DC-3 red and white

Flying beyond a doubt: an epic DC-3 journey

Learning panes – who you are in the cockpit is who you really are

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Aeroflex-Andover airport

Student flight control jam

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This particular day Al was flying on his third hour of supervised solo, meaning these solo flights needed to be approved by me beforehand. Perhaps 20 minutes after his takeoff, Al called on the Unicom frequency: “Bob, I’ve got trouble with the controls.” I responded quickly. “What’s the trouble, Al?”“I can’t move the control wheel forward or back. It’s stuck a little aft of the neutral position.”

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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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Friday Photo: sunset in Denmark

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Fly 20 miles west of Copenhagen, Denmark, and you’ll find a beautiful coastline of islands and peninsulas. That’s where Natalie Kjaergaard was flying in her Aeroprakt A22 one afternoon when she took this beautiful photo of the sun going down over the water. Another classic sunset view from the left seat.

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Cessna 340

My favorite feature – a relief tube

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Everything was ready to go, except I really should go pee before we hop in the airplane…”Nah, I’ll just go when we get to our fuel stop in Kentucky.” Despite this being back in the stone age, we did have a GPS in the plane. Unfortunately I must not have been very adept at using it, because instead of the 20 knot quartering headwind that was forecast, this stupid thing kept saying I had 45 knots on the nose. “That can’t… be.. right…”

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Go or No Go: Rocky Mountain mess

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After 20 years of living in Colorado, you know that March weather in the Rockies means anything from blizzards to warm, spring-like days. Unfortunately the weather is closer to the first extreme for your planned trip tonight, a 1:30 flight from your home in Denver (BJC) to Provo, Utah (PVU), to visit your son in college.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
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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Gear handle

From now on, I’ll always…

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Airlines spend a lot of time crafting standard operating procedures (SOPs), which describe in exquisite detail how each part of a flight should be conducted. For the average private pilot, such formal SOPs are probably overkill and remove some of the flexibility that makes general aviation so rewarding. Instead, a few simple habits can prevent embarrassment – or worse.

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R44 hovering

What’s wrong with Robinson R44 pilots?

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Robinson R44 helicopters are death traps, right up there with Mitsubishi MU-2s and Cirrus SR22s – at least that’s according to a lot of articles you read online. But does it tell the whole story? In the spirit of Richard Collins’s very popular “What’s wrong with Cirrus/Mooney/Bonanza pilots” series of articles, I’d like to offer a more nuanced perspective.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
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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Dakota

A stupid decision: ignoring the oil pressure gauge

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I was pretty sure that we had an oil problem, but the oil temp and CHTs all seemed OK. About this time, the little voice in the back of everyone’s head had begun to chide me for not landing somewhere while things were just bothersome, not really a problem yet. Of course, I overruled it. Memo for file: pay more attention to little voices in the future.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Cessna on runway

The other 4 C’s of aviation

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We are taught the 4 C’s of aviation in primary training. When faced with difficulty, such as getting lost or flying VFR into IMC, the safest course of action is to Climb, Communicate, Confess and Comply with instructions. But there is another set of C’s that has become more relevant to me as my flying experience has progressed.

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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
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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Liftoff of Cessna

I had the sky to myself: my first solo at 16

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My takeoff was great and my landing was spectacular; “a greaser” as Dan would say. “Two more like that,” said Dan, “and I’ll let you fly solo!” My heart pounded. I knew I was close to my first solo, but now, with both parents right there with me? To say I was excited would have been a terrible understatement.

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Kids at airport

Aviation’s future: a young pilot’s perspective

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“We need more young pilots, like you,” is a statement that I find myself hearing quite often. I typically hear this coming from older pilots and I completely agree with them. But a lot of the older pilots that I know got into aviation because they were either in the military, or they grew up around an airport. Today, these are not usually the top reasons why people get involved in aviation.

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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: Angel Flight passenger

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For doctor and pilot Ruffin Benton, flying patients for Angel Flight is the most rewarding kind of trip. He took this photo on a recent flight to Baltimore with a patient on board. While she’s headed for tough cancer treatment, the picture is all about the peace of flight.

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Friday Photo: sunset in Denmark

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Fly 20 miles west of Copenhagen, Denmark, and you’ll find a beautiful coastline of islands and peninsulas. That’s where Natalie Kjaergaard was flying in her Aeroprakt A22 one afternoon when she took this beautiful photo of the sun going down over the water. Another classic sunset view from the left seat.

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Friday Photo: Chicago lights

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For John Banas, this flight was anything but routine. As he describes, it was the “first time my wife went flying with me. She’s somewhat of a white knuckle flyer, but she was thrilled with the view from the little Skyhawk. Chicago seems to be laid out specifically for people why fly GA aircraft at night.”

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