We published over 250 articles on Air Facts in 2020, written by a diverse group of over 200 pilots from all over the world, but these 10 were the most popular. Read this list for some thought-provoking articles on all aspects of aviation, from close calls to airplane history to safety debates.

10. Flying 1,500 miles with fumes in the cockpit. Smoke in the cockpit is never fun, but when you’re in a B-1B bomber over the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it’s a major problem. Tom Curran shares the details of his nerve-racking flight in this article, and shares four important lessons he learned. Read more

9. Stop calling it the impossible turn. A lot of heated arguments ensue anytime a pilot mentions “the impossible turn,” the attempt to return to the departure runway after a low altitude engine failure. This article explains why it’s neither impossible nor easy: “Like an ILS to minimums, it can be done safely with planning, practice, and discipline.” Read more

8. The little airplane that could… and still does! The Cessna 150 gets no respect, and yet it’s in many ways the perfect GA airplane. Dave Gampfer has owned three over the years, and shares some lessons for potential 150 owners, including why you shouldn’t call it “cute.” Read more

7. The magical Mooney. Love ’em or hate ’em, Mooneys have been a mainstay of the general aviation fleet for half a century. Mac McClellan has had a front row seat to much of the company’s history, and shares his perspective on why these airplanes have such a cult-like following. Read more

6. I survived the deadliest helicopter crash in European history. The harrowing story of Pushp Vaid, whose Chinook helicopter literally disintegrated around him over the North Sea. He survived, but 45 others did not. What happened? Read more

5. Why upset training just doesn’t work. Upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) is a hot topic in aviation circles these days, but Mac McClellan says it’s overhyped. While flying a military trainer or aerobatic airplane is fun, it doesn’t translate well to normal airplanes and it doesn’t address the root cause: “Avoiding the loss of control is what matters in every case…” Read more

4. Light Sport Aircraft aren’t selling well, but the LSA rule has still worked. John Zimmerman argues that LSAs as a commercial offering have been a failure, with slow sales and few breakout winners. The Sport Pilot rule, on the other hand, can claim some successes, including the popular BasicMed rule and new certification processes for Part 23 aircraft. Might the sliver lining be worth it? Read more

3. The $20 an hour Cessna 172 experiment. Progress in avionics has been impressive over the last two decades; progress in aircraft engines has been almost non-existent. That’s what inspired Jay O’Donnell to try something new. He installed a V8 marine engine in his Cessna 172, and shares the results in this article. Read more

2. If only… The friends I’ve lost in airplane accidents. A moving article that should make all pilots think long and hard. Mark Jarratt, an experienced Air Force and airline pilot, reflects on the accident that killed a friend, and wonders what we should do to prevent such tragedies in our own flying. Read more

1. Five airplanes every pilot should fly. Checking out in different airplanes is a lot of fun, but which airplanes are really on the must-fly list? This article takes a shot at answering that impossible question: “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.” Read more

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