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As we prepare for 2016, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of our dedicated readers and our pilot-authors for making 2015 the best year yet for Air Facts. We had over 800,000 visits to our site, the most ever. Just as impressive, we had 76 different pilots write for Air Facts over the past 12 months. Almost all of these were just regular pilots who had a story, tip or opinion to share, but they brought an incredibly diverse range of experiences and perspectives. From 25,000 hour ATPs to 17-year old student pilots, Air Facts is the place for thoughtful and enjoyable aviation writing from across the general aviation spectrum.

In closing out the year, we thought readers might enjoy a look back at our top 10 most popular articles. They reflect the diversity of writers and topics at Air Facts, and offer some great reading no matter what your connection is to aviation.

10. An accident waiting to happen – when should you speak up?

Flight instructor Ben Jones raised a tricky subject with this thoughtful article based on his own experience: when do pilots have a responsibility to stop a potentially dangerous situation? His conclusions, and the lively debate that followed, is thought-provoking. Read Now

9. Debate: are single engine airplanes safe at night?

Old habits die hard, including the preference for twin engine airplanes at night. At least that’s what this debate showed for some pilots. Does a second engine make you feel safer? Read Now

8. 7 ways to scare yourself in an airplane

Pilots aren’t finding new ways to make mistakes, as this article proves with its list of popular missteps. John Zimmerman admits to making a few, and also shares the lessons learned. How many have you made? Read Now

7. The three keys to flying safely

This outstanding collection of flying tips, based on Richard Collins’s 50+ years of flying, is required reading for any pilot. He argues that if you understand flight path visualization, angle of attack and the big picture, you can fly safely in almost any airplane. Read Now 

6. Why I’m giving up flying – life as an “ex-pilot”

Hunter Heath, one of Air Facts’ most prolific and thoughtful contributors, shared this moving article about his decision to stop flying. Whether you’re 21 or 81-years old, he poses some deep questions about when to hang it up. Read Now

5. Fatal Cirrus crashes are way down – thank the parachute

The long-running debate about the Cirrus parachute shows no signs of ending, but lost among the fight has been a dramatic improvement in the SR-22 safety record. Simply put, fatal accidents are down, and parachute pulls are up. That’s a big deal. Read Now

4. Learning to fly – is it worth it?

Dan Littmann’s question may sound ridiculous to passionate pilots, but it’s not. Whether you’re chasing a career as an airline or corporate pilot, or just chasing a $100 hamburger, aviation requires an investment. The spirited reader comments here prove that each person’s calculation is different. Read Now

3. Ice on the wings – would you tell the pilot?

Hunter Heath poses yet another tough question, this time from the perspective of an airline passenger who sees ice on the wing before takeoff. Would you sit there quietly or stand up and risk being tackled by passengers? Read what he did then join the debate. Read Now

2. Stop the prop – not a smart idea?

Jim Goldfuss wrote our most popular “I Can’t Believe I Did That” article this year, recounting a training flight gone wrong. Would you shut down the engine just to see how the airplane glides? Or is that an unnecessary risk? Read Now

1. What it takes to be one sharp pilot: start with awareness

The most popular article of 2015 offers a good summation of Richard Collins’s approach to safe flying. In short, it has a lot more to do with one’s mindset than fancy stick and rudder skills. You’re sure to learn something valuable in this frank article. Read Now

We hope to see you back next year. If you want to stay up to date on the latest articles and reader debates at Air Facts, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter. Maybe you’ll even join the team and write an article. It’s fun and easy – here’s how.

John Zimmerman