They’re worried, will you search?

They’re worried, will you search?

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Not exactly an F-14, but that’s OK

Not exactly an F-14, but that’s OK

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High wing or low wing? Ask Mother Nature

High wing or low wing? Ask Mother Nature

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Learning to fly high after loss

Learning to fly high after loss

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Friday Photo: Florida sunset

Friday Photo: Florida sunset

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Aviation Education to the Masses: How do we do it?

Aviation Education to the Masses: How do we do it?

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Ferrying a 1946 Auster J2 through Australia

Ferrying a 1946 Auster J2 through Australia

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A student pilot learns an important lesson
Pilot in Cessna

Volare: the family circle of fliers

From the archives: Leighton Collins flies a 747 to Paris

New Articles

Our most recent posts
Crash sequence

They’re worried, will you search?

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This is a chronicle of events of a search operation requested by a worried family when their loved one did not arrive from a short instrument flight. I got up on October 6, 2015, to a gloomy, overcast morning. After lunch my cell phone started to vibrate and when I answered it was Jim from the FBO office at the Chadron Airport. He explained that a V-tail Beechcraft had left Chadron for Alliance midmorning and had not arrived.

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Not exactly an F-14, but that’s OK

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I had a 1943 Taylorcraft L2-M that I bought from a rancher from Lusk, Wyoming, north of Torrington (where I live), back in 1977. My dad heard about it and we flew up there and went out to the ranch to take a look. The guy actually had it in an open front shed, with nothing but a rope with some rags hanging off it, to keep the animals out. What kind of animals, you ask? Why, buffalo, of course!

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Pterodactyl

High wing or low wing? Ask Mother Nature

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I agonized over this for a very long time before I bought my first airplane. It seems to be one of those endless hangar discussions that divides pilots into one of three camps that almost serves as a form of introduction. And so, “Hi, my name is Dan, I’m a high-wing guy. How about you? Oh, you like low wing aircraft because you can see the numbers as you turn base to final?”

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Mayumi Nakano

Learning to fly high after loss

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In July 2019, I finally obtained my private pilot license. It took me seven years. Being a pilot had not been in the cards for me. It wasn’t even on my bucket list, because I didn’t like flying and had no interest in airplanes. People seem to have solid reasons why they undergo the vigorous flight training, which takes considerable time and effort. So why did I become a pilot? Here is my story.

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Friday Photo: Florida sunset

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Sunsets are spectacular anytime airplanes are involved, and this Friday Photo proves that you don’t even have to be flying for that to be true. Kent Meyer took this gorgeous photo as the sun set over his Challenger 350, on the ramp at Inverness, Florida. It’s enough to make you want to drive to the airport and go chase the sun.

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Young Eagles

Aviation Education to the Masses: How do we do it?

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While we were hanging onto the balloon to keep it on the ground, a group of high school age kids approached us. They were obviously super excited about being up and close with it, which is great—I love seeing it. But after conversing I realized that they didn’t understand general aviation at all. What I gathered from them was that everything with flying seemed out of reach.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
172 on short final

Stop calling it the impossible turn

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Pilots love a good debate, and some topics seem to come in and out of fashion like bell bottoms. Right now the wars over lean of peak and angle of attack indicators have cooled (thankfully), but the war over “the impossible turn” seems to be heating up. In the last few months I’ve seen multiple articles, videos, and forum threads on the subject. It’s fun to debate, but what problem are we trying to solve here?

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Rough River

Are pilots rediscovering how to travel by light airplane?

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By long standing tradition, baseball players never talk to a pitcher in the middle of a perfect game—if everything is going well, why jinx it? The same mindset applies to pilots, who are often hesitant to acknowledge good news for fear of chasing it away. I’m going to violate that unwritten rule because I think it’s worth exploring an interesting development: general aviation is doing surprisingly well during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cessna 172

Five airplanes every pilot should fly

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While all airplanes have stories to tell, some are more important and more interesting than others. Here are five I believe should be in every pilot’s logbook or on their to-do list. These aren’t necessarily the best or most exciting airplanes ever to take to the skies, but they define specific ages in general aviation and make up the rich history of our industry. Call it the general aviation canon.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Fog on runway

Approach to oblivion

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Another low-pressure system was making its way through the Carolinas and into the Northeast corridor with enough attendant weather to bring low IMC to most of the Northeast itself. I had a flight in the morning to Salisbury, MD, then to Richmond, VA, and then back home to Chester County, PA—all forecast to be at or near minimums, or possibly even below. This posed a real problem.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Turning final

High energy approaches: student edition

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Recently, a video of a Cessna 172 crash into a hangar after landing in Canada went viral. The student pilot got out of it with minor injuries, but the fact that he was just another one saved by Cessna’s generous engineers underscores a critical point in training that might have been overlooked. It is a systemic issue across the industry, and it has to be mitigated, like any threat.

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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: Florida sunset

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Sunsets are spectacular anytime airplanes are involved, and this Friday Photo proves that you don’t even have to be flying for that to be true. Kent Meyer took this gorgeous photo as the sun set over his Challenger 350, on the ramp at Inverness, Florida. It’s enough to make you want to drive to the airport and go chase the sun.

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Friday Photo: Puget Sound fun

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Puget Sound in Washington is an ideal place for a general aviation airplane. The distances are short, but roads are few, so a quick flight can take you a world away from the busy streets of Seattle. In this picture from Kevin Knight, Mother Nature gets an assist, as the sun breaks through a broken layer of clouds, highlighting the water below.

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