A trip to Mexico in the best of the worst airplanes ends in a costly fiasco
Friday Photo: FL430 from a Lear 45XR

Friday Photo: FL430 from a Lear 45XR

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Dear NASA: learning from my mistakes

Dear NASA: learning from my mistakes

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My night engine-out emergency

My night engine-out emergency

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Go or No Go: winter warm front

Go or No Go: winter warm front

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A Tri Pacer is not an Alaska bush plane

A Tri Pacer is not an Alaska bush plane

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Friday Photo: Chicago sunset

Friday Photo: Chicago sunset

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An interrupted checklist leads to some excitement

The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

Gulfstream in flight

Eight life lessons you learn as a pilot

New Articles

Our most recent posts
Arrow IV

A trip to Mexico in the best of the worst airplanes ends in a costly fiasco

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Most of the airplane’s weight was on the wings as we rolled across a furrow somewhat larger than the others about halfway through our takeoff run. Bouncing slightly, the momentary lack of weight on the wheels fooled the “foolproof” gear system into performing its duty. The left wheel, now unlocked and slightly off-center, collapsed as the plane’s weight returned to the wheels.

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Friday Photo: FL430 from a Lear 45XR

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Paul Bowen says, “This was taken on my first ever flight in the Lear 45 since my sim training at CAE Dallas West. Watching the sun set from 43,000ft on your first ever real jet flight is a truly unforgettable experience. And what better aircraft that the truly iconic Lear!”

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747 takeoff

Dear NASA: learning from my mistakes

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The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is where maintenance technicians, pilots, controllers, etc. can anonymously report inadvertent violations of regulations or unsafe conditions which resulted from their action (or inaction). I have never been deterred from submitting an ASRS report for a transgression, mistake or bad decision. And I’ve had plenty of material to work with.

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Freeway at night

My night engine-out emergency

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I could see the lights of Concord from a little south of Fairfield, so I turned south. This put us over an area of wetlands but highway 80 was within very easy gliding distance off to our right. Then it happened. Right over Suisun Bay where the Navy stores a large number of dilapidated ships, our engine decided to cough, sputter, lose all power.

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Go or No Go: winter warm front

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“Messy aviation weather today.” That’s what the forecaster wrote in the forecast discussion this morning and a look at the TV screen in the FBO at the Elkinds-Randolph County Airport (EKN) confirms that. The radar images shows lots of rain in the area and the forecast is for things to get worse. That’s mildly annoying, as you’d really like to get back home, a 1:15 flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Tri Pacer

A Tri Pacer is not an Alaska bush plane

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Taxiing took almost full throttle, and there was no way in which the plane would take off with the pilot and two passengers. We were now stuck on George’s choice of lakes. I suspected that we might have made the takeoff with a Piper Pacer, but with a nose gear poking down up front, there was no way we were leaving that small lake in our small, four-place tricycle-geared flying machine.

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Friday Photo: Chicago sunset

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Why we fly – that’s Scott Fernandez’s three word summary of this photo, and it explains pretty well the magic of being a pilot. Watching the last light fade from the western sky as you climb out in a light airplane is both exciting and peaceful, and it is indeed why we fly.

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Archerfield airport

Near miss in the pattern

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This very near-miss incident took place several years ago on a VFR approach to Archerfield (YBAF), in Queensland, Australia, a usually busy Class D general aviation training airfield adjacent to the state capital city of Brisbane, and it haunts me to this day. As a way of talking it out, I tender it here for my fellow pilots to read and consider and perhaps comment on.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
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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A Christmas book list for pilots: 18 top picks

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As social media and cable TV deteriorate into ill-informed shouting matches, I find myself reading more and more books. And as a book lover, Christmas means making my list and distributing it to family and friends. So in the spirit of the holidays I’ll offer my list of great aviation books.

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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
CDI flags

What is your technology telling you?

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We’d set up our GPS to fly from KPDK to KPUJ to perform the ILS/LOC 31 approach and then onto KRYY for the LOC 27 approach. Flying along, everything was going smoothly, heading and altitude right on the money. As I was vectored in for the ILS, things started to go sideways. As I turned on the approach path, I noticed my CDI #1 needles had the barber pole flags. “Hmm… ok… no big deal,” I thought.

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Bryce Canyon Airport

Hope is a bad plan in an airplane

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I graduated up the GA performance hierarchy through the usual suspects like the Piper Archer and the Cessna 182. But it was buying an RV-4 with an O-320 and a constant speed prop that freed me from all the pedestrian performance concerns of pilots flying lesser airplanes. Or so I thought.

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Grumman Cheetah

When a practice emergency becomes the real thing

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Everything looked perfect – too perfect as it turned out. I kept expecting Bob to advance the throttle (or tell me to) so we could fly out of there, but instead we kept getting lower, flying a final approach to the off-airport landing spot. I couldn’t quite believe it when Bob, instead of applying power and initiating the go-around, started a landing flare!

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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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A pilot’s dilemma: inoperative instruments or equipment

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A recent legal interpretation by the FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel (dated June 13, 2018) addresses the rule on operating an aircraft with any inoperative instruments or equipment, FAR 91.213. It gives us an opportunity to review this sometimes complex rule that has bedeviled many general aviation pilots and owners for years.

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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: FL430 from a Lear 45XR

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Paul Bowen says, “This was taken on my first ever flight in the Lear 45 since my sim training at CAE Dallas West. Watching the sun set from 43,000ft on your first ever real jet flight is a truly unforgettable experience. And what better aircraft that the truly iconic Lear!”

Read More

Friday Photo: Chicago sunset

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Why we fly – that’s Scott Fernandez’s three word summary of this photo, and it explains pretty well the magic of being a pilot. Watching the last light fade from the western sky as you climb out in a light airplane is both exciting and peaceful, and it is indeed why we fly.

Read More

Friday Photo: T-34 formation

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The T-34 Mentor has a long history as a military trainer, and training is exactly what Facha Reynaldez and Gabriel Freijo were doing when this photo was taken. But instead of a single T-34, this photo shows off four of them in formation over a dam south of Córdoba State, Argentina. The water an the sky are both blue, both the pilots were too busy watching their wingman to notice.

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