Beech Starship

Why the Starship was such a disaster

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

11 things you must do with your pilot’s license

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Friday Photo: Mt. Hood reflections

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An inky black, velvety smooth departure emerging into a beautiful dawn. The passengers I am on the way to carry are two upbeat, optimistic friends who treat their cancer together with low-dose chemotherapy. I look forward to lifting their spirits by both flying them and by telling them funny stories and jokes from court and life.

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Pietenpol

A funny thing happened on the way to nowhere

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Like most “sporty” planes, the Luscombe, when flown with practiced precision, was like dancing to familiar music. Uncoordinated, the world suddenly surrounded you with a strange and uneasy countenance. The pilot always felt this; the passenger even more so. The exception was, that to a non-pilot passenger, even co-ordinated unfamiliar attitudes felt, well, unfamiliar.

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Sikorsky helicopter

Heroic rescue at Fremont

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The experimental airplane took off. I watched it climb out until it passed out of my view behind a hangar, then I turned away. Then I heard the engine quit. Okay, I thought, he’s got enough altitude. He’ll make it across the dikes and land straight ahead. He’s in for some embarrassment, but he’ll be all right.

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Checkride

Discovery flight at 16, Private Pilot at 17

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For my 16th birthday, my father thought it would be a great idea to gift me a discovery flight at the local flight center. From the moment the wheels left the ground in that Cessna 172 Skyhawk, I knew that one day I wanted to be able to do this. However, I was left with the heavy burden of reality; where do I even start to obtain this dream and more importantly, how will I be able to finance this?

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Friday Photo: closing in on Telluride

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I was flying with one eye watching for landing sites – the only way I fly the Rockies in a single engine piston. (It seems there is always someplace to go near the airways – hope I never have to prove it!) I managed to stop my ground scan long enough to take this picture. You can see the ski runs above Mountain Village in the distance. Beautiful place to live and fly.

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Pat Luebke at Oshkosh

Remembering Pat Luebke, Long-time Air Facts Managing Editor

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Aviation lost a truly special person last week, but it’s not a name most pilots outside the publishing industry will know. Patricia Luebke, managing editor at Air Facts and one of the driving forces behind relaunching this magazine in 2011, passed away on Friday, November 22, 2019 after a brief illness. She was 69. Here we share remembrances from four colleagues.

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Airline delays – sometimes you just can’t win

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No airline employee wants a delay. The corporate cultures at most airlines are distinctly non-Japanese; that is, blame is fixed, rather than problems. A delay of even the shortest duration will start a downhill flow of a substance that is neither colorless nor odorless. On some properties, too many delays can be detrimental to a career, sometimes terminally.

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After paint

A year of stewardship – managing a flying club airplane

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The flight club accepted my application and I joined with high hopes. After joining, I thought about how I can contribute to make this a great experience. Well, it just so happened that a few months after I joined the club, the club purchased a Cessna 172N aircraft, and guess what? They needed an assistant plane captain. I thought, perfect, this shouldn’t be too much work…

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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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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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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
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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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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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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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: Mt. Hood reflections

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An inky black, velvety smooth departure emerging into a beautiful dawn. The passengers I am on the way to carry are two upbeat, optimistic friends who treat their cancer together with low-dose chemotherapy. I look forward to lifting their spirits by both flying them and by telling them funny stories and jokes from court and life.

Read More

Friday Photo: closing in on Telluride

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I was flying with one eye watching for landing sites – the only way I fly the Rockies in a single engine piston. (It seems there is always someplace to go near the airways – hope I never have to prove it!) I managed to stop my ground scan long enough to take this picture. You can see the ski runs above Mountain Village in the distance. Beautiful place to live and fly.

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Friday Photo: Chipmunk at rest

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The Irish Historic Flight Foundation operate a number of historically significant Irish Aircraft. Here an ex-Irish Air Corps DHC1 Chipmunk and its pilot (out of shot) get a well-earned break from training the latest volunteers in the joys and foibles of the beautiful DeHavilland Chipmunk. In the air a locally-based (EIMH) Citabria makes the most of an Irish summer’s afternoon.

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