Go or No Go: California convection?

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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.

Flying for Air America—where the cargo was always interesting

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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.

Friday Photo: Philadelphia at dusk

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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.

My first T-6 landing

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Bill said, “I guess I owe you a ride,” while looking at me. “Give me a couple minutes to button things up, and we’ll go.” I looked at Kim, and then I looked at Bill. He said, “Kim helped me out, so I promised to give you a ride.” Kim looked at me winked.

Flying in the Iditarod Air Force

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I began my climb and started looking for a low spot to cross the ridgeline, west to east. The only problem was there was no ridgeline, only more of the white wall all around me that became denser as I climbed. I continued the 180-degree turn and extended it to 360 degrees and at the same time dove the airplane to get out of the snow.

Say your airspeed—which one?

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Say your airspeed. Seems like a simple question. And it’s one controllers often ask when separating in trail airplanes in busy airspace. But there’s nothing simple about airspeed. There are at least four kinds of airspeed—indicated airspeed (IAS), calibrated airspeed (CAS), true airspeed (TAS) and Mach. Each value has significance to pilots.

Friday Photo: shiny shoes

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Nearing the end of my rotorcraft private add-on, I accomplished the three-point solo cross-country. With the collective friction on, I had a hand free to grab a couple of photos. This one was actually taken by accident, but I thought it was kind of a fun view.

Seek out the small stories with your airplane

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An airplane is a wonderful history teacher. From above I have surveyed the battlefield at the Little Big Horn; I have followed the Oregon Trail through the plains, and the original path of the Transcontinental Railroad through the forbidding Sierra Nevada. Not long ago I flew to Farmington, New Mexico, to seek out a small story from the waning days of the Old West.

Collecting sunsets

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People like to collect stuff. From postal stamps to magnets, from paintings to whiskey, and for more wealthy ones, cars and warbirds. I started collecting something lighter, more ephemeral, and extremely limited. Not for the supply itself, since it has been available for billions of years. But the number of sunsets we, as humans, can see in a lifetime is arguably restricted.

Is software enough to keep pilots safe?

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As pilots, we are all to familiar with the problems on the Boeing 737 MAX. We are being told that faulty software is the cause. Yes, there were or could have been problems with the pilot training, but Boeing is re-writing the software and when complete, the problem will go away and the aircraft will be safe. Or will it?

The illusion of see and avoid

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Until recently, collisions between aircraft were rare, supposedly because pilots used See and Avoid. But now ADS-B information displayed in our cockpit on the iPad reveals that this explanation just wasn’t correct. There were hardly any collisions because the odds of two aircraft meeting in the air were next to zero. But “next to zero” does not mean “zero,” as we found out during a recent trip.

Hot chicken, icy wings

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We were happily, and smoothly, cruising along in the clouds at 7,000 ft. when ATC issued me a climb to 9,000. I remember reading the instruction back and initiating the climb while thinking to myself this is a bad idea. I had it in my head that I’d filed for 7, so we were going to stay at 7, but I climbed anyway.

Alaska: if I can do it…

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I am a very average pilot. I got my Private Pilot’s license in 2008, my instrument rating a year later and have since been “working on my Commercial/CFI.” But in 2013, my cousin, John, talked me into flying to Alaska. I became drawn to Alaska’s vastness and rough and natural beauty.

Light Sport Aircraft aren’t selling well, but the LSA rule has still worked

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Time to update an old debate: have Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) taken off in popularity over the last five years? Are Sport Pilot certificates more common now that the economy is stronger? At the risk of provoking another argument, my review of the data suggests no. The Light Sport world is still alive, but it’s a niche industry with few real winners. But there is a silver lining.

Friday Photo: the Rio Grande

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The route south from Albuquerque, New Mexico, follows the Rio Grande as it winds from Colorado towards the US-Mexico border. Jason Harrison got a great picture of big river, a patch of green in the desert, as he cruised along in his Cessna 182. If nothing else, it’s a great way to check your navigation skills.

A long cross country and a lesson learned

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About an hour into the trip I received an alert from the multifunction display that the cylinder temperatures in my left engine were into the red zone. Checking the engine monitor, I saw that my fourth cylinder was indeed well above the red line. Oh boy! I immediately pulled the throttles, enriched the mixtures and opened the left cowl flap.

The little airplane that could… and still does!

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Many airports here in the Midwest have almost all of their aircraft locked securely inside, with the possible exception of a small ramp space for the less fortunate. As pilots whoosh past this area in their BMWs and Range Rovers, they may be vaguely aware of the diminutive and familiar shape of the Rodney Dangerfield of airplanes: the Cessna 150.