We are now at the cusp where combining capable simulators with high-powered compute environments can enhance safety in aviation. Consider this—can flight simulator data tell us more about yet to be known opportunities that can improve airspace safety; or tell us more about how to prevent loss of control incidents; prevent communication lapses from turning into serious issues?
In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was a traffic watch pilot in Phoenix, Arizona. Radio station KTAR provided the on-air reporter and the FBO at Deer Valley provided the Grumman AA-1C aircraft and pilots. The AA-1C certainly wasn’t the ideal aircraft for the task. It didn’t perform well in high density altitude operations. On a hot day with full fuel it would barely make it to 5500 feet.
On a mild and sunny day in October, the quiet weekend atmosphere of Schekino gliderport was disturbed by three jet gliders. Unlike gliders with plenty of modern motor solutions nowadays, the Russian example has a unique feature. The empty weight of a glider is less than 115 kg, making it significantly lighter than its counterparts.
Very early in a pilot’s initial training the instructor will reduce the power, raise the nose, feel the airplane shudder, the nose drops, and the CFI releases back pressure on the controls and adds power. See, that was a stall. Not so bad. Nothing to be afraid of. Really? Stalls are the leading cause of fatal accidents in general aviation airplanes.
Generally Friday afternoons are a hive of activity at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC, with a steady stream of incoming 777s and A380s from Europe and Asia all arriving within a few hours. Today, however, with all the coronavirus cancellations, Dulles was a perfect spot for a couple of touch and gos on runway 01C.
Fighter pilots are some of the most skilled aviators in the world. But just because you’re not a fighter pilot doesn’t mean you can’t borrow from their tool set. Whether you’re a 100-hour general aviation private pilot or a 10,000-hour commercial pilot, it behooves you to think and perform like a fighter pilot in some key areas.
This little adventure is about two old pilots checking an item off their bucket list. One of the trips we have talked about for the last few years is flying to Death Valley and landing below sea level to watch the hands on the altimeter recede counter-clockwise past zero. This trip is best flown during colder months of the year because Death Valley is usually over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in warm months.
Older pilots may wonder why they used to be able to refer to “decision height” on an approach chart rather than “decision altitude.” Or why they now have to refer to their home airport, as I do, as “KFDK” (Frederick, Maryland), rather than the old “FDK.” What my pilot friends are dealing with is the work of a fairly obscure international agency, created under the auspices of the United Nations.
You’ve completed your final checks. You look in the side-view mirror and the red flag is waving. You slowly move the Pawnee’s throttle forward and start towing the fully watered-up 18-meter competition glider down runway 36. It’s a hot, humid day and the density altitude is high. But you’re thinking, “hey, the grass has just had a crew-cut and the mud has dried out—so how hard can this be?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently I was able to get involved in two compassion flights with Angel Flight and PALS (Patient AirLift Services), both into and out of Boston Logan Airport. The need is big and the opportunity to experience large airport operations and help people out is compelling.
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.
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.
So one day I was running between mountain peaks in the rainy season in Laos trying to stay VFR as navaids were virtually nonexistent there. My load was bags of rice and one baby goat for some long range patrol guys to BBQ. While flying along dodging clouds, rain, and mountains, I suddenly felt a whack against the back of my seat. My first thought was that I had been hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, but I was still flying.
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.