

Escape from the jaws of IMC

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I’m not proud of this event, and I hesitate to tell the story. But, it may trigger some preflight thoughts in another VFR pilot. I received some IFR training, both classroom and simulator, but decided to not pursue the rating because the airplane I acquired was not equipped. That worked very well until December 29, 2010.

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Griswold Airport

Read those NOTAMs!

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We cruised on down to the Long Island Sound shoreline to shoot the VOR-A approach into Griswold Airport (now closed). Griswold was private, but nothing said we couldn’t shoot a low approach. Local scuttlebutt alleged that a Griswold family owned the airport and that they were “crazy.”

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Bonanza bent metal

I damaged my airplane. Now what?

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About three years ago, I had an unfortunate incident with my airplane. I flew to a nearby airport to pick up my instructor for a couple of days of training. We typically did intensive IFR training but this year, I wanted to refresh some basic flying skills so we planned a combination of some VFR basics and some IFR.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Canyon

How to safely reduce the radius of your turn—in case you need to

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If you’re asked about the minimum ground turning radius of the airplane you fly, you probably know the number or at least you know where to find it in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH). What if the question is about the minimum turning radius when the airplane is flying? The answer might not be that simple, given the number of factors it depends on.

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Sectional

Learning Morse code in the 21st century

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I didn’t really need to be able to copy Morse code at full speed to recognize the two or three letters used to identify aviation navigational aids. Nonetheless, I thought I would give the Koch method a try and learn at low full speed. At the time I thought, “What could it take—a few weeks of working on it in the evening?

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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
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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Grandpa's logbook

Chasing my shadow

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It may have been falling apart – the cardboard and paper ripping at the seams and the ink slowly fading from its pages – but within it dwelled the memories and accomplishments of a young man striving to become a pilot. All of this I failed to realize as my grandpa’s logbook passed from his outstretched hands to mine just a few months before his death. Looking back, I wish I had explored the stories hidden within.

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: two unique airplanes in one shot

by

Here’s a pair of airplanes you don’t often see in the same picture: the giant Antonov AN-124 and the even rarer Boeing 747 Dreamlifter. Ernie Borjon was in the right place at the right time to see the Russian freighter take off while its smaller (not by much) rival sat on the ramp. The combined weight of these two heavy haulers is over 1.5 million pounds!

Read More

Friday Photo: a Diamond over Detroit

by

Composite wings are good for a lot of things. While low drag is first on the list, they also do a great job of reflecting the colors of the sky, as this photo from Tim Crawford shows. The pinks and oranges from the sun are visible above, while the glowing lights of Detroit are visible below. Even better? This photo was taken on Tim’s wife’s first general aviation flight.

Read More

Friday Photo: sunset over a tip tank

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There’s something about a Bonanza wing, especially when it has a tip tank at the end, that frames a picture so well. In this stunning shot, Karl Kleiderer shares the view from his A36 as he flew over Charlotte, North Carolina in search of fall colors. The sunset looks almost as if it were painted with a paint brush.

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