Friday Photo: a road in the clouds

Friday Photo: a road in the clouds

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Pilot in command

Pilot in command

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Flying my simulator during quarantine

Flying my simulator during quarantine

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Aircraft building—a journey

Aircraft building—a journey

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The joy of a flying dad

The joy of a flying dad

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Friday Photo: the White Mountains are white
Patient transport flights: big airport experience and VIP service
Did I really hear that?

Did I really hear that?

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airline pilots

When pilots have too much experience

7 instrument approaches you have to see to believe

New Articles

Our most recent posts

Friday Photo: a road in the clouds

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Charlie Tillett was flying east from Columbus, Ohio, in his Piper Meridian when he took this shot. There was an overcast layer between 1,000 and 2,000 ft, and he passed over I-77 just south of where the highway passes through New Philadelphia. You can clearly see the road’s path in the cloud, with disruptions caused by road heat.

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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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Flight simulator system

Flying my simulator during quarantine

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With all of California now under a state-wide stay-at-home order (and those in the Bay Area where I live having been on one for two days prior to the state-wide declaration), I have found myself strangely going back to my beginnings. The old Saitek joystick has been busted out, and Microsoft Flight Simulator X has been fired back up on my aging PC.

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Aircraft building—a journey

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I knew I wanted to have my own plane, but I wasn’t sure which path to follow to achieve that goal. One option I considered was to buy a mid-70s Cessna 172 and upgrade the heck out of it. But I also considered building a plane because I felt I could do it and would end up with a thoroughly modern airplane for much less money than an equivalent new certified one.

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Dad

The joy of a flying dad

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My dad recently flew west and I have been thinking about the gift of flying that he gave me from a young age. Flying has been a great joy in my life. I am very thankful that my dad was the original aviator in our family, because without his interest in flying I’m not sure I would have ever had mine. I’ve had much fun and learned a few lessons along the way.

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Berlin airport

Did I really hear that?

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It seems like the folks that ended up in Berlin were really different. They were like a family and a really close family at that. More importantly, they wanted everyone to know they were the best. They flew fast and when a fellow pilot got stuck somewhere in the maze of traffic schedules, they quickly changed and, even though they might be absent, another body took their place.

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Go or No Go: California convection?

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It’s a perfect day for general aviation: your trip from San Diego (MYF) to Oxnard (OXR), California, should take just under an hour in your Cirrus SR22, which is a huge improvement over the typical 4-5 hour drive. The weather isn’t great today, but at first glance it doesn’t look impossible. Read the weather reports below and tell us if you would fly the trip or cancel.

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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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I Can't Believe I Did That

Learn from other pilots' mistakes
Cessna 310

I seem to have misplaced planet Earth

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My wife, undoubtedly, would choose our honeymoon encounter with ice; my mother the complete electrical failure we experienced while on an IFR flight in very IFR conditions; but for me, my scariest time in an airplane was the time I was late to the party in figuring out what the airplane was doing.

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Between layers

Hot chicken, icy wings

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We were happily, and smoothly, cruising along in the clouds at 7,000 ft. when ATC issued me a climb to 9,000. I remember reading the instruction back and initiating the climb while thinking to myself this is a bad idea. I had it in my head that I’d filed for 7, so we were going to stay at 7, but I climbed anyway.

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Cub

Nodding off at 10 feet above the waves

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We usually climbed up to 400 or 500 feet and followed the Parkway toward home but I had a different plan. I was so damn tired I crossed the beach at Wildwood and dropped down to ten feet. The sun was low off my left. With the doors and windows open, a cool breeze and the near water would keep me awake.

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Flying Technique

Tips and tricks for safer flying
Airspeed indicator

Say your airspeed—which one?

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Say your airspeed. Seems like a simple question. And it’s one controllers often ask when separating in trail airplanes in busy airspace. But there’s nothing simple about airspeed. There are at least four kinds of airspeed—indicated airspeed (IAS), calibrated airspeed (CAS), true airspeed (TAS) and Mach. Each value has significance to pilots.

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Centerline

The promise of proficiency

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Proficiency is a story of safety through constant practice, of acquiring experiences and then putting these experiences to hatch their possibilities. These experiences however must be taught to the “habit monster” within us to have the element of precision baked into them. All other non-precise experiences are side shows.

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Garmin autopilot

When to disengage the autopilot

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A real hardware/software failure of an autopilot could lead to a dangerous situation, but so can pilot mismanagement of a fully functioning autopilot. The results are essentially the same in either situation—the pilot in command is not fully in control of the airplane.

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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
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: a road in the clouds

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Charlie Tillett was flying east from Columbus, Ohio, in his Piper Meridian when he took this shot. There was an overcast layer between 1,000 and 2,000 ft, and he passed over I-77 just south of where the highway passes through New Philadelphia. You can clearly see the road’s path in the cloud, with disruptions caused by road heat.

Read More

Friday Photo: the White Mountains are white

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It was one of those beautiful, severe clear winter days we get in New Hampshire. From time to time I overfly Mt. Washington and visit my dad’s ashes, which I spread from a plane back in 2006, in accordance with his wishes. Here’s the view from my 1974 Piper Cherokee Six.

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Friday Photo: Philadelphia at dusk

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There’s a time, right after the sun has set but before the sky is completely dark, when flying is just about magical. Kevin Davis captures this moment in his Friday Photo. You can see the soft blanket of a city turning the lights on while the horizon slowly fades away. A perfect time to be in a Cessna.

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