A trip to Mexico in the best of the worst airplanes ends in a costly fiasco

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Most of the airplane’s weight was on the wings as we rolled across a furrow somewhat larger than the others about halfway through our takeoff run. Bouncing slightly, the momentary lack of weight on the wheels fooled the “foolproof” gear system into performing its duty. The left wheel, now unlocked and slightly off-center, collapsed as the plane’s weight returned to the wheels.

Friday Photo: FL430 from a Lear 45XR

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Paul Bowen says, “This was taken on my first ever flight in the Lear 45 since my sim training at CAE Dallas West. Watching the sun set from 43,000ft on your first ever real jet flight is a truly unforgettable experience. And what better aircraft that the truly iconic Lear!”

Dear NASA: learning from my mistakes

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The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is where maintenance technicians, pilots, controllers, etc. can anonymously report inadvertent violations of regulations or unsafe conditions which resulted from their action (or inaction). I have never been deterred from submitting an ASRS report for a transgression, mistake or bad decision. And I’ve had plenty of material to work with.

My night engine-out emergency

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I could see the lights of Concord from a little south of Fairfield, so I turned south. This put us over an area of wetlands but highway 80 was within very easy gliding distance off to our right. Then it happened. Right over Suisun Bay where the Navy stores a large number of dilapidated ships, our engine decided to cough, sputter, lose all power.

Go or No Go: winter warm front

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“Messy aviation weather today.” That’s what the forecaster wrote in the forecast discussion this morning and a look at the TV screen in the FBO at the Elkinds-Randolph County Airport (EKN) confirms that. The radar images shows lots of rain in the area and the forecast is for things to get worse. That’s mildly annoying, as you’d really like to get back home, a 1:15 flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

A Tri Pacer is not an Alaska bush plane

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Taxiing took almost full throttle, and there was no way in which the plane would take off with the pilot and two passengers. We were now stuck on George’s choice of lakes. I suspected that we might have made the takeoff with a Piper Pacer, but with a nose gear poking down up front, there was no way we were leaving that small lake in our small, four-place tricycle-geared flying machine.

Friday Photo: Chicago sunset

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Why we fly – that’s Scott Fernandez’s three word summary of this photo, and it explains pretty well the magic of being a pilot. Watching the last light fade from the western sky as you climb out in a light airplane is both exciting and peaceful, and it is indeed why we fly.

Near miss in the pattern

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This very near-miss incident took place several years ago on a VFR approach to Archerfield (YBAF), in Queensland, Australia, a usually busy Class D general aviation training airfield adjacent to the state capital city of Brisbane, and it haunts me to this day. As a way of talking it out, I tender it here for my fellow pilots to read and consider and perhaps comment on.

Reader question: what is your aviation nightmare?

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This reader question was prompted by the comments on a recent Air Facts article. As one said, “The intense, and deeply disturbing, nightmares you experienced regarding wire encounters are not uncommon among pilots.” So we want to know – have you had any aviation nightmares or anxieties? Is it the same issue every time?

Making flight fun from the right seat

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Many people have found peace and tranquility in the air. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people have their license to fly the US skies. For them, it’s a way life… either for professional or personal enjoyment. Regrettably, for their significant other, it may not be that exciting.

Friday Photo: T-34 formation

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The T-34 Mentor has a long history as a military trainer, and training is exactly what Facha Reynaldez and Gabriel Freijo were doing when this photo was taken. But instead of a single T-34, this photo shows off four of them in formation over a dam south of Córdoba State, Argentina. The water an the sky are both blue, both the pilots were too busy watching their wingman to notice.

Accident report roundup: controlled flight into wires

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Many pilots worry about colliding with another airplane in flight, but not nearly as many worry about power lines. According to FAA numbers, that’s a mistake. There are roughly 75 accidents every year involving wires and while many of them involve helicopters, not all of them do. As the three accidents below show, airplane pilots regularly find ways to turn a fun flight into a fatal mistake.

What draws us skyward?

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Obviously there are exceptions, but I would say that most of us either had the aviation bug since we were kids or we took a ride in an airplane that forever had us looking up. For me I just always had the bug. As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to fly.

Friday Photo: Australian lake

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Australia is famous for its varied terrain, from beaches to mountains to deserts. In this Friday Photo from Down Under, Neil Sidwell shares a photo of Lake Eildon. This sprawling, man-made lake northeast of Melbourne is nestled in between the 3,000 foot peaks of the surrounding mountains, all part of Lake Eildon National Park.

What is your technology telling you?

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We’d set up our GPS to fly from KPDK to KPUJ to perform the ILS/LOC 31 approach and then onto KRYY for the LOC 27 approach. Flying along, everything was going smoothly, heading and altitude right on the money. As I was vectored in for the ILS, things started to go sideways. As I turned on the approach path, I noticed my CDI #1 needles had the barber pole flags. “Hmm… ok… no big deal,” I thought.

Going Mach 0.3 with your hair on fire

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Welcome to the Sunrise 100. This race, along with a dozen or so others every year, is put on by the Sport Air Racing League. If you’re thinking about the vaunted Reno air races, with planes zooming wingtip to wingtip around an oval track, requiring precision formation flying and high speed maneuvering, then you’re not quite right. Well, except for the high speed maneuvering part.

Video tip: flying IFR with glass cockpits

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Are glass cockpits harder to fly than traditional round instruments? They don’t have to be. The whole point of systems like the Garmin G1000 is to be more reliable and safer. In this new video tip, learn three habits for mastering glass cockpit flying, from using bugs to interpreting trend lines. With a few tricks, you can learn a lot from a glass cockpit with a quick glance – and stop chasing the tapes.