Engine failure as a student pilot

by

The day I remember as yesterday was a warm spring day in Fresno and I decided to fly to enjoy the beautiful day and weather. I started my checkout and everything seemed OK, except when I checked the fuel I removed the cap and heard a hissing noise. The tank usually had a wire gauge that stuck up from the cap to show how much gas was in the tank, but I didn’t think anything was amiss.

Flight of a lifetime—my 8,000-mile trip around Australia

by

To fly around Australia was not an idea that happened upon me overnight. It was an idea hatched in childhood, and ultimately flown solo decades later. Eight months in planning and eighteen days in execution, I suspect the planning would have been somewhat quicker if it had not grown into such a public exercise with such a genuine, interested following.

Autonomous control systems—what does it really mean for aviation?

by

This 1,200-word piece is not intended to be a manifesto of advocacy for autonomous aircraft. Its purpose is to explain what autonomous control systems in general do, and—at a very perfunctory level—how they do it. It is not a blueprint for how to build one. But if nothing else, it shows that that real people like me actually have considered these things, and have figured out ways to do them successfully.

Friday Photo: tilt-rotor formation

by

During February of 2015 I was called in by Don Barbour of Leonardo Helicopters to photograph the company’s newly-acquired-from-Agusta-Bell Model 609 prototype in advance of the then-upcoming Heli-Expo event in Orlando, Florida. The aircraft was being repainted in Eastern and Bristow (both prospective buyers at the time) markings in order to provide a fresh perspective for the event.

The pandemic reset

by

I never stopped loving airplanes, never stopped loving the ever-changing nature of the sky or the process of planning and executing a flight, be it on the little Rotax-powered Pelican or on the 737. But I did get a little tired of layovers and lost birthdays and anniversaries away. I wanted more family time. Then came COVID-19.

Flying 3500 miles in five days—and enjoying every minute of it

by

I hope that this story can serve to encourage other aviators to stretch their wings and horizons by expanding their comfort zones, to see and experience things that are unavailable to our earthbound neighbours, and to share these with others, whether they are other pilots, your friends and family, and anyone else that needs to see what general aviation has to offer.

Go or No Go: dodging storms in the Southeast

by

The mission today is to fly from your home in Louisville, Kentucky, to visit your business in Atlanta, Georgia. With the coronavirus pandemic, you’re trying to do it in a day and save the hotel stay. You made it to Atlanta easily with an 8am takeoff, but now the question is whether you can make it home. As you review the weather in the pilot’s lounge at PDK, ForeFlight shows some pop-up storms.

Friday Photo: vuelos divertidos

by

With small action cameras like the GoPro finding their way into many flight bags, pilots have a new perspective to share with the world. In this beautiful picture, Agustin Rubiños shows the wingtip view of his Cessna 172 as he cruises over the Pampas plain in South America.

A brief stop in Manila? An airline flight goes awry

by

As we have progressed through our aviation career we have events that occur that add to our experience and skill base. But even if we have played the “what-if game” some events can surprise us from unexpected quarters. Such was the case when we flew an inaugural flight across the Pacific through Guam and Manila with the destination Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport.

Night, mist, haze, and all that jazz

by

Sometimes when we look back to our earliest periods in aviation, we are rightly hounded by some of the infamously stupid things we did—or tried to do. But if you’re like me, you can honestly say you just didn’t know any better at the time, and that there was no one around to warn you of the dangers. We all have to learn. And every once in a while, the learning unveils itself ex post facto.

Video: what’s the real IFR alternate?

by

Alternate airports are a required part of an IFR flight plan when your destination’s weather is forecast to be below 2000 and 3. But the filed alternate is almost never used in the real world. This video tip, from Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, explains why and offers some tips for making safe, stress-free diversions if the weather doesn’t support your original plan.

Five airplanes every pilot should fly

by

While all airplanes have stories to tell, some are more important and more interesting than others. Here are five I believe should be in every pilot’s logbook or on their to-do list. These aren’t necessarily the best or most exciting airplanes ever to take to the skies, but they define specific ages in general aviation and make up the rich history of our industry. Call it the general aviation canon.

Friday Photo: New Mexico badlands

by

The American West is an amazing mosaic landscape of deserts, mountains, rock formations, and barren nothingness. Flying a cross-country trip over much of it was a personal dream of mine come true. At the time, I was still in training for my instrument rating, and this trip gave me an excellent dose of real-world flying experience.

An unwelcome attitude adjustment

by

We were on about a half-mile final when the controller decided to add some information for us: “Be aware of Coast Guard aircraft doing routine engine maintenance adjacent your touchdown zone.” I didn’t have to look far to spot the gigantic C-130 in its Coast Guard markings.

Pilot-induced oscillations: are you a sinner or a victim?

by

You have probably seen this before: a GoPro video showing a pilot struggling with large inputs on the yoke, giving the throttle a hard time with either high thrust or idle power, and after a fair amount of time focused on that demanding approach, a smooth touchdown followed by a reassuring smile. On the title of the video, something mentioning a high crosswind component, and below, the comments saying that the pilot nailed it like a boss. Did he or she?

Train like you fly—not really

by

A number of years ago safety and training experts realized few, if any, crashes were being caused by the events pilots spend training time for. Those action-packed simulator sessions were difficult, and we sweated through them, but in reality accidents were happening because of much more mundane aircraft failures and pilot mistakes.