One plane and one girl’s dream

One plane and one girl’s dream

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The famous quote that da Vinci never said

The famous quote that da Vinci never said

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Are pilots rediscovering how to travel by light airplane?
Friday Photo: an advancing storm

Friday Photo: an advancing storm

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Unstable approaches in a pandemic world

Unstable approaches in a pandemic world

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A young pilot’s plan to eliminate get-there-itis
Approach to oblivion

Approach to oblivion

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Recovery from spirals with the LVL button

Recovery from spirals with the LVL button

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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
first flight with dad

One plane and one girl’s dream

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It was a calm evening and the sun was setting behind the Blue Ridge Mountains as the familiar smell of leather and avgas instantly brought me to my happy place. I smoothly advanced the throttle, my heels on the floor as I guided the Cessna 172 down the centerline of the runway. Once airborne, my face broke into a wide smile as I turned to my dad and our eyes met. Words were not needed in that magical moment.

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Leonardo sketches

The famous quote that da Vinci never said

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“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” This Leonardo da Vinci quote is everywhere — aviation books, magazines, websites, Instagram posts, coffee mugs, tee shirts, several science textbooks and some Smithsonian publications. Yet Leonardo da Vinci never said it; and it’s nowhere close to 500 years old.

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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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Friday Photo: an advancing storm

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I was on the first leg of my long solo cross-country, where the route was FMY-OBE-PGD-FMY. The storm was forecast to stay west of OBE, and this picture was taken as the storm cut off my path to OBE. I had clear skies to my right, so I executed a 180-degree turn to the right and returned to FMY from the southwest while remaining clear of clouds. I repeated the flight the following day to completion.

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On final

Unstable approaches in a pandemic world

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Who would have guessed? Most pilots—notably airline ones—are flying less than ever since March, and the number of unstable approaches has skyrocketed. According to a recent report from the International Air Transport Association, the rate of unstable approaches per thousand flights jumped from around ten to fifteen monthly in the last two years to 28 in April and 37 one month later.

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Cirrus SR22

A young pilot’s plan to eliminate get-there-itis

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Most of us have a Plan B in mind but it might not be developed into a concrete plan and often is not executed in time to put it into action. This is where Dylan’s plan works beautifully and has been very successful for both him and the company. One of the key elements of the plan is that it be implemented 24 hours before the scheduled departure.

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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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Cirrus autopilot

Recovery from spirals with the LVL button

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In a flight in a Cirrus SR22, it was mentioned in passing that the LVL function on the Garmin autopilot is not taught for unusual attitude recovery. A flight in the RV-9A, equipped with a Garmin G3X Touch system, was then made to evaluate the LVL function for spiral recovery. These flight tests clearly indicate that the FAA technique is not always required for all airplanes.

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Friday Photo: Father’s Day Flying Fun Times Two

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This Father’s Day will be hard to top. Two years ago I surprised my Dad and landed in his back yard on Father’s Day morning for coffee. During coffee I asked him if he would ever fly with me. He said “No freaking way!” But I guess he had a change of heart… here’s proof that he flew with me two years later to the day.

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John's Blog

From Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman
Rough River

Are pilots rediscovering how to travel by light airplane?

by

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.

Read More
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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Checklist use

What pilots can teach the world about managing risk

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When talk around the dinner table turns to Covid-19 these days, I find myself increasingly using the language of risk management, as if I were evaluating a tricky go/no-go decision in an airplane. I’m certainly not suggesting pilots are experts on infectious diseases, but I do believe the lessons learned by the aviation industry over the last 50 years have something to offer as we all think about life in a world of risk.

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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.

Read More
Mist in valley

Night, mist, haze, and all that jazz

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Sometimes when we look back to our earliest periods in aviation, we are rightly hounded by some of the infamously stupid things we did—or tried to do. But if you’re like me, you can honestly say you just didn’t know any better at the time, and that there was no one around to warn you of the dangers. We all have to learn. And every once in a while, the learning unveils itself ex post facto.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Cirrus SR22

A young pilot’s plan to eliminate get-there-itis

by

Most of us have a Plan B in mind but it might not be developed into a concrete plan and often is not executed in time to put it into action. This is where Dylan’s plan works beautifully and has been very successful for both him and the company. One of the key elements of the plan is that it be implemented 24 hours before the scheduled departure.

Read More
Cirrus autopilot

Recovery from spirals with the LVL button

by

In a flight in a Cirrus SR22, it was mentioned in passing that the LVL function on the Garmin autopilot is not taught for unusual attitude recovery. A flight in the RV-9A, equipped with a Garmin G3X Touch system, was then made to evaluate the LVL function for spiral recovery. These flight tests clearly indicate that the FAA technique is not always required for all airplanes.

Read More

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: an advancing storm

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I was on the first leg of my long solo cross-country, where the route was FMY-OBE-PGD-FMY. The storm was forecast to stay west of OBE, and this picture was taken as the storm cut off my path to OBE. I had clear skies to my right, so I executed a 180-degree turn to the right and returned to FMY from the southwest while remaining clear of clouds. I repeated the flight the following day to completion.

Read More

Friday Photo: Father’s Day Flying Fun Times Two

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This Father’s Day will be hard to top. Two years ago I surprised my Dad and landed in his back yard on Father’s Day morning for coffee. During coffee I asked him if he would ever fly with me. He said “No freaking way!” But I guess he had a change of heart… here’s proof that he flew with me two years later to the day.

Read More

Friday Photo: dodging storms in an R44 helicopter

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Avoiding thunderstorms in a helicopter is different than an airplane. Instead of weaving around building cumulus clouds up high, it often means weaving around dark rain shafts. This picture of an imposing storm over Colorado shows this procedure in action, as John Grasberger flew his Robinson R44 home from Oshkosh.

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