Alaska: if I can do it…

Alaska: if I can do it…

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Light Sport Aircraft aren’t selling well, but the LSA rule has still worked
Friday Photo: the Rio Grande

Friday Photo: the Rio Grande

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A long cross country and a lesson learned

A long cross country and a lesson learned

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The little airplane that could… and still does!
Go or No Go: VFR ahead of the front

Go or No Go: VFR ahead of the front

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The promise of proficiency

The promise of proficiency

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Friday Photo: airplanes, large and small

Friday Photo: airplanes, large and small

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Richard L. Collins

The second annual Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

Boeing 737 MAX

Can Boeing trust pilots?

New Articles

Our most recent posts

Alaska: if I can do it…

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I am a very average pilot. I got my Private Pilot’s license in 2008, my instrument rating a year later and have since been “working on my Commercial/CFI.” But in 2013, my cousin, John, talked me into flying to Alaska. I became drawn to Alaska’s vastness and rough and natural beauty.

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Tecnam

Light Sport Aircraft aren’t selling well, but the LSA rule has still worked

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Time to update an old debate: have Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) taken off in popularity over the last five years? Are Sport Pilot certificates more common now that the economy is stronger? At the risk of provoking another argument, my review of the data suggests no. The Light Sport world is still alive, but it’s a niche industry with few real winners. But there is a silver lining.

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Friday Photo: the Rio Grande

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The route south from Albuquerque, New Mexico, follows the Rio Grande as it winds from Colorado towards the US-Mexico border. Jason Harrison got a great picture of big river, a patch of green in the desert, as he cruised along in his Cessna 182. If nothing else, it’s a great way to check your navigation skills.

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Seneca

A long cross country and a lesson learned

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About an hour into the trip I received an alert from the multifunction display that the cylinder temperatures in my left engine were into the red zone. Checking the engine monitor, I saw that my fourth cylinder was indeed well above the red line. Oh boy! I immediately pulled the throttles, enriched the mixtures and opened the left cowl flap.

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Cessna 150

The little airplane that could… and still does!

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Many airports here in the Midwest have almost all of their aircraft locked securely inside, with the possible exception of a small ramp space for the less fortunate. As pilots whoosh past this area in their BMWs and Range Rovers, they may be vaguely aware of the diminutive and familiar shape of the Rodney Dangerfield of airplanes: the Cessna 150.

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Go or No Go: VFR ahead of the front

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Traveling by VFR airplane means staying flexible, especially in the winter months. That’s why you’re at the airport today: with a huge line of rain headed for the southeastern United States, you’ve cut short your visit to Savannah, Georgia, to see if you can get home to Tallahassee, Florida. Is there a safe way to make this flight?

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Centerline

The promise of proficiency

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Proficiency is a story of safety through constant practice, of acquiring experiences and then putting these experiences to hatch their possibilities. These experiences however must be taught to the “habit monster” within us to have the element of precision baked into them. All other non-precise experiences are side shows.

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Friday Photo: airplanes, large and small

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An airplane is an airplane: lift, thrust, weight, and drag apply to all of them. But as Ross Clarke shows in this Friday Photo, there is a tremendous variety of machines. Here, his 1300 lb. Jabiru is parked next to a retired Qantas 747, maximum weight of over 800,000 lbs. Which one would you have more fun flying?

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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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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Cub

Nodding off at 10 feet above the waves

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We usually climbed up to 400 or 500 feet and followed the Parkway toward home but I had a different plan. I was so damn tired I crossed the beach at Wildwood and dropped down to ten feet. The sun was low off my left. With the doors and windows open, a cool breeze and the near water would keep me awake.

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Route

Low on fuel: how I almost become that guy (or gal)!

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The one accident that I smugly assumed could never happen to me was fuel exhaustion—after all, is there any pilot error that is more avoidable? I always plan in excess of FAA minimums. So how did I find myself surrounded by widespread IFR conditions as night was falling in the White Mountains, watching my fuel gauge fall below an hour when I was still 15 minutes from the nearest airport?

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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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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Centerline

The promise of proficiency

by

Proficiency is a story of safety through constant practice, of acquiring experiences and then putting these experiences to hatch their possibilities. These experiences however must be taught to the “habit monster” within us to have the element of precision baked into them. All other non-precise experiences are side shows.

Read More
Garmin autopilot

When to disengage the autopilot

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A real hardware/software failure of an autopilot could lead to a dangerous situation, but so can pilot mismanagement of a fully functioning autopilot. The results are essentially the same in either situation—the pilot in command is not fully in control of the airplane.

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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: the Rio Grande

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The route south from Albuquerque, New Mexico, follows the Rio Grande as it winds from Colorado towards the US-Mexico border. Jason Harrison got a great picture of big river, a patch of green in the desert, as he cruised along in his Cessna 182. If nothing else, it’s a great way to check your navigation skills.

Read More

Friday Photo: airplanes, large and small

by

An airplane is an airplane: lift, thrust, weight, and drag apply to all of them. But as Ross Clarke shows in this Friday Photo, there is a tremendous variety of machines. Here, his 1300 lb. Jabiru is parked next to a retired Qantas 747, maximum weight of over 800,000 lbs. Which one would you have more fun flying?

Read More

Friday Photo: chasing the shadow

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Even after 10,000 hours, Claudia Garces loves the thrill of landing. Of course, when your airport is 4,950 ft above sea level, in the middle of a city surrounded by mountains, it is a little more interesting. “Every landing is an exercise of concentration and precision, and that’s exactly what makes it special.”

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