Friday photo: The Guitar Tree

The history behind this amazing creation by the farm owner said it was a gift to her wife. The Cypress and Eucalyptus trees covering around 25 hectares were planted by 1970 having a height of 15 to 25 centimeters at that time.
Route overview

Go or no go: Appalachian IFR

Today's trip, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Greensboro, North Carolina, is perfect for general aviation. Instead of a six hour drive along the winding roads of the Appalachian Mountains, you can fly your Mooney there in less than 90 minutes. That's assuming the weather cooperates, of course, and a quick look at ForeFlight suggests there might be some work involved. Your airplane is well-equipped and you are instrument current, but is that enough today? Read the weather briefing below and decide what you would do.

An airplane that no longer wanted to fly

I watched as the propeller became stationary and the engine seized to a halt. One glance to the oil pressure indicator showed the needle pegged at zero pressure. It was as if God was my CFI and had given me an impromptu power off landing scenario.
Cherokee 140

Reflections and predictions

That new Cherokee 140 that came out of the factory with a sticker price of $12,000 is now going for 5 times that, even though it’s 55 years old.  It’s not hard to spend as much upgrading a panel as you spent for the whole airplane.

North to Alaska—a journey to remember

After several planning sessions, purchases of camping gear (which we never used) and hours of studying maps of British Columbia, Yukon Territory and Alaska, we packed our bags, stuffed them into our airplanes and off we went. We knew weather would be the deciding factor.
Going down

“Energy Management”—Cliché or Exactitude?

“Energy management” is not a precise term. It is used in different ways to express different things, so it almost always requires clarification. Often, a speaker will say “energy management” and expect the listener to understand without any further explanation. Aviation safety is too important to tolerate vague phrases like “energy management” that facilitate misunderstandings.
Bahamas water

Friday Photo: beautiful Bahamas water

As we flew across the southwest corner of Eleuthera, the water got very green and looked very shallow. It was nearly impossible to tell where the surface of the water was. We were just at the right altitude to see the greenish cast in the water, white clouds, and blue sky at the same time. There were just two frames like this before the colors faded.
Richard Collins

Announcing the 2023 Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

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 "my most memorable flight."

Loss of control: turning over a new leaf

Loss of control (LOC) is a stealthy, deadly predator. In WWII, my dad flew 44 missions as a navigator in the 8th Air Force. After the war he became a physician and a private pilot. His comment is etched in my memory: "Flying can go all to hell in an instant." In this article, using data generated by a flight simulator, we describe a possible aerodynamic solution for LOC.
Maui coast

Flying in paradise: a vacation flight lesson in Maui

One of my flight instructors once told me he would often bring along his flight gear while on vacation, in case he had the opportunity to fly. He recommended contacting a flight school and asking about taking a short lesson, since having an instructor in the plane with local knowledge would be invaluable. This was the first time I had decided to bring my logbook with me on vacation. I was a little apprehensive, but thought what an adventure it would be.
Deice pad

Behind the scenes of an airline meltdown

Every damn person in the nation wants to be somewhere else over the holidays—just when the weather is the worst and the most junior employees are working across the system. The FAA air traffic controllers all want to be home for the holidays, the airline employees want to be home for the holidays, and both systems work strictly on seniority. So, the most junior folks with the least experience at their respective jobs are all working when the going gets the toughest.
Wing rib damage

Accident report: losing control at 43,000 feet

Nearing its cruising altitude of 43,000 feet (FL430), the aircraft suddenly stalled and departed controlled flight in a series of five rapid 360-degree rolls to the right. The pilot briefly regained control before the aircraft stalled a second time. The aircraft’s wings were structurally damaged as excessive g-force was applied during the recovery from this second stall.

Friday Photo: shooting the gap

Sometimes the detour is the best part of the flight. That's the view from the left seat of Chris Granelli's Cessna 210: "Spectacular views of filtered evening light between the dark scattered storms, including more than one rainbow and even more deviations. Well worth the added flight-time. Both ways."

Top 10 articles of 2022 on Air Facts

It was another busy year at Air Facts: we published 156 articles in 2022, written by more than 100 different writers. Many of these writers were first time contributors at Air Facts, just pilots with a story to tell or a lesson to share. Hopefully you're enjoying a moment to relax this holiday season. While you're doing that, enjoy the 10 most popular articles of 2022 below.
Bruce Landsberg

Podcast: trends in GA safety, with the NTSB’s Bruce Landsberg

There are four major causes of general aviation accidents, according to NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg. In this podcast interview, he reviews the latest safety trends, from VFR-into-IMC accidents to engine failures, and offers his tips for staying safe. He also shares some surprising statistics about the possible role of ADS-B traffic in reducing midair collisions, and explains why flight data monitoring should be adopted by far more GA pilots. 

Christmas as a forward air controller over Laos

My most memorable missions occurred around Christmas of 1972, when I was a 23-year-old Forward Air Controller flying the OV-10 Broncos. Two days before Christmas, we received word that three of our former comrades had been shot down near Saravane in southern Laos. They were Raven FACs serving as part of covert CIA operations in Laos flying Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs and North American T-28 Trojans.
Cherokee takeoff

To flap… or not to flap?

Let’s do a shallow dive into what’s required to execute a successful “high performance” takeoff. We’ll explore issues and confusion surrounding aircraft performance speeds (“V-speeds”) and flap use during takeoffs. We’ll discuss why it’s important to know exactly what’s required for your plane, and why you should always read the fine print.
Cessna on grass

The great intermission: a renaissance in general aviation?

There is a lot of discussion about the state of GA, whether we are in decline or at the beginning of a renaissance. Briefly setting this ever tempting discussion aside, I’ll propose we are in an intermission: at nearly a million strong in the 1980s, active pilots halved a decade later; now, we are told, there’s been an increase every year since 2016. Somewhere between the GI Bill of our grandparents and the innovations in flight tech that are bringing our kids (and all ages) back to flight, we drift.

Friday Photo: smoke on

There's nothing like an airshow, especially when the white smoke from the performers streaks across a perfectly blue sky. That's the image Santiago Arbelaez captures in this Friday Photo, and the Beech 18 in the foreground isn't bad either. As he says, "Keep the image—sorry, the symphonic sound can’t be reproduced!"
Florida beaches

Flying over water, from Nebraska to the Florida Keys

My copilot and I learned to fly in 1980, and we try to take a long, fun flight every few years. This was our best and longest flight, by 300 miles. It may be his last, as he has 11 years on me. Flying out over the ocean to a point you can’t see land gives you insight to how pilots both famous and not could get messed up seeing so many shades of blue.