Hutchinson grandfather by Cirrus

The old man in the plane

DC-3 red and white

Flying beyond a doubt: an epic DC-3 journey

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Friday Photo: California poppy bloom

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The Walker Canyon poppy bloom made national news for its beautiful scenery. But Fred Greensite had the best view: “Vastly more extensive, and much more awe-inspiring, than the ground level media views online and on TV had indicated. The mountains looked like they were on fire. The throngs of people arriving by car and exploring on foot missed out on so much.”

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Cherokee takeoff

Early flight adventures – and errors

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At takeoff speed I commenced rotation, but the Cherokee just didn’t want to lift off and the controls were heavy. Being a newly-soloed student, I muscled the aircraft into the air. It was then that I glanced out at the wings and to my surprise found the flaps in the full down position. I had very obviously failed to release the flap lever in my haste to depart.

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Go or No Go: flying to The Masters

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The big week is finally here – you and a longtime friend are flying to see The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. As is often the case in spring, the radar is colorful. Are there enough holes in the storms to make the flight? Read the weather reports below, then tell us if you would fly the trip or cancel. 

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Friday Photo: sun painting the clouds

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Sunsets are always beautiful from the cockpit, but they’re even better when a high cloud layer is involved. This photo from Joe Creecy, taken from his Cessna 182, shows the low sun over Nashville as it paints the clouds with shades of orange, yellow, and purple. Another “why I fly” moment.

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Lake Amphib

The water is up close and personal in a Lake Amphibian

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Tavares, Florida, the town next to Leesburg where Dave and I live, is actually called “America’s Seaplane City.” Tavares is also the home of the Progressive Aerodyne’s SeaRay light sport amphibian. All of this makes this area a great place to enjoy seaplane flying. You always have a place to land in view when you are flying a seaplane in Lake County.

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Triple Tree fly-in

5 good things about general aviation in 2019

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I like to pause every few years and consider what’s going right in aviation. Call me a naive optimist if you like, but I still see a lot to appreciate, from the thousands of airports in the US to the relative openness of our airspace to the strong experimental aircraft movement. These trends are old news; five newer ones caught my attention at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in last week, and I think they bode well for pilots.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Triple Tree fly-in

5 good things about general aviation in 2019

by

I like to pause every few years and consider what’s going right in aviation. Call me a naive optimist if you like, but I still see a lot to appreciate, from the thousands of airports in the US to the relative openness of our airspace to the strong experimental aircraft movement. These trends are old news; five newer ones caught my attention at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in last week, and I think they bode well for pilots.

Read More
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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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
Hutchinson grandfather by Cirrus

The old man in the plane

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This article was the winning entry in the inaugural Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. Over 60 young pilots sent in articles for consideration, and after reading them all our distinguished panel of judges (including Richard’s son) selected Emma Hutchinson as the winner of the $2,500 award. We hope you’ll agree that this moving article is a fine tribute to a great writer and pilot.

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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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Friday Photo

Incredible views from the cockpit

Friday Photo: California poppy bloom

by

The Walker Canyon poppy bloom made national news for its beautiful scenery. But Fred Greensite had the best view: “Vastly more extensive, and much more awe-inspiring, than the ground level media views online and on TV had indicated. The mountains looked like they were on fire. The throngs of people arriving by car and exploring on foot missed out on so much.”

Read More

Friday Photo: sun painting the clouds

by

Sunsets are always beautiful from the cockpit, but they’re even better when a high cloud layer is involved. This photo from Joe Creecy, taken from his Cessna 182, shows the low sun over Nashville as it paints the clouds with shades of orange, yellow, and purple. Another “why I fly” moment.

Read More

Friday Photo: sunset over Istanbul

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While flying his Piper Meridian back from Balikesir, Necmi Cicekci “flew over Turkey’s most beautiful western coast. After investigating the Syrian migrants who had to cross the Aegean Sea, I had a great sunset on the way back to Istanbul. The sun was saying to us, ‘goodbye.'”

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