Designing the Cessna 180

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Former Cessna engineer and test pilot Harry Clements shares his personal history of designing the Cessna 180. As you might expect, not everything went smoothly during this bush plane’s development.

Spelling relief

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People complain about my lack of …endurance. Turns out, I’m not the only pilot with a bladder of clay. For as long as airplanes have been able to sustain vast distances, they’ve been flown by people who can’t.

Bittersweet victory: breaking Dad’s speed record

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When Air Facts resurrected the speed records that it started in 1968, it brought back a flood of memories of my Dad’s participation in the program. So when a planned family trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, was on the calendar, I figured this was a good time to attempt to beat Dad’s record—well at least one of them.

Is scud-running ever OK?

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In the last 20 years, we’ve conducted a war on scud-running, placing this technique in the same league as smoking and drunk driving. While the latter two deserve their bad reputations, I think we’ve gone too far with scud-running. A recent trip in a helicopter shows why.

Westward Ho

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Lawrence Zingesser shares another memorable trip. The plan was to fly to the Napa Valley and in doing so to experience the scenery of the Rocky Mountains up close, to explore the Grand Canyon from a low altitude, and to overfly coastal California en-route. Read how the trip went, including pictures.

Fire horse

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Did you ever hear about the horses that were used to pull the fire engines in the 19th and early 20th centuries? The author says he became one at Oshkosh in 2010 when he saw a beautiful DC-7 take flight. Read why this one takeoff led to a new adventure for this pilot.

Go or No Go: Oshkosh!

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All pilots can be divided into two groups: those for whom the thought of flying into Wittman Regional Airport during AirVenture excites and challenges them and those who think you’re nuts to be in the air within 50 nm of Oshkosh that week. Which are you?

12 aviation books I like

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Here is a brief list of my favorite aviation books, making special note of the practical hands-on airplane knowledge they impart. And what’s more important, they’re all in easy-to-understand English. Do you have a favorite aviation book? Add it to our list.

Washington Report: written testing changes proposed

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In 2011, a rash of Knowledge Test (“the written” to long-time pilots) failures at numerous flight schools caused a bit of a stir, and the FAA admitted that they had added a number of new questions to the test question database without notifying test prep providers or flight instructors. In response, an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was formed by the FAA to study the issue of Knowledge Tests in general.

It isn’t always the instructor’s fault

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After reading the blog post Bad instructors by David Huprich, I thought it might be good to hear the other side of the story (from an instructor point of view) about some of my bad students over the years. Reflecting on David’s article reminded me of several interesting experiences that I have had helping students transition to new airplanes, complete flight reviews, and training primary students.

Trans-Atlantic in a Mooney 231

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For many years we had contemplated a trans-Atlantic flight in our Mooney, and finally in June of 1982 the plan became a reality. Our first plane, a 1967 Piper Arrow had taken us to the Caribbean and to South America safely and comfortably via an island-hopping route, so the overwater aspects of single-engine flying held no special terror for us.

8 things I love about Oshkosh

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Oshkosh. Have you ever met an aviation enthusiast who didn’t know exactly what that word meant? The annual EAA gathering in Wisconsin, officially called AirVenture, is a common thread in an aviation community that is remarkable for its diversity. Some pilots like homebuilts and some like certified airplanes; some like glass cockpits and some hate them. But everyone likes Oshkosh.

Bad instructors

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During my nearly six decades of flying I’ve had more good instructors than bad. But beware: there are bad ones. The worst instructor I ever had was in a Pitts S2A. I learned nothing from him except how to keep from redecorating the interior of his airplane. Share your experiences with good and bad CFIs.

WWII Watson’s Whizzers

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It was a mission late in the war. Lieutenant Robert Anspach was flying cover in his P-47 Thunderbolt for a group of B-26 Marauders near the Messerschmitt factory airfield at Lechfeld, Germany. From out of nowhere an enemy airplane rocketed past, blasting off a few rounds. It looked like nothing they’d seen before. Ever.

The ultimate responsibility: thoughts on family flying

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After the tragic crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Florida, Richard Collins reflects on flying with family. He says, “One of the reasons I became such a weather geek over the years was if I was going to fly my family in clouds, I was going to understand everything there was to know about those clouds.” Does flying with family change the way you fly?

The coming currency crisis

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Are you flying enough these days? Based on the pilots I talk to, the answer for most people is a resounding “no!” This goes far beyond the old joke that there’s no such thing as too much flying. Below a certain level of activity, both pilot proficiency and airplane reliability suffer, leading to thinner safety margins and a whole lot less fun.