Accident report roundup: time in type

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in spite of the well-meaning advice, total time is still the measuring stick for pilots. A pilot with thousands of hours is assumed to be safe, and both his insurance premium and his reputation around the airport will probably reflect that assumption.

But read through NTSB accident reports and you’ll quickly notice another measure of pilot proficiency is more important: time in type.

Friday Photo: the Twelve Apostles

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Towering over the shoreline of Port Campbell National Park in Victoria, Australia, the Twelve Apostles is a unique formation of limestone stacks. Neil Sidwell captured a great photo of this unique vista from the cockpit of his ICP Savannah. While many visitors see it from the nearby road, there’s nothing like an aerial view.

Memories of flying the Connie

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The first big airplane I ever flew was the Lockheed Constellation, affectionately known as the Connie. The Connie simulator was just a procedures trainer (no motion, no visual) so most of the flight training was done in the airplane. I confess I was scared to death! The biggest thing I had ever checked out in was the Piper PA-23 Apache.

The perfect pilot myth is finished

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The rules are that test pilots must recognize the trim failure, for example, by some positive event. Once that positive identification is made, the test pilot must wait exactly three seconds before taking the proper action to disable to system. When non-pilots hear this information, their mouths drop open. They utter something like “that’s crazy. Three seconds! That’s just nuts.”

From the archives: Wolfgang Langewiesche on airports in every town

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This inspiring article, first published in the October 1956 edition of Air Facts, reflects the big dreams of the mid-1950s and perhaps the missed opportunities for general aviation. Legendary writer Wolfgang Langewiesche argued for a nationwide network of landing strips (not airports, just a place to land), to be created as a part of the Interstate Highway System that was born with the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.

I didn’t look in the right place

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I was a 4000-hour Mooney pilot (all in the same Mooney) several years ago when a friend, a well-known sculptor who was having three pieces fabricated in Princeton, New Jersey (39N), asked if I would fly him from our home base in East Hampton, New York (HTO), to check on how they were progressing. My friend was eager to fly, so we looked forward to our adventure on a chilly, blustery spring day.

Friday Photo: chasing the rainbow

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Every pilot has spent time in an FBO waiting out weather. For a lucky few, that patience is rewarded with a beautiful view. That’s what happened to Rick Kennett as he climbed out of St. Louis in his Cessna 340. The stormy clouds supplied the perfect rainbow, which he followed on his way home.

Night, over water

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On a moonless or cloudy night, over deep water, without visual reference and out of normal VHF radio communications range with air traffic control, you are alone. Having charge of all souls on board, while always a heavy responsibility, feels heavier.

Nine things I know about flying in Maryland

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Maryland is one of the most unique states in the country in that it has a unique mix of mountains, the Chesapeake Bay – which is the largest estuary in the United States – and beautiful beaches on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. By itself this would be notable, but we also have airports that serve these regions so they are more easily enjoyed.

My “pucker factor” story

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“Pucker Factor,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is loosely defined as how tight a grip your butt gets on the seat in times of stress. Every pilot has a few Pucker Factor stories. My CFI probably has a couple dozen with my name on them. This is my story as to how, in a single flight, I emptied half of a 30-pound bag of luck and stuffed 50 pounds of experience into the empty space.

Friday Photo: Indonesia airstrip

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For Caravan pilot Peter Santana, simple grass or dirt strips are nothing new. In fact, such challenging airports are just part of the job. But while many are challenging to land on, there’s something very beautiful about strips like the remote Koropun airstrip in Papua, Indonesia. It’s certainly not flat and there are tall cliffs off the end, but it’s an essential lifeline for villagers there.

My excellent Ercoupe adventure

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On April 21, 2015, I accomplished something that I could have never imagined doing at the age of 63. I got a Sport Pilot certificate, and then with just 113 hours and three months as a pilot, I took off for the trip of a lifetime. I departed from Kingsbury, Texas (85TE) for Sheboygan, Wisconsin (KSBM) to attend the 2015 National Ercoupe Convention (75th Anniversary) before continuing on to Oshkosh, Wisconsin (KOSH) for AirVenture 2015.

A fifty-fifty decision in Florida

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Spring, 2016. On the last week of my vacation, I did my favorite activity for any vacation: I traveled to the United States to fly. Since my last FAA checkride (Commercial Multiengine) had been over two years before, I was required to do this in order to act as pilot in command of an American registered aircraft again. But there was another guy to do an arrangement with: Colin.

Reader question: what do non-pilots ask when they learn you fly?

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When meeting someone for the first time, talk often turn to hobbies or professions – the dreaded, “what do you do?” question. For most of us that means flying and a long conversation about airplanes, weather, safety, and so much more. So this month’s question asks: when you tell someone you’re a pilot, what question do you know is coming next?

Friday Photo: a GoPro view of Argentina

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Pilot and aviation enthusiast Agustin Rubiños describes it as, “vuelos divertidos en Skyhawk.” As this week’s Friday Photo shows, he does indeed have a lot of fun flying around Argentina. In this photo, taken from his wing-mounted GoPro, he’s soaring over the vast plains in his Cessna 172M.

Seven things I know about flying in California

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California is a huge state and to sum it up in a few bullet points doesn’t truly do it justice. You must fly there to fully experience it yourself so “Go West, young man!” With airline service and a checkout from one of the many FBOs, it’s possible to experience California flying on a vacation if only for an afternoon.

Video tip: circle-to-land instrument approaches

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Circling approaches are pretty rare these days, but at some airports they are the only option. While flying the approach to minimums is the same as a straight-in approach, what happens next leaves no room for error. This video breaks down the circling approach, including when it’s required, how close to stay to the runway, and what to do if you lose sight of the airport.

Denver to Norway in a Pilatus PC-12

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In early 2016, my family was ready to see something new and beautiful. The past year had been tough — we nearly lost Dad to a stroke – then, during his recovery from the stroke, we determined that he needed a heart valve replacement, his second such surgery. By February, with a fresh reminder of life’s fragility and brevity, we began laying the groundwork for an August adventure to Iceland and Norway.