A rusty pilot takes to the skies again

A rusty pilot takes to the skies again

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Reader question: in what year did you first solo and what was the airplane?
How many second chances do you get?

How many second chances do you get?

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Friday Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park

Friday Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park

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VFR to Russia? No problem!

VFR to Russia? No problem!

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Read those NOTAMs!

Read those NOTAMs!

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Volare: the family circle of fliers

Volare: the family circle of fliers

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Friday Photo: Isla Palomino

Friday Photo: Isla Palomino

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Beech Starship

Why the Starship was such a disaster

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

11 things you must do with your pilot’s license

New Articles

Our most recent posts
Cherokee

A rusty pilot takes to the skies again

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Fast forward 35+ years and I was once again inspired by my father to get back into aviation, this time as a result of an agonizing four hour road trip to visit my parents (now in their 80s). I wondered if it would be easier to fly instead, so I purchased my first airplane in the fall of 2017, a “new to me” 1966 Piper Cherokee 180! Always a Cessna guy, I’m not sure how I ended up with a Cherokee.

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Mooney

How many second chances do you get?

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We thought our most exciting memories were behind us. Everything was going great; the sun was about to set and, in an instant, we lost everything but the motor. No radios. No lights. No electrical instruments. And no ideas – yet. We got through the checklist and decided we had lost our alternator.

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Friday Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park

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Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning 265,000 acre park in northern Colorado, famous for the Trail Ridge Road and its spectacular vistas. In this Friday Photo, Daniel Hesselius shares his unique view of the park, one that’s even better than the Trail Ridge Road. He took this photo from the left seat of his Baron as he cruised back to Denver in clear skies.

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Route to Russia

VFR to Russia? No problem!

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This past July, we joined the Alaska Airmen Association and Circumpolar Expeditions on a group flight from Nome, Alaska, to Provideniya, Russia. The trip served two purposes: one as a goodwill mission to the Chukotka region of Russia and the other to keep the route between Nome and Provideniya open.

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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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Pilot in Cessna

Volare: the family circle of fliers

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Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.” Most who live by those words are fliers, in one way or another. Try to think of an avocation, a passion, an adventure, that doesn’t involve the release of a person or object from gravity’s surly bonds. They know the moment of flight where the daring adventure of life is attained.

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Friday Photo: Isla Palomino

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Sometimes everything comes together: a high wing airplane, a beautiful Caribbean island, and a friend to share the flight with. That’s what Reinaldo Marquez shares in this Friday Photo, and it looks pretty good to us. The view is of Isla Palomino beach, on the southern edge of a small island just off the coast of Puerto Rico.

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airline pilots

When pilots have too much experience

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As pilots we spend our flying careers amassing hours of experience. Our skill and competence, and qualification for new ratings, and certainly for flying jobs, is largely based on our hours of logged experience. But when does a pilot have too much experience? In other words, when do the number of years logged since birth matter more than the number of hours in the logbook?

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
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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Cessna 210 in flight

Why I love it, why I hate it: Cessna 210

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Every airplane model has a personality; some even have a stereotype. So when a friend recently asked what I thought of the Cessna 210 Centurion, I hesitated. I felt qualified to offer an opinion since I flew one for about five years in the early 2000s, but I also felt obligated to go beyond cliches. I have very fond memories of the 210, but it is a love it/hate it type of airplane – its strengths are unique, and its weaknesses are maddening.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
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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Fuel truck

I almost ran the tanks dry

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It was four-plus decades ago, on my solo cross-country as a student pilot flying from Salem to John Day and back, that I almost ran the tanks dry. So in the spirit of learning from others’ mistakes, I offer this true-life-student-pilot experience.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Citabria on grass runway

Always read the fine print

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It was pretty obvious that some folks hadn’t cracked open their respective book(s) in a long time. Those who had studied their documents, tended to be familiar with the BIG PRINT stuff, like their Normal Procedures sections and Emergency checklists, but were not so well-versed when it came to the various Notes, Warnings, and Cautions found throughout. There’s a lot of free, but hard-earned, wisdom in that fine print, all intended to protect life and limb.

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John Wise CFI

Lessons from a later bloomer CFI – and why you should be one too

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A CFI friend who worked with me on this rating told me that I would probably ruin the lives of my students for the first 100 hours that I instructed. It was true, but hopefully not that bad. As of this writing, I have over 700 instructing hours in most every single-engine trainer out there, and I have evolved in my thinking about this whole business of training homo sapiens to safely take to the skies.

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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
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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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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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park

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Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning 265,000 acre park in northern Colorado, famous for the Trail Ridge Road and its spectacular vistas. In this Friday Photo, Daniel Hesselius shares his unique view of the park, one that’s even better than the Trail Ridge Road. He took this photo from the left seat of his Baron as he cruised back to Denver in clear skies.

Read More

Friday Photo: Isla Palomino

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Sometimes everything comes together: a high wing airplane, a beautiful Caribbean island, and a friend to share the flight with. That’s what Reinaldo Marquez shares in this Friday Photo, and it looks pretty good to us. The view is of Isla Palomino beach, on the southern edge of a small island just off the coast of Puerto Rico.

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Friday Photo: sharing the sky

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I hadn’t been to the Reading WWII Weekend at KRDG in many years. As I was going through my photos picking out the best shot of each airplane in the show I stumbled across this shot of the P-51 along with a small winged friend sharing the sky. I’d love to say, it was planned, but it wasn’t. Never saw the bird while making the photo.

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